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Kevin Kline

  • Fall 2013 Tour Dates

    I was just looking at my upcoming tour dates, trying to get my head around the fact that I'll be logging about 40,000 miles in just 8 weeks. What's not to love about working with our fine TSA Agents dozens of times in the next couple months, I ask you?  I'm doing a few more webcasts for local user groups around the USA, as well as making appearances in Stockholm, Antwerp, and Tel Aviv.

    San Diego SQL Saturday

    September  21, UCSD Extension

    Stay classy, San Diego! I just finished  catching up with lots of old friends (and by that I mean "friends who are really old") at SQL Saturday 249.  It was a lovely day at the UCSD Extension, where hundreds of us gathered for a big, ol' nerdstravaganza. If you attended either of my sessions, I've posted the fully refreshed slide decks in my Slides.  Thanks for all of the great comments and feedback!

    Rochester SQL Server User Group (Webcast)

    September  25 (REGISTER)

    In this free session, I'll be talking about Ten Dev Skills to Make Your DBA Happy.  What's it about?  Stereotypes abound for different types of people in the IT world. Developers think DBAs are control freaks.  DBAs think developers are unruly cowboys. How do we overcome these differences?  If you’re a developer, your best strategy is to manage your DBAs’ anxieties and demonstrate your competence and credibility.  Attend this session to learn about 10 techniques that developers can apply to their code which will calm your DBAs’ fears and earn their admiration.

    This session is specifically for the Rochester SQL Server User Group and PASS chapter, but anyone is free to attend.

    NashvilleTech (NCSS) Leadership Breakfast

    September  26, 8-10 AM CST; NashvilleTech, 120 White Bridge Rd, Nashville, TN 37205 (REGISTER)

    In this free breakfast workshop, Joe Webb and I will discuss the fundamental difference between influence and authority and how you can achieve a high degree of influence without having explicit authority. We'll also share eight techniques for effectively influencing IT professionals so you can best win support for your initiatives. If you're an IT pro in the Nashville area, then this is a session you won't want to miss! Details and registration at Leadership & Influence.

    NashSQL

    September  27, October 25

    This is my hometown regular monthly SQL Server User Group and PASS chapter meeting, held at lunchtime on the last Friday of the month. Venue details are at http://nashville.sqlpass.org/, while discussions are on the NashSQL LinkedIn page.

    PASS Summit 2013

    October 15-18, Charlotte

    I'll be taking part in four sessions at this year's huge PASS Summit in Charlotte, NC:

    I'm also a mentor in the First Timers Program on Tuesday and, of course, spending lots of time in the exhibit hall at the SQL Sentry booth. Come see me in the exhibit hall if not in my sessions!

    If you haven't registered, use our exclusive registration code SQLSUM13 for $150 off the registration cost.  And be sure to check out these informative blog posts about things to see in do in Charlotte and near the conference center during the event:

    DevIntersection

    Las Vegas, October 27-30 (REGISTER)

    I'll be celebrating another birthday in Vegas at the DevIntersection conference.  And, if you're trying to decide what events to go to, remember that everyone who registers for DevIntersection has their choice of a Surface RT or an XBOX One.  Wow! (REGISTER for the DevIntersection conference).  This is a great event for IT people with a wide skill set, such as developers, system admins, and IT pros with multiple areas of responsibility.

    My cohort in crime, Aaron Bertrand, will be presenting two sessions with me. The first, a regular session, is Ten Query Tuning Techniques Every SQL Programmer Should Know, which takes you through 10 of the most problematic patterns and anti-patterns when writing SQL queries and how to deal with them all. Loaded with live demonstrations and useful techniques, this session will teach you how to take your SQL Server queries from mundane to masterful.

    The second session is the Tuesday evening keynote, entitle Monitoring and Performance Tuning for AlwaysOn. In this session, we cover the basics of SQL Server AlwaysOn high availability technology.  With Availability Groups and FCIs, SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn has dramatically expanded the possibilities for high availability and improved resource management. However, to reach the full potential of these new features, better management tools are required. We show you how to do as much monitoring as you can using the native tools, then we present our revolutionary new software which, among many other things, provides enhanced visibility and manageability for advanced AlwaysOn topologies.

    And of course, we'll be hanging out in the Exhibit Hall. Come see us!

