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SQL Server DBA Tips & Tricks

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OPASS User Group Meeting: Review

Well last night I presented my Policy Based Management presentation for the Orlando SQL PASS User Group aka OPASS. The meeting was held at the End-to-End Training (now called SQLShare.com) offices which is a nice facility ran by Andy Warren (Blog | LinkedIn). The meeting started off with a short bit of networking where Andy has everyone introduce themselves to their neighbors and get some discussion going. I thought this was a nice little touch and lets people work on their networking skills.

First up for the night was a mini presentation on Backup Basics with Todd Holmes (LinkedIn), a DBA for Channel Intelligence in Celebration. The mini presentation is a 15-minute presentation slot that Andy came up with to encourage new speakers to cut their teeth on public speaking and technical presentations. Todd did a great job with such a broad topic and even went the extra mile in showing examples via T-SQL code. Todd will also be doing this mini presentation at the upcoming SQL Saturday #21 in Orlando.

After Todd’s presentation there was a short dinner break and I got setup for my PBM presentation. Andy said he was curious to see an hour-long presentation went on Policy Based Management since he thought it was a topic that could be covered rather quickly. Funnily enough my presentation ran just a tad over an hour and I could have kept going! There were some hiccups here and there with my VM taking a little longer than I would have liked to open certain things but demos didn’t blow up like they did at the last SQL Saturday. I also got a chance to show the audience EPMF in action (sort of). I showed the script run that used PowerShell to apply existing policies and dump results into a database repository. The example failed because I tried to open Reporting Services page on VM which had the hardened IE settings enabled that didn’t allow scripts to run so I wound up just showing a screenshot of the dashboard view. Hopefully this demo helps people take SQL 2008 and PBM back to their jobs and look like rock stars for virtually no money (except for cost of SQL 2008 Standard license after they see how awesome this is).

After the meeting I stuck around and talked shop with Andy, Jack Corbett (Blog | Twitter) and Kendal Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter) which was pretty awesome as we talked about all things SQL. Always a good time when you get quality geek time in. Overall it was a great time and a big thank you to the group for having me out there. If you’re in the Orlando area make sure to check out the group!

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Upcoming Talks:Orlando SSUG and SQL Saturday #21

It’s going to be a fun month! Next week I’ll be speaking at the Orlando SQL Server User Group on Policy Based Management 101. I also got confirmation that not only was my PBM presentation accepted for SQL Saturday #21 on October 17th but I’ll also be doing a MINI session on SQL & Twitter:A Perfect UNION !

I’m REALLY psyched about SQL Saturday as there are going to be some awesome presenters there such as Andy Leonard (Blog | Twitter), Ken Simmons (Blog | Twitter), Joe Webb (Blog | Twitter), Brian Knight (Blog | Twitter), Kevin Kline (Blog | Twitter), Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter), Buck Woody (Blog | Twitter), Kendal Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter), Chad Miller (Blog | Twitter) and many more! The speaker lineup looks like a veritable PASS Summit East Coast edition. If you can’t make it to the Summit this year (and I highly encourage you to do so if you can) then definitely try to make it to SQL Saturday #21!

And as if the lineup of talks at the SQL Saturday event wasn’t enough to blow your mind, the week leading up to it there is a week of day-long training seminars! Again, this looks like a rock star line up featuring Andy Warren, Brian Knight, Kevin Kline, Andy Leonard and Buck Woody. Each session is $150 and WELL worth the investment.

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SQL Saturday #16 – Recap

Last Saturday was the SQL Saturday event at Devry University in Miramar, Florida. First off I have to say it was a great event with over 400 attendees! It was also my very first SQL Saturday speaking event. The speaker evaluations haven’t come back yet but I have a feeling I’ll definitely should have some dings as my presentation started off well but towards the end the presentation Gods reared their ugly heads and it ended on a not-so-great note with my demo not going so well. The good news is that one attendee, Argenis Fernandez ( Twitter ), gave me some good feedback as well as told me that he got some good ideas from the presentation and was excited to go back to work and implement Policy Based Management in his environment. Honestly that kind of response makes the effort all worthwhile.

From my session I went to check out Kendal Van Dyke’s ( Blog | Twitter ) session on Configuring SQL Access for the Web Developer/Admin. Kendal and I interact pretty frequently on Twitter so I was glad to get a chance to finally meet him as well attend his sessions. This was a good intro level talk on how to configure web application authentication methods in both classic ASP and ASP.NET. Some nice tricks come out of this session including how to properly add a user to the IIS_WPG group (hint: the proper way ISN’T to just add them to the group in computer management!). I’m no developer but this was really useful to me, especially as a DBA tasked with implementing Sharepoint in to our environment. I say this because Sharepoint has its share of permission issues especially if you run the app pools or web apps under a different account such as a custom AD account.

