Nov 02 2015

PASS Summit 2015: Wrap-up


Another PASS Summit is complete. This one was amazing. It’s my first time ever as a member of the Board of Directors of the PASS organization to attend the Summit and take part in the full process of making the sausage. It was hard. It was exhausting (more so than usual). It was one the most exhilarating, fascinating and wonderful experiences of my life.

First the sad news, Rimma Nehme and Dr. DeWitt have delivered their last presentation at the PASS Summit. It’s the end of an era. I was at the first session delivered by Dr. DeWitt. It was one of the most amazing technical keynotes I’d ever seen until the next one that he gave. The two of them became absolute rock stars in the SQL Server and PASS community because of their deep technical, hilarious, informative sessions. They will be missed. I think the Board has a challenge next year to attempt to match them. Just saying. Personally, I’m ecstatic that I’ve been lucky enough to attend every one of their keynotes. Just in case the two of you read this, thank you!

Thursday I attended my first Board Q&A. It was interesting. The recording of it will be published. I even got to answer a question on stage. I spent a lot of time in the Community Zone, any time I could between meetings, talking to people, anyone who would come up. I also had duties at the Redgate booth, but I was able to talk to people there as well about PASS. It was a great day.

Friday I spent even more time at the Community Zone. I’ve really tried to make every effort to be available to anyone who has anything to discuss about the organization. I took notes from a bunch of the conversations about issues people were having, suggestions for improvements and just general stuff about the organization, Chapters and SQL Saturday. I arrived late to the Speaker Idol finale (in a meeting), but I was able to see a session and see the winner crowned.

My biggest takeaways from the Summit were, first, that Christianson & Company, the management company for PASS, who runs the Summit (among a few thousand other things), does a fantastic job. It was pretty amazing watching them work. Second, my fellow board members are wonderful people. I’m learning so much from being able to work with them. Thomas LaRock… Hi Tom… is a rock (no pun intended, but hey) of stability. Adam Jorgensen, is a font of knowledge on technical topics and leadership that I wish I could just bring with me everywhere I go. James Rowland-Jones is the man who convinced me that I needed to run for the board and he continues to be an inspiration. Denise McInerney is gloriously brilliant, hilarious and fun to be around, and is helping me learn absolutely tons about the proper way to do marketing (and I want this information badly). Wendy Pastrick is a bundle of joy and passion who helps keep me in line and on target. Jenn Stirrup has a very quiet voice, but has huge ideas wrapped inside of it. Tim Ford is a great source of ideas and direction who can slice to the heart of a situation like a surgeon. Bill Graziano, our outgoing past-president, is not only a great guy, but acts as an excellent source of history and guidance.

Somehow, I’ve been lucky enough to get to sit in a room with these people and we do what’s necessary to create a space in which the SQL Family can realize the amazing results that it is capable of. I had a couple of moments this week where I just stopped for a second and looked around in amazement that I was able to be counted among them.

Oct 29 2015

PASS Summit 2015: So Far

It’s Kilt Day!

I want to give a quick assessment on how the Summit has been for me so far. Monday, as is true for the rest of the week, I served two masters. In the morning I went to the Redgate SQL in the City event. In the afternoon I attended our in-person board meeting. The minutes for the meeting will come out after they’re approved. The meeting largely consisted of reporting on how we had done this year and starting the process of getting going for next year. I left that meeting and went back to SQL in the City. Yeah, I’ve been running all week.

Tuesday was my community day. It’s been announced that I’m moving from the Chapters portfolio to the SQL Saturday portfolio. I went to the two hour meeting we had with all the organizers of SQL Saturday events from all over the world. It was a celebration and a chance for feedback. What things do we need to stop, start or continue. Here are a few of the notes I took during the meeting:

  • We need a better way to share sponsor info, a report or forum
  • Regional Mentors (RMs) could be a clearing house for sponsors in regions
  • We need to promote having people bring a friend (actually, this is something I’d like to find a way to formalize or reward somehow)
  • We need a better way to automate lead generation for the sponsors
  • Sponsors would like to get the layout ahead of time
  • If you want to get sponsor money, get them a list of topics and speakers as soon as possible

There was more discussion around improvements in the web site and speedpass. Overall, it seemed like a successful meeting.

