SQL Saturday South Island is going to be awesome!

It’s 8 days until SQL Saturday South Island in Christchurch, and apart from this guy who still has to write his presentation – the event is going to be awesome.  SQL Saturday South Island always punches above it’s weight for a SQL Saturday in a small city, and this year is no exception with 4 streams chock full of quality speakers.  We’ve got a good mix including a bunch of MCM\MVP’s, subject matter experts and seasoned international speakers.  But with quality like that comes a dilemma or two…

Case in point…which session do you go to first?  In the Microsoft Room Craig Ryan is taking a must see session on “Tuning SQL Server Standard Edition”.  You wouldn’t want to miss this if you are in an  Enterprise that is cost conscious – that is….pretty much all of them.  With the release of SQL 2016 SP1 Standard Edition is no longer the poor cousin, and even in SQL 2014 with the doubling of RAM limits to 128GB it was capable of handling some pretty impressive workloads.  Not everyone needs Enterprise Edition features, and if you can get the performance levels you need out of an edition that is a third the price then why wouldn’t you?  Craig is one of the smartest SQL guys I know and this session is going to be full of take home advise that will help people tune up their environments and get immediate gains from their Saturday spent learning SQL.  You simply have to go to this session.

Unless…..unless you look in the SQL Services room next door, where you’ll see Reza Rad talking about Security in Power BI.  I’m excited about this session, because Security is usually the last thing that BI folk like to talk talk about.  If I had a dollar for every time I found a linked server some BI guy had set up on a test server that gave sysadmin access to everyone on the production box I’d be a rich man.  Or at least able to afford a couple of decent rounds of drinks.  Sure, some people will tell you that BI is just about pretty colors and pictures(I’m looking at you Victor), but those pretty colors and pictures are increasingly leading business decisions that effect everyone!  BI is so often a race to a deliverable that it’s going to be really interesting to hear Reza’s take on how to factor in security.  Then you take into account that this session is being presented by Reza Rad who is a speaker who’s presented on pretty much every SQL stage in the world and is in demand wherever you go and you’ve got a difficult choice of session starting to form.  You’ll definitely not want to miss Reza’s session…..

…unless you look behind door number 3.  We originally had Nabeel Derhem lined up for a session on “A Practical Introduction to Machine Learning”.  Nabeel is a former Microsoft MVP who now works for Microsoft and was going to take us through the skillsets needed to get going with interesting Machine Learning.  Unfortunately, due to some travel issues which are probably Trumps fault Nabeel wasn’t able to make it, but we’ve been lucky enough to have Nick Burns pick up exactly the same topic.  I work with Nick and can say without any doubt that this session is going to be brilliant.  Why?  Machine learning is just an awesome topic anyway, and I love Nick’s take on it’s practical applications…and also his healthy skepticism about it’s use.  It’s easy to get caught up in the glossy sales pitches around what Machine Learning can offer, but like everything it’s also important to step back and consider the implications of what happens if it’s implemented poorly.  Nick’s going to talk about how easy it is to get started with Machine learning, and what things you need to understand to apply it in a practical, useful manner.  He’s got a brain the size of a planet, and a grin that would put any Jahovas Witness to shame.  You simply cannot afford not to go to this session.

Unfortunately I’ll miss all 3 of those sessions because I’ll be sitting by myself in the Jade Software room wondering if nobody actually cares about “The things you absolutely must be doing in your SQL environment!”  I’ve been asked a few times why I usually submit beginner level sessions fr SQL Saturdays.  My answer is pretty simple.  Most of the people who attend a SQL Saturday are beginners.  It does pain me to hear SQL getting blamed for poor performance when 10 seconds of investigation pulls out half a dozen queries written by people who clearly don’t know how a Relational Database works.  It pains me when I do a healthcheck and discover a database running a critical application that has had a corrupt table for 3 years.  It pains me even more when it takes 3 months before I get approval to fix that.  It actually physically hurts when I see backup software that is sold and used around the world that not only takes a transaction log backup to the NUL device at midnight every night but also sells this as a good thing!  In short, with all the information that is out there, it makes me a little sad to see people managing SQL Servers so badly, and worse still not realizing that it is actually their oversights which are causing their applications to run badly, not any fault of the SQL product itself.

So I don’t expect a whole bunch of people to turn up to my session next Saturday.  I know it would be choice number 4 of the 4 that are available for me.  But a smaller group might just work for this session.  Bring your questions and we can have a discussion rather than just listen to me drone on up the front about stuff you should be doing in your SQL environments.  And when I’m finished I’ve got 4 more tough choices between 16 more great sessions.  It’s going to be a good weekend.



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