Category: PASS General

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

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Mickey Stuewe

September 15, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Mickey Stuewe takes us inside her session, “Sophisticated Techniques to Use in SSRS”.

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

Mickey: When I was a young girl in the 80s, Wonder Woman was on TV. She was my favorite super-hero. She could spin in circles and turn from an ordinary and plain woman into an amazing and beautiful woman. Her lasso could capture anyone. I hope to give my attendees the same ability: to lasso their end users with amazingly sophisticated reports.

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?

Mickey: I started my programming career as an application developer. I mostly spent my time in the business layer of applications, working with data and Visual Basic. But I wasn't happy. I left the IT world twice, but I always came back. The last time was 6 years ago. I didn't go back into the application development space, though; I came back to the SQL Server space as an SSRS Developer. I then converted 300 reports to 75 useful reports. About three years ago, I wanted to expand my knowledge and understand more about the SQL Server engine. I started attending SQLSaturday events and user groups. Then I attended my first PASS Summit—and the rest, as they say, is history. I'm always getting my learn on. Sometimes it's by books, sometimes it's through my network … but I am always learning.

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?

Mickey: Execution plans. The ones you can generate in SQL Server Manager and the ones you can find in the Cache Plan. There is so much useful information in them about the performance and lack of performance of your queries. You can find little things, like implicit conversions, and big things, like full table scans on wide tables.

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

Mickey: The biggest mistake I see is that data professionals don’t get involved in team projects soon enough. They need to advocate for themselves to save themselves from headaches later on. I have found time and time again that application code is developed without much thought to the database design until it's too late and too costly to fix. I've seen database designs with unnecessary VARCHAR(max)s, missing foreign keys, and even missing primary keys. These lead to issues from bad data to the inability to replicate the database.

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

Mickey: In the BI world, I'm still excited about the data. Where will the data take us? What new insights will we find? Does the data support our hypothesis? How can I show the data in a way that will convey my excitement? In the SQL Server world, I'm still excited about tuning that nasty query and modeling tables to store new data that needs to be captured so that the BI team can analyze it.

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

Mickey: I think every data professional should know how to tune queries. Sophisticated reports are not impressive if they are slow. Learning how to read execution plans and act on the findings is a learned talent, and it's a talent worth pursuing.

Find Mickey on her blog at mickeystuewe.com or on Twitter @SQLMickey , and check out ourother Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Paul Turley

September 15, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Paul Turley takes us inside his pre-conference session “Upgrade, Migration, and Bacon Planning for SQL Server 2014 and 2016”, general session “Datazen Technical Deep Dive”, and half-day session “Power BI Hands-On Mini Workshop”.

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

Paul: I aspired to be the Adam West version of Batman from age 3—and still do. Batman was just a regular (albeit suave rich) guy who could do anything when he put on tights and a cape. I achieve the same result by donning a PASS speaker or SQLSaturday polo and my utility belt of BI tools.

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?

Paul: After mastering a few development skills, I was compelled to share. I’m an out-of-the-box thinker, and figuring out how to devise a creative solution for a tough problem can only make the world a better place when sharing and learning from others. My career has been a balance between the classroom and the consulting field. Both help me maintain a healthy perspective and keep my skills sharp.

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?

Paul: Oh, gosh, there’s so much … T-SQL, DAX, MDX, SSIS, and Power Query are all so powerful in their own way. I think knowing when to use the right tool in the right way is far more powerful than doing screwy things with any one tool.

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

Paul: Data quality problems suck but are a reality in every project and always will be. Patching and covering up these issues rather than meeting them head-on will inevitably get someone in trouble. Acknowledge and understand the issue, find a quick win if you can, but in the end, address the core issue and build a bridge to solve it in the long term.

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

Paul: I keep convincing myself that I’m getting better at some things and then relearning lessons. I choose my technology battles. In the ever-expanding world of technology, you can’t master it all, but you can stay on the cutting edge in areas that matter to you. I try to be honest with myself and others, share what I learn, and ask for help when I need it.

