Category: PASS Community Summit

Announcing PASS Summit Regular and Half-Day Sessions

The all-volunteer PASS Summit Program Committee has had one of its most challenging years ever, working tirelessly over the past 6 weeks to select the best educational sessions for this year’s conference from an exceptional pool of 650+ abstracts.

Today, we’re proud to announce the PASS Summit 2011 regular sessions and 4 new half-day sessions, designed to give attendees a deeper look at everything from performance tuning and indexing to hardware configurations and scaling SQL Server. The sessions are spread across 6 tracks, include the new SQL Azure track.

The Program Committee’s daunting task involves choosing the best collection of session topics, types, levels, and speakers to meet every need and interest. This year, for the first time, the committee received direct input from the PASS community via the Session Preferencing tool, which let community members mark their favorite sessions. Thanks to everyone who shared their preferred sessions – your involvement helped make many of the difficult choices easier.

Another exciting addition to the Program process this year was awarding Summit session slots to the top 3 speakers at the Spring 24 Hours of PASS event and at PASS SQLRally 2011 in Orlando. We previously announced the top 24 Hours of PASS speakers, and I’m pleased to announce the top 3 SQLRally speakers, who will be presenting similar topics at the 2011 Summit:

Zero to OLAP Cubes in 60 Minutes, Adam Jorgensen
Understanding Storage Systems and SQL Server , Wesley Brown
DBA Disaster Recovery Techniques to Keep Handy, Edwin Sarmiento 

I’d like to thank every speaker who took the time to submit an abstract as well as the team of dedicated Program Committee volunteers (listed along the left side of the page) who put in the extra work to make this year’s Summit session lineup one of the best ever. Proof once again that without the community, PASS wouldn’t exist.

Watch for the Microsoft sessions to be added a little later this summer. And if you haven’t registered for PASS Summit yet, don’t wait – you don’t want to miss this one.

PS: Remember to register by June 30 to save $600 on a Full Summit registration.

 

2011 PASS Summit Pre-Con Preview - Itzik Ben-Gan

Today's post is from Itzik Ben Gan who will be presenting Advanced T-SQL for SQL Server 2008 and Denali - you can find more about his session here:  http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2011/Speakers/CallForSpeakers/SessionDetail.aspx?sid=1017 .

Is there an audience that would benefit especially from this session?

SQL Server developers and DBAs.  Essentially anyone who needs to write or review T-SQL code and cares about its efficiency and performance.

After having attended your seminar, what are two or three things that an attendee will be able to take back to the office and put to use right away?

The will be able to improve their existing T-SQL solutions in SQL Server 2008 as well as learn what's new in SQL Server Denali.

What background should attendees ideally have to be fully prepared for your seminar?

At least one year of experience writing T-SQL code.

What experience are you, as a speaker, bringing to this session?

T-SQL is my native tongue; I live and breathe it all the time.  I have over a decade of experience training people with advanced T-SQL topics, and training is my passion.

2011 PASS Summit Pre-Con Preview - Adam Machanic

Today's post is from Adam Machanic who will be presenting "No More Guessing! An Enlightened Approach to Performance Troubleshooting" - you can find more about his session here:  http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2011/Speakers/CallForSpeakers/SessionDetail.aspx?sid=1627.

Is there an audience that would benefit especially from this session?

  Countless times I have seen people grinding away when faced with a performance problem, not making any real progress on fixing it. The first step is often rebuilding indexes ("it must be fragmentation!"). Next they'll try various query rewrites ("is it a bad plan?"). And maybe the process will continue as they restart the SQL Server instance ("is it a memory leak?"). In many cases the problem is still not solved after all of this effort. The DBA or developer has wasted the better part of a day, is frustrated, and is convinced that SQL Server just can't handle the workload.

