TechEd 2009 begins

The TechEd keynote this year had some exciting moments, and unfortunately far too many boring moments.

The Master of Ceremonies was good enough, but several of the demos were a little unexciting and far too long. Probably one of the best demos was Lynn Langit’s demos on Windows 7, several very short demos of new features in Windows 7, including the multi-touch capabilities

The other thing that got a lot of applause was a video showing Project Natal, as part of a discussion of natural user interfaces.

Donald Farmer’s demo of Gemini’s BI add-in was quite impressive, showing the analysis and graphing of 100 million rows in just a couple of seconds.

Up next, the opening party. It was supposed to be a street party, but it’s pouring with rain so the party’s been moved indoors. Still should be good.

Tomorrow the technical stuff starts. For now, some photos from the keynote.

Speaking Engagements

It’s going to be a busy 6 months in terms of conferences and speaking (well, busy for me, I’m just getting used to the whole speaker thing)

TechEd Africa

TechEd Africa is running from the 2nd to the 5th of August in Durban. I’m presenting two sessions there, one on query hints and plan guides and one on evaluating your indexing strategies. I’ll also very likely be helping out in the community lounge and the Ask the Experts area.

PASS Community Summit

I’m presenting two sessions at the PASS Community Summit this year. A spotlight session on titled ‘Lies, damned lies and Statistics’ and a general session titled ‘Insight into Indexes’

The spotlight session will be covering column statistics, why SQL creates them and how, when they’re updated, the importance of accurate statistics, some of the problems that can result when they’re not accurate and some maintenance strategies.

The general session will be looking at what SQL can tell you about indexes, how they’re been used, what they’re been used for and what indexes SQL thinks it wants, and how reliable all that information is.

SQL Usergroup

I’ll be presenting at the October meeting of the SQL Server usergroup and will be doing a final dry-run of one of the presentations that I’ll be giving at PASS. I haven’t decided which one yet.

PASS Summit submissions

I finally stopped dithering over the small details and get my submissions for the PASS conference in, with about 5 hours remaining to the original deadline.

Since it seems to be somwhat of a tradition this year to post the details (As Brent, Jack and Michelle have done), I’ll list mine.

Lies, damned lies and statistics

Ever wondered what the things called statistics are, why they’re important and what needs to be done to maintain them? If so, this session is for you!

In this session we’ll take a look at what statistics are and why SQL keeps them; at how SQL maintains them and under what circumstances that maintenance is insufficient; and we’ll look at the problems that result when they are inaccurate. Finally we’ll cover some suggestions and options around maintenance of statistics when the automatic maintenance is not sufficient.

Delving the depths of the Plan Cache

Do you want to want to know more about how your server is running? Do you want to be able to see how queries are running within the server, both now and earlier? If so, this session is not to be missed.

In this session we’ll take a look at some of the information that is available within SQL relating to query optimisation and query execution. We’ll look at some of the Dynamic Management Views and Dynamic Management Functions that expose data from the plan cache, some relevant Trace events and we’ll take a brief look at what Extended Events offers in this area.

Insight into Indexes

Are your indexes being used? Are there any that are taking disk space but aren’t contributing usefully to the server’s workload? Are there queries that could benefit from indexes that don’t exist?

In this session, we’ll be looking at the index-related dynamic management views to see what information SQL makes available on index usage and missing indexes, how that information can be used and what the shortfalls of those DMVs are

So now we get to sit until end of May and see who’s in and who’s not.

PASS presentation and updated demos

I’ve had several requests for the presentation and demos from my presentation at PASS USA last year , so here they are. This is the presentation that I also did at the January SQL usergroup meeting and at the February meeting of SADeveloper in Durban

The demos are for SQL 2008 and use the SQL 2008 AdventureWorks database (downloadable from Codeplex), but they should work without too many problems on SQL 2005 against the 2005 version of AdventureWorks

Presentation – Dirty Dozen

Demos –

The setup script adds a couple indexes, a column and a fair bit of data, so take a backup of Adventureworks before running that if you want to be able to get back to the original version.

