SQLBits XI – It depends…

Three days of SQL Server deep dives have sadly come to an end. But the impression will last for quite a while, just as it did last time. This year, the venue was held in Nottingham, at the Orchard Hotel:

As planned, I started out with the pre-con Real World SSIS: A Survival Guide, by Tim Mitchell (blog|twitter), which was a really thorough and detailed lesson on do’s and dont’s of SSIS development. Tim is clearly highly skilled and was able to bring the content to the audience very well. Some, but not all, have settled by now, the rest will in the days and weeks to come.

On Friday, we all started out with a keynote by Conor Cunningham (blog), who also did the keynote last year in London. Conor is really entertaining, knowledgeable, funny and of course has a NDA. As opposed to others, Conor seems to dodge the NDA questions in a far more smooth manner, which makes it even more entertaining. If you ever get a chance to hear/see Conor, don’t miss out! After the keynote, the real program of the day kicked off, and I was attending Kalen Delaney (blog|twitter) on Seeking SQL Server Secrets. Kalen has 25+ years experience on SQL Server, and it shines through well on stage. A rock solid performance on how to get underneath the skin of SQL Server. At the next session I made my first change to the proposed schedule, since I the day before I left Denmark was transferred to a brand new project that runs on SQL Azure (IaaS). The previous project, was an upgrade project, hence the session Moves like Jagger : Upgrading to SQL Server 2012 by Mark Broadbent (blog|twitter) had to switch places with Windows Azure SQL Database Troubleshooting by Bob Ward (twitter). Unfortunately for Bob, there were some technical issues before he got off, so the session was cut 10 minutes short or so. Bob has enough routine to just step it up a little bit, to get through the same material in the lesser time frame, good job there! Bob showed how some of the old school tools could come in handy, when troubleshooting Windows Azure SQL Database. Only two sessions in, and I made another change to the schedule, as I got the opportunity to have lunch with some prominent guests. Quantifying the Cost of Compression by Fuision-IO had move aside for Denny Cherry (blog|twitter), Allen White (blog|twitter), Tim Mitchell (blog|twitter) and Steve Jones (blog|twitter), thanks for sharing a seat with me :) After lunch, I witnessed how Bob Duffy (blog|twitter) during his session SQL 2012 AlwaysOn Deep Dive got one two laptops stolen, right there during his session! As we all suspected, it was a part of his demo, on how to recover from such a disaster. Bob (and Carmel Gunn) did a really great job on presenting the AlwaysOn features of SQL Server. This session was another change to the schedule, made because I need to cram for the last test (70-462 – The One Test We Don’t Mention) on becoming MCSE BI.


The last two sessions of the day went as planned, starting of with Why APPLY? by Christina E. Leo (blog|twitter) who was really really really nervous. Regretably it showed in the presentation.
Rounding the day of with insights into Advanced Micrtosoft Certifications for the SQL Server Professional by Gavin Payne (blog|twitter), Simon Sabin (blog|twitter) and Christian Bolton (blog|twitter). The main take away being that, most who decide to try for the MCM, will have over studied for the test, but that being a good thing. The preparations needed for the test, was what made the MCM certification so  valuable.

Friday night I got drawn into the pub quiz, by David Peter Hansen (blog|twitter), who was already part of an all-star team consisting of no other than Bob Duffy, Kevin Kline, Carmel Gunn, Rasmus Reinholdt, Chris Webb and others I didn’t get properly introduced to. And what do you know, we/they won! My contribution was only a small part, but it was funny all the same. Bob and another guy I don’t remember the name of took home the prizes.

Saturday began at 08:10 am sharp, with a great presentation on War stories from implementing SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn by Dan Stillwell (blog|twitter) who had some really good insights into caveats and pitfalls on HA and DR. This session was followed by SQL Server 2012 Memory Management by Neil Hambly (blog|twitter) a presentation I first saw at SQLRally Nordic back in October. Neil does a great job in teaching the inners of SQL Server memory. He threw of the audience with a simple, yet under the circumstances, tricky question. “What does AWE stand for?”… Some hands went up, but none would get it right. You’re the boss Neil!
I then went on to attend An Introduction to the Wonderful World of OData by Wesley Backelant (twitter) who gave a really good introduction into the subject. Nothing too flashy, but good fun. After the session I went to the main area where all the vendors and sponsors were set up. I then engaged in a conversation with Neil Hambly, and missed the planned session Advanced SQL Server 2012 HA and DR Architectures by Christian Bolton (blog|twitter). I hope this is this will be the first presentation on video, I can’t wait to see it. After grabbing a scarse lunch, I the went on to see what Attunity had to offer on their Replicate component, but as expected it was a little too much of a salesmans pitch. The last two sessions of SQLBits XI was both in my personal Top 3 rank. My second last session of the conference, was Incremental Processing of SSAS Multidimensional Databases by Dr. John Tunnicliffe (blog) where you had to cram up a good deal of writing skill in order to keep up with the advice given. There was a great deal of take away from this session. During the session a question came up, on how to slice a partition on a set, instead of just a tuple. I will write a blog post soon about this.
Finally I went to see Estimation, Statistics and “Oh My!” by Dave Ballantyne (blog|twitter) who really did a great job finishing off the SQL Bits conference to a full room. Lots of good insight here and an overall well planned presentation.
To finish off in style, some of the Danish attendees had arranged a dinner reservation at The Cross Keys (I don’t know what they are so cross about?). We were about 20 all in all and had a really great time.

Sunday was spended walking around Nottingham City, since we weren’t flying out until around 17:00. So we went to see the N’ttm Dude, also known as Robin Hood
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Oh, and “it depends” was head way too often as a valid answer to tricky questions. I wish someone could lay out the guidelines on either side of “it depends”…

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