Friday, April 8, 2011

SQLRally Day Two

I'm guessing day two will be a difficult day after a night enjoying the sites and sounds of Orlando. I plan on trying to pace myself but I've never been to good at doing so in the past.  These are the sessions I intend to participate in:

8:30 -  I plan to attend Kendra Little's presentation "Big and Tall: When to Partition".  The reason is two-fold. I'd like to see Kendra present and I learned yesterday I'll be heading up a project to configure a 10 TB SQL database which will contain PACS data. I see partitioning in my future.
9:40 - "SQL Server Troubleshooting via DMV's" by Steve Schneider.  I'm always excited about learning the ins and outs of DMVs. I hate to admit it but I don't use them enough. Bad DBA!
11:15 - Since my presentation is about managing large number of servers I have to go to John Sterrett's presentation "Evaluate Your Daily Checklist Against 100+ Instances of SQL Server While You Get a Cup of Coffee".  My only regret is that John's presentation isn't before mine so I can't steal any of his material. Just kidding John.
1:50 - After a lunch of dead cow and fried bacon I'll attend Thomas Grohser's "SQL Server Storage Engine Under the Hood: How SQL Server performs IO".  I rarely have time on my own to dive deep into the database engine black box so I hope to take this opportunity to have the material forcibly injected into my skull.
3:00 - Ed Wilson's "Windows PowerShell Best Practices for SQL DBA's". This should be a good compliment to Aaron's presentation. After both sessions I intend to be able to write a 1,000 lines of PowerShell code Friday night in my hotel room.
4:35 - Lastly I'll be at Jeremiah Peschka's "Fundamentals of SQL Server Internals".  I'm due for a refresher course especially since none of the previous stuff I've learned has managed to be retained in my brain.

That's it. Now that I put it all down in writing is seems like one heck of worldwind of knowledge. It'll be fun. I'm already stocking up on Four Loco!  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I've Been Very Selfish

I've been so concerned with cranking out my SQLRally presentation (yeah, that's right - its not completed yet. I like to live on the edge) that I haven't thought about the other sessions I plan on attending. Since I'm new to the SQL Server community I'll base my decisions not only on the content of the presentation but also on the speaker.  I enjoy public speaking and I look forward to learning from others who have been doing it much longer than myself.

Thursday, May 12.
8:00AM - I'll be attending Aaron Nelson's presentation "The Dirty Dozen: Powershell Scripts for the Busy DBA".  Next to VM I believe Powershell is the "thing" right now. Also, I'm a DBA AND I'm busy, so it makes perfect sense.
9:40 - All the presenters are new names for me so I'm going with the most relevant topic.  I'll attend Eddie Wuerch's "Troubleshooting Performance Problems by Reading the Waits". This will be a good tie-in to my attempt at getting Ignite licenses purchased.
11:15 -  Looks like I'll be at Wesley Brown's presentation on "Understanding Storage Systems and SQL Server". Maybe he can help me lift the lid on the black box.
1:50 - Sorry folks, as much as I would love to see the other presentations I can't be at 2 places at once. Obviously <smirk> the Enterprise DBA presentation is a must-see.
3:00 - By this time I'll be wearing a bit thin.  After absorbing tons of knowledge, eating lunch, and pontificating I have a feeling I'll be hitting a wall. I'll attend Stacia Misner's "Data Visualizations in SSRS 2008 R2" and I'm sure to feel much better.
4:35 - As the final coup d'etat I'll attend "Aaron Betrand's What's New in SQL 2011 (Denali)".  The reason is both because Aaron and the topic. I'm in the middle of revising for 2011 Kathi Kellenberger's classic tale about T-SQL (Beginning T-SQL 2008). I want to make absolutely sure I don't miss anything.

That's it for day one. One last thing before I talk about day two tomorrow. I'll be attending Grant Fritchey's "Query Performance Tuning from Start to Finish" pre-conference seminar because you can never get enough performance tuning training!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Where Have all the Good BA's Gone?

Something I see rarely discussed in technical circles is the role of a Business Analyst.  Now what's a Business Analyst?  That's the tricky part. If you aren't in a large corporation that has multiple departments as "customers" or that handle a portfolio of vendors than you may not have come across one.  A BA is the liaison between the  technical team and the customer\vendor.  They are part IT and part project manager.

It's not an envious role. They perform functions like software upgrades, troubleshooting application errors, and handling customer questions about performance.  They tend to be tied to a specific set of applications. They have to be communicative, technical, patient, and self-starting. Unfortunately, many of them are none of these and when they're not it creates havoc for a DBA.

When a BA goes rogue it basically means you end up being involved in poorly managed upgrade projects, you have to perform all the initial troubleshooting footwork for an application you know little about, customers contact you directly for minor problems that have nothing to do with the databases....I think you get the point. But then you might ask, "shouldn't you be doing these yourself anyway?".  The truth of the matter is its a resource issue. As a DBA in a large company you may be supporting 300+ different applications and thousands of customers.  You have to have a few good BA's to help filter the noise.

I've come to believe the primary problem is hiring managers don't stress enough the technical requirements of a BA.  When a newly hired BA doesn't even know how to configure an ODBC connection than we're in for a world of hurt. The other problem is they don't get paid enough. You aren't going to get highly technical people moving into a BA role if you make them take a 40% pay cut.

Still, when you see and work with a good BA you know it. They tend to give you clear, documented action items. They do all the preliminary research so that you know once they come to you its a database issue and not security, network, or storage problem.  They have your back when vendors try to question the motives of the DBA team and when they inevitably try to gain access to database systems without your knowledge.  A good BA is invaluable to a company and a DBA team. I just wish there was more of them.

Comments? I'd like to hear your experiences!