Category Archives: SQL Server Events

SQL Relay Nottingham 2017

SQL Relay logo Once again I’ve very happy to announce that the travelling SQL Server conference SQL Relay will be vising Nottingham again on Tuesday 10th October 2017. We’ll once again be offering a whole day of free training around the Microsoft Data Platform covering topics like

  • SQL Server
  • Azure
  • Machine learning
  • Data Science
  • Azure Data Lake
  • PowerBI

and much more. Our last visits to Nottingham have gone down very well with great feedback from attendees.

For more information on sessions, and to register for this free event (we even provide lunch) please head here – Nottingham SQL Relay registration

And if you’re based in Nottingham and interested in SQL Server, then you may want to checkout out the Nottingham SQL Server user group as well, we’d love to welcome you along to future meetings – meetup.com/passeastmidlands/

Nottingham SQL Server User group begins

After many successful years running in Leicester we’re proud to announce that the PASS East Midlands chapter is moving to Nottingham for 2016.

Gavin had been running the group since it’s birth, but has now handed the reigns over to myself and Tobiasz. As we’re both based in Nottingham we have decided to move the SQL User group to Nottingham. With the response we had for Nottingham’s first SQL Relay event we wanted to build on that, and this also makes it more accessible with Nottingham’s connections to the rest of the East Midlands and Lincolnshire area.

We’re going be based at Capital One’s Trent House on Station Street, easy to get to from Derby, Leicester, Loughborough, Lincoln, Sheffield and all parts of Nottingham

We have 4 SQL Server User group dates lined up for next year:

As with all PASS SQL User groups there is no charge for attending, yep, that’s free training! We’ll even provide some food and drinks while you learn!

Myself and Tobiasz are speaking at the first event, and we’re currently lining up some great home and international speakers for the other sessions.

But we’d love to hear from you if there’s any particular topics you’d like covering, I’m happy to go out and find speakers covering areas of special interest to our members. Also let us know at what level you’d like sessions presented, if you want an introduction to a particular topic that’s great, as is wanting a level 500 brain warper from the likes of Bob Ward!

All details for future meetings will be posted via our Meetup page – PASS East Midlands User Group.

Please register with the meetup group to keep up to date. You’ll also need to register for the event to attend. This is because we need to provide Capital One with a list of names to be signed in at security, so if you haven’t registered then you won’t be allowed in I’m afraid.

Look forward to seeing some of you there. Please post any comments here or at PASS East Midlands User Group

SQL Relay bringing free SQL Server Training to Nottingham

sqlrelaylogo70Having spoken at the last couple of SQL Relays, I’m very happy to announce that in 2015 we’re visiting Nottingham for the first time.

On the 7th October SQL Relay will be at the Nottingham Albert Hall conference center.  Speaker submissions are now coming in (and if you fancy speaking, please submit a session), and we hope to release the full lineup early in August. Based on previous years there will a wide range of high quality presenters.

At Nottingham we will be having 4 tracks on the day:

  • SQL Server
  • Business Intelligence
  • Business Analytics
  • Workshops provided by our sponsors

Across these we’ll be covering topics such as SQL Server performance, management and development, Azure/Cloud technology, R, Big Data, Cubes, Reporting , Dashboarding and much more.

If you’re a SQL Server DBA, then this could be a great opportunity to pick up some Business Intelligence crossover training. Or for a Business Intelligence developer, find our how to use Big Data solutions (on Azure, without the hardware costs) to analyse your data even further.

All of this great SQL Server content is available for the princely sum of Nothing. That’s right, its free, and we’ll even provide you with lunch.

We’re open for registrations, so sign up today and look forward to some quality free SQL training in Nottingham

If you’ve any questions, then please ask them.

SQL Saturday Exeter 2014 Redux

sqlsat269_webAnother great event from the SQL SouthWest team this year. Great atmosphere at the pre event Surf Part on the Friday night, catching up with old friends and making some new ones. Those who had a go on the mechanical surfboard seemed to enjoy themselves, unfortunately my knee injury meant I couldn’t have a go.

As I’ve mentioned before I was given the opportunity to try something a little bit different. So I was presenting a double session on “PowerShell for the curious DBA”, which I’d targetted as a short introduction to PowerShell for SQL Server DBAs who’d never really met it before.  I’ve uploaded the deck and scripts here if you’d like a copy.