    SQL Rally Nordic

    Stockholm Sweden, November 4-6 (SQL RALLY NORDIC HOME)

    This outstanding event just gets better every year. I'll be presenting my popular session SQL Server Internals & Architecture on Day 2 of the event, along with Top Ten Administrator Mistakes on SQL Server.  If you register by Oct 5th, you'll get 50 Euros off the registration price.  There are also some great pre-conference seminars on tap from outstanding speakers like Adama Machanic, Brent Ozar, Davide Mauri, and Kalen Delaney.  If you've never taken a class from one of them, you're in for a treat!

    SQL Server Days

    Antwerp Belgium, November 7-9 (SQL SERVER DAYS HOME)

    Belgium is home to some of the most beautiful cities in Europe. And this fall, not only do I get to present at the SQL Server Days conference, I also get to deliver a pre-conference seminar!  My Thursday pre-con, Real-World Database Configuration and Tuning for SQL Server 2012is a full day of configuration, performance tuning, and troubleshooting advice, tips, and techniques. If you're into serious SQL Server tuning, then this fast-paced, full-day session is for you!

    Then, on Friday, I'll be delivering the session Ten Things Every Developer Should Know, which I often called "Ten Things Every Developer Should Know to Keep Their DBA Happy", which is an important session for SQL Server users who spend most of their time on database development activities, rather than on administration.  DBAs and developers often clash. So this session is for you if you've ever had to deal with an annoyed or annoying DBA.

    NAYA College Training

    Tel Aviv Israel, November 22-27, (SQL SERVER MARATHON HOME and DETAILS for my 3-day course)

    I'm really looking forward to spending some time in Israel this fall. The session is put on by Naya College and is a three day class intended for database and IT professionals who want to build performance optimized systems from the bare metal up through the OS, SQL Server, and on into their application.  And if you have specific questions and you think you might attend, let me know so that I can prepare a solid answer for you. Spread the word!

    SQL Cruise 2014

    Miami, Jan 25 - Feb 2 (2014 SQL CRUISE DETAILS)

    Tim Ford (blog |twitter) has put together another outstanding roster of trainers for this 8-day cruise through the Caribbean isles.  In a testament to the growing popularity of the SQLCruise, the 2014 cruise was nearing peak capacity just a few days after Tim opened registration.  There are just a couple seats left, so get your registration soon to secure your seat.

     

     

  • New Windows and SQL Azure Resources for the IT Pro

    Here's a new post from my website, with many thanks to Microsoft DPE for the Central Region, Keith Mayer (blog twitter), for these great tips!

     

     

    • Windows 8.1 RTM and Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM bits available on MSDN and TechNet subscription sites. This is the version I'm waiting for since it fully preserves the Start menu.
      • Note that updates are expected between RTM, now, and GA, October 18th.  Be sure to check Windows Updates 2-to-3 times weekly if installing these bits.  I'm not saying they're unstable. But they are definitely changed frequently as the dev team makes final tuning and tweaking changes.
    • New Virtual Labs on Windows Server 2012 R2 and R2 Essentials:
    • TechNet Eval Center – Don't forget that TechNet has been sunsetted and has only 90 days or so left before you'll need to switch to MSDN for product bits.
      • Currently, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Office 2010 have been added with more expected in coming weeks: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/evalcenter/dn407368
      • Here's an interesting new development - Microsoft has caught wind that many of us have to frequently install older versions of the bits.  For example, it's not uncommon for a DBA to need to install SQL Server 2005.  You'll now be able to get those bits from your TechNet/MSDN subscriptions under their "Previous Products" area.
    • Windows Azure Updates:
      • Scheduled Auto-Scaling of VM’s, WebSites and Cloud Services
      • Automated SQL Database exporting to Storage Account
      • SQL Database Premium Tier offers reserved capacity
      • Here's a great blog (http://weblogs.asp.net/scottguto stay on top of when SQL Server is your primary cloud focus.  New features in this release include SQL Server Always On Clusters Supported on Windows Azure – High Availability, Disaster Recovery, Read-Only Secondaries for Offloaded BI.
    • IE 11 Release Preview for Windows 7 releasing later this week – W3C Resource Prioririties, GPU acceleration, WebGL, ECMAScript 6, new “F12” Developer Tools. Look for details on the IE Blog ( http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ie/ ) later this week.
    • There's a new App Studio for Windows Phone that's entirely web-based.  Wow! No real coding and it's all done on-line. It's for Windows Phone Apps from Browser-based App Templates / Submit enabling you to directly upload them to the Windows Phone store.  Get involved with the program at http://apps.windowsstore.com.  There's also a cool looking App Builder Rewards program where you get points towards prizes for getting involved with the program: https://build.windowsstore.com/rewards/
    • Trade-in your iPad, Get $200 towards a Microsoft Surface: http://content.microsoftstore.com/en-us/offers.  Might be useful if you have an older iPad that's just collecting dust.
    • “Early Experts” for Windows Server 2012 R2:

    Let me know if this info is valuable.  Many thanks,

    -Kevin

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  • Now Playing on SSWUG TV!