My next session was Andy Warren’s ( Blog | Twitter | LinkedIN ) session on Social and Not so Social Networking for the DBA. I’ve attended other sessions with Andy and they’ve all been great. This one was no exception. Andy is an excellent presenter and makes it look so easy. One thing that was great about this, for me, is that this is the first weekend was the first time I’ve gotten a chance to really meet and talk to Andy. It was funny because at the speaker dinner he asked “Hey, aren’t you that SQLChicken guy?” which made me laugh. I guess my self-branding is working! Anyhow, this session was really interesting as it was more of an open discussion with the group rather than a straight forward presentation. Andy brings up important things to think about in terms of networking such as don’t start building your network only when you need something (aka job search). Networking is something that can benefit you far beyond simple job searches and opportunities. In the session some of us shared how simply being connected on social networks like Twitter have actually helped improve ourselves in our current jobs. If you ever get a chance to attend this session I highly recommend you do. In fact, if you’re attending the PASS Summit in Seattle in November, Don Gabor will be holding a Pre-Conference session called Networking to Build Business Contacts. Andy highly recommends anyone attending the summit to check this session out as it will help you not only build your network professionally but help you network in general at events like PASS and SQL Saturday.

At lunch I got to sit down and have lunch with Andy Warren, Kendal Van Dyke and a few other attendees. I only mention this in the blog because I we got a chance to talk with some people who ranged from first-timers to the SQL world as well as others who’ve been doing it for awhile. Also it was interesting to get feedback on little things like how sometimes the session descriptions were a little too vague so it made it difficult to decide if the topic or level was the right one to attend. Based on this I know I’ll be tweaking my abstracts for future events. The other cool thing was getting a chance to sit and pick Andy’s brain a bit about the direction of PASS. Personally I’m excited to see what PASS has in store to continue bringing the community together. So far its been fantastic to be a part of it.

Next up was another session with Kendal with topic being Transactional Replication: Beyond the Basics.  Honestly I’m currently not using transaction replication in my shop but after attending this session I feel like I gleaned enough knowledge to be able to tackle that task if it were asked of me. Great overview of different topologies that were clearly and easily explained, as well as going over some possible pitfalls you might encounter. Very interesting topic and presented very well. Kendal will actually be doing this presentation this year at PASS (first time presenter, congrats to him!) so again if you’ll be at PASS Summit this year I suggest you check this session out.

After that I went over to Jeffrey Garbus’ ( Blog ) session on Indexing for Join Optimization which drew quite the crowd. Packed house with a bunch of people (myself included) taking a seat on the floor along the walls to check this topic out! I’ve attended Jeffrey’s session before at the last SQL Saturday in Tampa and he is a great speaker. This particular talk was actually kind of a part 2 to his earlier talk on Choosing Indexes for Performance . Even if you didn’t catch the first session this one alone is a treasure trove of great information. For instance do you know why join orders matters? Do you know the difference in performance between doing a join using the old ANSI syntax and the new? You’d be surprised. Again I highly recommend you check out any session by Jeffrey if given the opportunity.

Last, but most definitely not least, was Chad Miller’s ( Blog | Twitter ) session on Powershell and SQL Server Administration. Chad not only covers basic Powershell commands and tricks but he covers using a cool project he’s developed called SQL Server PowerShell Extensions. What PSX gives DBAs is a base set of functions that covers most common DBA tasks. One of the coolest demonstrations I saw during this presentation was the use of Powershell as an ETL tool. Chad shows you how you are able to copy data from table to another using only 3 lines of code! This presentation truly made me excited to really start learning Powershell and applying it at work.

Overall I thought it was a great event, as any SQL Saturday I’ve attended, and I had an absolute blast presenting and meeting a bunch of folks I’ve interacted with on Twitter. If you get a chance to make it to a SQL Saturday event I couldn’t recommend  it enough. You get top-notch education, great networking opportunities, awesome swag and all for free! If you don’t have a SQL Saturday event in a city near you, and you won’t be making it to the PASS Summit this year then don’t fret! The good folks at PASS have put together an exciting free training event called 24 Hours of SQL PASS. For more details on this great event check my previous post on it.

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