Azure Infrastructure pre-con ahead of #SQLSatCleveland

Microsoft Azure logoSQL Saturday in Cleveland, Ohio is next week, on February 3rd. If you’re in the area or can easily make it there, I hope that you can come out for a great day of free SQL Server training. I enjoy presenting at SQL Saturdays; they’re fun and educational days for speakers and attendees, alike. Last time we were in Cleveland it had snowed overnight when it was time to leave town on Sunday morning. I’ve lived even longer in the south now, so if that happens again, it’ll be even more fun this time.

In addition to my session on Saturday, where I will talk about using database projects in SSDT/Visual Studio, I’ll also be presenting an all-day session Friday on Azure Infrastructure. Planning and designing your infrastructure is just as important in the cloud as it is when building new systems on-premises. As Azure continues to grow and expand around the world, more companies will be choosing to migrate (or deploy new) services to the public cloud. Understanding the underlying components is imperative to maximum-performance and highly-successful Azure deployments and hybrid migrations. In this session, we’ll cover infrastructure fundamentals with a bit of a focus on deploying and running SQL Server in Azure; however, there will be plenty of general background discussion that can be used for any workload.

Registration for this precon is available here, on EventBrite:, with information about the overall SQL Saturday event available here:

Saturday is free, but tickets for the full-day precon are $150.

I hope to see you next weekend!

Seattle for Summit 5×5: No. 5

The final post of my little series of fives for Seattle and PASS Summit finally focuses on the conference itself. This list is for five sessions/events that I think should be on your list to check out this week while at Summit. A couple of these will be difficult to get into, because they will be super-popular. In fact, people have been known to stand in line for the entire previous session in order to get in to one of these presenter’s sessions before. Therefore, like, plan accordingly and stuff.

Dr. Rimma Nehme Keynote

Thursday 8:15 AM
Rimma worked for a while at Microsoft’s Gray Systems lab in a certain midwestern town, with Dr David DeWitt. Back in the day, David–one of the best speakers you’ll ever seen in your life–would give the “tech” keynote at Summit, and everyone would show up to get their brains melted. It was awesome. What’s still awesome is that torch has been passed on to Rimma, and she’s every bit as awesome a speaker as David is. She also got her PhD from Purdue, which makes here more-awesome, obviously. It doesn’t even matter what she’s talking about (it’s here), just go. Thank me later.

Bob Ward: Inside SQL Server 2017 on Linux

Wednesday 3:15 PM
Like the tech keynote, whatever Bob’s talking about at Summit is something to go to if you’re a DBA. This year it is about SQL Server on Linux, one of the most important developments in SQL Server Land in a long time, and definitely one of the most compelling new “features” (obviously not the best word here) in SQL Server 2017. This should be a great presentation for SQL Server DBAs, even if you can barely spell “vi”, and you’ll want to get there early. Bob’s session is where people have stood around for half a day waiting for.

Itzik Ben-Gan: T-SQL Tips and Tricks

Wednesday 10:45 AM
Apparently you should just sit around in 6B all day Wednesday and you’ll have a great day. Itzik is to TSQL as Bob Ward is to the engine, or Rimma is to, well, everything data-related. A “tips and tricks” session may sound ho-hum, but if Itzik is giving it, you’re guaranteed to learn something and get your mind blown by what Itzik will be able to show you with three lines of TSQL. I don’t care how good at TSQL you are, I guarantee you’ll learn something from Itzik in this session.

André Kamman: Azure SQL DW Guidance for ETL Developers

Friday 11:45 AM
Andre gets the “token” BI mention here, and for good reason. Azure SQL DW is a pretty great, scalable, useful service for workloads and data sets that can leverage its enormous capabilities, but along with that capacity and capability come pitfalls to the uninitiated. SQL DW can look like a bit of an odd duck due to its weird load patterns and seemingly missing SQL functions, so content like Andre’s are a definite requirement for ETL architects and developers who are going to be leveraging this service. Even if you don’t utilize it now, learning about the under-the-covers massively parallel processing is useful, I think.

Sunil Agarwal: Maximizing Query Performance with Columnstore Indexes

Wednesday 10:15 AM
Alright, so I have a scheduling conflict here. Don’t blame me, I didn’t build the schedule.

Sunil’s going to talk about query performance with Columnstore indexes in SQL Server. Joey and I may-or-may-not have had input into this presentation’s content, so I know it’s going to be good. Kinda like Azure SQL DW, Columnstore Indexes provides some great benefits, but it’s not necessarily something that one can just throw into your existing data model and have your performance go through the roof–there is a little extra work involved to get there. Also, Sunil’s always one of the smartest people in the room, just the type of person I like to listen to talk. I’m thinking I’m not going to be able to make it to this session, unfortunately, although Sunil does have another columnstore session (“Strategies to Speed Up Data Load into Clustered Columnstore Index”) Friday at 11:00 AM.