    Hi friends,

    I know a lot of you regularly read my blog either on my home page at KevinEKline.com, on SQLBlog.com, or one of the locations where it's syndicated. And you may also regularly take in my content on SQLSentry.TV or my monthly column on Database Trends & Applications magazine.

     

    KevinEKline.com on SSWUG.org

    Click the image to see my new weekly video series on SSWUG.org!

    Now I'm adding a new video format to the mix, in partnership with my friend Steven Wynkoop and SSWUG.org.  I've been a frequent speaker in the SSWUG virtual conferences over the past several years and, we thought, why not make this a more frequent occurrence than twice per year?

    For the next several episodes, I'll be discussing new features that will be released in SQL Server 2014.  However, I'd love to make it interactive.  So if you have any topics that are keenly interesting to you which are part of my regular repertoire (SQL Server, SQL, other database platforms like Oracle, database design, enterprise architecture, cloud computing, professional development, and leading IT teams), then please drop me a note. I'd love to hear from you.

    -Kevin

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  • Windows Azure and SQL Database News

    This morning Microsoft released some great updates to Windows Azure.  These new capabilities include:

    • SQL Server AlwaysOn Support: General Availability support with Windows Azure Virtual Machines for High Availability and Disaster Recovery
    • Notification Hubs: General Availability Release of Windows Azure Notification Hubs (broadcast push notifications for Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS and Android)
    • AutoScale: Schedule-based AutoScale rules and richer logging support
    • Virtual Machines: Load Balancer Configuration and Management
    • Management Services: New Portal Extension for Operation logs + Alerts

    Scott Guthrie has a blog post with more details about updates and new features here: http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2013/08/12/windows-azure-general-availability-of-sql-server-always-on-support-and-notification-hubs-autoscale-improvements-more.aspx

    On a related note, if you use Windows Azure VMs running SQL Server, take a look at this MSDN topic:  Backup and Restore for SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machines.  Finally, Windows Azure offers backup capabilities not only in the cloud but also on-premises, as described here (when the SQL Server 2012 SP1 CU2 or later versions), enabling users to backup directly to a blob using Windows Azure Storage Services: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj919148.aspx.

     -Kevin

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  • Database Trends & Applications column: Database Benchmarking from A to Z

    IMG_0415a

    Have you heard of the monthly print and web magazine Database Trends & Applications (DBTA)? 

    Did you know I'm the regular columnist covering SQL Server?  For the past six months, I've been writing a series of articles about database benchmarking culminating in the latest article discussing my three favorite database benchmarking tools:  the free, open-source HammerDB, the native SQL Server Distributed Replay Utility, and the commercial Benchmark Factory from Dell / Quest Software.

    Wondering what else I wrote about in this series of six articles on database benchmarking? Pop on over to my latest database benchmarking article (http://kevinekline.com/2013/07/24/new-on-dbta-com-database-benchmarking-tools-the-final-article-in-the-database-benchmarking-series/in the series to get a recap of all of the articles.

    Pictured (L-R): Scott Klein (Blog), me, and Tobiasz Koprowski (Twitter | Blog) at the SQL Relay event in Glasgow, Scotland. 

    Have you ever run your own database benchmarks? If so, what tools did you use?  Tell me what you think!

    Best regards,

    -Kevin

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  • The New PASS Executive Committee of 2014

    I'm sure you can understand the high level of interest I have in the internal affairs and governance of PASS.  After all, I was one of the founders of the organization way back in 1999 and was president for four years from 2003 through 2006 (fondly remembered as "the hardest fricken years of my life").

    So I was keenly interested when the latest press release from PASS named the incoming PASS Executive Committee to take their seats on January 1st, 2014. The executive committee is composed of the officers of the organization, that is, directors who are empowered to sign contracts and to speak on behalf of PASS in public settings.  As anyone who's worked on a committee can tell you, they are s...l...o...w.  With that in mind, the PASS board of directors long ago established the executive committee (ExeCo, pronounced "Exec - Coe") to act on behalf of the board when speed and expediency are required, for example, in negotiations where going back and forth with the board and an external partner would simply take way too long and would make the partner throw up their hands in exasperation.