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

Paul: Use it right away and then teach someone else. Go find a manageable problem to solve in your space so that you can apply what you learn. I’m presenting sessions on upgrading SQL Server BI projects, Power BI, and Datazen, so … install SQL Server in a sandbox and play with it. Create a Power BI subscription, download my workshop project and get your hands dirty. Install the Datazen Publisher and explore. My passion is BI and visualizing data to make a difference. Go, find your passion.

Find Paul on his blog at SqlServerBiBlog.com or on Twitter @paul_turley, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Niko Neugebauer

September 15, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Niko Neugebauer takes us inside his session, “Understanding and Solving Common Columstore Problems”.

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

Niko: My all-time favourite super-hero is Batman, because he is definitely a geek—using a lot of cool IT stuff and gadgets. The most important part, naturally, is that he is a regular human with his highs and lows, wins and losses, suffering to make a difference, to make a better world.

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?

Niko: My first database experience started with Clipper in 1996; that was one of the first and took off around 1998 with a dive into SQL language and then MySQL and Oracle databases. Working as a developer and maintaining a number of web applications developed into a full-fledged interest in “making it run faster,” from which my original interest in learning the databases was born.

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?

Niko: Data tells a story—about the company, the business, and the people that are involved in this data project.

Understanding and using the existing data before expanding and improving the solution is the key to building better solutions. Care about the data quality, and it will give you tremendous value back.

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

Niko: Not caring about database design, not trying to understand the way that the engine works. Every application starts with just a couple of rows, until it gets big and important. If you fail at the initial schema design, it might be very difficult and costly to correct.

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

Niko: The ability to build a better world, in which people can make better and more precise decisions. There are so many amazing opportunities to help people build better businesses. I am extremely excited about it.

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

Niko: Starting to experiment with Columnstore indexes and trying different ways of understanding and solving their problems. Columnar technology is one of the stars in the SQL Server engine!

Find Niko online at http://www.nikoport.com or on Twitter @NikoNeugebauer, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Edward Pollack

September 2, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Edward Pollack takes us inside his session, “My Favorite DMVs”.

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

Edward: While there is much to be said for superheroes who don’t have actual super powers, such as Batman or Daredevil, I’ve always found myself drawn to those who had to face immense, daunting tasks that were well beyond what we’d expect any one person to be able to take care of. Growing up, I loved Superman, and found that the stronger and smarter he got, the tougher the competition become. Even though he seemed invincible, he was often in danger of getting killed or being unable to solve the problems facing him, despite his powers. He had to get ahead of the competition to have a chance of winning.

Getting ahead in SQL Server means continuing to get stronger so that you can deal with unforeseen problems or those that come about as a result of new software changes, features, or unexpected growth. Dynamic Management Views are a key to efficient monitoring and allow us to identify bad situations before they become 2am wake-up calls. With them, we can improve efficiency, save time and money, and respond quickly if emergencies arrive. They are our x-ray vision or super hearing for SQL Server!

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?

Edward: Like many in the world of data, my story did not begin in databases or data science, but in hardware. After graduating with a degree in electrical engineering, I spent many years working in systems administration, building and upgrading server hardware, and supporting a majority of the backend functionality for small companies. One day the DBA left, without a plan to replace him. I began looking into his job, seeing what he did, and what it was all about. Needless to say, I broke quite a few things early on. Despite any misadventures, I found this to be a fascinating, quickly evolving area where my skill set fit well. Data challenges were exciting, and there was always more to learn, more to see, and new foes to vanquish!

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?

Edward: SQL Server provides a ton of tools that we can use to troubleshoot, monitor, debug, and fix problems as they arise. Many are documented, but not all are documented meaningfully enough to be usable out of the box. Extended events, dynamic management views, and server metrics can provide immense knowledge about a database environment. While many excellent software suites will manage your environment for you, understanding the internals of where their data comes from can allow for the ability to monitor more specific use cases. Applications often have their own special quirks, and the ability to tailor your own monitoring to them can increase uptime and provide better insight into your software while offering chances to improve it as new weaknesses are discovered.