Next I met with your Regional Mentors. We had a private discussion that I sort of stirred up (maybe even on purpose a little). I started the discussion by saying, “So, let’s disband this program.” We went from there. The feedback we generated for improving the program is great. A few items I’ll share are:

  • We need to ensure that the RMs are involved in Chapter communications from the org
  • RMs need a way to easily send emails to their org
  • RMs have to communicate better with the board

Finally, I met with the Chapter Leaders. It was, again, a celebration of everything they do for the organization. Also, I reported on my progress on their behalf. I set three goals, increase the number of chapters, find a way to use the PASS email list to market for the chapters, get the chapters access to our extensive speaker list. We’re succeeding in the first goal, easily. You guys form community easily and well. The second goal we’re meeting because marketing has started generating regionalized emails and we’re supplying chapters links in those emails. We’ll continue to work on this. Getting access to the speaker lists is not yet complete. We have a couple of legal hurdles that we have to clear and it’s going to require a few technical changes. The plans are to finish this before the end of the year which means I’ll have met my goals for my tenure as the leader of Chapters.

Tuesday… woof. I spent a lot of time in the Community Zone talking to anyone that wanted to provide feedback on Chapters, RMs, or SQL Saturday or any other thing related to the PASS organization or the Board.

It’s been an exciting Summit so far. It’s very different doing this from the Board. I hope these reports about my perspective of how things are going there are useful.

Oct 23 2015

Talk to Me at PASS Summit

If you’re going to PASS and you want to have a chat, I want to talk to you. If it’s about the Board of Directors for PASS, PASS Chapters, execution plans, crossfit or something else, here are a few places where I’ll be doing my best to make myself available:

Redgate Booth – I’ll be here quite a bunch all next week. Swing by and don’t just talk to me, get a demo of one of our fine products.
Community Zone – I’ll make a point of going here to hang out when I can so you can track me down.
Board of Directors Q&A – Thursday in 307/308 at 3:30 PM, I know exactly where I’ll be.
Receptions – Tuesday night is the welcome reception for Summit. I’ll be somewhere. Wednesday is the Exhibitor reception. Look for me at or near the Redgate booth. Thursday night is the party at the EMP. You’re welcome to try to find me there.

Summit is a crazy busy time. I’d love to say that if you see me in the halls stop me, but if you see me in the halls, I’ll probably be running because I’m already late to the next event or session, so don’t stop me there.

As a member of the PASS Board, in order for me to deliver what you need, you have to let me know. Please, take the opportunities above to get in touch and provide me with the feedback on how we’re doing with PASS.

Oct 22 2015



I’m at least one of the people who yelled Zoomit during a keynote at PASS Summit.

I want to take a moment and explain why I did it and why it was wrong.

I was frustrated. I’m watching a presentation on a HUGE screen, from about mid-way in the room and the presenter is earnestly showing off a cool new feature of SQL Server in about 3 point font and saying “… As you can see …”.

No. No I couldn’t. After a little while of staring at the blur on the screen and hearing the person say I could see this or see that, I popped. I was interested. I was paying attention. I really and truly wanted to see what was on the screen and I honestly could not. So, I yelled at the stage.

I was wrong.

The person on stage probably didn’t have Zoomit installed. Nor did they know how to use it. They probably also didn’t know that Windows has a magnification utility built in (don’t like it, but it’s there). My yelling didn’t help them at all to discover this information. Further, it probably made them even more nervous. Neither of these improved the experience for anyone in the audience. Finally, it was unprofessional behavior. That’s the important one.

What should I have done? Find a positive solution. Get a hold of someone, anyone, from PASS, from Microsoft, and let them know that we can’t see. Nothing is going to get fixed at the moment, but the feedback has to be delivered. It can just be delivered in a way that’s helpful, not hurtful. Write a blog post? Sure, but try to make it a positive and helpful one. Tweet about it at the time? Yeah, why not? Just make the tweets informative as opposed to negative. Communicate the necessary information (and yeah, it was necessary) in a way that does two things 1) It gets heard and 2) It provides help to those who need it.

I seem to frequently serve as a negative example. “Don’t do what I’ve done. It hurts” is a repetitive message I deliver. Please remember. PASS Summit is a blast. It is. The event has changed my life in a positive way and I’ve grown to truly love the giving community that built and continues to improve the PASS organization. So don’t do what I’ve done. Have fun at PASS, yes. SQUEE and hug your friends. Wear a kilt. Go to the parties and imbibe. Just remember, through it all, you’re still expected to behave as a professional. Don’t follow my bad example. Instead, build on the positive aspects of PASS and the community in a positive fashion.