    Another bit of backstory to the creation of the ExeCo.  It was also put in place as a check and balance against a president who might be arbitrary, capricious, or venal.  At that time, the bylaws gave much greater powers to the president and although all the previous presidents had been faultless, the board thought it'd be a good idea to make sure that future boards wouldn't have to deal with a power grab by an ambitious or crony-coddling president decades in the future.  Hence the requirement that even the ExeCo must vote on and come to consensus on the activities that they execute on their own.

    Here are a few thoughts from me about the incoming ExeCo.  Keep in mind that I've known them all for years and call all of them friends:

    • President: Thomas LaRock
      • I recall first meeting Tom way back in the early 2000's when he was a volunteer for PASS and a lead DBA at a major financial house in New England.  Tom was a hardworking and committed volunteer, as well as an up and coming blogger.  Some leaders are conservative and unlikely to change much, if anything, that a big organization does.  As president, I believe that Tom is likely to inject innovation into PASS by making some big bets on growing the organization and better serving the community.
    • Executive Vice President, Finance: Adam Jorgensen
      • The first time I got to sit down and talk with Adam was in Tucson, several years ago, while we were both recording some video for Steve Wynkoops SSWUG.org.  I was immediately impressed by his business and financial acumen, over and above his technical skills. There are few skills more sorely needed on a board of directors than business and financial skills. Like Tom, Adam is a doer with a lot of energy and the will to get things done, and a history of executing successfully on his projects.  I think that Adam will help deliver on the new, big bets that are in PASS' future as well to help transform the internal governance of the organization to be more effective and efficient.
    • Vice President, Marketing: Denise McInerney
      • It seems like Denise has been an informal leader and influencer in PASS almost since the beginning, when she launched our Women In Technology (WIT) initiative way back in the early 2000's.  Because of her hard work, PASS was one of the very first IT professional organizations to have a dedicated WIT community.  (The Sybase community did it just a year or two before we did).  She's one of the smartest people I know with amazing people skills and a very high EQ. That combination equals wisdom and, if you asked me, I'd take a wise person over a smart one any day of the week.  I'm especially looking forward to what she's going to do around growth and marketing in our global regional structure.

    Welcome to the ExeCo of 2014, y'all!

    One thing I'd like to see from the three of you (plus, Bill Graziano, who will step into the role of Immediate Past President) is a statement of direction or a vision statement.  It'd be very informative to see where you want the organization to go in the years ahead.

    What would I like to see in 2014 and beyond?  Here are a few quick thoughts:

    1. Implement a streamlined and cohesive approach to enabling volunteers to sign up to help the organization.  Many potential volunteers walk away from PASS disappointed because there's no one to talk with about implementing a cool idea or building out an interesting capability for the organization.  I'd like to see a means by which people in our community can successfully offer to do things such as IT projects for PASS (build a webpage, analyze some data, etc).  With a few exceptions like the Summit Program Committee, PASS could stand to do a complete rebuild of its volunteer strategy and processes.
    2. Finalize its structure around global growth.  PASS has done extremely well growing eastward and southward into Eastern Europe, Africa, and South America especially through the SQL Saturday events.  It needs to take that growth in once per year events into the Pacific rim and then leapfrog into fully formed chapters, with regularly scheduled meetings, in a well-defined worldwide organizational structure.
    3. Devise and execute a better and more cohesive partnerships with their sponsor community. PASS still approaches sponsors, like my employer, from the standpoint of exhibitors at the big annual conference.  But PASS could do so much more to make the relationship a solid partnership, offering back to their sponsors a global community with year-round contact 100's of thousands of members of PASS.
    4. Build a social media strategy. PASS exists on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  But I wouldn't say that they exploit it.
    5. Continue the effort started at the PASS Business Analytics Conference to define and coalesce the market for business analytics. Nobody else is doing a good job in this space, so PASS should step in and take that goal to the next level.

    I'm sure there's a lot more you'd probably like to see from PASS and many other good ideas.  But this is where my head is at for the moment.  How about you?  Tell me what you think!

    Best regards,

    -Kevin

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  • My Advice About Growing as an IT and Data Professional

    IMG_6089First off, I should apologize for not blogging in quite a while. I've been traveling extensively and, because traveling can be so exhausting, I usually have to queue up blog posts to hit while I'm traveling in order to remain active while on the road.  I didn't do that for these most recent trips.  And, as you can see, there's quite a gap between this post and my last few posts.