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

Edward: Fear of change. We are in a rapidly evolving field where new versions of our core software are released frequently. New hardware and software technologies are popular now that were unheard of only a few years ago. Doing the best for our software environments requires that we research and learn new technologies regularly and stand prepared to test and implement them. As our data grows quickly, we need newer and more powerful tools to keep up. SSD SANs? In-Memory OLTP? Hybrid environments? Columnstore indexes?

Tools like these could be game-changers for many companies and organizations, but only those that are willing to learn about and consider them. It is very easy to fall into a conservative, change-phobic mindset where we eschew all risk in favor of stability and the status quo. Upgrades can seem expensive, time-consuming, and risky, but the resources we spend now to get ahead are dwarfed by what we will pay in the future if we are forced to maintain an outdated infrastructure. Bring forced to upgrade, rather than being able to do so on our own terms, is disruptive and expensive, and distracts from all the other important tasks that we should be worrying about. Evil villains are evolving their strategies every day. Only with new tools and ideas can we keep up and hope to defeat them!

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

Edward: SQL Server is such a vast product, with so many features and tools, that we often become more proficient in one area at the expense of another. I’ve personally spent so much time researching and working in optimization, database design, and with new, related features that when problems came along relating to replication, I was not as well-prepared as I’d like to have been. This is a source of both excitement and frustration, as I love learning new things, but hate being caught flat-footed when time is of the essence. The fact that there is, and always will be, more makes the future bright for us, but will ensure we are never short on challenges and late nights.

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

Edward: Attendees will be provided with a whole host of queries that come directly from the demos during the session. Test, alter, and play with them! Customize these tools to be useful in your own database environments, and then use the principles behind them to build your own! Once you have this set of indispensable tools, work on automating them so that you can focus on other projects and not be distracted by the deluge of charts, graphs, and messages that we often “keep an eye on” in production. There’s always more to do, but the further ahead we can get now, the easier our jobs will be in the future, no matter where we end up!

See Edward at PASS Summit 2015, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Jes Borlund

September 2, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Jes Borlund takes us inside her session, “Minimize Data Loss with Advanced Restore Methods”.

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

Jes: Those who know me won't be at all surprised: It's Wonder Woman. She embodies truth, justice, strength, and wisdom. She is always helping those who are in need—the same thing DBAs do day in and day out! After attending my session, "Minimize Data Loss with Advanced Restore Methods", DBAs will be even more prepared to help. I'll give them the "lasso of truth" for recovering data when there's been corruption!

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?

Jes: I took a Structured Query Language class in college. The DBA then handed me a stack of report requests, showed me how to open SSRS, and said, "Have fun." I loved making the data tell a story. After the DBA left, I became the "accidental" DBA, and realized I liked that, too—so much so that I became a purposeful DBA. I've spent years learning how SQL Server works, and how to work with it, so I can help businesses make the most of their data.

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?

Jes: SQL Server is a powerhouse of features. One of the most under-utilized tools in it is the SQL Server Agent. Most DBAs will set up jobs to run backups, but beyond that they don't tap into the power of jobs that can have multiple steps or run PowerShell scripts, Alerts based on Performance Monitor counters, or have an Alert kick off a job. I suggest DBAs dig into it more!

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

Jes: Not knowing how to restore data. The business's data is the business. Without proper backups, companies have gone out of business. But if the wrong type or schedule of backups is being taken, or no one knows how to restore the backups, or there's corruption within a backup, the business is still vulnerable. The best skill a database professional can have is a working knowledge of restoring data.

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

Jes: I really enjoy creating high-availability and disaster-recovery solutions for businesses. When I've built a system, and I hear that there was a problem over a weekend, but no data was lost and there was no business interruption because of what I built, I'm happy. It shows that SQL Server is an enterprise-level RDBMS, and the data is safe.

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

Jes: I have instructions and resources for all the attendees to create a VM, download a sample database, create corruption, and fix it. I want everyone that attends to spend an hour the following week practicing what they learned. It's much easier to learn to fix corruption when it's a test database than when the business data is really in trouble!

Find Jes at PASS Summit 2015, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.