See you next week!

Nov 11 2014

I’m Still Not on the Board

I’m just back from the PASS Summit 2014. What a great event. But this year, it was a little different. I did a lot of the usual things, presented a pre-conference seminar to about 130 people, helped out at the Red Gate booth, presented a session on execution plans on Friday, went to a few after hours events (that included karaoke). You know, the Summit. My tenth one. But, I am starting the process of transitioning onto the board. This will be my first report on the work I’ve been doing around that. However, please let me point out something, that was made very obvious to me during the event, I’m coming on to the board, but I’m not yet on the board. I say this because whatever work I put in for board business last week, it was nothing compared to the time put in by the people who are actually on the board. Make no mistake, that’s insanely time consuming work.

I went to a series of meetings that reflected my past volunteer work and my upcoming time on the board. I attended meetings with the Chapter Leaders and the Regional Mentors. There were some great discussions around past performance and support of the organization and future needs. I’m not going into details on this stuff. Some of it is NDA, most isn’t, but I don’t think it’s my place to address any of it yet. Let’s just say it was really interesting. I especially loved hearing about why the Regional Mentors do the work that they do. Ask one sometime. We have a lot of work ahead of us and I’m pretty jazzed about some of it.

I also attended a series of PASS Community sessions at the event. I really enjoyed the session on how to build a user group by two of the best Chapter Leaders I know, Kendal Van Dyke and Jes Borland. I also went to a couple of sessions in and around the work I helped with on the Summit Selection Committee. We had a workshop on building an abstract. It was attended by committee members and other speakers. If you didn’t get selected, you both learned why, and we reviewed individual abstracts to help people write better ones. It was a great session and if you needed more feedback on your abstracts, I’m sorry you weren’t there. We then had a mission report session from the Selection Committee. We walked through how the various teams on the committee did their work, how it’s going to change next year, and how well, overall, despite quite a bit of heat generated at the announcement, the process went. Based on the fact that attendance was up all over the board, even on pre-cons sold, I don’t think the committee did too poorly. But, the committee is going to try to make it even better next year, especially around getting better feedback to everyone.

My biggest impression from everything I did in and around the board, is actually not a shock or even news to me, the board is a team of great people who are doing simply amazing work. I’m actually humbled and more than a little fearful to be joining such a great team. I’m also really impressed by the people at PASS HQ. Another amazing team I’m looking forward to working with. If I had to provide criticism about everything I’ve seen so far, I’d say that I think all the work done by all these people isn’t adequately communicated. Maybe it’s better that it all looks like effortless magic, but I think I might have been slightly less critical in the past (slightly), if I had known how much work it was.

If there was a unifying theme to everything being said and done, I’d say it’s communication. More of it is needed. More of it seems to be promised. More of it is wanted. You will see quite a lot more work done in that area. Heck, it was part of Adam’s keynote.

Look for more updates as I get to work with the teams more.

Sep 16 2014

PASS Summit 2014 Pre-Conference Seminar

I’m putting on a pre-conference seminar (also known as a pre-con) at the PASS Summit this year. I’m really honored to be able to present this and I’m pretty excited about it. So, if you want to talk query tuning, let’s get together at the Summit. For a few fun facts about the event, check out this Q&A over at PASS. To register for the event and my pre-con, go here now.

Jul 21 2014

Victims of Success

I took part in the PASS Summit 2014 selection committee this year because I was really curious about seeing how the sausage gets made. I’ve seen how actual sausage gets made and I still eat sausage.  Despite a few hiccups and communication issues, internal and external, I think the selection process for the Summit went really well this year. But, there was still some controversy. Being a naturally pushy person, I got involved in the controversy, for good or ill, and subsequently have had conversations with many people about the selection process (which, reiterating, I think went extremely well overall). But, the one thing that kept coming up over and over was a simple question:

How come I/PersonX didn’t get picked?

The easy answer is because you/PersonX had a horrible abstract. But you know what, in probably most cases, that’s not true. Good abstracts by good people didn’t get selected, so what the heck? I think the more complex answer does not go back to the selection committee or the selection criteria or the selection process. Do I think some improvements are possible there? Yes, and I’m putting my foot where my mouth is (or something) and joining the committees to try to make some tweaks to the system to make it better (and really, we need tweaks, I want to repeat, risking ad naseum, the process went well and worked great and I’m happy I took part and I think the outcome is pretty darned good). No, the real problem lies elsewhere, SQL Saturdays.

