Last Friday I was one of the lucky few to attend the completely free SQLBits VI! This was my first time attending SQLBits and for me the event turned out to be an incredibly valuable experience. The caliber of speakers on show was high and the content covered technically delicious, a real treat. For those that missed out, here’s my highlights from SQLBits VI.
Monitoring and Tuning Parallel Query Execution – Ramesh Meyyappan
I entered this presentation assuming that I had the content to be covered pretty much locked down and that this would be a good way to ease into the day. It turns out I was in for a surprise and this was possibly the most valuable session of the day for me.
You know every once in a while you have one of those rare light bulb moments, like when a jumble of information and concepts just click into place all of a sudden to make complete and perfect sense. Well this session was rammed full of those typically elusive moments.
Ramesh delivered an excellent presentation that was packed with detailed T-SQL examples that he demoed effortlessly to the audience. The tempo of proceedings was fast, which I certainly appreciated because it meant I got as much out of the session as possible but this may not have been so well received by other attendees.
I won’t try to begin covering the detailed concepts that Ramesh presented here because I could not do them the same justice. I got a lot out of this presentation and have already been able to put the knowledge into practice in order to deliver performance improvements. I am seriously considering enrolling on the training courses offered by this presenter.
“A Perfect start to the day, great work Ramesh!”
Inside the SQL Server Query Optimizer – Connor Cunningham
The Query Optimizer is certainly one the more complex aspects of the SQL Server database engine and so who better to present the topic than the man who built it!
Connor had great charisma, commanding the stage with his presentation style, bringing to life what at times, if we’re being honest here, can be a bit of a dull subject.
Easing through the presentation Connor, Principal Software Architect at Microsoft, whisked the audience through an overview of the Query Optimizer which I’m sure a lot of DBA’s are already familiar with but what you don’t get from a text book is the story behind the theory. The insights into why a decision was made or why a feature was designed to behave a certain way really brings the content to life.
Connor clearly knows his stuff and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into his Chapters on the Query Optimizer in the awesome publication Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Internals.
“Expert delivery with a colorful and engaging style.”
Performance Monitoring and Tuning Tips – Ramesh Meyyappan
The third session of the day that I attended was again delivered by Ramesh who provided yet another knowledge packed presentation.
There were some great questions from the audience and from these discussions it became apparent to me that there is quite a bit of confusion in the SQL community as to when to use multiple data files for a database, with particular confusion surrounding why multiple data files can be beneficial to the tempdb database.
To set the record straight and dispel this myth, refer to Paul Randal‘s excellent blog post A SQL Server DBA myth a day: (12/30) tempdb should always have one data file per processor core. Administrators who design and manage how the tempdb database is configured in SQL Server need to read this!
“More of the same, that’s awesome by the way!”
Denormalization – Having your cake and eating it – Mark Whitehorn & Yasmeen Ahmed
This was a theory based session on when it is appropriate to use Denormalization. The outcome somewhat predictably of course being it depends :-)
Normalization V Denormalization proved to be a hot topic for debate as I’m sure you can imagine. There were some great contributions from the audience who were passionately putting forward their experiences and thoughts on the subject, making for a lively and interactive session. A few “contributors” though would have been better off keeping their thoughts to themselves as their behavior was well, how shall we say, not doing them any favors.
“A solid, well delivered presentation with an engaging and lively debate.”
High Availability in the Real World – Tom Pullen
Tom took the audience through an overview of SQL Server availability technologies delivered using his no-nonsense style of presentation. Technologies covered included Clustering, Mirroring and Log Shipping.
Already familiar with each of these technologies, the most valuable part of the session for me was the insights into real world scenarios that Tom shared with us. We also appear to share the same philosophy of keeping high availability solutions simple and manageable.
“DBA bread and butter, no nonsense experience from an expert.”
There’s more to SQLBits than just SQL Server!
As if awesome presentations, free swag and stacks of great prizes alone are not enough there’s still so much more to the SQLBits experience. For one it is a brilliant opportunity to meet some of the great people from the SQL Server community. During the event I was fortunate to meet with and share DBA stories from the trenches with SQL tweeps Adrian Hills (@AdaTheDev) and Vivekanand Serou (@Vivekserou).
I can imagine that it takes a great deal of work to put on and organise a quality event like SQLBits. I want to say big thank you to everyone that contributed to making the day such a great success!
Rumor has it that videos of the sessions will be available to download in about 4-6 weeks, so I will keep you posted.
A valuable experience on so many levels, I thoroughly enjoyed my first SQLBits experience. If you are serious about your professional development and improving your SQL Server skills then be sure not to miss the next event. See you there!