This post is part of the SQL Community Project #DBAJumpStart by John Sansom (Twitter | Blog).
"If you could give a DBA just one piece of advice, what would it be?"
John asked 20 successful and experienced SQL Server professionals this exact question. I share my own thoughts with you below and you can find all our answers together inside DBA JumpStart, a unique collection of inspiring content just for SQL Server DBAs.
Be sure to get your free copy of DBA JumpStart.
John Sansom recently asked me and 19 other bloggers “What’s the one bit of advice you’d give a junior database administrator (DBA) to achieve greater career success?”. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the other bloggers have to say. The folks that John hand selected are all top-notch and will, I’m certain, be providing true nuggets of wisdom.
I’m wondering if my advice might be a bit different than what the other bloggers will be giving you. For some reason, I’ve got it in my mind that you’ll be getting more technically-oriented counsel from many of them. In my case, I've not only spent many years as a hard-core enterprise DBA, but I've also made the leap into management and leadership in some very large and successful IT organizations. And so I thought I would go "off road" a bit compared to others by providing advice about a more decidedly non-technical approach to career growth for the IT technologist.
You could probably make an argument that I'm providing two distinct pieces of advice. But I believe that these two seemingly incongruent thoughts are in fact like threads which are deeply intertwined:
1. Find and grow a strong relationship with the very best mentor you can, and, to…
2. Spend as much time as possible on deliberate practice of your technical skills.
Now, I’ll explain what I mean.
Mighty Mentors Cultivate Powerful Protégés
In the first thread, I tell you to find and grow a relationship with the best mentor you can find. But what does 'the best mentor' look like? Of course, in an IT career, a good mentor is certainly one with above average technical competency. But with the grow of outstanding, high-quality bloggers, you can read lots of great technical advice on almost a daily basis from the likes of Paul Randal and the team at SQLSkills.com, Brent Ozar and his team, Adam Machanic, Aaron Bertrand, the Microsoft SQLCAT, and many others. That somewhat lessens the need to have a technical mentor just over the cubical wall.
And in our case, the very best mentors are the ones who provide not just technology wisdom, but wise counsel about office politics, the social fabric of the work, and work/life balance. So that means you’ll want to identify a friendly person at least a few years more advanced in their career than you who have both a career and personal values that you’d like to emulate. This might potentially be your current boss. But in many work environments, a boss in another department might be a better choice since you might want advice about dealing with your boss, deadlines, or other things that are a little tougher for your line manager to advise on impartially. It might also be a person who’s not a boss at all, but someone with real world experiences that are valuable and applicable to your situation in life.
Some companies have formal mentoring programs. That’s great. Take advantage of it, if it’s available. But here’s the tricky part – it’s really up to you to plant the seed of a relationship and to cultivate it to fruition. I’ve encountered many people over the years who said “I had a great mentor, but we eventually lost touch”. Maintaining that relationship falls to you, not the mentor. So make it happen and invest the time and energy into it that it needs to thrive.
One of the things that good mentors do is to help you see your blind spots. In this case, blind spots mean a couple distinct things. Your first blind spot might be in terms of promote-ability and social conduct. For example, we all need someone who likes us enough to say “Better stop bringing the garlic & basil salad in for lunch before the big monthly meeting. No one wants you to open your mouth for the rest of the day”. IT pros are notorious for being a bit unrefined in the social sphere and so it’s always a significant way to set yourself apart when you get good advice about how to best dress and behave in your current corporate culture. Another significant blind spot many of us have is our broader “brand”. Are you known for thoroughness? Do people say good things about you and your work? A strong mentor will help you understand your own brand and how the consequences of your actions, which might not be obvious to you, will play out over the coming days and weeks. Finally, and this is where I bring in the second thread of this advice, your mentor may advise you to burnish your technology skills.
That thought leads me to….
Deliberate Practice Leads to Definitive Improvement
When you encounter a deficiency in your skills or an area where you’re strong and want to get even stronger, research has shown an absolute causal link between mindful, deliberate practice and improved performance. In study after study, researchers find that performance-minded professionals, from musicians to managers to top-dollar athletes, who spend time in focused concentration to improve their skills will achieve prodigious capabilities. It requires many hours and lots of repetition. But it’s literally a proven fact that practice makes perfect.
And to further tie this back in with your mentor of things both technical and social, you need to practice the soft skills in a mindful way just as you should be practicing your Transact-SQL programming, query turning, and database modeling. Your mentor will help you identify the areas where you need to improve – then go do it, just like Nike says in their commercials. “Just do it”.
Too busy fighting fires? Then make time for practice, just as you should make time to interact with your mentor, preferably at the start of your day before you jump in to your regular workday. When you probe many top-caliber IT professionals, you’ll find that a surprising large number of them start their day with “quiet time” for study and reflection. So should you. And once you make it such a habit that it becomes part of your daily or weekly routine, you’ll find in retrospect that your skills and your career hit a tipping point on the day you got “deliberate” about it.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Many times you get highly technical advice from highly technical people. And that is 100% useful and valuable to advance your career. But when you examine the most successful IT people, you’ll usually find that it’s neither their skills nor their knowledge set them apart from everyone else in the IT world. Other people in their organization are just as skilled and knowledgeable. It’s almost always a set of well-honed non-technical skills combined with a strong technical talent built through an awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses. If you enlist a mentor to help you suss out your strengths and weaknesses and who will help you to successfully navigate office politics and combine it with deliberate, mindful practice in both technology and soft skills, you’ll be unstoppable. Now – go forth and conquer.
