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Pre-conference Seminars

Available at a minimal extra cost to the main agenda, pre-conference seminars are full-day deep-dive training classes delivered by some of the leading SQL Server experts in the community. We are excited to announce the pre-conference session lineup for the first ever PASS SQLRally! 

Professional Development


Business Intelligence Workshop
Patrick LeBlanc, Devin Knight, Mike Davis, & Adam Jorgensen

In this full-day workshop, you’ll learn from the author team of Mike Davis, Adam Jorgensen, Devin Knight, and Patrick LeBlanc how to build a data warehouse for your company and support it with the Microsoft business intelligence platform. We’ll start with how to design and data model a data warehouse including the system preparation. Then, we’ll jump into loading a data warehouse with SSIS. After SSIS, you’re ready to roll the data up and provide the slice and dice reporting with SSAS. The team will walk through cube development and data enrichment with things like key performance indicators, which are essential for your future dashboards.  Lastly, we will cover how to report against the data warehouse with SSRS, including a primer in how to write MDX queries against the SSAS cube.

What you can expect to take away from this session:

  1. Practical knowledge of building a Dimensional Model
  2. Designing a simple ETL process using SSIS
  3. Designing a Cube
  4. Designing simple SSRS Reports
  5. Building an integrated process that fully leverages the entire MS BI stack to load a Data Warehouse.



Query Performance Tuning, Start to Finish
Grant Fritchey

One of the most common problems encountered in SQL Server is the slow running query. Once a query is identified as performing poorly, DBAs and developers frequently don’t understand how to diagnose the problem and often struggle to fix the problem. This one-day seminar focuses exclusively on these two topics. Attendees will learn how to identify the queries that are performing badly and learn how to fix them. We will start by learning how to gather performance metrics, both server and query metrics, using tools available directly from Microsoft such as performance monitor, DMVs, and Profiler. From there we’ll move into learning how the optimizer works and how it uses statistics to determine which indexes and other database objects can assist the performance of a query. The session takes considerable time to show exactly how to generate and read execution plans, the one best mechanism for observing how the optimizer works. We’ll then look at other DMVs that can assist you when performance tuning queries. With all this knowledge gathered, we’ll move into looking at common performance problems, how they evidence themselves in the metrics and execution plans, and how to address them. Finally, we’ll explore advanced methods for solving some of the more difficult query performance problems introducing such concepts as query hints, plan guides, and plan forcing. Through all of this, best practices and common techniques will be reviewed. Attendees will go home with a working knowledge of query performance tuning, a set of methods for identifying poorly performing queries, scripts to assist in these processes, and the knowledge of how to fix performance problems in their own systems.

What you can expect to take away from this session:

  1. The ability to collect performance metrics on your servers as part of an overall query tuning methodology
  2. The ability to generate, read, and understand execution plans from multiple sources in support of troubleshooting poorly performing queries
  3. An understanding of how the optimizer works in support of writing better TSQL code as well as troubleshooting poorly performing queries
  4. A working knowledge of DMVs that will help you identify and fix performance issues on your servers
  5. The ability to address common query performance problems


Maximize Your SQL Server 2008 Coding Skills
Plamen Ratchev

SQL Server 2008 introduced many new features for developers and administrators. Learn the new changes in T-SQL and how they relate to practical business problems. Complete overview of row constructors, the MERGE statement, table-valued parameters, filtered indexes, sparse columns, the FILESTREAM data type, new date and time data types, and grouping sets for aggregating data. Hands-on case studies will teach you how to apply these enhancements in specific business scenarios: synchronizing data with MERGE; utilizing table-valued parameters to send arrays of data to your database; storing files in SQL Server utilizing FILESTREAM.

What you can expect to take away from this session:

  1. Learn the new T-SQL enhancements in SQL Server 2008
  2. Understand the business application of the new features
  3. Get practical experience based on real case studies
  4. Learn how to refactor old code to utilize these new enhancements
  5. Best practices for utilizing the new features

 Professional Development

Leadership and Team Management Skills for the Database Professional
Kevin Kline

Most IT leaders earned their promotions based of technical competency, not on leadership or managerial skills. Technical leaders rarely advance into leadership positions with the complex mix of social and soft skills that best facilitate their success and the success of their teams. Successful IT leaders require a combination of:

  • Earning the respect of your team
  • A deep understand of effectively motivating technology professionals
  • Specific skills to lead database professionals competently that broadly fall into the categories of:
    • Coaching team members to effectively meet goals and deadlines
    • Facilitating change and navigating organizational disruptions
    • Promoting communication within the team and with management
    • Keeping teams and projects on task and within scope
    • Dealing with difficult team members
    • Practicing good team time management techniques

This one-day seminar equips attendees with training content, fun exercises, and reference material to further develop their leadership potential and achieve excellent results, both for themselves and for their teams.

The seminar has three main goals that teach several skills each:
Goal 1: Developing skills which promote an understanding of your own personal motivations and what motivates the IT professionals on your team.  Skills taught:

  • Personality assessment
  • Motivational analysis
  • Goal analysis
  • Interviewing
  • Building a team

Goal 2: Developing skills which enable you and your team to meet goals set by management, including:

  • Visualization
  • Project planning and execution
  • Communicating upward to executive management

Goal 3:  Developing the specific skills needed to lead a team of technologists, including:

  • Leading meetings
  • Resolving impasses
  • Dealing with performance problems
  • Delegation and gaining the support of the team
  • Dealing with change and disruption


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