One week to SQL Intersection

You still have time to grab the boss and convince him to invest in you. Show what you’ve learned in the last year. Tell him or her how some training you’ve taken, perhaps at a SQL Saturday, helped you at work. Make a good case to attend, and perhaps I’ll get to see you next week at SQL Intersection.

It should be a good show, with Windows 8.1 changes, the release of SQL Server 2014 and Visual Studio 2013 recently, and lots of amazing speakers. I still can’t believe that I’ve been accepted to go sometimes because there are some great presentations to see.

I’ve got three, Continuous Integration, High Performance Encryption, and Filestream, but I don’t know how many people I’ll actually present to when Paul Randal, Kimberly Tripp, Jonathan Kehayias, Brent Ozar, Bob Ward, Kevin Kline, Aaron Bertrand, Grant Fritchey, Andy Kelly, and more are going to be speaking at the same time. That’s without talking about all the great sessions to see in the other tracks.

It’s spring time, the weather will be great, and I’m looking forward to a few days in Orlando. If you get the chance to come, I’d love to shake your hand.

SQL Deep Dives at Intersection in April


SQL Intersection is coming to Orlando in April, along with the rest of the Dev Intersection events the week of the 13-16th. I’ll be there speaking, along with an amazing lineup of other SQL Server experts. The SQLskills crew is headline and organizing the event and I’m looking forward to going.

This is a smaller conference, and it’s located at an amazing facility in Orlando. It will be warm, relaxing, and a great environment to learn a ton about SQL Server.

If you’re looking to jumpstart your SQL Server skills and get excited about the platform, consider joining me in Florida this April.

Two Weeks to SQL Intersection

If you haven’t made it to a conference this year, you’ve still got a great one to think about: SQL Intersection. The second installment of this conference, run by SQLskills (Kimberly Tripp and Paul Randal) takes place in two weeks. Come to Las Vegas and learn a ton about SQL Server on October 27-30.  You can register now and if you choose the SHOW package, you’ll get an XBOX One or a Surface RT.

I spoke at this event in the spring and it was interesting. There were some amazing speakers (Brent Ozar, Kendra Little, Joe Sack, and more), which meant I didn’t have too many questions (or attendees) at my sessions. That’s OK. If I had the chance, I’d probably rather go see those speakers talk about performance rather than some of my niche topics.

This fall I’ve redone some sessions and built new ones. Perhaps I’ll do better as I have some developer focused topics and there will be developers and hybrid technology folks at the rest of the Dev Interestion event. With ASP.NET, Visual Studio, Azure, and Sharepoint events taking place as well, perhaps I’ll get a few people to wander over as I walk about Version Control for databases along with Automated Building and Testing of your database changes. My employer, Red Gate Software, has tools and does a lot of work in this area, and while you don’t need our tools, you do want to be sure you implement these concepts in your environment.

I’ll also be talking about branding, but tell your boss not to worry. I’m not trying to get you a new employer, but help you stand out in your current one, get a raise, or find a better job that fits what you want to do.

It will be chilly in most of the country by late October, but it should still be beautiful in Las Vegas. If you stick around for the weekend, Halloween in the city is something to see. Come to the conference and extend it into a vacation that you’ll never forget.

Register today for the last big SQL Server conference I’ll be at in 2013 and I hope to see you there.

Opportunities Abound

There are so many opportunities for many of you to learn more about SQL Server.  It’s amazing to think how many more choices we have today than I did early in my career. When I moved to Denver, we had a user group that met somewhat sporadically, an MSDN lunch hour every month, the PASS Summit, and training classes from various vendors like New Horizons.

That’s changed today and when I look at my schedule, it’s incredible to think how many of them I’m going to be a part of this fall. I’ve got a busy travel schedule the rest of the year, and I’ll only touch a small portion of the events that you could use to increase your SQL Server knowledge.

There are quite a few conferences this year. DevConnections in a few weeks, the PASS Summit mid month, and SQL Intersection at the end of October. I’ll be speaking at the former and latter, skipping the middle one this year. There are two SQL Rallys, Nordic and Amsterdam in Europe. There are also lots of pre– and post-cons and other workshops sessions around the events. There are even amazing training classes from vendors like SQLskills and Brent Ozar Unlimited that will teach you a tremendous amount about SQL Server. I’m hoping to attend one of these sessions in the next year.