I’m not saying SQL Saturdays are themselves a problem. What I’m saying is that PASS took on the whole SQL Saturday concept for several reasons, one of which was for it to act as a farm team for speakers. This will be my 10th Summit. Looking back to 10 years ago, while I really loved the event, oh good god have the speakers improved. I remember sitting in sessions with people who were mumbling through their presentations so much that, even with a microphone, you couldn’t hear half of what they said. Slide decks that consisted of 8-12 pages of text (yes, worse than Paul Randal’s slides, kidding, don’t hit me Paul). Speakers who really, clearly, didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. It was kind of rocky back then. I learned my second year that you had to talk to people to find out, not just which sessions sounded good, but which speakers were going to present those sessions well enough that it would be worthwhile. Why were there so many weak presenters? Well, because there was almost nothing between speaking at local user groups and speaking at Summit (I made the leap that way). There were a few code camps around, a couple of other major events, various schools and technical courses, and Summit. I don’t know how the old abstract/speaker review process worked (and I apologize to whoever read my first abstract because I know now just how horrific it was and I’m so sorry I wasted your time), but I’m pretty sure they were desperate to get enough submissions that sounded coherent with a speaker attached that probably could get the job done. Not any more.

Now, people are getting lots of opportunities to present at SQL Saturday events all over the world. And it’s working. We’re growing speakers. We’re growing good speakers. Don’t believe me? Then you go to two or three events in a month, sit through 8-12 sessions, mostly by newer people, not Brent Ozar, not Denny Cherry, not Kim Tripp, and you review them, each, individually, then go back and try to pick the best one. Oh yeah, there’s going to be a few dogs in the bunch, but overall, you’re going to find a great bunch of presentations by a great bunch of speakers. Our farm system is working and working well. But there’s a catch.

Because we have upped the bar pretty radically on all the introductory level speakers (and if you’re thinking about presenting, don’t let that slow you down, everyone starts at zero and goes up), that means the competition at the top (and yes, I do consider the Summit the top in many ways, not all, see SQLBits) is becoming and more and more fierce. That means, my abstracts probably need quite a bit more polish than they’re getting (and so do yours) because there are a whole slew of speakers coming up that are writing killer abstracts. That means I need to really be concerned about the evaluations (despite the fact that I get dinged because the stage is low, the room is hot/cold, lunch didn’t have good vegetarian choices, England left the Cup early, all outside my control) because there are new speakers that are knocking it out of the park. In short, you/I/PersonX didn’t get picked because the competition has heated up in a major way.

In short, a sub-section of the community, defined by those who wish to speak, are victims of the success of the farm team system as represented by SQL Saturday. On the one hand, that sucks because I now need to work harder than ever on my abstracts, on the other, we’re going to see very few instances of really bad presentations at Summit. We’ve improved the brand and the community. It’s a good thing.

Feb 06 2014

Thank You!

I am humbled and honored (and more than a little horrified) to be on this list of the Best of PASS Summit 2013. I mean look at those names. Every single one is a person I look up to and respect and learn from constantly. How I made a list like this… well, thanks. I appreciate the support and kindness that was shown at the PASS Summit when you filled out your evals.

Oh, and while I realize intellectually and SQL skill-wise he totally kicks my behind… Neener, neener Conor. You’re in the DBA track and I’m the only one in the top 10 in the Cloud track.

By the gods, I’m going to pay for that, but it’ll be worth it.

Oct 17 2013

PASS Summit 2013 Day 2 Key Note


Today we have to eat our vegetables and then get lots and lots of sweet desert.


Today we hear about PASS Finances as a part of the official annual meeting and then we get to hear Dr. David Dewitt speak (completely and utterly getting our nerd on and squeeing like teenage girls at a Bieber concert).

I will be live-blogging this event, so watch this space.

8:20: Douglas McDowell kicks off the key note today.  the vast majority of the money that runs PASS comes from the Summit. That’s right, by attending the Summit you’re also supporting the organization. The Business Analytics Conference, which kicked off this year also provides quite a bit more money to the organization.

8:25: PASS has changed its budgeting process. At this point, there is about 1 million dollars (American) in the bank. That means they’ve got a cushion should an event go south. That’s very important.