    On the other hand, I've experienced an unexpected surge in requests for mentoring and advice from friends and colleagues about career growth.  I'm always happy to help out a friend and, in fact, there's little in my professional experience which I enjoy more than seeing friends grow and advance.  Because I get a lot of questions about professional development, I try to distill these thoughts down into usable nuggets of wisdom. Since I've had quite a few interview requests in the vein of career and professional development in the last several weeks, I thought what better way to get back on track with blogging than to put them all together in one place!

    Infusive Solutions: Mindful Career Development

    Ben Weiss, the digital marketing strategist at Infusive Solutions in NYC (facebook | blog | twitter),  reached out to me a few weeks ago to discuss career development for his own team members around personal branding and career growth.  This guy is really good at making hay while the sun is shining!  We'd initially done just a simple phone discussion, but he has managed to expand these discussions in a variety of ways.  Here are all the links, at present, to the content that Ben created from our discussions:

    1. How to Become an IT Executive: http://www.infusivesolutions.com/blog/bid/99470/How-to-Become-an-IT-Executive-Especially-if-You-re-a-DBA

    2. Landing page with the full interview: http://www.infusivesolutions.com/a-sql-server-mvp-with-knowledge-to-share

    3. The recent NYC SQL User Group meeting  on personal branding: https://clicktoattend.microsoft.com/en-us/Pages/EventDetails.aspx?EventId=170863

    One of the key points in the interviews is that the IT professionals who learn the most about what their business does, rather than just the IT that they work with, are frequently the most successful.  It's a mindful process of understanding your strengths and weaknesses, improving those areas where you are genuinely weak, amplifying those areas where you excel, develop your communication skills, and then getting outside of your comfort zone to become a genuine business problem solver.  I've said it 100 times - There are NO information technology problems. There are business problems which are solved with information technology.  The IT pros who learn that lesson are mighty indeed.  Grab the interviews for more insight.

    Louis Davidson: Why We Write

    Louis "DrSQL" Davidson (blog | twitter) is a long-time good friend. We live in the same fantastic town of Nashville, TN and both are active supporting the local SQL Server user group.  In one of those ironic twists of 21st-century life, we might see each other more in a given year in other cities than in our own home town, simply because we both speak and travel a lot.  If you're considering growing your professional credentials by writing, and it certainly is one of the best ways to grow your personal brand, then I recommend you read all of the "Why We Write" posts in Louis' blog series.  In my interview, I tried to give Louis really thoughtful and insightful answers.  The core of my advice to potential writers in the answer to question number 5.  Please read it and tell me what you think.  The full blog post and interview:

    Why We Write, #6 by Louis Davidson with Kevin Kline: http://sqlblog.com/blogs/louis_davidson/archive/2013/06/05/why-we-write-6-an-interview-with-kevin-kline.aspx

    Richard Douglas: Speaking and Presentation Skills

    My friend and former coworker at Quest Software, Richard Douglas, has also put together a very nice interview series which is predominantly IT experts from the UK.  Richard has some very insightful questions and a rather different strategy.  His questions are much more focused on developing skills as a good speaker.  It's been very gratifying to see Richard grow in stature as a database expert over in the UK and I'm looking forward to even more great community work from him.  An example of the interesting sort of questions he came up with for the interview include how to make a presentation not only useful, but how can the speaker project it with authority and charisma?  That's not the sort of question I get every day.

    Read my answer to this question and many more here: http://sql.richarddouglas.co.uk/archive/2013/01/new-years-aspirations-kevin-kline-presenting.html#ixzz2MtjkVRb6.

    Tim Ford: Interpersonal and Communication Skills

    Tim Ford (blog |twitter) is a long-time SQL Server pro, who's also a very energetic volunteer and user group leader.  One of his very cool side projects is the SQL Cruise.  Tim has been running the SQL Cruise for many years now and it's one of my favorite ways to conduct training.  We have a full day of training every day that we're at sea.  We do excursions together.  We do "office hours" every evening with lots of time to discuss individual problems, career development, and focus on individual mentoring.  A while back, Tim conducted an audio interview and, for some reason, I'm only now getting around to post it.

    Please give it a listen and let me know what you think: http://db.tt/UHJK5ojc. (This is a Dropbox file. I'm not really sure how it'll behave if you do not have Dropbox installed. Let me know if it doesn't work as expected).