   My session is designed to teach attendees that it doesn't have to be this way. SQL Server gives us plenty of access to all of the information we need to diagnose the actual root cause of most performance problems. You just need to know where to look. And the best part is that once you understand the problem, the solution is usually natural and obvious. I am of the opinion that there is no reason to struggle with performance, nor to end a tuning process feeling disappointed or annoyed. I look forward to helping attendees move beyond these pain points so that they can use their valuable time to do more interesting and satisfying work.

After having attended your seminar, what are two or three things that an attendee will be able to take back to the office and put to use right away?

  My seminar teaches a methodology that leverages a number of tools within SQL Server to easily identify the cause of performance problems. Attendees will be able to go back to the office and immediately start looking at issues from a new and refreshed point of view. This translates into much quicker turnaround time when there is an issue and, in many cases, the ability to leverage proactive diagnosis to help stop problems before they fully manifest themselves. This seminar is not theoretical in nature; the entire day is focused on real-world techniques and the session materials include a number of scripts that attendees will be able to immediately use in their own environments.
 
 
What background should attendees ideally have to be fully prepared for your seminar?

  I will assume that attendees have at least some working experience as a SQL Server DBA or database developer. Performance monitoring is a topic that spans a huge part of the surface area of the product, and a number of components will be discussed over the course of the day. I won't have time to explain basics (e.g. the different types of indexes that can be created in SQL Server), and the ideal candidate should be comfortable with core topics. The more attendees know about the various components of SQL Server and how they interact, the easier it will be to understand and take advantage of the techniques that will be taught in the seminar.

 
 
What experience are you, as a speaker, bringing to this session?

  I have several years of experience working as a performance consultant, specializing in finding and fixing the some of the most difficult problems that my customers faced. My customers have ranged from startups with the server sitting on the floor under the CTO's desk to enterprises with hundreds of production SQL Server instances. I have learned how to deal with a large number of different performance problems in the various environments, and more importantly I have learned to understand the patterns of when and why problems arise. This session will teach attendees the best of the techniques that I have learned--and successfully used--over the course of my career.

 

2011 PASS Summit Pre-Con Preview - Andy Leonard and Tim Mitchell

Today's post is from Andy Leonard who, along with Tim Mitchell, will be presenting "A Day of SSIS in the Enterprise".  You can read more about his session here: http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2011/Speakers/CallForSpeakers/SessionDetail.aspx?sid=1508.

Is there an audience that would benefit especially from this session?
Yep. Those getting started in SQL Server Integration Services development will get a jump start from topics presented by Matt Masson of the SSIS Developers Team at Microsoft, Tim Mitchell, SQL Server MVP, and me. Experienced SSIS developers are sure to pick up a tip or eight. And we'll be talking about features in SSIS Denali!
 
After having attended your seminar, what are two or three things that an attendee will be able to take back to the office and put to use right away?
Best Practices has to top that list. Tim, Matt, and I share from years of experience building solutions using SSIS. We three are also 60% of the author team of the upcoming book: SSIS Design Patterns, and we will be demonstrating patterns from the book. Finally, we'll be talking a lot about managing SSIS in the enterprise. After deploying SSIS solutions, developers often realize maintenance and support challenges. Some design decisions facilitate SSIS care and feeding, and we'll cover those!
 
What background should attendees ideally have to be fully prepared for your seminar? 
Ideally, the attendee should have experience with SQL Server and a thirst for more data integration knowledge.
 
What experience are you, as a speaker, bringing to this session?
Tim , Matt, and I have decades of database integration experience. As a developer on the SIS Team at Microsoft, Matt has visibility into myriad data integration use cases. As a consultant and trainer, Tim has delivered SSIS solutions to enterprises large and small. My experience spans consulting and managing a team of SSIS developers as we built a multi-year SSIS solution. I understand the challenges unique to developer teams that are part of an enterprise.

Go here to register for the 2011 PASS Summit.

 

Last Chance to Save $600 on PASS Summit

A quick reminder that tomorrow is the last day to save $600 on PASS Summit 2011, the SQL Server event of the year, Oct. 11-14 in Seattle, WA. In the whirlwind of organizing all the conference details and getting the word out, it’s easy to forget exactly what PASS Summit is. Yes, it’s the largest SQL Server and BI conference in the world. But more than that, it’s your conference – planned and presented by the SQL Server community for the SQL Server community.