PASS roundup

I don’t normally do posts that are mostly links. I figure that people can use google for that. As an exception though, here are some of the other people that have been blogging about the PASS summit this past week (in no particular order).

If I’ve missed anyone, blame google.

Steve Jones
Grant Fritchey
Andy Warren
SQL Batman
Joe Webb
Adam Machanic
Lukasz Pawlowsk
TJay Belt
Neil Hutson
Brent Ozar
Jeremiah Peschka


Louis Davidson

PASS – Last Day

The last day of PASS is here. It’s been a hectic week.

I spend the morning attending the MVP sessions. As such, I can’t say much about them. All I can say is that there’s some really exciting stuff coming in the next couple of years.

The presentation this afternoon went well, much better than I expected. Even though a couple of demos didn’t quite work. I noticed afterwards that one of the things I was demonstrating the optimiser couldn’t do, it can in SQL 2008. Oops. I’ll fix the demos before I upload them. I should get them up within a week.

The last session’s another case of how not to do things. Backups, security, encryption, database design, naming conventions, data types, stored procs. Why bother? 🙂 The audience was more involved than I would have expected at than I would have expected late on the Friday.

All done for another year. it’s been awesome. I have a few days to play tourist before going home.

PASS – Thursday

I decided to skip the keynote this morning and spend some time testing my presentation on the provided projector. Looks like it’ll be fine, we’ll see tomorrow.

The first session I attended was Bob’s level 500 session on debugging memory. He wasn’t joking that it was a level 500. It probably should have been more. It was absolutely excellent, as always.

The afternoon sessions started with another CAT presentation on performance troubleshooting, management data warehouse and extended events. Extended events were what I was most interested in. Bob briefly went over events in his usual high-speed style. the most intersting part was the system health check that’s included in 2008 and is on by default. Kinda an improvement over the default trace of 2005.

The events that caught my attention that the extende events can log are the deadlock (only in CU 1) that automatically logs the deadlock graph any time a deadlock occurs, the page split, which finally gives a way to see what pages are splitting and how often, and the checkpoint start and end events which will finally answer the question of how often checkpoints occur.

Lastly, I sat in on a session on spatical indexing. It’s interesting how the spatial indexing uses the underlying b-tree structure of SQL’s index architecture. The biggest problem seems to be that the optimiser doesn’t seem to cost spatical queries correctly in some cases, meaning hints are needed to get the queries running fast.

Wednesday at PASS

Wednesday is the first full day of the conference and the number of people around doubled.

The keynote was interesting. I’ve already written about that so I won’t say anymore.

The first session I decided to attend was by Mark Souza of SQLCat, the customer advisory team. He went over what they’ve seen with customers and how the various features of SQL 2008 have been used. Second session, after lunch was also by the CAT team and concerned security and auditing, covering some of the 2008 features, TDE auditing and the new key management options.

The last session I did was Paul Randal’s corruption survival. Paul’s always entertaining. He did a whole set of demos and told some rather frightening stories.

The day ended with a trip to the dojo and an MVP party. Photos to follow sometime.

PASS Keynote

The opening keynote for PASS was delivered by Ted Kummert, the vice president of the data and storage division at Microsoft. He gave us a look at some things that are in development at the moment and are expected to be released before the next major version of SQL.

The first of these is Kilimanjaro. This is not modifications or fixes to the current version of SQL, rather it’s a managed self-service tool for BI as well as managability improvementys for the higher end setups.. They expect to deliver this sometime in the first half of 2010.

One of the things included in Kilimanjaro is a massive improvement in multi-server management in  Management Studio. It adds a concept called the SQL Fabric, which contaions a number of servers with a number of applications. The servers can be managed through the fabric control server, which can also provide an overview of how all the servers within the fabric are running, whether they are overloaded or have available capacity. the fabric controller also stores historical trends for the servers that it controls.