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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).

PASS Summit 2013: Women In Technology Luncheon

This year I was invited to attend the Women In Technology luncheon as a blogger. So I’ll be live-blogging it through it in the same way as I did the keynote.

The WIT lunches are a fascinating, and let’s face it, unique PASS-style event, that have been taking place for… Read more

1 comments, 163 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 17 October 2013

PASS Summit 2013 Day 2 Key Note


Today we have to eat our vegetables and then get lots and lots of sweet desert.


Today we hear about PASS Finances as a part of the official annual meeting and then we get to hear Dr. David Dewitt speak (completely and utterly getting our nerd on… Read more

0 comments, 169 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 17 October 2013

PASS Summit 2013 Day 1 Keynote

I am liveblogging the keynote from the bloggers table at the PASS Summit again this year. Just keep scrolling.

Watching the introduction video as people trickle in. All the other bloggers are setting up. I get in early. I didn’t rearrange the seats this year. I see others doing it… Read more

0 comments, 197 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 16 October 2013

Monitoring Structure Changes

Most everyone I know works with environments that are carefully controlled and structured. All changes go through rigorous testing and full documentation. Absolutely nothing happens in a production environment that hasn’t been thought through, discussed, planned for and written down. But, there are a few, a very few, who work… Read more

3 comments, 1,587 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 15 October 2013

Do Be a Gatekeeper

I read this fascinating blog post called “Don’t Be a Gatekeeper” by Julie Zhuo. Please read that first.

It really resonated for me in a lot of ways. Everything she said is 100% applicable to our jobs as data professionals. Work to make things more robust. Create processes… Read more

2 comments, 1,809 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 9 October 2013

Azure Account and Spending Limits

If you’ve been working with Azure for a while you probably signed up before they had the ability to create an account with spending limits. Even worse, you couldn’t switch an unlimited account to a limited account. I have great news. Sometime between June (last time I was messing with… Read more

1 comments, 134 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 8 October 2013

Speaker of the Month, October 2013

This month I saw several good speakers talking on a variety of topics. Making this choice was hard. I’m really glad people don’t know who I’ve decided not to pick because I would be singularly unpopular.

The rules for speaker of the month are simple. This is an utterly arbitrary… Read more

2 comments, 592 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 4 October 2013

An Experiment Concludes

That was hard work

You may or may not have noticed, but every single week day for the month of September, I’ve put up a blog post. Some were short little blurbs linking to some other person’s blog or an article that I decided to comment on. Some were the… Read more

9 comments, 122 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 30 September 2013

Azure Offerings Continue to Expand

We just received word of a bunch of new functionality over at Scott Guthrie’s blog. Not a lot of stuff for data pro’s… unless you work with Oracle. Yeah, you can now create Oracle VMs. See the image below:


I swear, I can’t tell you why this gives… Read more

0 comments, 174 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 27 September 2013

PASS Votes

I’ve already made my own intentions clear. I’m casting one of my votes for Allen Kinsel. But, I get three votes. Some of you may be asking yourselves, why didn’t recommend two other candidates?

Honesty time.

First, no one else asked me to. I’m actually glad of this. If… Read more

1 comments, 134 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 26 September 2013

AdventureWorks2012 Bug on Azure

While I have production databases in Azure, I can’t exactly experiment with them at will. Further, while they mostly have pretty innocuous data, it’s not all public. So, I need a mechanism for creating a database that I can play with in Azure. I use AdventureWorks. I get it. It’s… Read more

0 comments, 351 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 25 September 2013

Premium Database on Azure

One of the things that can make Windows Azure SQL Databases (WASD) attractive is the fact that they run inside of a managed environment. But, that does mean that you’re sharing resources with other databases. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if people are extremely worried about performance, yet,… Read more

0 comments, 138 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 24 September 2013

PASS Votes and So Should You

To put it bluntly, you need to go cast a vote for Allen Kinsel for the PASS Board.

In his own words, here’s why Allen is running.

Why am I supporting Allen? First, he’s a friend. But ignore that. This isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, a popularity contest.… Read more

2 comments, 178 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 23 September 2013

Web Design & Azure

I’ve listened to tons of programmers and DBAs complain about the look of Windows Azure. But, I’m friends with several design people, work with some pretty darned good designers at Red Gate, and I live in sin with a graphic artist (AKA: Mrs. Scary). While the developers and DBAs complain,… Read more

4 comments, 190 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 20 September 2013

SQL Lighthouse

Red Gate is constantly experimenting with technology. Because of a long history working within the Microsoft space, a lot of the new experimentation is in and around Azure. One new venture that could be online soon is SQL Lighthouse. It’s a mechanism for dealing with changing structures in an… Read more

0 comments, 175 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 19 September 2013

Finding Ad Hoc Queries with Query Hash

I was presenting a session on how to read execution plans when I received a question: Do you have a specific example of how you can use the query hash to identify similar query plans. I do, but I couldn’t show it right then, so the person asking requested this… Read more

8 comments, 2,056 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 18 September 2013

Great Idea: Tribal SQL

Writing books, even just a chapter, is not easy. Yet, people are desperate to do it for some reason. But, it’s actually hard to break into writing (not that hard, I did it after all). So, when you get the chance to work on a book, if you’re crazy enough… Read more

1 comments, 177 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 17 September 2013

Why the Lazy Spool Is Bad

First thing, there are no bad operators, just bad parents, uh, I mean query writers, or database designers, or ORM tools. Why do I say this? Because all the operators within a query execution plan serve a purpose. They are there to fulfill a task. Depending on where and when… Read more

1 comments, 2,027 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 16 September 2013

Are Foreign Keys Better Than Indexes?

When I first saw this question I thought to myself, “Self. Don’t you think that’s comparing apples to hammers? Yes, Self, I’m pretty sure it is. Good, I thought so too, self. Yeah, me too.” After rebooting because of the runaway iterations on that thought, I had another, “Well… hold… Read more

0 comments, 293 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 13 September 2013

Microsoft Expands Data Centers… Again

Didn’t they just do this in the spring? Word is out that they’re expanding even more data centers. The cynical take would be that it’s really all about the expanded need for data because of XBox One. But I doubt that explains it all. What’s happening is that Azure is… Read more

0 comments, 178 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 12 September 2013

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