    Rodney Landrum and SQLBeats: Looking Over the Horizon

    Rodney Landrum (Twitter |Blog) has been putting out great content for Simple-Talk for quite a long time now.  In fall of 2012, we got together and recorded a podcast which was really fun and, at times, funny. Here is the full podcast. Rodney told me that he laughed at several points while editing.  That makes me happy!

     

    Most of all, I'd like to hear your feedback.  Let me know what you think by posting a comment here, mentioning this on Twitter, or social media like Facebook or LinkedIn.  Many thanks,

    -Kevin

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  • MySQL, NoSQL, and NuoDB

    I've been keen on MySQL ever since I first started using it heavily more than a decade ago.  In fact, I liked it well enough to include it as one of the four main database platforms, over and above the ANSI-ISO SQL standard, in my popular book SQL in a Nutshell. However, with the advent of NoSQL data platforms in the last few years, the waters have been muddied.  It's no longer a quick easy decision as to which database platform you should use, both because there are many new platforms to choose from and because the old, easy choices aren't as cut and dried as they used to be.  MySQL, for example, is now owned by Oracle which definitely complicates the decision, at least in terms of the mainstream commercial versions of that product, while the brain-trust that started MySQL has gone on to the alternative database platform called MariaDB.

    Rather than dive straight into the alternative next-gen of MySQL, I decided to investigate more powerful alternatives that offer more of the benefits of NoSQL and cloud-centric databases.  That's when I landed on NuoDB.  It’s has been generally available for a few months now as a straight database platform.  It didn’t have any real Microsoft-oriented features until recently.  Then last month the company announced a bunch of Microsoft enhancements, many which are great for developers, so I downloaded it.  (You might have seen my tweets from that time when I first started to check it out).

    From their website:

    • 64 bit support for Windows Server, Windows 7 and 8 for high performance
    • Full support for Visual Studio 2012, LINQ and Entity Framework for a more integrated developer experience
    • Azure compatibility for running/deploying NuoDB easily in the cloud

    Now it’s possible to build and deploy .NET applications using standard Microsoft tools and frameworks against a back-end that has built-in scale up elasticity.  In other words, it gives you some of the best features of some of the NoSQL platforms while also giving you some of the best features of Azure.  If you are interested in trying it out, there are 2 free version available for download here.   And definitely let me know what you think. As you probably know, I'm not a hard-code .NET developer.  So I'm interested in hearing from professional developers about its capabilities.

    I’ll write up some observations in future blogs.

    And, as always, thanks!

    -Kevin
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  • What's the Data Modeling Standard for Business Intelligence Systems?

    I had the good fortune to overhead some of my good friends and fellow MVPs discussing the process of data modeling for business intelligence systems.  So what are the industry standard approaches for modeling dimensional data modelling?
    The short answer is that Kimball's dimensional modeling is the most widely adopted standard for any sort of data warehouse. Inmon is also well respected.

    But the consensus is to stick with Kimball, especially if you're looking for something an enterprise standards team is going to recognize as "standard". The book on my shelf and which I most frequently recommend is The Data Warehouse Toolkit: Complete Guide to Dimensional Modeling

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Data-Warehouse-Toolkit-Dimensional/dp/0471200247/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342453858&sr=8-1&keywords=data+warehouse+toolkit

    There's a version of this book specifically for the Microsoft platform, focusing on SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS). But I recommend the generic one because the platform-specific version compresses some of the general concept sections to make room for the Microsoft-specific content. The Kimball book does a good job describing how important it is to get the conformed dimensions and the precise measures most needed for the BI application. Otoh, the platform-specific version does point out some nice tools available for download from Microsoft's website.  Fortunately, you can just go the "Tools & Utilities" tab from this page:   http://www.kimballgroup.com/data-warehouse-business-intelligence-resources/books/microsoft-data-warehouse-dw-toolkit/.

    Of course, if you're using a data modeling tool, the specific notation and design patterns might vary a little bit because the tool offers only a given set of workflows or symbols.  Also, some industries have already mapped out specific pattern data models along with six or seven industry standard figure data models, many of which are free if you know where to look.  [Note: I don't know where to look. So if you do, please post a comment with this important insight!] You might, for example, apply the set of common patterns made popular in financial BI apps, in which you have a staging/ETL area, data marts, and a data warehouse and then carefully measure how quickly and reliably data reaches the user. After all, BI is much more than just the cubes, reporting, dashboards, and event subscriptions of an SSAS/SSRS/SSIS implementation.  It must be useful for and usable by the end-users.

