SQL PASS 2011: Day 2

Another Beautiful Morning!

Day 2 has now come to a close and I’ll tell you that it was another awesome day! I was able to actually sleep in a bit.  Of course, it might be due to the fact that I was up late the night before putting together my blog post for Day 1.

So the day started around 7am with another beautiful morning.  I got cleaned up and got ready to grab some grub.

I headed down to the lobby and met up with fellow Omahan SQL Server MVP Phil Brammer (B | T) and we head over to the Daily Grill to get some breakfast.  We had some good discussions about various SQL Server technologies that we use in our respective companies.  It was a good breakfast.

Before we knew it, the time for our first sessions was here.

First Session

She's a Geek, I'm a Geek, We're all Geeks!

For my first session, I opted to go to Kendra Little’s presentation on the “No More Bad Dates: Best Practices for Working With Dates and Times“.  The session wasn’t completely full, but it was close.

Kendra kicked off the session and we were rolling!  She had a lot of good things to look at, such as the size of the various types of datetime that are available to use.  She also mentioned that our standard types of “datetime” and “smalldatetime” will be deprecated in future releases of SQL Server.  With the new ones, I’m alright with that as they present a much more flexible way to use them.  Plus they present with a smaller data size, so your row size is smaller and potentially have a higher page density.  A win all around in my book.

Kendra did take a small tangent off into statistics world and I wasn’t quite sure why.  I suspect that I got distracted thinking of our database back at the office and how I could make some changes in regards to datetime.  Probably totally my fault and I fully intended to review the DVD’s to see if I can pick up the connection.  All in all, I got about a 1.5 pages worth of notes of things to review/research/implement and I thought that it was a good session.

Kendra is an excellent speaker and knows her stuff.  I would recommend her sessions and I would definitely go watch her present again in the future.

Second Session

For my session session of the day, I opted to attend Victor Isakov’s session of “Important Trace Flags That Every DBA Should Know“.  There are a number of trace flags that can aid in trouble shooting if you know what you are doing.  They can also tell you to some degree as to what SQL Server is doing under the covers.

Trace Flags Anyone?

Victor did have a co-presenter, Julie (I think that’s right) but I wasn’t able to locate her lastname in the directory.  Both Julie and Victor did a good job with the presentation, although I thought that there could have been a little more animation between the two.  Julie seemed to be clued to the podium while Victor had a little more movement when he talked. It was a packed house with standing room only.

They had some very valuable trace flags that we can use in production to help various performance issues, such as T1118.  This trace flag disables the SGAM allocation for TEMPDB and forces the allocation directly from the GAM pages which in turns can help to elevate SGAM contention on TEMPDB.

Another one that I thought that I found interesting was T1211.  This trace flag disables the lock escalation from going to the table level and forces the locks to stay at the row & page level.  I was interested in this one as I couldn’t think of a situation where you want to use this one, but since it’s there, some customer of Microsoft’s had to have run into it at one point.  I would be curious to know where this one comes in handy.  I might have to do some research on it.

Anyway, another excellent presenting and again I came away with a couple of pages of notes on various trace flags and a much better understanding on how they work.

Third Session

We Don't Need No Stink'n Cache!

The next session I choose to go to Kalen Delaney’s presentation on “What Happened? Exploring the Plan Cache“.  This session was in the one of the larger rooms here at SQL PASS, and it was probably 80% of the way full.

Kalen had an excellent presentation on the Plan Cache and showed us 3 different types of plan caches that we needed to be concerned with.  Primarily adhoc, prepared, and proc or procedural cache.

Kalen went through these three different types of cache and how to evaluate each one.  One thing that she discussed that I didn’t really think of is cache bloat.  Essentially if you have a number of single use cache plans, this can take up valuable space inside the buffer pool (cache).  Of course, she showed the various DMV’s available to use in 2005 or higher in which we can go see which plans are single use and deal with them accordingly.

This was another excellent session to attend and I got about a page of notes out of it.  I definitely will be hitting the office on Monday with intent in looking at some of the plans that are in the cache to see if we can fine tune them a bit.

Fourth Session

I'll take HADR for $1000 please Alex!

For my fourth and final session of the day, I choose to go to the “SQLCAT: SQL Server HA and DR Design Patterns, Architectures and Best Practices using SQL Server Code Name “Denali” AlwaysOn” This topic is a little off the ‘developer’ beaten path, but as a someone who likes to understand a lot of SQL Server I thought that it would be good for me to get an understanding of some of the DR/HA options available for the new SQL Server 2012.  I think that an professional who deals with databases (in any regard) should have a relatively solid understanding of high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) so that you can recover in the most efficient manner possible.  Side Note: This partly goes back to the fact that if you don’t test your backups by restoring them, then that’s one of your single points of failure.

Anyway, this one was also a packed house with standing room only.  We had three presenters for this session, at least two of them were from the SQLCAT team.  We learned about a couple of the various design patterns for both HA and DR. With SQL Server 2012, we essentially can combine the two and have HADR with the use of Availability Groups (AG).

It was an excellent topic, however I thought that the presenters were a little dry.  Even with that, I got a pretty good understanding on how HADR will work moving foward with SQL Server 2012 and I’d love to play around with it in upcoming months.

Networking

Let The Games Begin!

So the sessions wrapped up and headed back to the hotel.  PASS and Microsoft were putting on a social event just across the street at Gameworks.  Basically, it’s an adult arcade where they served food and free drinks.  Very much like a Dave & Busters for you folks from the midwest.  They also gave us basically free games for the night.

It was an awesome night and I was able to continue with my networking goal.  I met several new people and even remembered some names of people I had met earlier in the week.  After enjoying a couple of beers myself and some great food, I wandered around the game floor just watching people laughing and having a great time.  I stuck around for a couple of hours, but then I started to hear my hotel room calling my name.  It was time for me to head for the hills.

After all, I had to get this blog post written.  😉

Stay tuned for my final day at SQL PASS 2011!

PS – With this blog post, it will be my 2000th tweet.  That is all and carry on.

© 2011, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.

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