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Rick Heiges

News about SQL Server and the SQL Server Community

  • PASS Summit is in Charlotte This Year!

    My first Pass Summit was in January 2002 in Denver. I spent the weekend before the Summit in Denver to save a bunch on airfare. I did the Ski Train which gave me a terrific Train ride in the Rocky Mountains with a day of skiing; it was a great day. I have heard from others who took some time either before or after the PASS Summit in Seattle to climb a mountain, ski, hike, or explore the area. This year, the PASS Summit comes to the East coast in Charlotte, NC.  I live in High Point, NC which is just about 90 minutes from downtown Charlotte (depending on traffic of course).  This means no long cross country journey for me this year.  I know that some attendees may come early to the host city in order to save on air fare or to just visit another part of the world.  I'd like to share some points of interest in the region which you may find interesting. 

    West of Charlotte - Asheville is about 2 hours away and is host to the Biltmore Estate. There is some amazing Architecture and Engineering that went into this place.  Since it will be October, the odds are favorable that the fall colors will be near their peak.  On your way to Asheville, check out Chimney Rock and Lake Lure.  If you continue going west of Asheville, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border with Tennessee. There are some great hiking trails here.  There is also a CD based tour guide that you can follow in your car that guides you through the various environments that you would encounter if you drove the length of the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia to Maine. It is about another 2 hours past Asheville to get to Gatlinburg, TN.  If you are into gambling, there is a Harrah's Cherokee Casino on the NC side.

    Northwest of Charlotte - About 2 hours NW of Charlotte past Hickory is Grandfather Mountain.  One of the attractions here is the "Mile-High" swinging bridge; the bridge itself is at one mile above sealevel.  Also in this area is Linville Caverns and Linville Falls.  There is a story about how deserted soldiers (both Confederate and Uniion) hid in the caverns to avoid service.  Continuing North of this area will bring you to Blowing Rock and Boone.  Blowing Rock is a small village with local arts/crafts and fine dining.  Boone (as in Daniel Boone) is home to Appalachian State University and is a fun college town.

    North of Charlotte - About Two Hours North of Charlotte on Interstate 77 near the Virginia border is Mount Airy.  If you are a fan of the Andy Griffith show, Mayberry was based on Mount Airy. Just a little south of Mount Airy is Pilot Mountain (Mount Pilot in the show) which is another state park with lots of trails and a unique geological feature. If you keep going North into Virgina, Natural Bridge is about 90 minutes further and is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.  On your way to Mount Airy or on your way back, stop in at a Winery or two.  Although I do not drink wine, these are fun places to visit.  My favorite is Raffaldini.  Did you know that NC had the most wineries in the US prior to Prohibition?  Also in this direction is Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point area where I live.  The High Point area is known for its Furniture Galleries and Stores.  If you are looking for a deal on furniture, High Point is the place to go.  This would include nearby towns of Lexington and Thomasville as well.

    East of Charlotte - About two hours East of Charlotte is Pinehurst.  Pinehurst #2 is the famed course of the area where the USGA Open Championship is held occassionally. There are many other courses in the area as well. Also in this direction and North on Interstate 73 is a collection of potteries near the village of Seagrove.  There is a huge selection of pottery and ceramics.

    Southeast of Charlotte - Almost four hours to the Southeast is the Resort Destination of Myrtle Beach, SC.  This is my favorite destination because there is so much to do here.  There are over 100 golf courses in the area plus great shopping, dining, and Night Life.  It is family friendly and the ocean water will still be very warm in October.  The only other attraction in this direction is South of the Border which is a Tourist Trap dating back to at least the 60s.  It is NOT worth a special trip IMHO.

    South and Southwest of Charlotte - Columbia is the capital of SC.  I have not spent a lot of time there.  I will let someone else speak to that.  Southwest of Charlotte is the Greenville//Spartanburg area.  Greenville has a "Rails to Trails" project called the Swamp Rabbit Trail which looks like a great place for a Bike Ride.  Again, I have not spent a great deal of time in this area.  Cotinuing on Interstate 85 south, you can get to Atlanta in about 4 hours.