Let me know what you think. What's your input? How would you mentor a junior DBA? What would you add to the mix?
I hope to see your response here or on John's page.
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I had the privilege last week of talking with Richard Campbell (t), Microsoft MVP and host of the very popular RunAsRadio podcast, a sister-show to the worldwide phenomena known as .NET Rocks!. I had the privilege of meeting Richard and his partner at .NET Rocks, Carl Franklin (t), a few years back at the DevLink conference and we've made it a point to stay in touch ever since. Just as an FYI, there are lots of great DBA and database dev topics from the .NET Rocks podcast here (http://www.dotnetrocks.com/tag.aspx?tag=Data), including an appearance I made back in 30-May-2013.
Here's the write-up Richard used to describe the show:
Richard talks to Kevin Kline about what's coming in SQL Server 2014. Yes, the database continues to evolve and Kevin digs into many of the new features. The conversation also jumps into the NoSQL movement and it's many forms, including making simple data storage easier for developers as well as the creation and management of big data solutions. Kevin also talks about the impact of new licensing models and new hardware of SQL, and how the role of the database in the organization continues to evolve.
LISTEN to Kevin and Richard on RunAsRadio.
What sort of things would you like to hear about in the future? Trends? Specific technologies? Best practices? Let me know!
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Don't forget about the cool services from SQL
Sentry for Summiteers, like the free
area shuttle and the printed
area maps! Details are in a 5-part series by our CEO, Greg Gonzalez, at http://greg.blogs.sqlsentry.net/.
Are you coming to Charlotte next week for the PASS Summit? Let's connect! When ever it's open, I'll be in the Exhibit Hall at the SQL Sentry booth unless I'm delivering a session or something of that nature. Here's the sessions I've got on the calendar -
Tue, Oct 15:
- First-timers Get to Know Your Community with Kendal Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter), 2:45-3:45 and 4:00-5:00 PM
- First-timers Orientation Panel Discussion (moderator), 6:00-6:45 PM
- Opening Ceremonies and Quizbowl, until 8:00 PM
Wed, Oct 16:
- Keynote, Blogger’s table
- Session: Convince Me - Persuasion Techniques That Get Things Done, 10:15-11:30 AM (Room 212 A-B)
Thu, Oct 17:
- Keynote, Blogger’s table
- PASS pictures immediately following the keynote of former presidents
- Luncheon, PASS WIT, 11:45-1:15 PM
- Session with Aaron Bertrand (blog | twitter) : 10 Query Tuning Techniques Every SQL Programmer Should Know, 5:00-6:30 (Ballroom A)
Fri, Oct 18:
- Session: How to Avoid Living at Work: Lessons from Working at Home (moderator), 8:00-9:30 AM (Room 217 B-C)
- PASStv Interview, 9:40-9:50 AM
- Luncheon, Birds of a Feature table lead, Professional Development / Interviews / Job Search
- Late night - The SQL RacerX Richard Petty Driving Experience private event
I hope to see you there.
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(Originally appearing at http://kevinekline.com/2013/10/09/wait-statistics-in-sql-server/).
When it comes to troubleshooting in relational databases, there's no better place to start than wait statistics. In a nutshell, a wait statistic is an internal counter that tells you how long the database spent waiting for a particular resource, activity, or process. Since wait statistics are categorized by type, one look will quickly tell the variety of problem that needs your attention, assuming you know meaning for Microsoft's lingo for each wait type.
(As an aside, wait stats were implemented in the earliest days of relational database computing because the early RDBMSes ran on multiple operating systems. So the database vendors needed a reliable method of troubleshooting database performance which was independent of the OS).
Wait stats help you clue in to the best approach and path for troubleshooting. For example, if your top wait stat showed a lot of time spent on acquiring locks, you could pretty well rest assured that trying to tune networking latency would be a total waste of your time. Conversely, wait stats could also help you understand that perhaps the 'usual suspects' of poor database performance (IO, CPU, etc) weren't actually worth consideration.
Because wait statistics are broad, they're typically where you start your troubleshooting process but not where it ends. That's because wait statistics don't actually point to the smoking gun that's causing the true performance problem. For example, let's say your SQL Server is experiencing an unusually high amount of RESOURCE_SEMAPHORE waits. Resource semaphores relate to query compilation and reserving memory for queries as they're being compiled. But on a busy system,WHICH of your queries are contributing to this wait? It can require a lot more investigation to figure that part out. (I've considered spending some more time in future posts walking through the entire troubleshooting process. If you're interested let me know in the comments).
Now, in SQL Server, it is possible to determine the wait stats accrued by a given thread or even a specific query or transaction. But this information is only retained by SQL Server while "in flight". Long-term retention of wait stat information is only for the broad categories.
