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

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”…

SQLSaturday Denmark re-cap

This past Saturday, Microsoft Denmark hosted the first SQLSaturday event in Denmark, orcestrated by Régis Baccaro (blog|twitter) and David Peter Hansen (blog|twitter). I was fortunate enough to be selected as speaker, and was presenting the title “The Power of Custom Assemblies in Analysis Services” which I have blogged about here.

Prior to the event, three prominent guests were each presenting a pre-con. Jen Stirrup (blog|twitter) on “Data Visualisation Deep-Dive using SQL Server 2012”, Denny Cherry (blog|twitter) on “SQL Server 2012 in a Highly Available World” and Mark Rasmussen (blog|twitter) on “A deep dive into the depths of the SQL Server storage engine and MDF file format”. I attended the latter.
The pre-con was a really great, and hard, session on how to decipher the MDF file from SQL Server, using OrcaMDF. Hats of to Mark for doing a hell of a show 🙂

The Friday was finished off with a tour on the Canals of Copenhagen with several of the other speakers and volunteers. After the tour, we went dining at Tony’s, an New York/Italian style restaurant, and it seemed that everbody had a great time. I enjoyed the immediate company of Mark Rasmussen (blog|twitter), Erik Svensen (blog|twitter), Andre Kamman (blog|twitter), Bob Duffy (blog|twitter) and Daniel Lewandowski (LinkedIn) and had plenty of good disussions and red wine during the evening. At 00:30 I signed off…

As far as my own presentation goes, this was my first time presenting on an international stage. And as the room started filling, it struck me what I was about to face. A room full of equally or better talented SQL Server professionals, ready to dissect my presentation.

@vestergaardj presenting at #sqlsat196

As we got closer to the beginning of my session, I got more and more nerveous. I think it even showed through, and that’s when it’s too much. I believe you have to have some thrilling sensation going “on stage”, but it’s too much when it interferes with the performance. I’m going to Work on that 🙂
Otherwise I got some really good and qualified questions from the audience and I think I managed to answer all of them to a satisfying degree. All in all I am looking foward to seing the session evaluations.

After the nerve wrecking experience, I was free to attend any session I wanted. At first I just sat in the presenters room, contemplating, going over what had just happened. After a Little while I started to chat with Daniel Lewandowski, who was presenting later on that afternoon on Security in Analysis Services. A topic I’m only too familiar with, ref: Analysis Services Dimension Security. I also got to talk to Mihail Mateev (blog|twitter) who showed me the capabilities of the Infragistics suite. Very impressive. I have been using the Infragistics suite in earlier Work situations, but haven’t had a chance to look at it for the last couple of years. They haven’t been sitting on their hands in the meanwhile, I can tell you that much.
I missed a couple of sessions, but gained connections and insight into components and tech anyhow, so that’s kinda of a win anyhow.
I went of to attend the session on security in Analysis Services and saw that Daniel Lewandowski did an excellent job presenting the topic. He got jinxed by what I believe is a bug in SSMS, so he had to redo some steps in his demo. But he kept his calm and got through in style. In between this session and the last, I tended to my volunteer duties, got to chat with other attendees and got a feeling of the general mood the approx. 150 attendees. As the last seesion of the day, I went to see my old boss, Erik Svensen who did a brilliant presentation on “Design a metro style dashboard in Excel & PowerPivot“.

Finally the raffle was held, and the sponsors could hand over some really really cool presents to the Winners. A mountain bike valued at app. $2000 was by many seen as the main prize, but two courses, and iPad mini, a Nokia Lumia 920, a ride in a Ferrari, an Xbox and big bowl of candies was accepted by the individual Winners with just as much joy.

After spending 3 hours on cleaning the volunteers and some of the remaining speakers went to dine at Wokbaren, a Thai inspired restaurant in the center of Copenhagen. Here I got to chat with Niko Neugebauer (blog|twitter) with whom I’d talked to at past SQLRally Nordic, and to my surprise, he remembered our conversation in great, almost creepy, detail 🙂
After finishing dinner the party broke up, some going for a night in town, and others for a night in bed. I was on the latter team.

In hindsight, I am very happy to have been a part of the volunteers who made such an effort, and was paid a smashing event in return. It’s not my last SQL Saturday, and certainly not my last as volunteer. I can only hope, that if I apply another SQLSaturday, that I get to speak again. That was an awsome experience. Now I’m going to catch up with the latest episode of Game of Thrones 😀

Free SQL Server training

On April the 19th three world-renowned speakers will be presenting three topics on Microsoft SQL Server. A seat for one of these all-day sessions is available at very reasonable price (800DKK). This is probably going to be the most inexpensive training you will ever get in your career, unless of course the event returns and gets funded in the same way as this time. Either way, you win!
Book your seat at: http://sqlsat196precon.eventbrite.com/

The following day is a free community driven event, where speakers, world-renowned as well as first timers, will be presenting 1 hour sessions on various topics. See the full schedule of all four tracks: http://sqlsaturday.com/196/schedule.aspx

SQLSat196 Speaking

I will be presenting The Power of Custom Assemblies in Analysis Services, and is scheduled at 10:10 on track 4 in meeting room C+D. Since I am presenting at the same time as Bob Duffy (blog|twitter), Gianluca Hotz (profile|twitter) and André Kamman (blog|twitter), all MVPs, I doubt many will attend my session. I won’t hold it against them in such competition. 🙂

Personal stuff aside, you should really consider attending this event. There are some really great sessions lined up, with some of the best speakers on the face of the planet. Be there, or be ◊ (or I will endorse you for JavaScript on LinkedIn)