Nov 182014
 

I don’t care what technology or technologies you enjoy using in your daily job. If there’s an enthusiastic community behind it, you need to become part of it. Your job and career will be better as a result.

I’ll start this personal post with a mixed tale from my childhood. This topic came about from an unexpected email I received yesterday. I got news that two old friends of mine had passed away in the last month. Both were untimely, as they were not much older than me.  These were two people from my childhood, before I could drive, and before there was an official internet. This was back from the BBS days. This was pre-widespread Internet. For some of you – yes, that time did actually exist.

One of these people was a gifted entrepreneur who ran middle Georgia’s (where I grew up) first major bulletin board system and eventually the first regional Internet provider. The other was a great musician and all around person. We all competed to dial in to chat with each other each night on her BBS system. This was when I was in the influential twelve to twenty years old range.

I got to know some truly great people – personally – and I became fast friends with them for life. But the one who had the most influence on me was the owner of this system – affectionately known as sysop. She owned and managed the BBS, owned a small architectural engineering firm, and was an active environmental and political activist. She was driven and determined to build the best environment for her passions and goals in life. The BBS came from her desire to help people connect and interact. Her personality, sense of involvement, and open arms attracted everyone in the regional middle Georgia community (at least us nerds who were BBSing) and helped us all build a community around this system. We all wanted to be there with the group.

After several years of us all fighting to get access, her adding crazy amounts of phone lines into her house, and seemingly infinite late-night chats on every topic imaginable, she got the great idea to hold a gathering at her place to help us all meet face to face instead of just nickname and personality to nickname and personality. People of every age, race, political bias, orientation, and background came to meet each other. It was amazing. I was easily a third of the average age in the room, but felt more at home with these people than I did with anyone at school. I felt like I was home.

This one party led to more, until it became a routine to hang out at sysops house and catch up with this community. This person taught me the value of a number of core life skills, namely community building, entrepreneurship, and determination. I never realized how amazing this experience was until much later in life.

Fast forward about ten years. I get into the full-time work force and discover that I really enjoy working with data. I focused my sights on Microsoft SQL Server, and then started to poke around the net for knowledge. Step back a bit and you see a core group of people contributing to the growing knowledge base for the emerging platform through books and technical blog posts. This group was always encouraging people to learn more, especially those who were new at SQL Server, and did so in the most welcoming and inviting ways.

Now fast forward another ten years. IMHO, the SQL Server community has evolved into the most tight-knit, close, group of technologists on the planet. The amount of information sharing is unparalleled. The welcome newbies receive when asking for knowledge is amazing. It really is like a family. When I fully immersed myself in the community at my first PASS Summit and spoke with Kevin Kline, for the first time since the BBS days I felt like I was home again. It’s hard to describe. It’s the same feeling of community and family that I had with that group back in the day, but had not felt since then. With each Summit and SQL Saturday after that, this sense of community grows more and more. It’s great. I want to keep it up. I want all of you to keep doing what you’re doing. The SQL Server community feels like my family, and for that, I thank you.

Chris and Kelly, RIP. You will be missed by the people whose lives you changed.

Nov 142014
 

PASS Summit 2014 Logo_930x260This past week of conferences was simply amazing. It was the best week of my career. Period. Now that I’m close to being recovered, I thought I’d put together a short recap of the week.

(I seem to say this after every PASS Summit. Every year has been better than the last. What will next year bring? I am excited to find out!)

microsoft mvp tallThe first part of the week, I attended the Microsoft MVP Global Summit from Sunday to Tuesday. The details of the Global Summit and the topics that we covered are all unfortunately under NDA, but rest assured, I am very excited for the future of the products that I have dedicated this portion of my career to.

Tuesday evening to Friday was the PASS Summit 2014 at the Seattle Convention Center, the largest SQL Server conference of the year. My goals were simple – network, present, and network some more.

Welcome to the PASS Summit 2014

Welcome to the PASS Summit 2014

My company, Heraflux Technologies, co-sponsored a booth with Denny Cherry and Associates, SQLHA, and Fortified Data, which we called Consultants Corner.

Ben DeBow relaxing in our booth

Ben DeBow relaxing in our booth

We had a blast meeting everyone that stopped by the booth! I thoroughly enjoyed the varied conversations around virtualization migrations, performance tuning, and rubber chickens.