    Alternate Airports - If you are looking at air fares to Charlotte (CLT), consider tome other airports close by that may provide cheaper fares.  GSO (Greensboro)  is about 90 minutes away.  GSP (Greenville/Spartanburg) is less than two hours away.  And RDU (Raleigh-Durham) is a little over two hours away.  If money is a factor consider these airports.

    As you can see, if you need to (or want to) spend a weekend in Charlotte, there are some great excursions nearby without being trapped in a city. I hope to see you at the Summit and let me know if you decide to visit one of these treasures.

  • 24 Hours of PASS - BA Style

    Tomorrow will mark another chapter in the 24 Hours of PASS series.I am involved once again - this time in a moderator role. The event begins at 8am ET for me.  I will be introducing Alberto Ferrari who will be speaking on "Excel 2013 Power Pivot in Action" which is a great self-service BI story.

    This 24hop event will be in a different format.  12 hours of Live webcasts followed by 12 hours of on-demand webcasts from the previous 12 hours.  All sessions will be available for viewing on Feb 11, 2013.  There is also a new hashtag to follow on twitter - #PASS24hop.  And there is a new website as well... http://www.24hoursofpass.com/

    I am excited about the event tomorrow and hope that you will join me to learn more about Business Analytics and ramp up for the PASS Business Analytic Conference being held in Chicago this April.  Check out www.sqlpass.org for more information.

  • Is the SAN dying???

    Is the SAN dying?

    The reason that I ask this question is that MSFT has unleashed technologies this year that point in that direction

    • Always ON Availability Groups shuns shared storage
    • Windows 2012 has Storage Replication Technology that does not require a SAN
    • Windows 2012 has Hyper-V Replica Technology that does not require a SAN
    • PDW v2 continues to reinforce the approach to avoid shared storage

    I'm not saying that SAN technology does not have its place or does not have benefits inherent to the beast.  I'm just pointing out that MSFT has made investments in technology that diminish the need for SANs. 

    Thoughts?

  • Blog Posts from Prepping for Last Year's Summit

    Last year, I had a series of blog posts that matched up with a webcast I did targeting First Timers to the PASS Summit 2011.  Here is a link to the final blog post which is a summary of those posts and links to the main points in the series. A good deal of the information in those posts are still relevant.  I am in the process of updating the webcast and will be presenting the information again this year on Oct 25, 2012 at 11am ET.  There is a lot of great information out there for first timers that can be found here

     Hope to see you there!

  • SQLPASS BoD Polls Close this Friday

    Research, Contemplate, Vote.

    In case you didn't hear, there is a campaign going on that impacts the PASS Organization and the SQL Community.  If you were a PASS member before June 1, 2012, you should have received a ballot link via email.  Polls close at 3pm PT on Friday, Oct 12, 2012.

    I am fortunate to know all 5 candidates for this year's election and count them among my friends.  The problem that I have is that I only have 3 votes to cast. At this point, I have decided on 2 of my 3 votes.  Since I have invested a lot into PASS over the years, this is not a decision that I take lightly.  I have read through all of the campaign materials and kept reading replies to questions on the forums.  There have been many well thought out responses and I have changed my mind several times.  I will probably wait until Friday to cast my votes.  However, this problem of mine means it is another sign of strength for PASS as these five brave individuals step up to the plate to lead the organization.

    And the winner is..... 

    Polls close Oct 12, but  the announcement won't occur until Oct 17.  Why the delay?  Aren't we in the age of instant answers?  There are several reasons why there is a delay.  The process isn't full-proof.  I don't believe there has been an issue with the voting process, but I know that there is the possiblity of an error occurring which may force the polls to remain open.  I can think of several instances in years past when submitting abstracts for sessions that caused the deadline to be extended there.  That isn't the only reason.  The candidates should be informed before anyone else knows so that they can prepare a blog post or whatever.  This is usually done in a personal manner and it takes time to connect with each candidate - yes sometimes it takes days to connect.

    Closing Thoughts

    If you have already voted, you are safe - you didn't make any bad choices.  :-)   In the past, I have been able to predict who will win just by looking at the ballot.  I have made my own prediction on who I think will win, but this is the toughest year yet. I am at least guaranteed of selecting at least one winner!  Go Vote!