Volunteers (this year with the help of community session preference voting) select the sessions and speakers. Except for the pre-conference seminars, speakers share their knowledge and experience in exchange for a complimentary Summit registration. Community members are the driving force behind Summit’s special events, including the Welcome Reception Quiz Bowl, the annual Women in Technology Luncheon and Panel Discussion, SQL Kilt Day, the Photowalk, SQL Karaoke, and much more.

PASS Summit continues to grow in attendance and quality thanks to community members like you, who are passionate about the PASS mission – Connect, Share, Learn. And your registration fee stays in the SQL Server community, supporting a myriad of local, regional, and international programs and events that bring database professionals together around the world.

Whether you’re a seasoned PASS Summit veteran or thinking about attending for the first time, we encourage you to take advantage of this low rate before the price goes up July 1. See you in Seattle!
 

2011 PASS Summit Pre-Con Preview - Brent Ozar

Today's post is from Brent Ozar who will be presenting "Virtualization and SAN Basics for DBAs".  You can read more about his session here: http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2011/Speakers/CallForSpeakers/SessionDetail.aspx?sid=1122.

Is there an audience that would benefit especially from this session?
Database administrators hate hearing, "It's a SQL problem."  It's probably not - there are some basic storage and virtualization configuration issues that keep popping up again and again in my consulting work.  This session helps you understand how to ask the right questions and prove that it's not the database's problem.

 
After having attended your seminar, what are two or three things that an attendee will be able to take back to the office and put to use right away?
I'll show you what questions to ask, what metrics to monitor, and how to improve 'em.  Everything is designed around giving you the right words and the right proof to go toe-to-toe with the guys who keep saying it's SQL's fault.

What background should attendees ideally have to be fully prepared for your seminar?
Absolutely none.  I take you from zero virtualization & storage knowledge to the point where you can start asking tough questions to your sysadmins.

 
What experience are you, as a speaker, bringing to this session?
I've been working with SQL Server for over a decade, and when my SAN admin quit, I offered to take his duties on.  I wanted to know what was going on inside the black box.  I was shocked at how easy it was to understand, but also horrified by just how badly the SAN was configured.  When our virtualization guy quit, same deal - I kicked down the door and took over.  You really can get great performance from shared storage and shared hardware, but it sure isn't set up that way by default, and I learned that the hard way.

Go here to register for the 2011 PASS Summit.

2011 PASS Summit Pre-Con Preview - Brian and Devin Knight

Today's post is from Brian Knight who, along with Devin Knight, will be presenting "Building a Microsoft Business Intelligence Platform".  You can read more about his session here: http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2011/Speakers/CallForSpeakers/SessionDetail.aspx?sid=1468.

Is there an audience that would benefit especially from this session? 
Someone who has a beginner to novice experience in some of the BI suite will gain a huge amount from the real-world experience we’re going to bring to the table. If you’re a beginner, you’ll also gain quite a bit from the interactive style of the session. During the day, we’re going to build an end-to-end BI solution using SSRS, SSIS and SSAS. Attendees should bring their own laptops to build the solution with us and get the most out of the session. 
 
After having attended your seminar, what are two or three things that an attendee will be able to take back to the office and put to use right away?
An attendee will have the broad knowledge to build an end-to-end BI solution at his or her company.  This includes designing and loading the data warehouse, building a cube on the warehouse and building a presentation-layer.  
 
What background should attendees ideally have to be fully prepared for your seminar?
The session is interactive. Because of this, for the attendee to get the most out of the session, he or she should know how to navigate around the Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) environment. The attendee should also have a good understanding of T-SQL and a fundamental knowledge of the BI tools.
 
What experience are you, as a speaker, bringing to this session?
Devin and I have created BI solutions across the globe for more than a hundred different companies. In 2011, we trained more than 3,000 people in a fun and interactive way that will make the day fly by. You’ll hear tons of information about real-world examples that we can provide from the field.

