SQLServerCentral Article

Come Vacation on the SQL Cruise


Pop Quiz, SQL Hot Shots!

I have a few questions for you.  Where can you go to receive five sessions of deep-dive Microsoft SQL Server training by two Microsoft SQL Server MVPs - one of which is also one of the few Microsoft Certified Masters (MCM) in the United States - over four days for under $400?  Where can you go to receive this training where your room and board is only about $100 per day?  Where can you go where you would have unlimited access to these trainers to have your personal questions answered in a relaxed and intimate setting; in a small-class environment where the training sessions are tailored to you on the fly.  Finally where can you go to do all this and still get a tan, have boat drinks, and perhaps even go scuba diving in Key West or zip-lining in the rain forests of Cozumel Mexico?

SQL CruiseThe answer to all these questions is the new form of Microsoft SQL Server training that is being produced and presented by Tim Ford (linked-in|blog|MVP) and Brent Ozar (linked-in|blog|MVP):  SQL Cruise.  The SQL Cruise mission is simple.  At SQL Cruise we strive to provide quality training in non-conventional settings for an intimate number of students allowing for customized instruction, while balancing the work/life balance.  Thanks to corporate sponsorship from SQL Sentry, Red Gate Software, Edgewood Solutions, and Quest Software, we have been able to keep the price of tuition to a stunningly-low $395.00 per student.  That includes all training materials, handouts, and scripts you'll be able to use in your environments the minute you walk back in the door refreshed, relaxed, and ready to go.  All attendees also receive books from each of the trainers as well as fabulous swag that we're keeping a secret until embarkation!  Our corporate sponsors are also providing amazing product giveaways including free SQL Cruises and licenses to some of their software products.

The first SQL Cruise sets sail from Miami, FL on August 2, 2010.  The timing coincides with SQL Saturday #40 in Mirimar, FL on 7/31/2010.  This allows you to also attend the phenomenally successful SQL Saturday program which brings regional and national speakers together with local SQL Server Professionals for full day of free learning.  We'll enjoy a day of downtime in Miami on the Sunday between events and kick off the cruise a day early with a SQL Cruise BBQ.  From Miami we head to the ports of Key West and Cozumel, returning to Miami on 8/6/2010. 

On board the Carnival Cruise Ship Imagination we will conduct daily training sessions scheduled around ports-of-call.  We promise to give you the educational experience unlike any others, but at the same time we aim to give you time to decompress by taking in the events on board the ship or just relaxing by the pool.  A nightly dinner, sponsored by one of our corporate partners, provides us with an opportunity to gather informally along with our spouses or other guests. 

Students need to book their cruise directly with Carnival Cruise Line, but at last check the price of this 4-day cruise was still around $400.00 per person.

You have an idea of what SQL Cruise is about.  But what kind of training are you in for?

Why We’re Here

We’ll will kick things off by explaining our mission on the cruise. We are committed to helping you with SQL Server, the community, and your job.  In this cruise, we’re going to teach you as much as we can, but in addition, we want you to be comfortable asking us anything.  We want this event to be casual, yet highly valuable for you.  We want you to leave this vacation feeling refreshed, smarter, and ready to go back to work with a vengeance.


Tuning T-SQL Step by Step   

Performance tuning means picking up an application you’ve never seen before, figuring out what’s running slow, and how to make it faster.  We will show you how to approach tuning the same way we do:

  • Start by tweaking the things that make the biggest difference with the least code changes
  • Move on to examining code, making surgical strikes in stored procedures and functions
  • Finally, document what can’t be changed easily, and pick your battles

We will demonstrate very common coding issues that he sees frequently and help you fix them in the easiest ways possible.  By the end of this session, you’ll feel more confident about attacking slow apps.


Trouble with a Capital T: Terabyte Databases

Before your databases get too big for their britches, you need to be ready and educated.  Backups, filegroups, partitions, index maintenance, even just plain stored procedures need to be planned differently as you start to approach the 500GB mark.  By the time your data’s hit a terabyte, it’s too late – even the smallest change will require long outage windows.

