Ruminations from the Road – Reporting from the NYC
SQL Server 2005 Roadshow.
New York – April 21, 2005 – It was fine sunny day in
the Big Apple, as I grabbed my bag to hit the road for the Roadshow (link) that
has come to town in my fair city. As
I headed to the door my wife taps me on the shoulder, saying, “Wait, I have
some vases that I want appraised.” “No,
honey, not that Roadshow, I’m going to the SQL
Server 2005 Roadshow!” And
off I went to immerse myself in an entire day of all things to come for SQL
Server, as we finally approach Microsoft’s long-awaited release of SQL 2005,
In addition to the Main Event, several well-known
software vendors setup shop at the Partner Pavilion, and many industry
executives were on hand to give presentations and even answer the audience’s
questions. Indeed, it truly was a
full day of SQL Server 2005 technical content presented by SQL Server experts
from vendors such as DevelopMentor, Hitachi Consulting, and Scalability Experts,
as well as third-party tools and solutions from Microsoft and technical
representatives of BMC Software, HP, and Imceda. Let me tell you
firsthand, that every moment spent there was worth it, and I fully enjoyed it on
a personal and professional level.
As the Roadshow wraps up its travel itinerary in the U.S.
and heads across the Atlantic for its European tour, there are still a few more
venues here that you can attend. Chicago is SOLD OUT!
If you are in Texas (the Houston and Dallas area), May 17th
and 19th are still open – I encourage all you Texans to mosey on
The festivities were kicked off with an introduction to the
speakers and sponsors, such as PASS, who
we would see more of throughout the day, and then were presented with the
Keynote Session (the main ballroom of course :-), discussing the innovations and
evolution of SQL Server 2005 into a
comprehensive data management platform. The
stage was set for the rest of the seminar, promising that it will deliver
increased scalability, availability, and security to enterprise data and
analytical applications, as well as a complete overview of best practices for
planning to migrate to SQL Server 2005.
The agenda entailed three main tracks, the Administrative
Session, the Development Session, and the BI Session.
I attended the Administrative Session, and the only complaint I had was
there was no real way or opportunity to attend all three-breakout sessions. Sure, you could mix and match, (jump the tracks),
but at the risk of missing another interesting one.
And so, I chose the admin route, where the question on every dba’s
mind, “What will it Take to Migrate to SQL Server 2005?” was
answered in extraordinary detail. We
then moved on to the next session, where we were taken, literally, for an 90
minute tour “Under the Hood” of the SQL Server 2005 engine, and learned
about its enhancements, its changes, and how it will impact our decision to
upgrade. Finally, after some
well-deserved lunch and perusing at the pavilion, we were schooled in “How to
build highly available systems with SQL Server 2005”.
The presenter here, Raj Gill, CTO of Scalability
Experts, Inc.was the tops and a very talented and professional technical
speaker. He kept the audience on
their toes, awake, and full of enthusiasm.
I was impressed not only with his speaking skills, but his technical
acumen. We were fully engaged with
his presentation, and the audience participation was incredible – at times he
even had to cut us short, just so he can get through the slide presentation.
Speaking of presentations, we had some in-between ones from
our friendly software vendors, touching on timely topics such as how the role of
the database administrator is changing, thoughts on the relevance of 64-bit and
Itanium with respect to Business Intelligence (BI), and the very on-topic
advances in High Availability, such as Log Shipping technology in SQL Server
2005 and its implications for disaster recovery. While I fully expected the marketing pitch for their
respective product solutions to begin at any moment, they largely stayed on
message and contributed to the overall Roadshow objectives, which was nicely
complimented by their presentations.
To drill down on some of these, in discussing the changing
role of the DBA, a subject that should generate intense interest for all
database professionals looking to understand the shifting nature of their career
track. As the DBA role evolves,
becoming more and more complex and hybrid, it might surprise many to learn that
the change appears to be business-driven rather than technology driven.
