Monday, January 24, 2011

Mater Immersion Event Competition (Entry)

As an amazingly wonderful contribution to the SQL community, Paul Randal (blog | twitter) has offered the opportunity for a member of the SQL community to win a free seat at the 5-day Internals and Performance class in Dallas, February 21-25. To qualify, one has to state in a blog post why you want to come to a class taught by them and why you'd make the best use of the knowledge you'll get from being in the class. I've decided to throw down the gauntlet and accept that challenge.

What would deep SQL Server training provide me?

Although I've been working with SQL server for about 14 yMon's Megears, for the most part it's still a black box. I'm often required to quickly respond to performance and corruption problems related to critical SQL Server systems belonging to my company's customers. I often feel as if I’m staring down the barrel of Mon’s Meg (see picture at right) as I strive to think up what to try next to solve the issues. Normally I wind up following the "well, last time we did -this- and the issue went away..." 

For many types of issues involving SQL Server, using past experience to solve them without fully understanding exactly how SQL server functions can produce acceptable results - that is, the issue is cleared, but I cannot explain the failure, nor can I can't elaborate on why what I did worked or why the database failed the way it did.

Archaeological dig at Shetland Island, July 2000I often feel as if I’m an archeologist on the Shetland Island unearthing another broch. I know how to handle the items to reduce or prevent damage to them, but may not necessarily have a full understanding of what they are or how they’re really supposed to be used.

Understanding how SQL server stores and retrieves data is crucial to efficiently finding solutions to complex issues within extremely aggressive SLA timeframes. This is even more important when users are wanting to take advantage of the new features of SQL 2008, because structures such as data compression, sparse columns and Filestream can drastically impact a server's ability to perform as the users wish it to.
Sheep on Isle of Skye

Many times when I’ve needed quick assistance with solving database issues or explaining to yet another customer why one should not shrink databases daily as “maintenance,” I’ve referenced Paul’s blog to provide the explanations for me. I’m hoping that by attending this training, I will learn what I need to know so that I don’t feel so sheepish when defending the necessary fixes for SQL issues.

Sheep and fainting goats

I would make use of the knowledge learned in Paul & Kimberly’s class almost every day at my job. It could also help me advance from just another regular SQL person to a senior level or even expert level SQL person.

Finally, I have a friend living about an hour outside Dallas, TX who has a mixed herd of Barbado sheep and fainting goats – proving that sheep and goats can live together happily (Paul knows I have 5 goats).

*ALL photos taken by me on our trip to Scotland in July 2000 (well, except the last one, which was taken in 2009 at my friend’s place in Texas).

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