    So, I'm curious - what standards patterns and notations are you using? What data modeling tools are influencing your design?  Have you taken advantage of the various free industry patterns out there?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Post your comment here.  And, as always, thanks!

     

    -Kevin

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    P.S. A special thanks to Bob Duffy (Blog), Davide Mauri (Blog), Robert Pearl (Twitter Blog), Audrey Hammonds (Twitter Blog), Karen Lopez (Twitter | Blog), Thomas Ivarsson (Twitter Blog), Chistian Cote (Twitter Blog), and Dr. Greg Low (Twitter | Blog) for letting me eavesdrop on their very informative conversation! Be sure to read their blogs and follow them on Twitter.

  • Hear the SQL Server 2012 story on DotNetRocks

    DotNetRocks

    I was privileged to have a chat with my buddies over at www.dotnetrocks.com, Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell, episode number 876 (876!). Listen to the most popular internet audio talk show for .NET developers!  Here's the abstract:

    Carl and Richard talk to Kevin Kline about the latest features in SQL Server 2012. The conversation starts out talking about the new features that developers will love, like windowing - no need for cursors anymore, you can request a window of records from a set and move easily window-to-window. Kevin also talks about the new column store index that is especially useful with repeating data. There's also a discussion on the role of SQL Server in an increasingly NoSQL world, along with cool new technologies like Hadoop, Cassandra and Hekaton. Kevin closes with an offer of some free tools at SQL Sentry, including Plan Explorer, a tool to help you understand the query plans that SQL Server makes from your queries. Check it out!

    Let me know what you think.  Thanks,

    -Kevin

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  • New On-Line Resources for Windows, Virtualization, and Cloud!

    Ever since returning from the UK for the SQLBits conference, I've been snowed under a mountain of action items.  I've got such a backlog of things to get done, emails to answer, and family to not ignore that I'm starting to feel really guilty.  

    So with that in mind, I wanted to whip out a quick blog post to let you know I'm still alive and thinking of y'all.  What could be quicker and easier than some cool new resources you might not have seen?  For your perusal:  

    Let me know what you think.  Thanks,

    -Kevin

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  • Cheaters Never Win, Even in TPC Benchmarks

    In this column, I want to tell you about one of my favorite aspects of the TPC benchmarks – CHEATING. Keep in mind that I use the term “cheating” in a joking manner with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek.  But I’m also half-serious.  One of the of the things that is great about the TPC benchmarks is that each of the vendors are required to fully describe all of the shortcuts, tweaks, and special operating configurations they use in order to achieve their spectacular performance numbers.  In a sense, the Transaction Processing Counsel requires that all benchmarked platforms declare all of the ways that they cheat in order to achieve peak performance.

    ...read more...

    Many thanks,

    -Kevin

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  • Use TPC Database Benchmarks to Save Money

    Last month, I began a series of articles describing database application benchmarking. In the first article, I told you about different ways that you can construct your own database application benchmark. However, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The Transaction Processing Council (www.tpc.org) has already created a large number of database benchmarks that are extremely useful and informative.

    I also described last month how the TPC provides several different types of benchmark tests. For example the TPC-C and TPC-E benchmarks are extremely useful for measuring transaction throughput. On the other hand, the TPC – H benchmark is  useful for measuring business intelligence workloads.

    Today, I would like to give you a primer on how to read the benchmark reports that are published by the major database and hardware vendors.  You never know when a vendor will publish a new benchmark. There’s no set schedule for them to publish their test findings. Of course, you can always look for new advertisements from many of the vendors. But that’s very imprecise. I prefer to find out if there are new results on my own and so I typically start at http://tpc.org/information/results.asp. There, I’ll check to see if my favorite hardware or database vendors have published any new test results.... read more ...

    Many thanks,

    -Kevin

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  • Read the New TPC Database Benchmarking Series

    Let's talk about database application benchmarking.

    This is a skill set which, in my opinion, is one of the major differentiators between a journeyman-level DBA and a true master of the trade. In this article published in my monthly column at Database Trends & Applications magazine, I'll give you a brief introduction to TPC benchmarks and, in future articles, I'll be telling you how to extract specific pieces of valuable information from the published benchmark results.

    But let's get started with an overview … read more.