So, as MS SQL 2005 itself emerges into a hybrid tool – a comprehensive
end-to-end integrated business intelligence platform – so the DBA must adapt
and take on several new job functions to support the evolving technology. (I
call this new hybrid Super-DBA. :-)
This means not
only learning the ins and outs of SQL Server 2005 itself, but to have a broader
understanding of the business in general. Since in most companies it’s the business directives that
drive the need for technology and not the other way around, understanding how
the business works and how technology will serve these objectives, will
undoubtedly make the DBA more valuable to the organization. (I even think as the database administrator morphs into
Super-DBA, the term DBA itself will become legacy). If you wish to learn more about the “Value of the DBA”,
the venerable Steve
Jones of SSC offers an interesting perspective on this topic, in an article
entitled the same name. The good
news here, as our speaker points out, is that even with the downward trend in
IT-spending, companies are now focused on the clear ROI, where technology is
seen as an investment, not just a cost center.
That in itself increases our value as DBA.
Moving on to the next discussion, HP shared its thoughts on
the relevance of the 64-bit platform for SQL Server and BI in the enterprise,
and how your company’s infrastructure can benefit from its implementation. If
you’d like to read my thoughts on BI, do take a look at the scribe about
Analysis Services and what I dubbed 2005, the Year of BI.
From multiple-instance sql database farms, to OLAP and
large data warehouses, 64-bit will revolutionize the speed that data is
processed, sliced, diced and delivered into the business and clients hands, not
to mention the incredible gains for high availability, performance and
scalability. 64-bit and the Itanium
processor will have a huge impact on the enterprise database and architecture.
For a bit more on the 64-bit platform, please see one of my previous
articles appearing here on SSC, “A Bit About 64-bit”
Our last in-between vendor presentation, which I saw as a
warm-up for the BIG High Availability administration session, Douglas
Chrystall, CTO of Imceda Software, a
fine chap who’ve I had the pleasure in meeting, talked about the new
innovations in High Availability, which include enhancements to SQL Server’s
Log Shipping and the introduction to database mirroring.
The positive implications for Disaster Recovery will be enormous.
As the previous incarnation of Log Shipping, once considered the
poor-man’s HA solution (even though only Enterprise Edition came with the nice
LS wizard and GUI), was a manual fail-over process, where DBA intervention was
required. (see “Value of a DBA” above :-)
Database Mirroring can be set to fail-over and recover
automatically. Indeed, db mirroring
offers a substantial increase in availability over standard log shipping, by
maintaining a hot-standby server where changes are reflected real-time, and
applications can recover quickly with minimal, if any, intervention.
(More on this neat new feature in my upcoming column.)
One of the lighter moments of the Roadshow was the “Ask
the Experts Panel Discussion” which was an assembled cast of technical experts
and executives, from Microsoft and our other partner pavilion pundits.
In actuality, it became the “Stump the Panel” session, when one
audience question after another went unanswered as the panel fell silent.
After several minutes though, the panel recovered, and started answering
our questions in fine form once again. We
basically chalked up their temporary incapacitation to jet lag and fatigue from
their previous Roadshow appearance in Boston.
(Well at least they produced the World-Series winner.)
Indeed, as the NYC Roadshow came to a triumphant
conclusion, and mingled a bit at the PASS User Group party, I was glad to attend
this well-organized seminar, and be a part of the future of SQL Server 2005.
This grand gathering of DBA’s, developers, BI architects, modelers, IT
managers and other industry folk was a smashing success.
There was a lot of material to absorb from this
Administration Session, and this piece is just an overview.
In my future follow-up articles, which I hope will be a multi-part
series; I will dig down into each of the three major breakout sessions and bring
you the much-needed details that you will need to know in planning to implement
In this article, I try to give you the readers a taste of
what it was like attending such an event, as well as a summary of topics covered
here by the presenters. I highly
recommend whenever and wherever possible, that all IT professionals attend one
of these types of events, as it can be a worthwhile and satisfying experience.
Written by: Robert
Pearl Knowledge Solutions, Inc.
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Note: Not to be reprinted or published without express permission of the
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