If your boss won’t pay for a conference or class, there are plenty of free events as well. SQL Saturdays are everywhere, almost every weekend. I’ll be at San DiegoDenverCharlestonPortland, and Washington DC this year, but there are plenty more. Many of them offer pre-cons, at low costs. You might consider covering the cost yourself and asking your boss to pay for the time off.

My employer, Red Gate Software, is putting on some of their own events. We are doing seminars before some of the SQL Saturdays and I have SQL in the City events in PasadenaAtlanta, and Charlotte this year.  These are free events, just register and come.

If you aren’t close to any events, there are more and more online resources. SQLServerCentral should be your first stop, but there are videoswebinarsvirtual chapter meetings, and great subscriptions from vendors. If you want to self-study, there are great books you can buy as well as online challenges to help you learn.

There are all levels of costs, online, local, worldwide, etc. resources that you can use to learn more about SQL Server. I’d highly encourage you to make a plan and improve your SQL Server skills over the next year. I guarentee there’s something for every budget and situation.

Steve Jones

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Decisions, Decisions. Fall Events

I was looking over my travel calendar this fall, and I’m somewhat amazed at the variety of events that are being held for SQL Server professionals. There are a number of SQL Saturdays, and if you can attend those, I’d highly urge you to do so. Most are free, or perhaps cost you a lunch fee, but they are great chances to see SQL Server presentations, network with colleagues, and get inspired with new ways to work with SQL Server. They take a day out of your life (they’re usually on Saturday) and there’s no break from work, but they price is right.

However if you want something a little more exotic, or with a few more frills, you’ve got some great choices out there. I’m listing a few that I’m attending, and I hope to see some of you at one of these events.

SQL in the City

I list this one first because these events are sponsored by Red Gate Software, my employer, and they’re a lot of fun. They are also the right price: free.

Like some of the paid conferences, Red Gate does a great job with amenities and food. The locations are nice, and even though it’s a one day event, it’s a lot to absorb in one day. This fall we have 3 large events, and 2 (possibly 4) smaller, seminar events taking place in the US. We’d love to have you attend SQL in the City if you can. The locations we’ve picked this year are:

  • San Diego – A seminar event, with the DBA Team, on Friday Sept 20, 2013.
  • Denver – A seminar event on development, on Friday, Sept 27, 2013.
  • Pasadena – A large event, on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013.
  • Atlanta – A large event, on Friday, Oct 11, 2013.
  • Charlotte – A large event, on Monday, Oct 14, 2013.

We’ll talk about some real world issues you face, and give you possible solutions. We do show Red Gate tools, but that’s because they’re the quickest way to show you a solution to a problem.

Register today if there’s a SQL in the City event you can come to.


devconnectionsI have spoken at and enjoyed the DevConnections events for a few years. This fall the event returns to the MGM in Las Vegas from Sept 30 – Oct 4, 2013. There’s a great lineup of SQL Server speakers, of which I am one. There’s a lot to do, a lot to learn, and a lot of fun to be had in Las Vegas. With the schedule, this is a perfect event to attend and add in a weekend vacation with family.

One of the great things about this event is that there are 5 conferences taking place together, and with your registration, you can attend any session in any one of them. This is a great event for those of you that don’t just work with SQL Server.

If you’ve never been, consider coming to DevConnections this fall.

SQL Intersection

sql-int-centerSQL Intersection is a new event, managed by SQLskills. I spoke at the event this part spring, and I enjoyed it. Like DevConnections, the event takes place in Las Vegas, located in the MGM Grand from Oct 27-30. The speakers are selected and invited, and there are some very popular and talented speakers in this group. I’m honored to be a part of the event. I think you’ll get a ton of SQL Server knowledge here that you can apply back at work.

There are 5 events taking place at the same time, so if you are interested in learning more about development, cloud computing , Sharepoint, or Azure, this might be a good choice for you. It’s also a fantastic time to take an extra day or two in Las Vegas. Halloween is truly a spectacle in that city.

Take this letter to your boss, then register, and I hope to shake your hand when you come. If you use “Jones” as a registration code, you’ll get $100 off, and I get some credit Winking smile

The PASS Summit

passsummit2013This year the PASS Summit returns to the East Coast, to Charlotte, NC from October 14-18, 2013. The first day of pre-cons overlap with our SQL in the City event. This is the most popular, and largest, SQL Server only event in the world. There is a ton of networking that takes place, and it’s a great time to get to know other people in the community.

