Category: PASS General

PASS Summit 2015, Day One Keynote: The Future of SQL Server

October 29, 2015 — Yesterday marked the first full day of community sessions at PASS Summit 2015 in Seattle. After opening remarks by PASS President Thomas LaRock, Joseph Sirosh (Corporate Vice President, Data Group) and Shawn Bice (General Manager, Database Systems Group) of Microsoft led the audience through an hour of insight into SQL Server 2016.

Joseph pointed us toward the future of the Microsoft data platform. Starting with more widely adopted Internet use in the 90s, we've seen a massive uptick in the amount of collected data in the cloud and through mobile device outlets; at the same time, analog data is all but gone. According to keynote projections, Microsoft expects that by 2025, cloud-based data will eclipse all other data sources by more than a 2:1 ratio, with almost all data residing on either mobile devices or cloud platform repositories. Microsoft continues to position itself to be the leading solution for this new data-driven culture.

After laying the groundwork for what the future holds, Shawn and Joseph took us on a tour of SQL Server 2016 and its built-in features:

    • Always Encrypted technologies will encrypt data at rest, on the fly, and in the buffer pool to help eliminate threats of intrusion at all levels, including the elusive man-in-the-middle threat of polling the buffer pool.
    • Inclusion of R language native to the SQL Server product will enable low- or no-impact analytics directly against OLTP environments in what Microsoft is calling "Real Time Operational Analytics." This feature enables you to make decisions rapidly, at your pace rather than waiting for scheduled ETL processes to load to a separate data warehouse—resulting in potential time and storage-cost savings. R is to data science what SQL is to data management, so it’s a natural match for data professions and a welcome addition to the Microsoft data platform.
    • A STRETCH DATABASE provides the ability—via a simple wizard—to stretch tables to the cloud, along with all DDL and security structures in place. This way, users can reach all data, regardless of whether it's "earthed" or hosted in Azure. This capability offers the potential for savings in all costs related to storage: hardware, utilities, and operational staffing, just to name a few.
    • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is completely overhauled in SQL Server 2016. (This news elicited a great deal of applause from the crowd.) I'd expect Power BI-like features in the SSRS product suite to be part of this "overhaul."

The Microsoft data platform is leading the way in enhancements and providing a complete solution, as evidenced by the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant Ratings. Furthermore, SQL Server has been the leader in data security stability over the past six years.

2016 is going to be a great year for the Microsoft data platform—and a great time to be positioned as a Microsoft data professional. I am anticipating the continued roll-outs of SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Previews and can only imagine what we’ll have to look forward to in the Microsoft product keynote at next year’s PASS Summit.

Tim Ford
Director, PASS SQLSaturday | PASS Headquarters

The PASS Summit Backpack

October 26, 2015 — I would like to address questions we’ve received at PASS Summit 2015 regarding the decision not to provide backpacks to attendees this year. Every year, when the Board looks at the annual fiscal budget, difficult choices are made in balancing portfolio budgets and priorities. This year, one of these difficult choices was to remove $160,000 for backpack purchases. By removing this expense from the PASS Summit budget, we were able to fully fund community portfolios.

The Board made this decision knowing that the feedback we’d received on the backpacks from past PASS Summit attendees indicated that many people didn’t want the backpack. As PASS looks to expand its community-centric growth, it was decided that this money was better invested back into the community. This year’s attendee gift is an eco-friendly bag that celebrates our community with photos of former PASS Summit attendees.

We understand this might be disappointing for some attendees and welcome your feedback, either directly with one of our team or in the conference survey.

Denise McInerney
PASS VP, Marketing

PASS Summit 2015: Board Portfolio Announcements

October 26, 2015 — PASS Summit 2015 kicked off Monday in Seattle, with Pre-Conference sessions and the PASS Board of Directors meeting. We have plenty of exciting news to share!

As part of the meeting, I announced the new portfolio appointments for the Directors at Large. In addition to appointments for existing portfolios, a new combined portfolio was announced: Membership, starting January 2016. The objective of this portfolio is to gain better understanding and insight into our membership, identify improvements for the community, and explore opportunities to introduce new technology platform services to our members.

Look for more information about this portfolio—and how you can help us make PASS membership even better—in the coming months.

The 2016 PASS Directors at Large for 2016 are as follows:
· Jen Stirrup—Business Analytics Community
· Tim Ford—Membership
· Ryan Adams—Programs
· Grant Fritchey—SQLSaturday
· Wendy Pastrick—Virtual Chapters

The Chapters portfolio leadership will be filled by the Board member who will be appointed to the upcoming vacant seat in January 2016. Until then, Grant Fritchey will continue to provide support for Chapters will oversee the portfolio’s transition to the newly appointed Director at Large in January.

