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The Scary DBA

I have twenty+ years experience in IT. That time was spent in technical support, development and database administration. I work forRed Gate Software as a Product Evangelist. I write articles for publication at SQL Server Central, Simple-Talk, PASS Book Reviews and SQL Server Standard. I have published two books, ”Understanding SQL Server Execution Plans” and “SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled.” I’m one of the founding officers of the Southern New England SQL Server Users Group and its current president. I also work on part-time, short-term, off-site consulting contracts. In 2009 and 2010 I was awarded as a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. In the past I’ve been called rough, intimidating and scary. To which I usually reply, “Good.” You can contact me through grant -at- scarydba dot kom (unobfuscate as necessary).

Databases and DevOps, Tools are the Easy Part

Moving your database development, deployment and management into a DevOps methodology does involve choosing and implementing tools and tooling. Tools are a necessary aspect of DevOps because, one of the fundamentals of implementing a DevOps approach is automation. To automate, you need the right tools. However, tools and automation, while… Read more

0 comments, 40 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 16 July 2018

What Is The Preferred Join Operator in SQL Server?

I schedule many of my blog posts at least 2-3 weeks out, so I have time to adjust them, change, them, insert new things into the schedule, what have you. So, as you read this, I’ll have written it at least two weeks ago. As I write this, I’m recovering… Read more

0 comments, 2,638 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 9 July 2018

Why Aren’t You Using SSMS 17?

Last fall, Microsoft split the coding and release of SQL Server Management Studio away from any dependency on the server code. With that, they began an aggressive and exciting series of releases with exciting new functionality in each release. However, you don’t care.

How do I know? I’ve seen the… Read more

45 comments, 4,130 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 5 July 2018

My Speaking Schedule

I have quite a few speaking engagements coming up. Rather than an intermittent blog post, I’ve decided to have a permanent home for this information.

If you want to know where to get in touch with me, go to this page of my blog. I’ll keep a rolling update… Read more

2 comments, 1,364 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 25 June 2018

Database Fundamentals #17: Learning T-SQL

While SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) provides a robust graphical user interface (GUI), the commands you’re going to use the most to control databases and the data within them in SQL Server are going to be done through T-SQL. Therefore, you really need to spend time learning how to write,… Read more

5 comments, 468 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 18 June 2018

Plan Metrics Without the Plan: Trace Flag 7412

I place a lot of emphasis on capturing actual execution plans because of the runtime metrics, but with Trace Flag 7412, we don’t need the plan. This is great news, because capturing execution plans, even using extended events, is an expensive proposition. However, using either the query_thread_profile event, or, Trace… Read more

5 comments, 1,429 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 11 June 2018

SQL in the City Streamed: June 2018

Next week, Redgate Software, will be putting on SQL in the City Streamed.

These events are a great way to learn about SQL Server, the Microsoft Data Platform, privacy and protection, the GDPR, and, of course, DevOps. All of that, with some great information on Redgate tools and how… Read more

0 comments, 176 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 7 June 2018

Extended Events, the system_health Session, and Waits

I advocate for, use, document, teach, and just downright love, Extended Events. They are so much better than the old Trace Events (aka, Profiler) that it’s sometimes difficult to keep from just gushing. Let’s talk about a common situation that you’re going to run into on your servers all the… Read more

3 comments, 215 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 4 June 2018

Query To Retrieve Statistics Data: dm_db_stats_histogram

Starting with SQL Server 2016 Sp1 CU2, a new way of directly querying statistics, specifically the histogram, has been introduced: dm_db_stats_histogram. We’ve always been able to query the statistics using DBCC SHOW_STATISTICS. However, the output, three different result sets with three different structures, made automating access to statistics information a… Read more

1 comments, 1,814 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 29 May 2018


In case this is your first time hearing of it, PASS is the single largest community of Microsoft Data Platform professionals on the planet. It consists of local groups, virtual groups, multiple online events, SQLSaturday, and, to pay for it all, PASS Summit. However, that’s… Read more

0 comments, 527 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 21 May 2018

A View Will Not Make Your Query Faster

Twice recently, one on a blog post, and one in a forum post, I’ve seen people state, unequivocally, without reservation or hint of a caveat, that, “Oh, just put that query into a view. It will run faster.”

To quote the kids these days…

Time for a rant.

But First…

Read more

10 comments, 178 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 14 May 2018

YouTube Channel Update: 11 May 2018

I’ve been busy getting the videos up on YouTube. If they’re helpful to you, please subscribe. Some point soon I’ll start doing some livestreams, maybe from different events, or during a presentation. If you’re subscribed, you’ll know about it when it happens.


We’re getting closer and closer to… Read more

2 comments, 145 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 11 May 2018

When Simple Parameterization…Isn’t

I’m desperately working to finish up a new version of my book on Execution Plans. We’re close, so close. However, you do hit snags. Here’s one. My editor decided to change one of my queries. I used a local variable so that I got one set of behaviors. He used… Read more

4 comments, 2,267 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 7 May 2018

Automating Automatic Indexing in Azure SQL Database

I’ve been in love with the concept of a database as a service ever since I first laid eyes on Azure SQL Database. It just makes sense to me. Take away the mechanics of server management and database management. Focus on the guts of your database. Backups, consistency checks, these… Read more

5 comments, 1,668 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 30 April 2018

YouTube Channel Update: 27 April 2018

Despite a hiccup recently on Twitter where I managed to spam all my followers with links to my YouTube videos (so sorry about that), I am still posting videos. Please subscribe to the channel.

Video Lists

I created video lists. Here they are, in no particular order:

SQL Server and… Read more

0 comments, 251 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 27 April 2018

Presentation Tools

Let’s face it, the core of a presentation is you. Your knowledge and your ability to share that knowledge through whatever means you choose, slides, demos, sock puppets, whatever, is the primary tools you need to hone. Know what you know and be ready to acknowledge what you don’t. Put… Read more

6 comments, 203 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 23 April 2018

Execution Plan Shortcoming in Extended Events

I use Extended Events almost exclusively for capturing query metrics. They are the most consistent and lowest cost mechanism for getting the time and resources used by a query. They can be filtered, combined with other events, they’re just marvelous… until you capture an execution plan.

Execution Plans in Extended…

Read more

3 comments, 1,347 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 16 April 2018

Privacy and Protection, By Design

With all the noise about the upcoming enforcement of GDPR, I know that people are starting to focus more on privacy and protection. Add in all the other news about data breaches and data leaks and suddenly, privacy and protection isn’t just a business concern, it’s personal. Where do you… Read more

0 comments, 315 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 11 April 2018

GDPR, Database Backups, and the Right to be Forgotten

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, there is no cause for any kind of panic when it comes to the GDPR. None. There are however, a number of concerns. One of those concerns is, well, concerning. How does the right to be forgotten within the GDPR impact… Read more

23 comments, 2,897 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 9 April 2018

Buggy Whips 2.0

I recently found myself rereading a very old blog post of mine, from the very beginning of this blog, discussing Buggy Whips. I’ll save you the long read, I was learning new tech, it made me second guess my working assumptions, I was curious if I was manufacturing a… Read more

4 comments, 192 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 2 April 2018

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