  • PASS Board of Directors Election - Making Progress

    It is almost time to cast your vote in this year's PASS BoD Elections.  Things have changed considerably since the first PASS BoD election that I participated in.  That was in 2001.  I hadn't even been to a Summit or even a chpater meeting yet.  I had registered for the PASS Summit 2001 (which was postponed to Jan 2002  btw).  Back then, the elections were held at the summit and on paper, but there was no summit that year.  If you wanted to vote, you needed to print out a ballot and fax it in.  I think that I was 1 of about 37 people who did this.  How did I make my decision?  I reviewed the material that was provided -essentially a bio and a picture.  I also knew one of the names because I had just watched a video with this gentle giant (Wayne Snyder) telling me all about SQL Server.  I knew one other name because the person was on the committee that I was serving on.  So I knew a little more about 2 candidates than the others (I think there were 6) and I liked my interaction with these two people - so that meant I had to only make 1 decision for tmy third choice.  I do not recall who I voted for, but with only 37 votes, it may have influenced the outcome.

    Today, the process is much more involved and is more accessible.  PASS tries to have elections before the Summit now and voting is electronic.  There are forums where you can ask questions and read the responses of candidates.  Denny Cherry held a podcast with the candidates.  If there is an issue that you want to know where a candidate comes down on, use the forums or even #passvotes on twitter to ask a question. 

    Do youthink that you already know how a candidate will respond?  Be sure and ask that question.  Don't assume that the person holds the same view that you do just because you have read their blog or follow them on twitter.  I know that the forums influenced my choices for last year's election.  Keep an open mind, research, ask questions in the forums, and then make an informed decision and vote.

  • Another Way to Learn SQL Server

    Since 2004, I have been on the Advisory Board for several continuing education certificate programs for the University of Washington.   You might know some of the other Advisory Board Memebrs - check it out.  The Advisory Board meets very infrequently and is asked for "advice" (not direction) on various aspects of the program. Generally speaking, courses that are taught for a degree are non-platform specific.  Continuing Education courses and certificate programs are more product focused. As you can probably guess, these certificate programs are focused on SQL Server. From the outset, I always looked at these certificate programs as a solid course offering that kept the student on a schedule to keep learning the foundations of SQL Server.  The one thing that I felt was a little disappointing was that only people who resided in the Seattle area could take advantage of the courses.  The instructors for these courses have been current and former MSFT employees and consultants.  The instructors have brought in real-world experience and stories to help supplement the material. 

    These programs are not geared to help you pass the certification tests from Microsoft Learning.  These programs are structured to provide a broad foundation and confidence in SQL Server technologies.The exciting news is that these courses are going online for the first time this fall!  It is not free, but it is not outrageously expensive either (course fee od $850 per course). 

    One of the Program Coordinators also provided me some highlights to share:

    Certificate Website: http://www.pce.uw.edu/certificates/sql-server-specialist/online-autumn-2012/admissions/      

    • · Fully online format, but interactive with Tuesday evening live sessions (Autumn 6-7 PM, Winter 6-9 PM, Spring 6-9 PM, Pacific Time) and supplemental videos.

      · Courses are 10 weeks long, for 9 months total

      · Starts October 9, 2012 ends May 28, 2013

      · Instructor bios are linked from the course pages of the website

      · Admissions requirements are here:http://www.pce.uw.edu/certificates/sql-server-specialist/online-autumn-2012/admissions/

    • Now anyone with an internet connection can be a student of the program and earn a certificate - not a certification - in SQL Server.

    • Enjoy!

     I

  • September 12 in San Fran

    Just a reminder that I will be speaking at the SF UG SQL Server User Group on Sep 12.  Here is a link with all of the details.  If you are in the area, It would be great to see you!
  • Sep 10 Week - I'll be on the West Coast Speaking in Irvine and San Fran

    In my role as a Solutions Architect for Scalability Experts, I often get to present to customers about the work that we performed.  Unfortunately, this is often on short notice and I can't coordinate a trip to participate in a User Group Meeting.  Next week, I was able to coordinate my west coast trip to be able to present.  I am heading to Irvine at the MTC on Sepember 11 and San Francisco at the MSFT offices on Sep 13 to speak to customers who want to learn more about SQL Server 2012.To register for the Irvine event, click here.  To register for the SF event, click here.