Go here to register for the 2011 PASS Summit.

 

2011 Pass Summit Pre-Con Preview - Gail Shaw and Grant Fritchey

Today's post is from Gail Shaw and Grant Fritchey who will be presenting "All About Execution Plans".  You can read more about their session here: http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2011/Speakers/CallForSpeakers/SessionDetail.aspx?sid=1245.

Is there an audience that would benefit especially from this session?
Grant Fritchey
:  Everybody. Seriously, anyone that has to understand what decisions the optimizer has made with the queries they write. That pretty much covers, database administrators, database developers and report writers, in short, most of the SQL Server community.
Gail Shaw: Anybody who’s ever looked at an execution plan and wondered what it means. Anyone who’s ever wondered how SQL was running a particular query and if they can change that. Anyone who’s sat cursing SQL for picking the wrong index or wrong join. Anyone who’s wondered which of some query patterns were more efficient than others and how to tell that. Basically, anyone who seriously writes queries.

After having attended your seminar, what are two or three things that an attendee will be able to take back to the office and put to use right away?
Grant Fritchey
: Only two or three things? I think everyone will be able to go back to their office and immediately gain access to execution plans they were not previously able to open. Further, I think the attendees will be motivated to go back to the office and look at their execution plans. We're going to be showing how to identify many common problems that evidence themselves within execution plans and we'll be showing how to fix some of those problems. If the attendees have issues such as slow running queries, blocking, or parameter sniffing, I'm pretty sure they'll have something new to use to help with those problems immediately on their return to the office.
Gail Shaw: They’ll know how to read execution plans, what some of the signs of a bad plan is, and they’ll have several options for getting those plans from SQL. That should be enough for them to dig into problems that have been nagging for months and start solving them.

What background should attendees ideally have to be fully prepared for your seminar?
Grant Fritchey
: They should have a reasonably good understanding of what SQL Server is and what it does. They absolutely should already understand TSQL. This is not an introductory course where we'll walk everyone through fundamental things like connecting to the database. But, it's not a doctorate level course either. This is a middle of the road type of technical course that's going to assume fundamental working knowledge of SQL Server.
Gail Shaw: Of course it’s not a doctorate level course, SQL qualifications only go up to master level. ;-) Seriously though, as long as they understand how SQL works in general, don’t panic at the sight of complex queries and know that execution plans and the plan cache exists, they should be fine. I won’t promise that there won’t be the occasional deep dive into internals, sometimes digging deep is necessary and fun.

What experience are you, as a speaker, bringing to this session?
Grant Fritchey
: I wrote a book. Isn't that enough? OK. 
I've been working in development and databases for more than 20 years. During that time, I really have focused on trying to make my code better. In SQL Server, one of the best ways to improve your code is to understand what it is doing. Understanding what your code is doing requires looking at execution plans and learning how to read them. It's all this time working on real world problems that made me start posting answers on various user group forums, especially SQL Server Central. That's how I began to understand what were common problems and what were rare problems. This time and knowledge was applied to writing, and currently rewriting, a book on nothing but execution plans.
Gail Shaw: Why are you asking me? Grant wrote the book on this. Ok, enough joking. I’ve been doing SQL performance tuning for over 6 years now, databases in general for a fair bit longer (though nowhere near as long as Grant. 20 years ago I was still in high school). I’ve been solely responsible for the performance of a critical banking system (and if you think your users are bad, try stock market dealers 20 minutes before the market closes), both in tuning existing code and in helping the development team write well performing code. I’ve been helping out on the SQLServerCentral forums for over 4 years, answering many performance-related questions with just schema definitions and execution plan to work from. Execution plans are one of the things I blog frequently about.

Go here to register for the 2011 PASS Summit.

Partner. Not Sponsor.