We will teach you valuable lessons – some of which we learned the hard way as we transitioned from 50GB databases to multi-terabyte monsters.  We’ll show you a few simple things you can do along the way that can be the difference between success and disaster.  These techniques won’t just help you with your current job, but help you get a better one as BI and data warehouses become more popular.


Using Dynamic Management Views to Tune and Manage SQL Server

It’s challenging to call Dynamic Management Views new – they’ve been incorporated into all releases of Microsoft SQL Server since SQL Server 2005 – but that is what they are to so many DBAs working with SQL Server today.  By the end of this session you’ll be not only familiar with what DMVs are, but also have scripts in-hand for immediate use in your environments back on dry land to do the following:

  • Use DMVs to identify long-running and expensive queries.
  • Return information on currently-running user activity: including graphical execution plans, transact/sql code, and session metrics.
  • Target index fragmentation and resolve for improved performance without rebuilding all your indexes blindly.
  • Gain insight into unused indexes causing unnecessary overhead or missing indexes that would improve performance had they existed.
  • Learn how to use wait and file I/O stats to identify bottlenecks immediately in your SQL Server databases for targeted tuning before you resort to SQL Performance Monitor and SQL Profiler.
  • Collect performance counters without needing to launch SQL Server Performance Monitor.

All this and many other uses for Dynamic Management Views will be covered in this session.


The Hidden Booty of SQL Server

Between us, we’ve got decades of SQL Server experience, and we’ve seen all kinds of shortcuts and tricks.  In this session, we’ll show you their favorite ways to save time when deploying new servers, managing lots of existing ones, and building applications.  Learn how to:

  • Parse an execution plan by letting SQL Server analyze the XML
  • Use DML triggers to build a change tracking system in 30 minutes
  • Generate graphs in the SSMS results tab
  • Use the cloud to sync your T-SQL snippets
  • And more!


What I Wish I Would Have Known When I Started

There’s hundreds of books about blogging, presenting, and social media, but they’re mostly spam.  In this short one-hour session, we’ll pack in all of the tips you need to improve your communication.  We’ll show you how to:

  • Connect with people (whether it’s in a blog, a presentation, or a webcast)
  • Make money passively (yes, it does actually work, although it’s not a lot of money)
  • Make money actively (by bringing in side consulting work)
  • Measure the right metrics, and improve them

By the end of the session, you’ll have a long laundry list of things to take home and impact your career.

Great, but again, what's with the cruise ship?

Both Brent and I believe strongly that you learn just as much, if not more, from those who you spend time with during conferences as you do in the conferences themselves.  We felt the commaradarie between attendees could be amped-up by locating the training sessions on a cruise ship or a resort where you would find yourself spending more time with your fellow students.  We also felt that it was important to keep class size low and expand the session length to allow for personalization in the presentations and to allow for plenty of questions!  Furthermore, with the exception of Key West, it will be difficult for your companies to reach you and take you away from the training experience.  You'll be able to focus better without the distractions from the outside world where your coworkers are toiling in their cubicles; the aroma of burnt coffee and stale doughnuts filling the air in their floursecent-lit prisons without walls.

The price was also the other factor.  When was the last time a company could send an employee for four days of advanced technical training for around $200/day and have that also include the cost of hotel and meals?  You may need to go back to the days of floppy disks and dial-up internet service to find those prices.  The cruise environment and our corporate partners allow us to produce these sessions at such prices.  We fully anticipated that 100% of our students would be local to the Miami area - we could not have been more wrong.  All of our students to-date are flying in for the cruise; some from as far West as Washington State.  Companies have seen that this is an excellent opportunity to give their staff an excellent training opportunity - at a cost that is reasonable enough to incur the cost of air travel.  By scheduling this event to coincide with SQL Saturday #40 the companies sending students realize an additional training opportunity with minimal cost add-ons.

What are you waiting for?

There are still open seats for the innaugural SQL Cruise.  All details are available on the SQL Cruise website.  Work on that tan, brush up on your Spanish, and get your list of questions written down.  We'll be expecting to see you on the Carnival Imagination when it sets off from Miami on 8/2/2010!  Even better, take a couple extra days away from the office and join us at SQL Saturday #40 in Miramar, FL where we will both be speaking prior to SQL Cruise.


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