We’ll have more news from PASS Summit 2015 throughout the week, so stay tuned to the blog and follow #Summit15 on Twitter.

Adam Jorgensen
PASS EVP, Finance and Governance

@Wadamj

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Melody Zacharias

October 14, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Melody Zacharias takes us inside her session “Distributed Replay: Testing with Your Data, Your Way!”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Melody: My favorite super-hero is not a classic hero but the Disney character Goofy. Goofy is good natured and down to earth; he treats everyone the same and never takes himself too seriously. I would like people to have the super-power of seeing into the future after my session. Distributed Replay helps you determine how changes to hardware, software, or index can affect how things run in your system. It allows you to see what will happen in your future production system.

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Melody: I discovered the SQL language in university and it was as obvious to me as breathing. I have had a passion for it ever since, and wanting to share it with others has lead me to presenting and teaching. I was once told that you don’t really know something until you can teach it. Teaching encourages me to be a better professional and allows me to grow that passion in others.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Melody: I have to say that Distributed Replay is a great super-power within SQL Server 2012. It allows you to predict the future and determine how changes will make your system react.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Melody: The nemesis of data professionals is often forgetting the customer, whether that is your boss, CEO, or client. I think we sometimes forget that our job is to solve a problem or create a solution, not just to play with cool technical tools.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Melody: Anything new excites me. When someone finds a new way to solve an old problem or finds a more efficient way to solve it. New ideas are exiting, particularly when they are shared!

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Melody: After my session, I hope people will try set up Distributed Replay in their test environment and try it out to see all that it can do for them. The best part of being a data professional is the toys we get to play with, and this is a really fun one.

Find Melody on her blog at SQLMelody.blogspot.caor on Twitter @SQLMelody, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Denny Cherry

October 14, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Denny Cherry takes us inside his session “SQL Server Database Administration for the Non-DBA”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Denny: I’m hoping that people will come away with a basic understanding of database management.

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Denny: I started working with data and databases back when I was working at Eartlhink, in the Tech Support department. I ended up working on a reporting team and started working with data a lot. We started working in Microsoft Access and quickly outgrew Access as a data platform. We then moved all our systems into Microsoft SQL Server and ended up having the largest systems in the company.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Denny: Normal use of nonclustered indexes is the feature that people aren’t taking full advantage of.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Denny: The biggest mistake that I see people make is not properly indexing their databases.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Denny: The thing that really excites me when working in IT is being able to show people the real power of SQL Server and how it can really perform even under very large workloads.

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Denny: The next step after leaving “SQL Server Database Administration for the Non-DBA” is to make sure that backups are set up correctly on the SQL Server. Everything else that I talk about in the session can wait if needed. The backups are the biggest deal.

Find Denny online at www.peopletalkingtech.com, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Warner Chaves

October 14, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Warner Chaves takes us inside his session “Time to Stretch: Scaling out and in with Azure DB Elastic Scale”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Warner: My favorite super-hero is Plastic Man, who can stretch his body in all types of shapes and sizes! And that's what I want to give my attendees: the ability to be as elastic as Plastic Man for them and their databases!

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Warner: I was working as a DBA for HP when I was hit by a truck carrying radioactive waste. After this freakish accident, my senses were tuned to SQL Server and I started hearing voices telling me to move to Canada and pursue my calling to get deeper into SQL Server!

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Warner: That would be the system health XEvent session that has run in SQL Server since 2008. It can give you all kinds of insight into the inner workings of your SQL Server and any issues that might be going on. It's like having mind-reading powers over your SQL instance.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Warner: Lack of planning is the arch-nemesis of database projects! Some businesses will not plan, prioritize, or fund their data infrastructure properly—until one day things blow out of control.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Warner: The products, analysis, and techniques are always evolving. SQL Server and Microsoft Azure are like X-Men mutants with powers that change every time there's a new movie!

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Warner: Log in to Azure (or get your free trial pass) and start playing around right away with the elastic database features!