WAIT STATS THEN...
For some historical perspective, you have to go back to the white paper SQL Server 2005 Waits and Queues (By Tom Davidson) to see where it all began for SQL Server. (http://download.microsoft.com/download/4/7/a/47a548b9-249e-484c-abd7-29f31282b04d/Performance_Tuning_Waits_Queues.doc)
Prior to SQL Server 2005, wait stats of a sort where identifiable using the DBCC SQLPERF(UMSSTATS) and DBCC SQLPERF(WAITSTATS). These commands are still around, btw. You can see these early indications of UMSStats (User Mode Scheduler) and wait stats in Microsoft KB articles like Description of WAITTYPE and LASTWAITTYPE (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/822101) and other early blog posts.
Wait Stats started to come into major prominence when folks like Joe Sack (blog | twitter)
(http://blogs.msdn.com/jimmymay/archive/2009/04/27/wait-stats-by-joe-sack.aspx) and Jimmy May (blog | twitter) started to write about them (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/jimmymay/archive/2009/04/26/wait-stats-introductory-references.aspx)
And if you didn't get them then, you definitely need the SQL Server Diagnostic Queries by Glenn Berry (blog | twitter) , which have a number of wait stat queries already written for you. Glenn started this collection of queries back in 2005 and has kept it up to date ever since. The latest version of queries are at http://sqlserverperformance.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/sql-server-2012-diagnostic-information-queries-july-2012/.
I also started to put a lot of attention on them, such as when MCM and UK MVP Christian Bolton (Blog | Twitter) and I did the webcast The 5-Minute SQL Server Health Check (http://sqlblogcasts.com/blogs/christian/archive/2009/11/16/webcast-now-on-demand-the-5-minute-sql-server-healthcheck.aspx).
...AND WAIT STATS NOW
Nowadays, wait stats are quite well documented. You can get a great review of all of the wait stats for SQL Server simply by looking at the Books Online (BOL) topic (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms179984.aspx).
The downside of Microsoft's documentation in BOL is that it tells you a nice bit of info about each of the wait stats, but not how to remediate them if they are turning into a problem on your SQL Server. But times have changed - there's so much good information that all you need (most of the time) is to perform an internet search for 'SQL Server my_problem_wait_stat' and you'll probably get at least one good hit by Microsoft customer support or an MVP blogger. All you need to do before the search is to find the type of wait stat that's causing the problem.
These days, all you need to
solve a wait stat problem is an
internet search for 'SQL Server
There are also a couple good books and eBooks on the topic. Kalen Delaney's Inside SQL Server books, especially Chapter 2 in the edition sitting on my shelf, are outstanding. Joes2Pros also has a nice, succinct book on wait stats here (http://joes2pros.com/?wpsc-product=sql-wait-stats-joes-2-pros).
Jonathan Kehayias (blog | twitter), of SQLSkills.com, has a great eBook in short form for free and a longer, more comprehensive version for a small fee. (https://www.simple-talk.com/books/sql-books/troubleshooting-sql-server-a-guide-for-the-accidental-dba/) at Simple-Talk.
What are your favorite wait stat resources? Have you written a blog post that broadens or deepens our knowledge of wait stats in SQL Server? If so, I'd love for you to post a comment here with a link back to your article! Let me know what you think. Thanks,
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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.
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:
- Convince Me - Persuasion Techniques That Get Things Done is a 75-minute session specifically designed for IT pros to learn how to persuade our peers and bosses. We, as IT people, tend to fall into the same traps when it comes to soft skills like communication and calls to action. This session will help you prepare for when you need to change the minds of others and convince them to see things your way.
- Ten Query Tuning Techniques Every SQL Programmer Should Know is a 90-min session that my good friend and coworker, Aaron Bertrand, and I are presenting. We're going to use lots of SQL query demos to illustrate ten importent techniques, patterns, and antipatterns every developer should know.
- How to Avoid Living at Work: Lessons from Working at Home is a full, 75-minute panel discussion with some of the top talent in our industry including: Thomas LaRock, Karen Lopez, Erin Stellato, Grant Fritchey, Andy Leonard, Aaron Bertrand.
- The Women in Technology Luncheon on Thursday will focus on "Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender Neutrality, and Valuing Team Diversity". Last year we had over 700 attendees for this packed session, sponsored by SQL Sentry. Make plans to be there early to get the best seats.
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:
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 2012, is 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.
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/scottgu) to 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:
- New wave of “Early Experts” study group targeting new features in Windows Server 2012 R2
- Scenario-based, but also mapping to new R2 certification exam objectives
- First online meetings beginning in October – 3rd Thursdays from 6:30PM-8:30PM
- Launching this month at http://aka.ms/EarlyExpertsR2 with FREE EBOOK offer. (A $10 value on the online bookstores).
- New Online Step-by-Step Lab Guides
Let me know if this info is valuable. Many thanks,
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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.
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.
-Read more content at KevinEKline.com
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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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Build a social media strategy. PASS exists on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. But I wouldn't say that they exploit it.
- 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!
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First 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,
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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!
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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
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!
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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.
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,
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