    Topics covered will include:

    • Always On Overview
    • Column Store Index
    • Licensing Overview
    • Upgrading to SQL Server 2012

    All of this will be covered in about 3 hours and is geared for folks who have not spent a lot of time learning about SQL Server 2012 yet. 

    Since I knew about this ahead of time, I was also able to secure a chance to speak to the San Francisco SQL Server User Group on the evening of Sep 12.  You can read more about it in my previous blog post located here

    Hope to see you there!

  • Presenting at the San Francisco SQL Server User Group - 12-Sep-2012

    I have a business trip scheduled out far enough in advance for a change.  I was able to schedule a presentation at the San Francisco SQL Server User Group on Sep 12 about SQL Server Consolidation Strategies.  If you will be in the SF area on Sep 12, I invite you to attend ar just drop by to say hello.  You can find out more about the group at http://www.meetup.com/The-San-Francisco-SQL-Server-Meetup-Group/

    Hope to see you there!

  • Comparing Standard Editions of SQL Server

    Recently, I've been speaking with customers about upgrading SQL Server.  At times, some customers have a lot of Standard Edition  SQL Server 2005 / 2008 / 2008R2 in their organization and they want to see the features they get when upgrading to SQL Server 2012.  Last week, I sent out some tweets to the #sqlhelp hashtag to see if someone has already put together a document or blog post about comparing the Standard Editions.  I was unable to discover anything out there that really focuses just on Standard Edition. So I decided to put together a small table comparing the features based on the offical Edition features links like this: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc645993(v=sql.100).aspx

    Category / Feature

    2008

    2008R2

    2012

    Comments

    CPU / Cores

    4 CPUs

    4 CPUs

    16 cores

    Based on the assumption of 4 cores per CPU

    RAM

    64 GB

    64 GB

    64 GB

     

    Max DB Size

    524 PB

    524 PB

    524 PB

     

    Server Core Support

    No

    No

    Yes

    Significantly Reduce Patching

    DB Recovery Advisor

    No

    No

    Yes

    New Feature in 2012

    Failover Clustering

    2-node

    2-node

    2-node

     

    Backup Compression

    No

    Yes

    Yes

    New in 2008 R2

    Automatic Corruption Recovery from Mirror

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    New Feature in 2008

    Multi-Instance Support

    16

    50

    50

    Stand-Alone

    Security – Basic Auditing

    No

    No

    Yes

    Still no Fine-Grained Auditing

    Security – User Defined Server Roles

    No

    No

    Yes

    New Feature in 2012

    Contained Databases

    No

    No

    Yes

    New Feature in 2012

    Distributed Replay

    No

    No

    Yes (1 client)

    New Feature in 2012

    SQL Server Data Tools

    No

    No

    Yes

    New Feature in 2012

    DTS Runtime

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    Removed in 2012

    Enhanced Gauges  / Charting / Maps in SSRS

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    New Feature in 2008

    Enhanced Extended Events

    No

    No

    Yes

    New in 2012

    Most of the things that you hear about when a new version of SQL Server is released is in Enterprise (or Data Center) Edition.  Standard Edition is very solid.  Upgrading from SQL 2005 Standard Edition to SQL 2012 Standard Edition yields a lot of nice features.  As you would expect, upgrading to SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition from 2008/2008R2 does not yield as many benefits.  Currently, most of the customers that I deal with have approximately half of their installed base on SQL Server 2005.  They can capitalize on some nice features by upgrading to SQL Server 2012.

    I know that there are probably even more things that I did not cover as benefits of upgrading from earlier Standard Editions to SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition.  If so, please leave a comment and I will update the blog post. 

     

  • NomCom Time

    Well, it is official...  there is a race for the community seats on the PASS NomCom.  I am very pleased to see that we have 12 people who decided to put their names forward for this task.  This is largely a thankless job that takes a great deal of time, judgement, and consideration.

    I have put my name forward as one of those people who would like to take on this task and serve PASS (and the greater SQL Community) in this effort.  You can find out more about me and the other candidates for the NomCom located here.