Seattle for Summit 5×5: No. 4

For the penultimate installment of this little series, I’m going to share locations that are excellent places to meet other SQL nerds/DBAs/what-have-you for this week in Seattle. The list contains a mix of locations at the conference in addition to “outside” venues where SQL Server nerds tend to congregate after hours.

Speaker Idol
For a few years now, there has been Speaker Idol at the PASS Summit. Speaker Idol is a contest for–wait for it–speakers, competing to win the first speaking slot of the next year’s PASS summit. Comprising 12 contestants delivering 5-minute lightning talks, the contest goes down in three preliminary rounds plus a final, culminating in the winner being crowned by the panel of judges, awarded a guaranteed speaking slot in next year’s Summit, able to speak on whatever topic they choose.

Tap House

1506 Sixth Ave
On Sixth Ave, half a block north of the Sheraton, just south of the convention center, is the Tap House Grill. Likely due to its convenient location, and SURELY not due to the 160 beers on tap, this is a favorite hangout of anyone at PASS Summit anytime during operating hours. It’s downstairs, it tends to be unfortunately hot, the food tends to be decent-to-good, and someone is always there; can’t go wrong.

Community Zone

On the bridge over 6th Ave
Most importantly, PASS Summit is a community event. There’s no better place to connect with that community than the Community Zone. This is an open area on the walkway that spans between the Washington State Convention Center and The Convention Center to the north, where you can find community leaders, peers, and bean bag chairs. It’s a good place to meet and chat with fellow community members during the day, along with a decent place to just sit down and relax for a bit.

CAT lab

I assume still across from the main Vendor Hall entrance, but I haven’t been paying attention.
The Customer Advisory Team are some of the most talented support employees working for Microsoft. If you are at Summit and have any problems at all with SQL Server, these are the folks to ask. Open/Available most of the days, stop by and talk to someone in a light green shirt (OK, their shirts may be a different color this year); they’ll for-sure be able to help you. Also, towards the end of the day, you can even pick up a beer or a glass of wine at CAT Happy Hour!

SQL Karaoke/DCAC/SIOS/SentryOne

Tuesday Night
Also for a few years now, on Tuesday evening, there has been a party thrown by us and SIOS. This year, SentryOne joins the party, as it were. This is primarily a karaoke party with a live band, to boot! I don’t really sing, so don’t count on that, but this is a great place to hang out with SQL folks for entirely too far into Wednesday morning. The open bar tickets are sold out, but you can still come by! Hit the Eventbrite link there to pick up a free ticket, and come by and say hi!

Seattle for Summit 5×5: No. 3

Couple of boats in the Ballard Locks in 2011

In the last post of this series, I talked about things to see/do in Seattle that are close to downtown and/or otherwise fit into the usual conference intraweek schedule. Today, I’ll hit five things that likely will require an extra day (or two) in your trip. It may be too late for extra days this year, seeing as we’re two weeks out, but maybe you can work one of these into your next trip to SEA.

Hiram M. Chittenden (“Ballard”) Locks
3015 NW 54th Street, Ballard, WA
OK, this one may be a little goofy, I know. North of downtown Nashville, there are a set of locks built between Puget Sound and Salmon Bay, which is connected to Lake Union, and eventually Lake Washington (Lake Washington is the big body of water between Seattle and Redmond/Bellevue). These are part of a full canal connecting the sound with the lake built 100 years ago to aid/assist shipping between the bodies of water. They’re still used today, and even during the time of year when Summit is going on, there can be a fairly steady stream of traffic. For someone from boring landlocked flyover country, this is a fun thing to watch.

There is also a fish ladder, primarily serving migratory salmon heading back upstream into fresh water as part of the complex. There’s a viewing area as part of that, where you can watch the fish swim upstream. The salmon are usually done swimming by the time of year that Summit is going on, though.

The city of Woodinville is located northeast of Seattle, across Lake Washington and outside of the 405 bypass. The main point of going to Woodinville (at last for us) is for wine and the occasional distillery. There are a lot of tasting rooms and the like in town, and it’s possible to drive (Lyft, whatever) out there and walk to a bunch of places in one morning/afternoon/etc. There are a few “districts” with clumps of tasting rooms/wineries that make this easy. There are also scheduled events that go on, if scheduling works out while you’re in town.

The Museum of Flight
 9404 E Marginal Way S
Located on-field at Boeing Field/King County International Airport (KBFI) (You know that other airport you drive by between SEATAC and downtown? There.), this is the largest aerospace museum in the world. It is home to a nearly-endless stream of aircraft, related artifacts, and other air-and-space exhibits. There’s something here for anyone with even a passing interest in aviation and possibly even those who don’t–although those folks will probably be more interested in walking around the Aviation Pavilion, the outdoor static display of large aircraft that’s part of the museum, where there are a good chunk of airliners–old, new, fast, and slow.