There are a ton of sessions, too many in fact. Buy the DVD of the sessions since you’ll miss more than you attend. You can register today, and if you’re there early, look for me on Tuesday. I won’t be speaking at the Summit this year, but there are lots of other great speakers that you’ll enjoy.

The Conference Argument

I’ve got a busy fall. In addition to the events above, I have a few SQL Saturdays to attend and skiing to get in. I won’t be at SQL Live 360, but that’s another event you might consider attending. I’d love to speak there, but I need a break. Perhaps in 2014.

I love attending these events, and I’d recommend them over a specific training class. Here’s why.

If you aren’t self-motivated, you’ll waste a lot of time and not get much out of a conference. It’s easy to go to some sessions, or sit by the pool all day. However I’d argue that most of the people who aren’t looking to drive their career won’t get a lot our of week long class either.

If you are motivated, you can learn the JIT skills from a book, by yourself, or with a relatively inexpensive class like the ones Pluralsight offers. However, at a conference, you’re the person that will network with others, talk about your problems, and get some inspiration or potential solutions from those conversations. You’ll also get new ideas and inspirations from many of the sessions. You’ll recharge better than you do from a class, and most people seem to come back to work more excited about SQL Server than when they left.

If you’re a person that wants to move forward and are motivated enough to do so, consider attending one of these events this fall.

Reminders and Rehearsal

I’ve spoken at quite a few SQL Saturday events. I won’t hit 50 this year, like Kevin Boles, but by my count, I’ve been to 21, with 4 or 5 more coming this year.  I have no idea when I’ll get to 50, but I hope I do.


That’s in addition to other events, which will likely bring my 2013 total to close to 15 events, similar to what I’ve done the last few years. That doesn’t seem like a lot, maybe 1 every six weeks, but I end up doing multiple talks, on multiple subjects sometimes. There was a stretch late last year where I did 12 talks in 7 different areas in about 3 weeks. It was slightly confusing for me.

Yesterday I received an email from SQL Saturday #197 – Omaha, which had the schedule in it. I’d glanced at it before, and had seen I was giving my Encryption Primer talk, but this time as I scrolled down, I saw my name at the end.


Hmmm, that didn’t say “The Encryption Primer”. I’m glad I looked and double checked the schedule because I’m giving two talks. In addition to encryption, I’m talking FTS with Searching Binary Data in SQL Server.

I’ve given the talk before, and I’m not too worried about it, but I do want to refresh my memory of the flow, and practice the demos again. I have given the Encryption talk a few times this year already, but I was planning on double checking demos again before the event. Especially as I changed the talk around and added some material for a variation I’m giving next week at SQL Intersection.

I find it’s always good to rehearse my talks. I’m comfortable in front of people, and I know I can get through the talk, but I want things to flow and to make sense to attendees, The more practice I do, the better things go. The less “ums”, “errs” and other placeholders I use as well.

Plus this will be good practice for SQL Bits, where I’ll deliver this talk again in May.

What Do You Want to Know About I/O?

Hope to see you at the conference.
Hope to see you at the conference.

There’s lots I want to know. What affect does an SSD have if I use it for a log file? One of my filegroups with indexes? What about tempdb? How do you dig in and prove latency to the storage groups from within SQL Server? Will the query optimizer take advantage of information about drive performance? There are lots of questions I have, and I’m hoping to get answers. I’m hoping to attend the “Ask Anything I/O” panel at SQL Intersection in a few weeks. I’m leaving the event Wed night, so unless there’s someone I’m trying to catch in a last minute meeting, I’ll be sitting in the audience.

I am guessing that Brent Ozar, Kevin Farlee, and Mat Young will have lots of answers for me and others. I’m also guessing most of the questions will be met with references that are already out there, and I hope that the presenters will publish a list of questions and answers for attendees. That’s fine, as there are lots of times when I’m looking for information that has been published, but I can’t find in the ocean of Google results. Attending a session given by experts can be a way to shortcut some research and searching to find where the answers are located.

That’s one of the reasons to attend a conference. Getting quick answers from experts, or learning how to better target your research. All the speakers at SQL Intersection are well known, longtime, expert SQL Server users who are friendly. They’re more than willing to answer questions, or help guide you to solve a problem or learn something new.