The amount of money spent on the community last year was $7.6 million. 30% of that is focused specifically for international audiences (which begs the question, how much money comes FROM the international audiences). The money is spent on Summit, BA Conferences, Chapters, SQL Saturday, 24 Hours of PASS and 520 web sites (woof).

8:31: Bill Graziano, PASS President, takes the stage to say goodbye to PASS Board members leaving the board. Douglas McDowell, who was just talking, is leaving the board after six years and being a volunteer since 2001. Rob Farley is also leaving the board. Rushabh Mehta comes on stage after eight years on the board. He’s the Immediate Past President, a role that automatically rolls off the board after a couple of years.

Next up, Thomas LaRock, the currrent vice-president of Marketing and the incoming PASS President. We had about 3000 unique viewers online at the live PASS TV (which I launched this morning, talking about KILT DAY!). The new board positions are Adam Jorgensen, Executive Vice President, Denise Mcinerney Vice President Marketing. Jen Stirrup, Tim Ford and Amy Lewis are coming onto the board.

In 1999, the Summit started. That’s 14 years. I’ve made 9 of them in a row.

8:38: PASS Summit 2014 will be in November 4-7 in Seattle next year. The PASS BA Conference will be in San Jose, CA May 7-9 in 2014.

Remember there are tons of networking opportunities.

8:41: What, Why, How Hekaton with Dr. David DeWitt

Let’s get our nerd on.

Dr. DeWitt is one of the things that makes the Summit.

Hekaton is memory optimized but durable, very high performance OLTP engine, fully integrated into SQL Server 2014, Architected for modern CPUs. It really is a wicked cool technology. I still don’t by the concept that you don’t need new hardware for this, but that’s not questioning the utility of the functionality.

OLTP performance has started to plateau with current technology. The increases in CPU just aren’t going fast enough any more, so they have to find something to figure out how to improve performance. The goal for Hekaton was a 100x improvement. They didn’t make that, but they got between 10x and 30x improvement, which is pretty amazing.

You can’t just pin all tables in performance. Latches for shared data structures are going to hurt. they hit locks for control mechanisms and the execution plans generated won’t be improved.

The implications of a buffer pool are that you get storage over time.

You’ll need to track down the slides to understand some of what I’m saying in this live blogging. It won’t make sense without them.

I found it here

So a query needs a page. It checks for the page. The query gets blocked until the page gets allocated and then it continues from there. But, another query can be blocked by the process coming in. So, they added latches to the pages in the buffer pool. He shows how the latches allow multiple queries to find objects in the pool, but mark them as being used. But this ultimately runs into performance because the shared data structures need latches and they consume time to maintain.


You also have to have concurrency control, in short, locking and blocking (you know, the stuff that NOLOCK “fixes”). Jim Gray, mentor to Dr. DeWitt, came up with two phase locking. So a query gets the lock type from the manager and then when a query releases locks, they can be reused. This basically sets up the idea of serial locking to get things done correctly.

When the database lives on disk, the processing time to get a query and create a plan, can be trivial (not always), but if the data is in memory, that becomes way to expensive.

All this is the reason you can’t pin stuff in memory.

Shared data structures have latches. Concurrency control uses two-phase locking. Query plans are through interpretation.

Hekaton, on the other hand, uses Lock-free data structures, meaning no latches. They’ve stopped using locking for concurrency control. They use versions with timestamps + optimistic concurrency control for Hekaton. And queries are actually, literally, compiled into a DLL. That’s right. COMPILED. Queries have been “compiled” into an interpretation layer all this time. Not literally compiled. But, with this, they’re getting turned into DLLs.

There are now three query engines in SQL Server. Relational, Column Store and Hekaton. These are three distinct stacks. Queries can span all three.

9:06: First, you create a “memory optimized” table. That table does have limits (look them up) in structure and data types supported

Second, populate the table, but, you have to make sure that data will absolutely fit in memory. You can put 5gb of data into a system with 2gb of memory. NO PAGING TO DISK. It’s in-memory, right?

Third, run queries, but there are some language restrictions.

