This month, Chris Yates hosts and his theme is Something New Learned. It’s a great topic, especially given the aims of T-SQL Tuesday to spread knowledge out in the world and share it with others.
This is good timing for me as I took a one day class last week. At the PASS Summit, I spent Tuesday in Allan Hirt’s A to Z of Availability Groups, which tries to help you understand AlwaysOn and the Availability Group portion of the technology. It was a great experience, and Allan did a fantastic job of walking through an overview, and then details. BTW, I can see how this would be amazing, and while I haven’t been, I’m sure that Allan’s Mission Critical SQL Server classes are valuable ways to learn this stuff in a hands on environment in a way that should help you be productive quickly on your own systems.
The most interesting part for me is that this wasn’t an all day class where I listen to lectures, follow along in a workbook, and then move on. There were actual labs, and not labs that meant I downloaded scripts onto my machine and worked on them. Actually 3 node labs, dedicated to me, with instructions on how things were configured.
What did I learn? Quite a bit, but for me the big mysteries that I’ve struggled with on AlwaysOn setups have been some of the permissions. Going through the labs, and getting the permissions necessary in the AD domain. The few places I had issues in the lab exercises were almost all related to a permissions issue I missed or had set incorrectly.
I also went through the advanced versions of the labs, specifically to practice using Powershell for some config items. This was the chance to practice some skills and try to learn a bit more about how I can use PoSh for real world tasks. While the GUI might work well, I know that if I wanted to ensure I could build and create a lab in short order, or on demand, I’d really need PoSh scripting to ensure it was done correctly, and repeatedly. The lab reinforced that.
I also learned a bit about a better way to teach. I’ve been in a few classes and lots of sessions across the last few years, but this dedicated lab environment really made things much easier for me. The hands on work was valuable in actually working through the concepts. In fact, I’ll be going through it again today as I have access to the labs for 10 days, and the workbook, so I can set up another Availability Group today and see the things I’ve done wrong in my own lab setup.