The other great thing about conferences? You get to hear some great questions from other attendees. We all attack problems differently, and work in very diverse environments. There are many times I’ve heard how another person has implemented SQL Server and it’s intrigued, or even inspired, me to try something similar with my instances.

If you can find the funding, SQL Intersection is a great event to attend, with an impressive list of speakers, each hand picked by Kimberly Tripp and Paul Randal of SQLskills. They provide amazing training in their Immersion events, and are trying to bring even more options to you with SQL Intersection. You can even walk away with something tangible in addition to all the knowledge you’ll gain: a Surface Tablet.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcasts

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It’s a Lineup at SQL Intersection

I got this image in the mail recently, and it made me laugh. It looks like a police lineup, perhaps something from The Usual Suspects.


I don’t think there are any suspicious looking characters in there (though maybe the third and fourth from the left in the second row qualify), but you never know.

This is quite a lineup, and I’m honored to be a part if it. SQL Intersection, put together by Paul Randal and Kimberly Tripp of SQLskills, is taking place in April in Las Vegas. From the 8th to the 11th, there will be some amazing sessions being delivered to teach you about SQL Server.

Register today (use the code “Jones” to support me) and I hope to see you there.


The Gambler

I'll be speaking here. Come shake my hand if you can come and register with the code "Jones"
I’ll be speaking here. Come shake my hand if you can come and register with the code “Jones”

In April of this year, the SQL Intersection conference is coming to Las Vegas. I’m speaking, along with Grant Fritchey and many others. It’s a fun event, in a city with a huge variety of things to do in the evenings after a full day of SQL Server sessions. At night I tend to look for networking chances to met new people and catch up with friends at night, though there have been a few times a comedy show has enticed me away from my hotel. I like Las Vegas, though I’m not a gambler. Despite the fact that most people think of visitors looking for their chance to sit at a table with dice or cards, there are many of us that go for other activities.

I was at in a session recently and heard a speaker recommend that the audience run DBCC checks regularly. That’s good advice, and it’s what I recommend in my sessions as well. A person in the audience raised their hand and politely disagreed, saying that they almost never run DBCC CHECKDB. This person found it to be a waste of resources since they’d never encountered corruption in their career, and hadn’t known anyone in over a decade that had experienced on a SQL Server system. This person asked the speaker how many times the speaker had seen corruption (five was the answer) and then said across thousands of days of backups, it just wasn’t worth the resources to run DBCC CHECDB.

If you feel that way, then you’re a gambler. You are accepting a higher level of risk than I do, and higher than I recommend. Consistency checks are designed to help us catch corruption. Since we never know when it will occur, we want to detect is ASAP so that we avoid, or at least minimize, data loss. If you run those checks and never experience corruption, those checks are insurance payments you’ve made and never needed to file a claim. However if you don’t run those checks, and experience corruption, you’ve placed a bet you’ve lost. Whether or not that cleans you out depends on the data loss your organization experiences and their tolerance for that loss. I’d seriously consider this a career limiting, or employment terminating, event, especially if the best practice recommendation from Microsoft and many experts is to run DBCC checks.

I don’t recommend skipping your DBCC checks, but if that’s how you feel, think about coming to SQL Intersection (register with the code “Jones” to support me). You might enjoy that gaming tables at night, and I know the other speakers and myself would welcome the chance to change your mind about skipping DBCC checks during the day.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcasts

We publish three versions of the podcast each day for you to enjoy.

Come Learn at SQL Intersection, Get a Surface Tablet

This spring I’m speaking at the SQL Intersection conference. It’s a new conference, managed by SQLskills founders Kimberly Tripp and Paul Randal. It’s April 8-11 in Las Vegas, and it’s got a slew of amazing speakers that I’ll be alongside, including Brent Ozar, Grant Fritchey, and more.

If you register today, and attend one of the pre- or post-conference sessions, and there are some great ones in the SQL Server space, you’ll get a Surface RT Tablet. It’s a great tool to use for mobile work, taking notes at events, in meetings, or even walking around your office.

The tablet isn’t a reason to attend the conference, but it’s a nice bonus. And it will help you, since you’ll want to take lots of notes in the sessions. All of the speakers are experienced professionals, working with SQL Server and bringing a ton of experience to their talks. There are talks about new features and old ones, best practices, and practical advice.

If you’re looking to learn this spring, think about coming to SQL Intersection this spring.

Learning by day, Entertainment at night.