9:12: HOW:

Lock Free Data structures. the data structures are truly rocket science. They make query optimization look simple (OW!). These were invented by Maurice Herlihy at Brown University. It’s not really lock-free, but since it’s not about concurrency, it’s about being latch-free. Dr. DeWitt tells us he could explain it in about 30 minutes, but instead we get a demo.

he’s showing that latches slow down more and more as the number of threads hit the system. Yet the lock-free approach actually increases. Then, when updates occur, everything stops until the update completes. The lock-free mechanism doesn’t stop at all. It doesn’t even slow. The lock-free mechanisms took 5 years alone.

Multi version, optimistic, time-stamped concurrency control: The assumption is that conflicts are rare. Transactions are run to “completion” with no locks. Then conflicts are resolved later. Multiversion means that updates create a new version of the row. Each row version has a time range. Transactions use ther being timestamp too select correct version. Timestamps are used to create a total order for transactions to obtain equivalent of a serial order. This reduces the number of threads and that reduction rediuces the likelihood of locking.

Read committed versions start. Updates create new “tentative” vversions and then the DB tracks the rows read, written and scanned. Then updates go through a pre-commit step which gives you validation and then the concurrency control goes through it’s work in post processing.

Timestamps are just counters. So you get begin and end times so you know how to track mechanisms. End times are always unique and that’s how you can manage who goes first in terms of concerency.

So a row gets tagged with a begginning ts and then when it completes a unique end time time stamp. When it starts, you get a new version of the row, with pointers linking the versions of the row. There will be a “magic identifier” assigned from the transaction to the versions of the row. An end time stamp to the older row and now end at all, but a begginning time stampe on the second row. So, this means no latches were used and there were no locks set and there were no blocks of other transactions. This creates the basis of multiversion concurrency control.

So if you have two transactions running concurrently, you’ll see the first transaction create a version of a row with copies and versions. Then a second transaction tries to read the row. If it’s timestamp of the second version which was earlier than the first transaction, it’ll use the older version, because the time stamp of the end time of the second transaction must be later than the current time, because it’s not complete yet.

Yeah, that sounds confusing, but looking at the slides you’ll get it.

Then, a clean up process has to occur. When the begin time stamp of the oldest version in the system ticks past a more recent version, then the older version will get removed. This clean up is cooperative, non-blocking, incremental, parallel and self-throttling.

Each version contains a valid time stamp range. You get transactions through time stamps and versions. Then a transaction will read only versions of rows that valid when time overalps the beginning of the range for a transaction.

THEN, we have to go through Validation.

1. Transaction obtains a unique end time stamp
2. Determine if the transaction can be safely committted
3. Validation steps depend on isolation level (and check the slides for details).

Each version read is checked to see if they’re still “visible” or “valid” at the end of a transaction. This also helps with phantom avoidance. But, everything is in memory and we’re not getting locks, so while expensive, it’s actually still cheaper than the old versions of latching and locking.

Post-processing goes through three phases. You get a log record with all versions of the row and the primary keys of all deleted rows. A single i/o is written to the log. For all rows in the transaction writeset the transaction id is replaced with the end time stamp.

I sort of understand all this. The trick will be to remember it and then learn how to explain it to others.

But, you have to have checkpoints and recovery. Data is stored in the logs during checkpoint operations, roughly the same as normal. Recovery loads the know checkpoints and scans logs to recover all work since then. It has full integration with High Availability.


Then we got to queries and quer plans. You can run regular queries in what they call interop but you sacrifice performance. Instead, you want to compile it. You get physical plans, kind of the same way as you used to (not quite the same, but I was hitting a snag when he explained that part, check the slides), but then it goes through a translator which generates c code. Evidently, really ugly c code. But then the compilers is called and then you get a DLL. This is 100% totally specific with no functions. Then you get a DLL loaded and invoked. You never recompile that query again.

The number of instructions is interesting. A classic table can take 700 instructions to find a row. With Hekaton, 332 and with a native qp, 75. Even if you don’t find a row, it’s 300, 110 and 31.

Interop can get up to 3x improvement, but there are still language limits. Same issues with native mode, but you 10-30x improvements with that.

Finally, he’s going through a whole bunch of performance improvements by various, REAL, companies using it now.

The whole thing is that memory prices have been declining. We’re seeing lots of CPU cores designed for concurrency, but we’re still hurting from CPUs through the lack of compiled code. But, it’s supported by the hardware trends.

Oct 16 2013

PASS Summit 2013 Day 1 Keynote

I am liveblogging the keynote from the bloggers table at the PASS Summit again this year. Just keep scrolling.