The largest presentation that I’ve had so far was Wednesday at 1:30pm. Have you ever had one of those moments where you stop what you are doing and “is this really happening” starts going through your head? I had this moment when I was approaching the doorway for the room where I presented the session. The room had all six doors open and I saw nothing but chairs covering the entire view. I had to stop and pause for a moment because of the wave of emotion. Exhilarated… excited… humbled… Nothing clearly describes how I felt. It was a very surreal moment. When I walked through the room and onto the stage about 45 minutes early, this is the view I saw.

summit 2014 view from stage

This session, “Right-Sizing Your Virtual SQL Server”, was presented to solid attendance in one of the very large conference rooms. It was also broadcast live to the world on the streaming video page at PASStv, which you can watch here. That’s no self-imposed pressure at all, right? The audience and I had a fun time with the 75-minute session going through all of the nuances of why and how virtual SQL Servers should be “right-sized” to maximize the performance and consolidation. The attendees were engaged and energetic, and asked some wonderful questions throughout the session. I really appreciate each and every one of you who came to see me speak!

It was in this session that I announced my company’s intention to release a product that can run in the background on a physical or virtual SQL Server and determine an approximate number of virtual CPUs and memory allocation for the server. I am proud to announce that it will be available for FREE. If you would like to sign up to become a beta tester once it is ready to release, please sign up by just sending me a quick message with your email address at the contact me page here.

Throughout the week, I attended a number of great gatherings after hours. Denny Cherry, SQL Sentry, Fortified Data, SIOS, and others all had some fantastic gatherings at venues near the convention center. Your contributions to community building are much appreciated! We all had a blast, and you helped us all stay out WAY too late most evenings!

On Friday at 4pm I presented another session entitled “Achieving Top Performance with your Virtual SQL Servers” to a great group of die-hard attendees in the last session block of the conference. Being the last session of the conference, I was going to be genuinely thrilled if a single person showed up, but much to my amazement, the room was mostly full! You all were great. The interaction level was high, the questions top notch, and I wanted to keep going until midnight to make sure that I had everyone’s questions answered.

Saturday morning wrapped up the week with a nice, quiet breakfast at Pike’s Market overlooking the waterfront and friendly banter with a few friends from the #sqlfamily. I did not want the week to end. I spent the rest of the day on two uneventful flights back to Omaha.

The week of this conference is the most amazing week of the year for me, and I am going to attend this conference each and every year going forward. This event is created by the SQL Server community, for the community, which is quite unique in the tech field. For those of you who have never been, or are looking for the best SQL Server ecosystem training in the world, I cannot stress enough the value of this conference. You should leave the conference with at least three things that will directly improve something you are working on or manage in your environments. The friends you make will last a lifetime. The professional contacts will help you when you’re in a bind in your business.

As for next year, the next PASS Summit is back in Seattle on October 27-30, 2015. I can’t wait to see you all there!

Landing at Seatac airport (cleaned up by Brandon Leach)

Landing at Seatac airport (cleaned up by Brandon Leach)

Chris Shaw and John Morehouse setting up for their precon

Chris Shaw and John Morehouse setting up for their precon

Saturday morning breakfast on the water

Saturday morning breakfast on the water

See you all next year!

See you all next year!

Nov 062014
 

Logo-K1Hi everyone! If you’d like to join us in the second installation of a high-speed tradition after the SQL PASS Summit 2014 wraps up Friday afternoon, meet us in the Community Zone at 5:30p sharp. We will be leaving promptly at 5:45pm and taking some sort of transit to the K1 Speed indoor go-kart track for a few heats of high-speed competitive fun! If you have transportation of your own, the address is:

K1 Speed Seattle

2207 NE Bel-Red Rd.

Redmond, WA 98052

UPDATE: Well, that didn’t work out. There’s nothing like a policeman’s ball in the same hotel you’re staying in keeping the traffic around the hotel absolutely jammed up. The shuttle we called to take us all there spent over an hour trying to get in and then we just ran out of time. We’ll make up for this next year!
Nov 062014
 

PASS Summit 2014 Logo_930x260Today I presented my SQL Server virtual machine “right-sizing” session at the SQL PASS 2014 Summit to a fantastic audience. I really appreciate each and every one of you for attending. This session was also broadcast on the Summit PASStv live video streaming session, and thanks to all of you who tuned in to watch!

As promised, I have attached the schema and scripts from the session, available to download here. These scripts will help you take Perfmon data that you have loaded into the database (use the Midnight DBAs code available here to do so, demo how-to video here) and run a statistical analysis on the data. The end goal is to help you understand the resource consumption of your SQL Servers, both physical or virtual, and take this data to determine the appropriate amount of CPU and memory needed to keep this SQL Server performing well while minimizing the size of the VM.

Also announced in this session is the target date of the end of the year for the beta release of a FREE standalone utility to run on your SQL Servers that will profile the performance trends of the server and present an estimation of the “right” amount of CPU and memory needed to balance the VM’s performance with the VM’s size. If you’d like to be added to the beta tester list, just contact me here and request to be added. Keep an eye on this blog for more details as the project nears a release date!