Boeing Factory Tours
8415 Paine Field Blvd, Mukilteo, WA
The Boeing Factory at Snohomish County Airport/Paine Field (KPAE) has the fun distinction of being the largest airport in the world by volume. Boeing lets us go on tours of their production lines here, which includes 777s, 787s, and the Queen of the Skies. There’s also the Future of Aviation center here, which is another museum-type apparatus.

Also on-field at KPAE is Paul Allen’s (yes, that Paul Allen) private collection of 1930s and ’40s aircraft/aviation equipment and WWII hardware.

Grand Coulee Dam (Brace yourself for 1996)
WA-155, Coulee Dam, WA (this is literally the best I can do for an address)
This is where things get super-nerdy. See, my wife and I have a little bit of a thing about dams, so we make strange trips to, well, see dams. There happens to be a giant one–it’s almost a mile long–about four hours east of Seattle! We’ve still never actually made it out to this, because it’s probably a two-day thing due to the length of the drive. One of these years.

Seattle for Summit 5×5: No. 2

This was on the waiter’s station at Bush Garden in 2011

For installment #2 of this brief series on visiting Seattle for PASS Summit, we have a semi-touristy-flavored list of things to do/places to go. These are items that can (or should) be worked into your “normal” conference schedule, without needing to have extra time in town, a car, or such. This list doesn’t include the Pike Place Market, because that’s kind of a gimme, and you’re probably going to do that, anyway. These are other items that are either unofficial parts of the Summit experience itself, or other places that we like to visit for various reasons.

Things to Do: Semi-Touristy

Bush Garden
614 Maynard Ave S
You’ve heard of “SQL Karaoke”, right? Up to, and including the party that we (DCAC) have thrown on Tuesday evening for a few years now. But before there was that, there was Bush Garden.

Bush Garden, you see, is this little place that’s cheap Asian food place by day, karaoke bar by night. I’m not sure who found it first, but it has been a near-nightly place to go during Summit for good number of years now. There’s been Jägermeister incidents, bad singing, good singing, my wife doing dishes one time, and then there’s the green couch.

This will be the second year that “the building has been closed, so Bush Garden could go away at any moment” rumors have been present, so as long as they’re still open now–which I believe they are–you gotta go at least one night this year, because this may be it.

World Spice Merchants
1509 Western Ave
Tucked behind the Pike Place Market towards the sound, this is a favorite place of us to visit. World Spice Merchants is exactly what it sounds like–a place to buy spices. Also having teas, the walls of this place are lined with little glass jars with raw/bulk spices in them that you peruse, taking notes on what you want and how much of it on waiter pads. At the end, you hand your list over to the staff, and they pack everything up for you. Take it with you, or they will ship it home for you. They’ve got lots of stuff that may be otherwise hard to find (especially for us), so if you’re into cooking, don’t skip making a trip down here.

Wines of Washington Tasting Room
1924 Post Alley
If you’re into wine, you know how good PacNW cabs can be, and this is an excellent place to experience them. Set up almost like your friends’ living/dining/family room, with small tables and board games on shelves on the wall, this can be a fun place for either hardcore wine tasting (we ran them out of glassware one afternoon) or a cool place to just chill with friends in the evening. You can of course buy bottles here to take [home] with you, and they also have a club.

13 Coins (at 3 AM)
125 Boren Ave
So, you see… There aren’t many places open really late in Seattle. Except for 13 Coins. They’re open 24 hours, so no matter what you’re doing (or when), you can count on being able to stop by here for some good eats. Up super-early because your body’s still on Eastern time and it’s 7:00 AM where you “are”? You closed down Bush Garden and now you’re hungry? Here ya go. They have big booths, good food, and can be quite accommodating when a dozen people show up together in the middle of the night for, uh “breakfast.”

Clay’s Market (“The bodega at the convention center”)

815 Pike St
Outside the convention center (but in the building), up the street a little bit from the Crepe place and the Subway, kinda hidden underneath is Clay’s Market. This is a handy (although admittedly a little seedy) very handily-located place to buy the kinds of things you would buy at, well, a bodega. Due to its proximity to the convention center, expect prices to be higher than you may otherwise like.

There’s also another, larger place a few blocks further up Pike that has more items and more reasonable prices. If you don’t mind the walk there or need to buy ten little bottles of orange juice, that may be a better stop.

City Target

1401 2nd Ave
Bonus item!
My wife and I are from rural Indiana, and we still live a little bit out in the country, doing our shopping/such in the classic suburban situation, where there’s more parking lot than there is store. Therefore, when we first went walking around downtown Seattle, we were enamored with the “City Target”, a small-in-area-but-three-levels-high Target store right in the middle of the city. Individual bananas for 25 cents, shopping cart escalators, and a smaller selection of everything you’d expect from a Target. Usually full of locals doing their normal shopping, this can also be an excellent place to pick up some food if you’re tired of eating out at restaurants all the time and have a way to cook it, if you don’t mind the walk down towards the waterfront.