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SQL Server MasterClass Event Review

I often begrudge a 5am start to travel anywhere, let alone to SQL events but this was a trip definitely worth making.

 SQL Server MasterClass presented by Kimberly L. Tripp (Click here for Blog)  & Paul S. Randal (Click here for Blog) – MasterClass was a very apt name too – these two are masters of their craft, with over 30 years SQL Server experience between them – and this was clearly evident on the day ! I also ran into an old friend of mine there too – Gethyn Ellis – GRE SQL Solutions (Click here for Blog)

With the usual plethora of DBAs from around the UK (and beyond) in attendance, the Radisson Hotel, Heathrow played host to a great event, from which I returned with some very valuable advice and knowledge.

 The event opened with a keynote on “Bridging the Gap Between Development and Production“.

The old age argument on how both DBAs and Developers ‘should’ be working in harmony. Its true though, development does often occur in its own vacuum, they don’t converse with DBAs and vice versa – or if you do find them talking to each other, its often too late and they’re firefighting, trying to resolve an issue. An issue that can easily be avoided, had they attended this event and took in Paul’s advice!

 It highlighted the need for developers to appreciate the finer things in a DBAs daily make-up, the need to appreciate each others priorities, timescales and more importantly the need for adequate testing.

 It certainly gave me food for thought, and I’ll definitely be championing the need for cross communication in my workplace! After all, as Paul reiterated

“design choices will have a huge effect on performance and availability, no good getting it working and dealing with performance later – it can be very difficult to undo bad design!”

I was already suffering from RSI at this point with all the note-taking I was doing – the amount of advice (previously unheard) I was taking in was frightening for a DBA with a supposed 6 years background in SQL Server !

 SQL Server Mythbusters

The next session focused on common myths surrounding SQL Server and, for what Paul and Kimberly often called, ‘involuntary DBAs’ – this session was a must.

 Myths such as DBCC CHECKDB causing blocking, backups causing blocking and the thought that turning on Page Checksum protects ALL pages immediately were all busted!

 Click here for Paul’s full blog series on this subject.

This was worth the small registration fee in its own right!

 We then proceeded to the partner presentations.

 Idera – showcased their SQL Virtual DB software (which I’m sure was pivotal to their recent Best at TechEd Winning) !! – an extremely powerful tool with numerous advantages. Check out the full tool description at www.idera.com

I would certainly recommend Idera products to you all, having used SQL Diagnostic Manager and Admin ToolSet for the last 18 months or so.

BakBone – presented their NetVault FastRecover product – again another tool with some very good benefits – www.bakbone.com

Lunch followed, an opportunity to either mingle and network with fellow SQL DBAs or a chance to quickly nip into nearest bar to check out the World Cup scores – having chosen the latter option, I soon regretted it, when the bill for my pint of Guinness arrived ! (I knew for sure I was in a London hotel then !!!)

 Database Recovery Techniques Demo-Fest

 This session on database recovery techniques, again, was a must listen for all DBAs! If only for the advice on ‘hacking’ a detached suspect database! Again both Paul & Kimberly made available a vast amount of scripts and tips to use in such scenarios.

GUIDs: Use, Abuse and How to Move Forward

 Not a subject I was knowledgeable or to be honest even thought of in my day-to-day life as DBA. Well, my eyes were well and truly opened!

Kimberly talked through the numerous potential consequences of using GUIDs as your primary keys or worse still, clustered keys.

These bad boys can have a profound effect on performance – so again I recommend Kimberly’s blog for more information!

Having already topped my knowledge bank up to the max, the final session was labelled Essential Database Maintenance.

Paul and Kimberly counted down a top 10 of areas requiring attention as a DBA. These were as follows:-

10. Data File Management

9. Transaction Log Management

8. TempDB

7. Indexing Strategies

6. Statistics

5. Index Fragmentation

4. Detecting Corruption

3. Problem Notification

2. Taking Backups

1. Testing (of course !!)

(A note on No 4 too – check out Paul’s blog post on 825 errors!!!)

By this stage the ink in my pen was dry and I had gained enough new knowledge to give my supervisors the headache from hell Monday morning!

By far, the best SQL Server event I have attended. Total value for money, a great location (travelling nightmare aside!), very good partner exhibitions (www.idera.com, www.bakbone.com and www.greymatter.com) – and of course 2 outstanding speakers in Paul and Kimberly.

I urge you all to follow their blogs, the advice and articles they have to offer are invaluable to ensuring you, as a DBA (involuntary or not!) are adequately armed to face the challenges and pitfalls you could encounter on a daily basis.

There’s a SQL Immersion event coming up in Dublin with them too – and if financial constraints in my workplace didn’t hinder me – I’d be booking my plane ticket right now!


Posted by Steve Jones on 21 June 2010

Sounds cool. Sorry I missed it and I'll have to try and catch them in the US.

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