    Many thanks,

    -Kevin

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  • PASS Business Analytics Conference (BAC) Recap

    The PASS Business Analytics Conference (PASS BAC) is PASS' first foray into an event that is dedicated to business intelligence, big data, data visualization, and business analytics.  And it totally makes sense for PASS to move in this direction, over and above the flagship community work centered on database management and application development.  Why?  Because business analytics is all about how to apply the data being collected and managed by all of those developers and DBAs.  And, at the end of the day, how we use and apply our data is really the nexus of its value.  That's what matters to business.  You can read the speech from the standing president, Bill Graziano (Twitter | Blog), or watch it online at the PASS website.

    The day one highlight, introduced by the SQL Server team's best presenter - Amir Netz (Twitter), is the release of a new BI data visualization tool called Project “GeoFlow” for Excel.  GeoFlow is a 3D visualization and storytelling tool that helps you map, explore and interact with both geographic and chronological data for visualizing data which is difficult to identify in traditional 2D tables and charts. With GeoFlow, you can plot up to a million rows of data in 3D on Bing Maps, see data changes over time and share findings through appealing screenshots and cinematic, guided video tours of the data. It's really something you have to see to understand – check out the video demo and screenshots below. You can also download and try it out firsthand today. It’s an entirely new way to experience and share insights – one you’ll probably enjoy.  For more information on GeoFlow, check out the Excel team’s blog and visit the BI website.

    The highlight for me, aside from connecting with so many friends and colleagues in the exhibit hall at the SQL Sentry booth, was the day 2 keynote address by Dr. Steve Levitt of Freakonomics fame.  Freakonomics is both a brilliant blog and the number one business book in America.  His insights are well documented in a variety of places, not just in his own channels, but also in places such as TEDtalks.  I'm also really enjoying his new website, https://www.freakonomicsexperiments.com/.

    Steve presented an outstanding keynote, full of funny anecdotes and insights into the world of data analytics and interpretation. A couple of his comments really resonated with me which are worth repeating. In one story, he pointed out how some of the greatest insights came from corporate data which was collected incidentally or coincidentally. The data that help provide the greatest and most valuable revelations were from data that was basically a corporate afterthought.  Another revelation - he's only now starting to make much use of relational databases.  He primarily uses spreadsheets, flat files, and the Stata statistical analysis tool.  Another insight, which I've known and proselytized as "the Fresh Pair of Eyes" approach, is that it really helps him to gain insights in a problem by knowing as little about the problem as possible.  As it turns out, if you know the industry or the challenge at the core of the problem, you make a lot of assumptions that limit your means of interpreting data.  By knowing nothing or next to nothing about a particular problem, you can ask the questions that insiders never ask.  Here's an example (not from the keynote though) - let's say you're an energy company CEO.  You might spend a lot of time thinking about how to accommodate the expected huge increase in energy consumption due to lots of people driving electric cars.  You might tell your data analysts to figure out when and how to ensure peak electrical usage is available at the times when consumers are recharging their electric vehicles.  But a fresh pair of eyes would point out that electric cars, in their present form, are a huge energy boondoggle compared to hybrid and plain ol' cheap, high-mileage models like the Honda Civic.  Consumers will never recoup their investment in a high-priced, all-electric car compared to a cheap, gas sipping model.

    IMG_0287 - CopyAt the heart of his presentation is the fact that data is meaningless when it doesn't answer important questions!  Many times, data professionals spend so much time devising elegant SQL statements and clever user-interfaces that they forget about using a fresh pair of eyes when they look at business questions.  Our session, Operational Excellence for the BI Pro, focused on the trails and travails of successfully implementing and growing the footprint of a business intelligence project.

    In addition, we had a fun and very informative panel discussion breakfast on Thursday of the PASS BAC. At right is a picture of Nick Harshbarger, Justin Randal, and me prior to the session.  The audience was very engaged and, despite having no slides, there was a whole lot of wisdom goin' on.  The panel included Chris Webb (Twitter | Blog), Craig Utley, Jen Stirrup (Twitter | Blog), Paul Turley (Blog),  and Stacia Misner (Twitter | Blog). I served as the moderator and facilitator of the session.  We recorded the session, with a little HD Flip camera, and although I haven't checked out the file yet, we're hopeful we can post it or at least a transcript soon.

    Do you have a "fresh eyes" story? I'd love to hear it!  Post a comment here!

    Many thanks,

    -Kevin

    -Follow me on Twitter!
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