Find Warner on his blog at http://sqlturbo.com or on Twitter @warchav, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Argenis Fernandez

September 29, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Argenis Fernandez takes us inside his pre-conference session “The Complete Primer to SQL Server Virtualization” and general sessions “Stored Procedures vs. Ad Hoc SQL: Performance Showdown” and “Zero-Downtime Upgrades: Rockstar DBA”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Argenis: My favorite super-hero would have to be Mr. Incredible. He's awesome. I hope my "Stored Procedures vs. Ad Hoc SQL: Performance Showdown!" session will give everyone the power to see through their SQL Server instance configuration and understand what little things they can change to make it go faster.

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Argenis: Back in 1998, I got involved with a project to deploy Microsoft Commercial Internet System (MCIS)—a product that was sold only to ISPs and ASPs at the time, when the Internet was in its infancy. That product ran on SQL Server 6.5, and that was the first time I got involved with massive amounts of data. The one thing that pushed me to get to the expert level was the Microsoft Certified Master certification; that required a lot of training and a lot of studying. But really, becoming an expert is beyond certifications or books—it's all about experience. If you don't spend the time to learn by trial and error, play with features and understand how things work, you'll never really be an expert.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Argenis: That would have to be the people, honestly. Tech is nothing without the people behind it. At the places that I've enjoyed working the most, where things seemed to be really working great, it all came down to having a great team of professionals.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Argenis: Not testing with production data, or as close to production as possible. A sizable chunk of the problems I see in the field today are related to this.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Argenis: Bad defaults in SQL Server. There are too many little details that people forget about because they don't work off of checklists. Sometimes the simplest things will derail your performance.

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Argenis: Learn about plan cache analysis, and review ad-hoc query activity against your instances—and put your acquired knowledge to good use!

Find Argenis on his blog at http://www.sqlblog.com/blogs/argenis_fernandez/ or on Twitter @DBArgenis, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Guy Glantser

September 29, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Guy Glantser takes us inside his session “How to Use Parameters like a Pro and Boost Performance”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Guy: My favorite super-hero is, of course, Superman, and throughout my career I always strive to be a Super DBA. My session is going to be all about DBA and developer super-powers. I’m going to show attendees how to save the day and become heroes. I’m even going to wear my own Superman costume for this session, and I’m going to demonstrate my super powers live in front of the audience!

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Guy: Twenty years ago, when I was in the army, we were still using a mainframe system for handling inventory. I’m talking about the days of SQL Server 6.5, before ERP systems were common. The process of managing inventory stock levels took place once a year, and it was completely manual. It involved printing tons of paper containing all the stock levels from all the locations for a list of around 10,000 items. We’re talking about something like 700,000 rows printed on paper (very small font, lots of paper). A team of five people then had to manually go over the list and calculate the total stock level for each item. Then, by applying all kinds of rules (manually), they produced a list of items for purchasing. And then, they generated purchase requests in the purchasing system (manually, of course). The whole process took around 3 weeks. I figured that this process could probably be more efficient. So I created a database in SQL Server, designed a few tables, wrote a program to load the inventory data into the database, wrote a procedure to aggregate the data, apply the business rules and produce the purchasing items, and wrote another program to automatically push them to the purchasing system. This process ran automatically once per week, and it took about 2 minutes of machine work instead of 4 months of man work. It was also much more accurate, and it saved a lot of money, not only because we freed those five people to do more important work, but also because we dramatically reduced inventory levels by adjusting weekly rather than once a year. This is when I realized the power of data, and this is when I decided that I wanted to devote my career to this and become a data super-hero.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Guy: There are so many secret powers in SQL Server, and it’s really hard to choose my favorite. But if I need to choose one, then I choose Extended Events. This is a very powerful monitoring platform, much better than Profiler or SQL Trace in so many ways. You can set up event sessions for a broad range of scenarios quite easily and efficiently, and once you get used to it, the sky is the limit for what you can do with this tool. One of the things I love the most about Extended Events is the different targets that provide different functionalities, such as the histogram and the event pairing targets. But unfortunately, most SQL Server DBAs still use Profiler or SQL Trace, simply because they are not familiar with Extended Events and its secret power.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Guy: This is actually something I’m going to talk about and demonstrate in my session. One of the common mistakes that developers make is to change the values of parameters inside a stored procedure. For example, the application might execute a stored procedure with the value NULL in parameter @X. Then, the code inside the stored procedures performs a calculation and sets @X to something else. And eventually @X is used in a query somewhere in the stored procedure. The problem is that the optimizer generates an execution plan for the query based on the value NULL and not the actual run-time value. This mistake can kill performance, and I see it happen so many times. In my session, I’m going to show a few other alternatives for doing it wrong (which are also quite common), and a few alternative for doing it right. In many cases, by applying the techniques I’m going to show in the session, I was able to improve performance dramatically.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Guy: I love helping other people. I love solving complex problems. And when it comes to SQL Server, I love doing performance tuning, because in many cases it allows me to solve complex problems and help other people. I have been doing it for almost 20 years, and I’m still excited when I’m given a slow running query and asked to improve its performance. Asking me to tune a query is like giving a new toy to a kid. Whether it’s by adding a missing index, rewriting the code, or redesigning the whole process, I love that feeling of eventually reducing the query duration from 2 minutes to less than a second. I truly feels like Superman in those glory moments.

