SQL Server with Mr. Denny

November 9, 2009  11:00 AM

#sqlpass is over. Some thought, comments, and reviews.

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

The 2009 SQL PASS Summit has ended.  Our friends and extended family have made there way home, or are on there way home.  As I sit in the airport on Saturday on my way home to Southern California it seams like a good time to put down some thoughts about this years PASS Summit.

I posted some blog posts about the keynotes on Tuesday and Wednesday as well as some photo’s already so I’ll try not to rehash to much of that information here.  I attended a wide range of sessions this week.  Some where good, some weren’t so good, and some were very, very funny (twitter commentary).  Most of the sessions that I attended were public, but a few where insider sessions for MVPs, TAP customers, etc and were covered by NDA, so I can’t talk about those.

The Sessions

I would say that the most talked about session of the summit was the Buck Woody (twitter) comedy show.  Also know as his very informative and very funny sessions which he gave on Thursday afternoon.  I wasn’t able to catch Bucks sessions in there entirety, but I was able to sit through most of them, and they were both funny and very informative.  I wish that I was able to be that kind of speaker.  Hopefully some day I will have the skills to do so.

The last session on Thursday was my presentation on “Storage for the DBA”.  I was honestly expecting a very small group to attend, as it was the last session of the day on the last day.  Which is normally not a good place to be presenting.  However with the summit being Tuesday through Thursday, most people didn’t leave until Friday so we were able to keep a lot of people there.  This along with the excellent topic selection (or at least I think it was excellent, but I’m biased) let to a packed room with people standing in the back.

During my session we had some great questions, and we covered a lot of topics.  My session this year was presented as a community session so it was 75 minutes.  Next year I think I’ll submit it as a spotlight session so that I’ll have 90 minutes.  As I review the revamp the slide deck over the next few months I may end up making it a two session presentation so that there is enough room for everything, and plenty of time for questions, maybe even a pre/post con which would give a ton of time. to really make that work though I think I’d need to get a hardware vendor to loan out some equipment so that we could do a hands on.

One this which I thought was a little strange, was that during the first ever Board of Directors Q&A panel discussion, only 16 people attended.  I was expecting a much fuller room to grill the board members about things which people had questions about.

The Summit it self

Personally I always have a great time at the PASS Summit.  However some people don’t, and this is something that we has a SQL Server community need to correct.  I was speaking with some of the board members Friday night at the hotel bar and they told me that 40% of the summit attendees were attending for the first time this year.  This is an amazing number of people coming for the first time.  However attendance was down from last year by ~6-8%.  With this many new people the question becomes, where is everyone from last year?  With 40% of the people being new this year, one would think that we would have a massive attendance growth.

There were some complaints which were over heard in the halls of the hotel that people didn’t know what to do after the summit’s official activities were over.  I can remember back to my first SQL Summit a few years ago and it was hard to find out where the after parties were happening.  It helps if you know a lot of people as the more people at the summit that you know the easier it is to find the parties.  We as the attendees who have been to the summit several times need to do better and making the new attendees feel welcome and show then the ropes.  Here they are in the strange city with a couple of thousand people they didn’t know, knowing that there’s a good time to be had, but just not sure where it is, or who to talk to in order to find it.

I spoke with some of the board about this, so that we can try and come up with a better way to make it easier to identify people so that the first timers can find the people who have been coming for a few years, and the people who have been coming for a few years can find the first timers and get them involved. No decision was reached (decisions really shouldn’t be made over been at 1am) but we got all the ideas down on a list so that they will at least be talked about my PASS HQ, and the board.

PASS can help some with this, but PASS can’t schedule every second of the day.  Even if they could would we really want them to?  Lets face it scheduled parties are fine, but dull.  It’s the after parties at places like Bush Garden (the karaoke bar) or at the Tap House which really make it the event that it is.  Now these aren’t scheduled parties, and the certainly aren’t sponsored parties (most of the time), but of all the after hours events that I went to this week these will be where I did the most networking with people I didn’t know, or that I had only met online.

I think that SQLServerPedia and PASS tried to help get people talking to each other via the SQLBingo, and I met a few people this way, but not nearly as many as I was expecting.  I think that this could have really helped the new people to the summit get to know the longer time attendees if we had some people playing looking for the squares.  I think that most of the squares did a decent job letting everyone know where they where during the week, but we need more visibility for people who aren’t on twitter, or who can’t use twitter from there cell phone to find people.  As an example most of our foreign attendees don’t have data plans on their cell phones so they can’t follow the twitter streams during the day without using their laptops.  The same goes for anyone using a corporate cell phone as it will be locked down so that they can’t install any twitter applications which would prevent them from participating.  I think that the monitor in front of the PASS HQ booth was a good start to this, but I think that we need one dedicated to SQLBingo next year (I’m working under the assumption that we try the SQLBingo one more time) which is constantly showing the SQLBingo feed in real time, no matter what comes across it.  (I’m not sure how many people noticed but the real time twitter feed which was up at the PASS HQ booth went away after the first day or so.)