    I know (or at least have met) most if not all of the candidates.  I will also be reviewing their bios/etc. to help make my decision.  I hope that you will too.  There will aslo be some discussions that will take place soon on the sqlpass.org forums for NomCom candidates to participate in.  Hopefully, everyone will be able to respond in a timely manner. IMHO, timely does not equal immediate as there are some workplace restirctions and other obstacles which may delay responses. 

    If you are a member of PASS as of June 1, 2012, you have a vote. Please take your time to consider all of the candidates for the NomCom. I know that I will. Take advantage of the forums to ask some questions.  Be patient to make sure that all candidates have an opporunity to respond.

    Finally, I wish to thank all of those who decided to put their names forward for this task.  This is not an easy thing to do. However, I know that no matter who is elected to serve in this capacity will do so with the best interests of PASS in mind. 

  • Speaking at Atlanta.MDF on March 12

    I am fortunate enough to be speaking to a user group with a really cool name - Atlanta.MDF (Microsoft Database Forum).  Although I visit Atlanta often, it usually involves running from one councourse to another and rarely do I get the chance to visit the user group.  I have made it to the user group on several occassions in the past, but it has been several years.  This will be my first presentation to the group.

    I will be speaking about Database Consolidation - something I have been doing for years. Here is my abstract:
    SQL Server Consolidation Strategies - There are many approaches to SQL Server Consolidation. Each organization has unique business rules that impact the decision on which approach fits their needs best. This session will discuss the various approaches from Instance Stacking / Virtualization to Appliances and where they "fit". There will also be a discussion on the methods for data collection from Perfmon to Powershell and the Microsoft MAP Toolkit. Data Collection is only part of the process. Strategies to uncover the business rules are also discussed as these will be the true limiting factors of how far a consolidation effort can go.

    Please register at http://atlantamdf.com/

    Please join me if you can; I'd love to see you!

  • Rick Review: SQLTeach - SQL345 - 10-Mar-2010 - Kimberly Tripp

    SQLTeach (Part of the DevTeach Conferences in Canada) has enjoyed success for many years.  I enjoyed the opportunity to speak at and attend SQLTeach at various times over the years.  Since SQLTeach is part of DevTeach, the "feel" of the event is very different from PASS or SQLRally or even a SQL Saturday where SQL is the primary focus.  It does however afford an opportunity for me to understand the challenges of those who need to work with SQL either in a direct or indirect manner.  SQLTeach / DevTeach records sessions and post them on the web for anyone to consume (login required, but a login may be created for FREE).  Here is where I found this video: http://www.devteach.com/DevTeachVideo.aspx?NoVideo=45

    The session that I selected to review is by one of my favorite speakers, Kimberly Tripp.  In this session, Kimberly once again simplifies a concept that is often treated as black magic.  The session is entitled "Optimizing Procedural Code".  This demo-heavy session covers many different options that are available to impact optimization.  Do you know the various options to force out a cached plan? Is recompiling bad? What else can I control to help optimization?

    Check this session out and consider attending the next SQLTeach/DevTeach (especially if you are already in Canada). 

    Enjoy!

  • Rick Review: Day 3 Keynote PASS Summit 2011 - Big Data-What's the Big Deal?

    I recently did a Rick Review of the Day 3 Keynote from the 2008 PASS Community Summit that featured Dr. DeWitt speaking on new technology that ended up in the Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) edition of SQL Server 2008 R2.  I decided to also listen again to the Day 3 Keynote from the 2001 PASS Community Summit.  While I listened intently to the keynote on Day 3 of this past summit, something seemed to be somewhat familiar.  Had I heard some of these concepts before?  The keynotes from the most recent PASS Summit may be found here.  The theme of PDW and Map/Reduce seem to be similar (at least at a high level) where data is split up into smaller chunks and selected sets of data are then combined to answer the query.  Once again, Dr.DeWitt is entertaining as he simplifies a complex topic for the audience.  Having access to this recording is great, but being there first hand was even better with a sense of respectful awe in the audience. It is no wonder that the Day 3 Keynote is a favorite of the PASS attendees.  If you haven't had the chance yet, I invite you to view the recording and perhaps learn something new.

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