PASS has great brand and name recognition in the technical community, and of course we host the largest annual SQL Server-focused technical education conference in the world.  A lot of companies consider PASS as a critical part of their marketing efforts —whether it be through sqlpass.org or at a local, global, or virtual event. 

 PASS truly appreciates companies that sponsor our activities but PASS is not only looking for sponsors, we are looking for partners. The difference may be subtle to some or dramatic to others. We want the companies interested in reaching out to PASS members to immerse themselves in the community and establish a presence within multiple programs and events, encouraging their subject matter experts to share and learn with the community. PASS hopes that our sponsors—both large and small—transition to be partners.

This brings me to our unique relationship with Dell. Dell has been a top-tier sponsor for years, and Andrew Hargett from Dell keeps asking how they can get more involved with PASS and help the community more substantially. In addition to strong PASS Summit sponsorship, Dell has stepped up to support newer initiatives: 24 Hours of PASS, PASS SQLRally and PASS SQLSaturday.  In June, Dell provided a new SAN to PASS, refreshing the Dell SAN already in use. All PASS Hyper-V servers run on Dell and the new Dell SAN makes SQLPASS.org, our Exchange email, and all our Chapter and Virtual Chapter webhosting and media hosting possible.

As one of the largest IT users of SQL Server, Dell sells more SQL Server software than anyone…period! Dell is committed to support PASS and the SQL Server community and as Andrew has conveyed to me, taking our partnership to the next level will allow Dell to better understand the challenges and needs of our users and help deliver the right solutions to meet the demands of customers from across the globe.

Thank you Dell for partnering with PASS. We look forward to many more successful years together.

 

Enhancing First-Timers’ Summit Experience

I attended my first PASS Summit in 2004. Why did I go? Because of two words: professional association. I wanted to grow my professional skills as a DBA, and I knew that meant more than just technical knowledge. I knew I needed to join a network of like-minded individuals where we could learn and grow together.

The first morning there I met Pat Wright (blog | @SQLAsylum). Well, more like he met me, as he lumbered over and sat down at my table during breakfast. We ended up attending Kimberly Tripp’s (blog | @KimberlyLTripp) pre-conference seminar together and met Allen Kinsel (blog | @sqlinsaneo) there. The three of us hung out together all week, sharing meals and talking about our shops. We came to the Summit knowing nobody but were fortunate to have met each other. We left the Summit and stayed in touch, returning the next year, and every year since.

The unfortunate truth, however, is that many of our first-time attendees arrive at the Summit knowing nobody. They meet no one, they eat alone, they leave, and we don't see them again. How do I know this? Because every year, we have roughly 800 people at our Summit for the first time. If those 800 came back every year, we would be over 7,000 attendees by now.

Clearly, we need to improve our customer retention. That's what led me to think about putting together an Orientation Committee (OC) to help first-time attendees get connected, share experiences, and learn from each other. I believe this will translate into more repeat attendees, which will result in more knowledge, more sharing, and better growth opportunities for everyone.

We launched the orientation program for first-time Summit attendees last year at PASS Summit, and we are doing it again this year. That means we need Summit alumni to volunteer to serve as "Big Brothers/Sisters" for a group of new members – and we need new attendees to sign up to participate.

We are thinking most groups will have about 9 people (8 newbies and 1 alumni). The Big Brothers/Sisters will help the first-timers feel welcome, introduce them around, help facilitate discussions, answer questions, etc. The alumni volunteers will be in contact with their assigned group well ahead of Summit and ideally will arrange a meeting with their group before the Welcome Reception. In case that is not possible, we are going to reserve a room at the Convention Center so that all Big Brothers/Sisters can meet with their groups just prior to the Welcome Reception

If you are interested in serving as a Big Brother/Sister, drop us an email at OC_DL@sqlpass.org. And if you are attending the Summit for the first time and want to participate in the program, I encourage you to sign up – just email newcomer@sqlpass.org. Watch for updates on Twitter as we finalize the details, and participate in the discussion by using the #sqlpass #firsttimers hashtags.

See you in Seattle!
-- Thomas LaRock