Being in Philadelphia this past weekend was fantastic! I got to meet a lot of old friends, spend time with family, and make new friends in the SQL world. This SQL Saturday was especially important for me since I lived in the Philly area for almost 10 years. I got to reconnect with my colleagues from Johnson Matthey out in the Wayne PA area and pass by my old desk where it all started. It is especially hard to get started this morning since I really do miss the great experience I had around this SQL Saturday.
So what did I learn? As always, A LOT!! From a technical perspective I learned a ton about Clustering and Availability Groups since I attended Allan Hirt’s precon the day before SQL Saturday. It was an awesome “mini” immersion class about Failover Cluster Instances and Availability Groups (both branded Always-On by Microsoft). I wish we had more time during class because there are so many great things to discuss in these topics. The class was especially useful with the web based labs which had fully working Virtual Machines. The instructions were easy to follow and allowed for three levels of challenges (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced). I thought this concept was great because I could redo the lab later using a different method which means I could improve my skills further outside the class room.
During the actual SQL Saturday event I only got to attend four sessions, due to the fact that I was presenting twice that day. My colleague Tim McAliley gave a great talk about SQL Backups in the cloud using Microsoft Azure. It was an awesome session, and I wish the attendees of my presentation (Fundamentals of Backup and Recovery) had attended it because it starts right where I left off. It was a great introduction to an important topic and I never realized how beneficial these new offsite backup options could be, and they are very cost effective. Karen Lopez gave an interesting session on Database Design. It was set up in a way that everyone participated in voting on a design concept and then the topic was open for debate after. It was a great way to hear from other people with differing opinions on database design and I learned to take a step back and look at other approaches that might be more viable for certain solutions.
Joey D’Antoni gave a an excellent talk about In-Memory ColumnStore Indexes and data warehousing. The topic was definitely one that squeezed my brain cells and something I need to review a lot more. There was a lot of information during that session and a lot of great demos to help solidify the knowledge. I’m going to have to go back and review Joey’s recorded session with the PASS DBA Virtual Chapter to get a better grasp on it. Finally, another one of my good friends Warner Chaves gave the last session of the afternoon. At this point, most attendees are in “eyes open only” mode where their brains are not functioning full capacity due to many hours of great training sessions. Warner was very successful in doing two things. The first is that he kept the session very easy to follow, few slides, and lots of demos which kept people interested. The second thing is that he took a very intimidating topic (Extended Events) and made what seemed to be a lion really look like a kitty. I will admit, I have tried to learn Extended Events on my own a lot and found it to be somewhat difficult but Warner made it seem so simple and it is something I feel a lot more comfortable with.
In all honesty, all of the presenters did a great job and one of the things that make it so great is their ability to take complex material and make it easily digestible by the audience. They were all patient and respectful with answering questions and really made the sessions interesting and fun to attend. Again, people are using their day off to attend this type of training so it is essential to make it fun!
Finally, one of the sessions that I spoke at was a panel discussion titled “Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender Neutrality, and Valuing Team Diversity.” It was great! Unfortunately, the session did not appear on the printed schedule since it was added last minute but it was definitely one of the best sessions I attended and I am truly honored to have been selected to share my thoughts and experiences. I can’t talk about everything that was said since we spent about an hour there. However, there are a few highlights that I would like to share. The first is about respect. That wonderful R word and there was plenty of it in that session. I was the youngest and least experienced person in the room in terms of both life and work experience but no one treated me like my views were worthless. I felt very comfortable and secure with the panelists who were very respectful to one another and the audience. I was a bit emotional at times because it is a difficult topic to talk about but I think I’ve come out of that discussion more comfortable with who I am and what I bring to the table. A huge thank you to the organizers for putting a great session like that together, another huge thank you to the other panelists and the moderator. It was a lot of fun and I wish this would be come more of a standard session at SQL Saturdays because we really need to talk about that Elephant in the room; more like Elephants!
Thank to PASS for another great SQL Saturday. To the volunteers and speakers, without your amazing contributions we could never have such great events. I’m looking forward to the next SQL Saturday but until then, keep the passion and keep learning new things and sharing them!