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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).

Trace Flags in Azure SQL Database

One of the ways that you take more direct control over your SQL Server instances is through the use of trace flags. There are a number that people recommend you enable by default. Prior to Extended Events for example, I’d say you should turn on trace flag 1222 in order… Read more

0 comments, 59 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 5 October 2015

Speaker of the Month: October 2015

Working on my third year of “Speaker of the Month” posts now. The good news, I haven’t run out of people to award it to. Most months, if I’ve been able to go to a community event or two, I have three or four candidates.  Same this month.

Speaker of… Read more

4 comments, 113 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 2 October 2015

PASS Nominations Committee 2015

The Nominations Committee has done their job and the final report has been published.

Good luck to everyone running. Thank you for stepping up and taking part in this process.

This is the first time in a very long time that I don’t get to put out a “You should… Read more

1 comments, 116 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 14 September 2015

Yes, Foreign Keys Help Performance

I created this example several years ago that illustrates how foreign key constraints can help performance. It’s a contrived example. Granted. I feel like it illustrates the point.

However, over the years, people have questioned one aspect of it. The optimizer uses the foreign keys to figure out which tables… Read more

10 comments, 1,856 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 9 September 2015

Speaker of the Month: September 2015

Feast or famine.

The last several months I just haven’t seen that many speakers, let alone that many community speakers. Then, in the last month, I’ve seen a ton. Contests being what they are though, someone has to win. To everyone I saw speak at SQL Saturday Oklahoma City and… Read more

1 comments, 147 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 4 September 2015

Targeted Plan Cache Removal

A lot of times you’ll hear how people are experiencing sudden, intermittent, poor performance on a query, bad parameter sniffing at work, so they’ll fix it by running the following code:



Yeah, you just nuked the cache on your server because you wanted to take out a… Read more

9 comments, 997 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 24 August 2015

Time to Change

I recently spent two days consulting with a company on their database development and deployment processes. They are a small, capable, team of developers, database developers and a DBA who have embraced the idea that they need to be able to automate their deployments. I wasn’t in there to teach… Read more

1 comments, 227 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 19 August 2015

PASS Board Update: July 2015

I was actually travelling for most of July and some of that was on holiday with the family, the real family. That’s why I didn’t get a June update posted.

I don’t have anything much exciting to report. We’re finally getting data out of our Chapter database and can report… Read more

4 comments, 176 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 13 August 2015

Leadership: A Name and A Principle

I’m actively working to put together the leadership course that I talked about here and here. No, not full time. I still have to pay the bills with real work. But progress is going forward. I have an initial name and the principle around which we’re going to do… Read more

1 comments, 174 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 11 August 2015

Generating Estimated Plan and the Plan Cache

Does generating an Estimated Plan cause that plan to be loaded into the plan cache?



What? Still here? You want more? Proof? Fine. Let’s first run this bit of code (but please, not on your production server):


That will remove all plans from cache. Now, let’s… Read more

3 comments, 1,235 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 10 August 2015

Reading Your Execution Plans

I’m putting the finishing touches on the all day seminar on execution plans that I’ll be putting on at DevConnections this year. I have tons of examples to show you how to interpret execution plans as part of query performance tuning. We’ll be able to fill our time. However, I’ve… Read more

1 comments, 347 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 6 August 2015

PASS Needs You!

It’s time.

No more procrastinating. No more complaining about the process from the outside. No more excuses.

You have to run for the PASS Board.

The Nominations Committee is all set, off and running. We’ve got great people involved who are going to do their best to ensure that the… Read more

5 comments, 149 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 5 August 2015

Differences Between Actual & Estimated Plans

I have, in the past, made way too much of the need for Actual Plans when doing performance troubleshooting. The primary reason for this is to get the Actual Plan in order to see the differences between the Actual and Estimated Row Counts as a means of understanding how the… Read more

3 comments, 186 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 3 August 2015

Hey Kids! Let’s Put on a Show at the Old Barn

Alternate Title: I’m traveling a bunch. Let’s get together and talk.

A bunch of trips and presentations coming up, so I thought I’d share. First, I’ll be SQL Saturday Omaha for my first time ever presenting in Nebraska. I’m excited to add this state to my list (which is almost… Read more

1 comments, 162 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 29 July 2015

Grant’s Fly-by-night Leadership Course – The Plan

  1. Get a better name
  2. Define my personal goals for the course

I won’t be sharing these with you. I may share them with my Inner Circle (defined below). I’m thinking this is a 2-3 year commitment I’m making. I need to have my own set of measurements to ensure that… Read more

10 comments, 1,362 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 28 July 2015

SQL Server Management Studio – Footloose and Fancy Free

That’s right. There’s been a divorce. SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) has been divorced from the server product. In fact, Microsoft is inviting you to the new SSMS coming out party.

I’m pretty excited about this. While I’m very comfortable in SSMS, to a large degree, it’s like that… Read more

3 comments, 183 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 20 July 2015

How Do You Know You’re Good At Your Job?

You’ve been working as a DBA for X number of years. How do you know you’re good at it? Heck, you’ve been doing any sort of job for a while. How can you measure whether or not you’re competent?

The single best measure isn’t how much work you do, your… Read more

3 comments, 194 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 13 July 2015

But I Don’t Have a Test Server…

I frequently see statements on forums along the lines of “I don’t have a test server, so I’m going to do something I’ve never done before directly on my production servers…” This is usually followed by questions along the lines of:

  • But that’s OK and I won’t get fired, right?

Read more

4 comments, 2,472 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 6 July 2015

Speaker of the Month: June 2015

With my travel schedule, I don’t always get out to events where I can see a community speaker. Sometimes, I just see pros. That’s the case this month. Instead of skipping the month entirely, which feels wrong, I’ve decided to do a special award.

Speaker of the Month for June… Read more

0 comments, 157 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 3 July 2015

Leadership Training Possibility

I know a few people in the SQL Server community who have been involved in Scouting. A couple of them have taken or helped lead Scoutings leadership training program known as Wood Badge. It’s an amazing program. I won’t even attempt to tell you what Wood Badge has done… Read more

10 comments, 187 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 30 June 2015

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