Another thing which needs to change is the location of the PASS HQ booth.  It’s location my the registration desk is fine for Monday, but after that it should be moved to the top of the escalator on the fourth floor so that it is sitting right where 95% of the attendees will be walking by.  As it is now the only time anyone would go near the booth would be for breakfast or lunch.

I wanted to do stuff, but I couldn’t find out where anything was happening

I would agree that it can be tough to find out what is going on after the official stuff is done.  The typical DBA doesn’t really have the right personality to just walk up to people and talk to strangers and make new friends.  For some people this can be down right scary.  But I promise you that we won’t bite, and we won’t make fun of you for coming up to us, and we won’t send you away because we don’t know you.  The bulk of the people at the SQL PASS Summit are very approachable, and very friendly.  Those of us that have been coming to the summit for a few years know each other so we naturally gravitate towards each other in groups of 20-50.  However we are always happy to cram a few new people into the taxi with us and go drink and make asses of ourselves at the karaoke bar, and no drinking is not required we had plenty of people who don’t drink for one reason or another (religion, recovery, etc) with us.  Heck, I sang for the first (and probably last) time this year (it did take a lot of Jaeger to get .me up there though).

One of the problems with all the after parties being unofficial parties is that there isn’t really a way to find out about them without talking to people.  I’ve pitched an idea to have a couple of screens put out which would have meet up information posted on them as that info is seen on twitter or as people tell PASS HQ of an after party.  This will cost PASS some money as the monitors aren’t free, but if it gets people meeting each other and coming back year after year then it is money well spent in my mind.

A question for you

Of you, who have been to the summit and didn’t go back, I ask a question.  Why not?  What where you expecting from the summit that you didn’t get?  What turned you off of coming back to the summit?  Please feel free to leave me a comment here, or a private email to me directly via dcherry AT awarenesstech DOT com would be just fine.  Obviously I’m not on the board so I can’t make any changes myself, but I know people that are and I’ve got not problem calling them and telling them that my readers didn’t come back because of this.

What do you mean you haven’t been to PASS?

So you’ve read this far down, but you’ve never been to the SQL PASS Summit.  What on earth are you waiting for?  Yes I know it is a pricy event to attend.  You’ve got the entrance fee, the hotel and airfare costs to deal with so the whole thing can run a few thousand dollars (US) to go to, but the education and the experience are well worth it.

If you haven’t been to PASS, I highly recommend it.  If you’ve been before but had a bad experience speak up.  That way it can be fixed and hopefully you’ll come spend another week with us.  If you go regularly like me, then I hope that I was able to meet you (please don’t be offended when I don’t remember your name, I met easily 300 or more people and I’m really bad with names to begin with), and if not lets work on that at next years PASS.

See you in Seattle next November,


November 4, 2009  6:10 PM

#sqlpass notes from the Wednesday Keynotes

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

At the Wednesday keynotes we started with Rushabh talking about the PASS financials.  Some numbers include:

2010 revenue projection of $3.2M which is a 15% reduction from the 2009 numbers.  But even with this reduction PASS is planning on spending 40% more on the SQL Server community.  They were able to increase the community spending, by ratically reducing the IT expenses by 67%.

Wayne then named some outstanding volunteers that work with PASS.  This includes Tim Ford for his work on 24 hours of PASS, Grant Fritschey for his work on the new SQL Server Standard, Amy Lewis who is the leader of the BI virtual chapter, Jacob Sebastian who is heading up the PASS Member Outreach program in India.

This year there are two passion awards being given out.  The first was presented to Charley Hanania for his work with the European PASS Committee, his work with the Swiss PASS Chapter.  He has be working with PASS for 4 years so far.  The second was presented to Allen Kinsel (Twitter) for his work in preparing the PASS conference.

Tom Casey (Twitter) who is a General Manager of the SQL Server Product Team at Microsoft then took the stage.  He has reminded us that only 20% of the people have the information that they need to do their job.  Specifically they need more information from there data, and how SQL Servers BI product suite can help the other 80% of the people out there get the infomation that they need.

Tom brought Ron VanZanten from First Premier Bankcard to talk about how SQL Server BI is used by them to drive their business and why they picked SQL Server over Oracle and Teradata.  First Premier Bankcard selected SQL Server because of the Office integration, as well as the pricepoint that SQL Server comes in at.  First Premier Bankcard has gone from a new customer to an early adopter running SQL Server Madison for their data warehouse which has reduced some queries run time from hours to minutes.

Tom then talked about how the new Power Pivot platform is going to make it easier to the Information Worker to get the information they need, while IT will still control the data and the application.  This is expected to make the Information Worker more efficient without having to requesting that the IT department put together the new application.

