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John Sansom - SQL Server DBA in the UK

John Sansom (@SQLBrit) is a Technology Lead with the database team at Expedia, Inc. providing consulting services and support for one of the worlds largest SQL Server environments. Awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor Award (MCC) John can be found regularly blogging about Being a DBA and Professional Development over at www.johnsansom.com.

SQLBits 8 – That’s a Wrap

This weekend saw the 8th SQLBits conference take place amidst glorious British sunshine by the sea in Brighton.

For those unable to attend the event you missed out on what was easily the most outstanding SQLBits experience to be had thus far. Here are some of my highlights.

There were so many fantastic sessions over the three days that the amount of content required to cover them all here individually would just cause my keyboard to ignite into flames. Instead I’ve decided to award those that I feel deserve a special mention. It gives me great pleasure the to announce to you the first ever:

View from the Grand Hotel, Birghton


SQL Server DBA in the UK – SQL Community Awards

Best Presentation

This was a really tough decision. The award for Overall Best Presentation goes to Ross Mistry(Blog|Twitter) for his presentation Consolidation and Virtualization Strategies.

This session provided tremendous value to me because it brought together, in a clear and concise fashion, a large number of concepts that had previously eluded me for quite some time. You see I understood the components that made up cloud technology but I just could not get my head around why I would ever want to actually use them. To put it bluntly, why bother. How is the service provided by the cloud any different from the managed services that have been available from larger hosting providers for years? Well Ross delivered the answers for me.

In addition I also now understand the difference between public and private cloud solutions but most importantly when I should look to leverage each technology platform for my customers. If you have been struggling to get to grips with what exactly cloud technology is then you absolutely must make sure that you catch this session when it becomes available to watch online from the SQLBits website in the coming weeks.

Ross delivered his presentation in a really engaging manner, jam packed full of content and yet still easily understandable. Great job. My only complaint is that I did not get an opportunity to meet the man in person.

Greatest Lightbulb Moment

The award for the session that resulted in the biggest “ah ha” moment goes to Jamie Thomson(Blog|Twitter) for SSIS Dataflow Performance Tuning.

I’ve done a fair amount of work with SSIS, both from an ETL/data warehouse solution perspective and non standard solution implementations so I consider myself reasonably experienced in this area of the SQL Server product suite and yet this session provided me with a lot of unexpected value.

The session covered the fundamentals of performance tuning the SSIS dataflow and Jamie delivered his presentation in a very consumable fashion, for example the concept of SSIS memory buffers, making what can potentially be a complex subject into something that is very straightforward to grasp. The insight into the workings of buffers in SSIS has for me now put the entire concept of performance tuning SSIS into a clear perspective. Previously I had understood the reasoning’s for why and how to tune the specific bells and whistles of various SSIS components but my self taught journey had resulted in my missing what is clearly an essential element of the overall picture.

Not content with just speaking at SQLBits though, Jamie has also busied himself with capturing documentary style footage of behind the scenes action from SQLBits. Be sure to check out his blog to enjoy the handy work.

Most Valuable Session

The award for the session that provided the most real world value goes to James Boother (Blog|Twitter) for Introduction to Powershell.

Everyone already knows that The Best Database Administrators Automate Everything, but as a consequence we can perhaps also be a little too lazy for our own good. Enter Powershell into the fold. Historically I had always set out with good intentions to use the technology but  it was always easier for me to fall back on an existing solution method than to devise a new one. Sadly however, this had perhaps over time led to me not learning what is clearly a very robust and powerful tool.

Problem solved! This tremendous session from James provided absolutely everything a DBA needs to get started with Powershell and quickly. Considering the amount of time that could be saved by using Poweshell, that’s a fantastic return on investment from just an hour. Brilliant!

Community Banter

Community Corner

"Is there potential for a User Group near you?"

Of course aside from the presentations themselves for me one of the most enjoyable aspects of any SQL event is the opportunity to meet with all the great people in our community. I’m always overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fantastic people. It really was a privilege to spend time with each and every person I met this weekend be they speakers, vendors, blog readers, Twitter chums, old friends and new. Far too many to mention individually but you know who you are.

A particular clever community idea taking place in the Community Corner as SQLBits was requesting attendees to pin their location on a map of the UK. The thinking of course being to potentially identify areas that may be suited to the creation of a User Group. What caught my attention was the number of people in and around the London area, providing even more impetus for us to continue driving this particular group forward.

SQLBits is a community event organised by the community for the community. A lot of people put in a tremendous amount of blood, sweat and tears to make it happen for us all. As an attendee the most important thing that you can do to show your thanks and appreciation is to complete the speaker feedback. These folks especially give a tremendous amount of their time and effort all for your benefit so make sure you do at the very least do this in return.

If you’re feeling like you’ve missed out on all the action then you’d be right! It is all over now. Not being content with merely hosting a tremendous event though, the SQLBits team will be sharing all of the session recordings with the community in the coming weeks. I will of course keep you posted on their availability.

Hat Tips All Around

A huge thank you to everyone that contributed to a fantastic event. Thanks to Simon Sabin and the SQLBits team, all the Sponsors, SQLCAT and special hat tip to FusionIO for not only sponsoring the event but for also throwing a tremendous mixer. Until next time folks……

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