SQL Saturday in Chicago

Recently, I had a discussion with some database professionals and we were discussing some of the pros and cons of certain database platforms.  I mentioned to them that one of the things that I feel is a huge pro for SQL Server is the community.  It is very easy to get free support and training, which can certainly make your life a lot easier.  And this was very evident this past weekend when I attended SQL Saturday in Chicago (http://www.sqlsaturday.com/211/).  It was my first time attending a SQL Saturday event and I felt it was definitely worthwhile to give up one of my Saturdays to attend.  There was plenty of opportunities to network, get product demonstrations, and get some SQL Server training.

Sessions I attended:

  • Writing Professional Database Code (Aaron Lowe) – This was a nice presentation with good audience participation that focused on what writing professional code means.  The basic idea that was expressed is that professional code should by synonymous with quality code, maintainable code, and documented code.  Additionally, some of the specific things discussed were naming standards, error handling, unit testing, and code reviews.
  • Making the Leap from Profiler to Extended Events (Erin Stellato) – Since SQL Server Profiler is being deprecated and will be removed in an upcoming version of SQL Server, I thought this topic would be very timely, since I haven’t used extended events quite as much as I would have liked.  She made the session extremely easy to follow, since she compared what we would do in profiler to how you would do it with extended events.  She also repeatedly referred to Jonathan Kehayias as being a great resource for working with extended events (http://www.sqlskills.com/blogs/jonathan/category/extended-events/).
  • What Are You Waiting For? (Jason Strate) – The presentation started off with a nice illustration of the SQL Server execution model being likened to a cashier (scheduler), customer (query), and line (queue) at a grocery store.  Next, he explained how waits are collected through the various states (i.e. running, suspended, runnable).  He ended with the most common waits seen on systems and what to do about them: CXPACKET, OLEDB, PAGEIOLATCH, PAGELATCH, and LATCH.  He included the slide deck for download (http://www.jasonstrate.com/2013/04/presentation-materials-what-are-you-waiting-for-sqlsat211/).
  • SQL Server Internals and Architecture (Kevin Kline) – This session was my favorite of the day because the simplicity of the presentation and how entertaining it was.  After talking about the ACID properties of SQL Server databases, he walked through a diagram of how SQL Server works when it is reading or writing.  Here’s a version of it when he worked at Quest (http://kevinekline.com/slides/sql-server-internals-architecture/).  Additionally, I talked with Kevin at his SQL Sentry vendor booth, and he highly recommended their product, Performance Advisor (http://www.sqlsentry.com/performance-advisor/sql-server-performance.asp), over all the competitors.  This really got me thinking because I use the product at his former company …
  • Building an Effective Data Warehouse Architecture (James Serra) – Although this session was of a beginner level, I thought the speaker did a nice job of defining some things quite well.  For example, he touched on the Fast Track reference architecture (http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/sqlserver/solutions-technologies/data-warehousing/reference-architecture.aspx) versus pre-built appliances, data warehouses versus data marts (subset of data to one specific area), Kimball (dimensional) versus Inmon (relational), and ETL versus ELT.

Needless to say, I enjoyed my first SQL Saturday experience and the icing on the cake was that I even won a gift card in the raffle … 🙂

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