Watching the introduction video as people trickle in. All the other bloggers are setting up. I get in early. I didn’t rearrange the seats this year. I see others doing it now.

8:11: Watching the videos of all the attendees registering and meeting people at the start of the event and last night’s welcome reception is awesome and fun.

8:21: The lights go down and the videos of what everyone is looking forward to at the Summit. In keeping with our location, right next to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, we’ve got a bit of a race theme going on. We’re seeing current PASS President, Bill Graziano having a dream about driving a car. He’s starting off with the list of PASS Board members, just so you know who it is that’s doing the most of the work for this fantastic volunteer run organization.

We’re also getting a listing of the 700K hours of training that have been put together by the PASS Organization.

8:30: We get to find out who the PASSion award winner is. Amy Lewis, who is absolutely an amazing person, is the winner this year. Ryan Adams, sitting right behind me blogging away, was an Honorable Mention Volunteer. Well done Ryan. They also ask you to nominate outstanding volunteers for the year too. Make sure you do. This really is a volunteer run organization, so you need to support the volunteers.

8:37: Quentin Clark takes the stage with a listing of companies that have adopted Azure technologies. If you read my blog, you know it’s one of my passions (although I’m still a query tuning freak). You need to get going with it.

Quentin is starting with the concept of “A story about transformation.” He’s showing how Brick and Mortar and Internet are helping each other, not hurting each other. Integration between the stores and the internet made things better. The comparison is of course aimed at telling the story between on-premises computing and cloud computing. It’s a compelling story. We’re seeing how they’re rolling out a series of software that is available now, or in the very near future, which is different than past key notes where we saw stuff that was coming out “next year” or “real soon.” That’s an awesome approach.

8:49: We’re seeing all kinds of new technology in 2014. They’re not fundamental changes causing a rewrite of technology. Instead they’re additional technologies, updateable column store index and in-memory tables and indexes for OLTP. It’s awesome. It makes it possible to do more, when you need to, rather than only after rewriting your entire app. I think the work they’re doing in Azure is making it possible for them to release more frequently to the on-premises versions without causing breaking changes. It’s a great way to get things done.

8:54: I love the demos when they are more realistic. We can see a 10% improvement on queries, just by using Memory Optimization. They’re also introducing the Native Compilation, which means a true compilation, turning a proc into code on the structure of the SQL Server instance, not simply a query plan stored and accessed in cache. That resulted in another 11X improvement in performance. The issues around this though is that most of this technology is very hardware intensive. You’ll have to have big boxes for this to really help you. So yes, we’re getting great new technology, but you’re only going to be able to really blow it out of the water with other great new technology.

The main points they want to tell us is that it’s built into SQL, which is 100% true. They also want us to know that there is no new hardware needed, which doesn’t make sense. You can’t put stuff in memory without using more memory. It has to impact existing hardware. However, I see the utility of it.

8:59: They’re expanding on the abilities for availability and recovery. Sorry people, but this means taking advantage of additional functionality in Windows Azure. But it works. I’ve seen it in action in production environments. You can set up AlwaysOn secondaries in Windows Azure. You can backup to Windows Azure. It’s not a requirement to migrate your systems out of your environment, but to use the Azure system as your backup and recovery mechanisms.

9:05: They new backup tools are great. From 2014 we get backups that are encrypted without requiring the database to be encrypted. That’s great. They’re also making it so that you get backups that you can automate based on data changes, not just a timing thing. That opens up whole new ways to protect your systems. I’m excited by this stuff. I’m also interested to see that they’re releasing a tool that will let you incorporate backups to the cloud from your 2005, 2008 and 2008 R2 systems, not just 2012 and 2014. That’s great, but it hurts companies like Red Gate that have been offering this as a product to people for years. Ah well.

9:17: Microsoft continues to expand it’s Hadoop offerings supporting it through the desktop and through Azure in HDInsight. Most of this stuff is in preview, but they have people using it in their production environments, so it must be relatively solid. The point is being able to query everything. Not simply this type of query from structured data and this type from nonstructured.

9:28: Mostly talking about BI stuff. I’m glad we’re serving out the data in better and more interesting ways. I just can’t get too excited about it. In the mean time I’m actively configuring a CTP2 of SQL Server 2014 in an Azure VM while the event is going on. People are trying to download it instead of setting up a VM. They’re crazy.

9:45: That was a good key note.