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Guy: There are going to be a lot of takeaways from my session. Whenever I talk about this topic, people tell me, “Oh my god, I have so many things to do when I go back to the office!” So the next step after my session will be to take a rest and enjoy the week in Seattle—because there’s a good chance that you’ll have a lot of work when you get back to the office.

Find Guy on his blog at http://www.madeiradata.com/author/guyglantser/ or on Twitter @guy_glantser, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Board Elections: The Results Are In!

September 24, 2015 — The 2015 PASS Elections ended yesterday, and the results have been totaled. Before I announce the results, I want to thank all of the candidates that chose to run in this year’s election. Your commitment to the PASS community is important in ensuring a healthy future for PASS.

Congratulations to Jen Stirrup, Tim Ford, and Ryan Adams on their election to the Board of Directors. Jen was re-elected to the EMEA regional seat and Tim was re-elected to the US/Canada regional seat. Our newest director, Ryan Adams, was elected to the open seat.

A total of 2,997 votes were cast by 1,285 voters this year:

Jen Stirrup, 933 votes (EMEA Seat winner)

Tim Ford, 824 votes (US/Canada Seat winner)

Ryan Adams, 683 votes (Open Seat winner)

Argenis Fernandez, 557 votes

You can see how the seats were awarded by clicking here. Newly elected directors will begin serving their term on January 1, 2016 and continue through the end of 2017.

Thanks to all who participated in the candidate forums and Town Hall meetings, including those who blogged and tweeted about the elections, as well as those who made their voices heard by voting. I would like to give special thanks to all the candidates on a passionate race that covered many issues and ideas that will shape the future of PASS.

Don’t let this election be the end of your involvement with PASS. We need your continued involvement throughout the year. There are volunteer opportunities with your local PASS Chapter or favorite Virtual Chapter. You can read more about volunteering for PASS here. If you take on a leadership role as a volunteer, you might find yourself taking that next step toward serving on the PASS Board someday.

Congratulations again to the newly elected directors!

Thomas LaRock
PASS President

NomCom official response regarding 2015 PASS Board Elections Campaign

September 18, 2015 - The 2015 PASS Nominations Committee has issued the following statement in relation the use of Chapter mailing lists during the 2015 PASS Board of Directors Election:

“The PASS Nominations Committee has reviewed an issue related to an email being sent from a PASS VC mailing list where a candidate is a leader.  The campaign rules section of our election overview contains the following: “Candidates who are Chapter leaders can use the Chapter email list for campaigning if they also provide list access to all other candidates.”  As there is no evidence that any other candidate was denied access to the email list the current policies haven’t been violated.  The Nominations Committee will review the policy following the elections.”

The full 2015 Elections Policies can be found at 2015 PASS Board of Directors Election Overview. Specifically, campaign rules (#3, #4 and #5) applicable to the above noted statement can be found below:

3. The candidate may ask a Chapter leader to send their candidate information to the Chapter’s email list. Doing so is at the discretion of the Chapter leader. The Chapter leader must accept responsibility for member feedback if they choose to send the information.

4. Candidates who hold leadership positions within PASS (Board members, Chapter leaders, etc.) may not use the email lists held by PASS for personal campaigning. This allows all candidates equal ground by eliminating such an advantage that those in a leadership position would have over other candidates. Rule 5 below provides an exception for candidates who are also Chapter leaders.
 
5. In order to not penalize candidates who are Chapter leaders, the exception for using email lists held by PASS are as follows: Candidates who are Chapter leaders can use the Chapter email list for campaigning if they also provide list access to all other candidates. Each Chapter leader understands their chapter’s tolerance for email, and it is up to their discretion as to how to implement this access. The PASS NomCom believes that the candidates who hold leadership positions within PASS have achieved this position by serving the community. We expect they will honor the spirit of this rule. 


Bill Graziano
2015 PASS Nominations Committee Chair