Nov 052014
 

PASS Summit 2014 Logo_930x260My session today at the SQL PASS Summit 2014 entitled “Right Sizing Your SQL Server Virtual Machine” is going to be broadcast live on the streaming session page called PASStv! It will start broadcasting right at 1:30 PM Pacific time today.  View it live here!

Right-Sizing Your SQL Server Virtual Machines

Wednesday, November 5, 1:30-2:45PM in Room 6E (Level 300)

Virtualizing your top-tier production SQL Servers is not as easy as P2V’ing it. Sometimes allocating more resources to the VM is the wrong approach, and getting it wrong will silently hurt performance. What is the most effective method for determining the ‘right’ amount of resources to allocate? What happens if the workload changes a month from now?

The methods for understanding the performance of your mission-critical SQL Servers gathered over the past ten years of SQL Server virtualization will be addressed, and valuable processes for performance statistic collection and analysis will be displayed. Come learn how to properly ‘right-size’ the resources allocated to a VM, improve the performance of your SQL Servers, and keep it maximized well into the future.

Oct 292014
 

PASS Summit 2014 Speaking Badge_250x250I can hardly believe how fast this year has flown by. My favorite SQL Server conference of the year, the PASS Summit, is just next week! I can hardly wait! This conference is one of the largest SQL Server and BI conferences of the year, planned and coordinated by the community for the community. It’s happening next week in Seattle, WA, and has over 200 fantastic sessions by the people that have been educating most of us for our entire careers.

It’ll be a crazy week of high-speed education, catching up with old friends, networking with new ones, sending random photos and posts on Twitter, and creating great memories to be retold over the next year.

If you are going to be there, I’d love to meet up! Ping me on Twitter and we’ll definitely get together. Networking is the best part of the Summit, and I encourage you to say hi to random strangers, go to after-hours events that you might ordinarily not attend, and make the most of this tight-knit and close community. Say hi to people! Strike up random conversations. Sit at tables with strangers. The friends you make will last a lifetime. Check out the after-hour gatherings because the list of gatherings and events is longer than my arm!

I’m also honored to have two sessions to present at this year’s Summit. I am thrilled to be able to present at this conference again this year. I know virtualization is not something most DBAs have direct hands-on experience with, but virtualization is here to stay. You will be a better DBA if you have a solid understanding of the technology and how it directly impacts your role as an enterprise-level DBA. I encourage you to join me in my sessions listed below.

Right-Sizing Your SQL Server Virtual Machines

Wednesday, November 5, 1:30-2:45PM in Room 6E (Level 300)

Virtualizing your top-tier production SQL Servers is not as easy as P2V’ing it. Sometimes allocating more resources to the VM is the wrong approach, and getting it wrong will silently hurt performance. What is the most effective method for determining the ‘right’ amount of resources to allocate? What happens if the workload changes a month from now?

The methods for understanding the performance of your mission-critical SQL Servers gathered over the past ten years of SQL Server virtualization will be addressed, and valuable processes for performance statistic collection and analysis will be displayed. Come learn how to properly ‘right-size’ the resources allocated to a VM, improve the performance of your SQL Servers, and keep it maximized well into the future.

Achieving Peak Performance from Your Virtual SQL Servers

Friday, November 7, 4:00-5:15PM in Room 618-620 (Level 200)

Your SQL Servers are probably virtualized by now, but are they running at their absolute peak performance? How can you tell? When properly configured and maintained, a virtualized SQL Server will be at least as fast as the system that it came from, if not better. If not properly configured, silent performance killers can wreck your virtualization experience. This session will give you tips and tricks to maximize performance while giving you talking points so you can convince your infrastructure engineers to design the virtualization stack your way. This session goes deep into the architecture and methodology for squeezing the best possible performance from your virtualized SQL Server, and includes valuable tips on topics such as host-level over-commitment, storage performance, In-memory OLTP, and more!

Also, the Friday evening after the Summit wraps up, I’m planning some sort of energetic adventure for us geeks! Last year fourteen of us went high-speed go-karting at the GoPro Motorplex just north of Charlotte. This year keep an eye on this blog for the official announcement for what we are up to and when / where to meet up! Here are a couple of photos from the fun we had last year. You are all invited to come with us, and it’s something I hope to make a tradition going forward!

gopro motorplex gopro karting crew

PASS Summit 2014 Logo_930x260

I am greatly looking forward to this conference, and cannot wait to see you there. If you are not able to make this one, make plans to attend next year. It’s the best thing you can do for your career as a SQL Server professional.