Tom brought Amir Netz (Twitter) of Microsoft to the stage to show a demostration of Power Pivot.  The demo included bringing 100 million rows into Excel from the data warehouse then filtering that data against values which were simply entered by hand into another sheet in the workbook.  As for sharing these huge documents we have Power Pivot for Sharepoint which allows you to upload the Excel workbook to the Sharepoint portal. The application can then automatically refresh the data and allow anyone who needs to view, and then slice and dice the data via the sharepoint portal without having to download the application.  The work is all done on the sharepoint server, by using your SSAS serer to do the needed processing.

When you configure Power Pivot for sharepoint you get a very interactive set of managemet screens in the sharepoint configuration.  It will show you who’s using the files, how often they are being used, and trends which show the usage of the documents over time.

The downside to putting all this new Power Pivot functionality in your org is that Office 2010, Sharepoint 2010 Enterprise Edition, and SQL Server 2008 R2 are all required to make this all work.  This ends up being a pretty pricy solution if you don’t have Sharepoint and SQL already.


November 3, 2009  6:04 PM

First picture set from #sqlpass

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

I’ve just uploaded a bunch of pictues from SQL Pass to flicker.  They can be found here.


November 3, 2009  5:13 PM

#sqlpass so far… (keynotes, parties, lunch, and more)

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

So far the SQL PASS 2009 summit has been a blast.  I arrived on Sunday afternoon and the fun started shortly after that.  There have been a couple of parties to go to, and we did a great photo walk Monday morning. Continued »

October 31, 2009  11:17 PM

My #sqlpass schedule

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

For those lucky enough to be attending the SQL PASS summit this year in Seattle, WA I’ll be there to.  This is my third year in a row attending, and my first year speaking.  Over the course of the week I’ve got a bunch of planned things which I’ll be doing.  Hopefully you’ll look me up at one (or several) of them. Continued »

October 29, 2009  11:00 AM

Auto shrink is just pure evil

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

If you don’t agree with the above statement please keep reading.  I’m write, and it’s important, I promise.

In order for the auto-shrink feature to be really effective it has to move data from the end of the file to the middle/front of the file so that it can chop off the tail end of the database file.  This causes extra load to be placed on the disk, and on the CPU as it is identifying the data pages which can be moved, then moves them.

It also causes extra fragmentation to happen within the database as the shrink operation does not preserve the fragmentation state of the indexes within the database.  Because of this the worst time to shrink a database is write after the indexes have been rebuilt.  Because of the extra space that is needed to rebuild indexes this is probably also the most common time to shrink a database on a regular basis.

My favorite reason to not shrink a database is listed directly in Books OnLine under the “Shrinking a Database” heading.  Under the Best Practices topic it says “Unless you have a specific requirement, do not set the AUTO_SHRINK database option to ON.”.

So go and turn your AUTO_SHRINK settings to off like they should be and quit worrying if the hard drive icon in the My Computer window shows that it’s full.  Worry about about how much free space is within the database files, not the free space on the disk.   Fill the disk already.  It’s fun, and all the cool kids are doing it.


October 27, 2009  11:00 AM

The Windows 7, Windows 2008 R2, Exchange 2010 launch was more informative that I thought

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Yesterday was the Windows 7, Windows 2008 R2, Exchange 2010 launch event here in Southern California (Orange County to be specific, Burbank is on Wednesday).  For the most part I was planning on going to pick up a couple of tidbits of information, and a free copy on Windows 7 Ultimate (I’m not stupid, someone offers me a free Windows license, I’m going to take it).  However the day was much more informative that I had expected that’s for sure.

In this post I’m going to cover some of the high level information, then over a few future posts I’ll give more into what was covered. Continued »

October 26, 2009  11:00 AM

I’ve got some money for an upgrade, what should I upgrade?

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

So you are going along your normal day, and your boss comes up to you and tells you “We’ve got a few thousand bucks left in this years budget, what would you like to upgrade?”  Assuming that new 26″ monitors for your workstation are out of the question, the boss is probably talking about a server upgrade here so lets see what we can do. Continued »

October 23, 2009  11:00 AM

#sqlpass hair color voting ends tonight! Cast your vote before it’s too late.

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

That’s right, the second most important vote of this years SQL PASS Summit (with the elections being the most important); the color of my hair is closing tonight.

Currently (I’m writing this at 5:30am EST) the standings are Blue at 38%, Purple at 29%, Rainbow Fro Clown Wig at 24% and Green bringing up the rear at 9%.

Get the word out, get those votes coming in.  We’re getting close to 10% of the votes for the board elections.  I’d love to see that number get higher.  Pretend it’s Chicago; vote early and vote often (as often as you can when switching IPs each time).  As the day goes on I’ll post updates to the vote count (none of that secret stuff going on here).

Have fun, and I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.


P.S. The reason for the quick closing so far before PASS is that if hair color needs to be ordered (I’m picky about my hair dye) we need time for it to get here.

October 22, 2009  10:25 PM

This isn’t your grand-mothers bingo game (#sqlbingo)

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

This year at the PASS Summit there will be a daily bingo game.  This isn’t the standard sit in a room while someone calls out numbers.  No you have to find the people who’s names and faces (for the most part) are on the bingo cards. Continued »

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