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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).

Speaker of the Month for November 2015

A great benefit that I get with my job is that I get to travel all over the place to see people present. This means I can expand out beyond my own country to see good speakers. That’s the case this month. My Speaker of the Month, with all the… Read more

2 comments, 97 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 5 November 2015

PASS Summit 2015: Wrap-up


Another PASS Summit is complete. This one was amazing. It’s my first time ever as a member of the Board of Directors of the PASS organization to attend the Summit and take part in the full process of making the sausage. It was hard. It was exhausting (more so… Read more

3 comments, 113 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 2 November 2015

PASS Summit 2015: So Far

It’s Kilt Day!

I want to give a quick assessment on how the Summit has been for me so far. Monday, as is true for the rest of the week, I served two masters. In the morning I went to the Redgate SQL in the City event. In the afternoon… Read more

1 comments, 103 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 29 October 2015

Talk to Me at PASS Summit

If you’re going to PASS and you want to have a chat, I want to talk to you. If it’s about the Board of Directors for PASS, PASS Chapters, execution plans, crossfit or something else, here are a few places where I’ll be doing my best to make myself available: Read more

0 comments, 169 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 23 October 2015



I’m at least one of the people who yelled Zoomit during a keynote at PASS Summit.

I want to take a moment and explain why I did it and why it was wrong.

I was frustrated. I’m watching a presentation on a HUGE screen, from about mid-way in the… Read more

9 comments, 197 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 22 October 2015

Statistics for the New Data Pro

Next week at the PASS Summit I’ll be presenting a session called Statistics for the New Data Pro.

You can read the abstract at the link. I just want to emphasize that this is a beginner level session. I think way too many people who are just starting out… Read more

0 comments, 107 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 20 October 2015

Getting Started With DocumentDB

I’ve put this off for too long. It’s time to get my feet wet with some new tech.

Step 1 is easy. Go to the Azure portal and start the process for creating a DocumentDB:

While that’s running, let’s see what’s on the interwebs about getting started in DocumentDB…

Nice.… Read more

2 comments, 121 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 14 October 2015

Argenis Without Borders: Fun For a Good Cause

This is the second year of Argenis Without Borders and the second year that I’m taking part. Last year we hit the fund-raising goal and I wore the rainbow fuzzy leggings at the PASS Summit. This year, it feels like we’re a little behind the goal. We need you to… Read more

2 comments, 104 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 12 October 2015

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

1 comments, 467 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

5 comments, 164 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, 149 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, 2,035 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, 167 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, 1,048 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, 278 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, 216 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, 205 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, 1,278 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, 383 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, 170 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 5 August 2015

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