Feedback on the session and the format from the attendees was good, and I’m looking forward to seeing the ‘official’ feedback from the orgs as well. I though the format of the session was great, allowed a topic to be covered in more depth, but wasn’t such a long session that you were ‘comitted’ to missing lots of other sessions.

Talking of other sessions I went along to the following:

Hugo Kornelis (b | t) – Good session on using Windowing functions to work around some more complex tasks in T-SQL, definitely something you want in your toolbox.

Kevan Riley(t) – Exploring some of the darker parts of SQL Server explain plans. Turns out it’s well worth checking the underlying XML as well as the nice graphical views.

Kevin Chant (t) – Certainly looks like anyone wanting to generate proper management reports will want to be checking out SharePoint and PowerView

Allan Mitchell (t) – Finally a proper explanation of how Hadoop hangs together, much more information than lots of reading around on t’tinternet.

Whittling down to that selection from the available sessions (here) was quite a task as well, lots of quality content was on offer so it could be a hard task picking which session to go to.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the post event Curry as I had a 4 hours drive back to Nottingham, but the photos make it look like a lot of fun, so already planning a 2nd night’s stay if there’s a 2015 event.

Mission Critical SQL Server with Allan Hirt

Like a lot of SQL Server DBAs I’ve been working with the various SQL Server High Availability and Disaster Recovery tools over the years. Employers and Clients have always been happy with the results, but you always want to have some confirmation that you’re working to best practices.

So I was very happy when I saw the Technitrain were offering a 4 day course with Allan Hirt (b|t) of SQLHA on “Mission Critical SQL Server“. Having had Allan’s last books on my shelf for years (Pro SQL Server 2005 High Availability and
Pro SQL Server 2008 Failover Clustering) and already stumped up for his new E-book (Details and information here, and buy it here) I was well aware of his knowledge with SQL Server failover and knew the course would cover a fair amount of information.

The course was run at Skills Matter in North London, which meant a fair amount of reasonable priced accommodation nearby for those coming in from out of town. And for caffeine fiends like me, there’s plenty of GOOD coffee available nearby for an early morning wake up. The training area was roomy and well laid out. We had lunch brought in each day which saved time having to forage, varied choice each day with plenty of options for all diets. Free tea and coffee on tap in the breakout area, with a good selection of biscuits, fruit and Tunnocks Tea Cakes on offer as well.

At the start of Day 1 Allan informed us that today would most likely involve no labs! Thankfully this didn’t mean death by PowerPoint as it would have done with various other training bodies. Slides were kept to a minimum with lots of discussion of HA topics that a lot of in the trenches DBAs don’t really consider such as :

  • Why does the Business want this?
  • Do they appreciate the challenge
  • Do their apps even support this?
  • Just how much difference there is between 3 and 5 9’s of uptime
  • Planning for patching
  • Keep it simple

And the usual DBA foe, Documentation. What’s the point of a HA solution if only one person knows how to maintain it, just as much of a single point of failure as only having one network path to your storage!

We then moved on to the basics of Windows clustering. For some SQL Server DBAs the amount of time that Allan spends at the Windows level may be a suprise, but as he explains Windows Server Failover Cluster (WSFC) is the basic foundation of SQL Server HA technologies (Failover Clustering and Availability Groups). This means you need to understand it, and also make sure that any Server colleagues know how much you’re going to be relying on it, so when you ask for something specific there’s going to be a GOOD reason.

Day 2 rolled around, and with it Labs. I really liked the way labs worked on this course. We each had our own virtual environment hosted by Terillian’s LabOnDemand service which we could access from our own laptops via a web browser. As a MacBook Pro user I was very happy that they offered HTML5, Flash and Silverlight versions of their application, rather than relying on ActiveX. No one on the course had any problems apart from one overly restricted corporate laptop. By having remote access to the apps from our own kit this meant we could continue working on labs after course hours, or go back to revise them. Allan is currently exploring options to allow attendees to be able to take out a subscription to keep the environments after the course ends, which will be great for people without dedicated test infrastructures or who want to really tear things apart without worrying.

The first lab was configuring a new machine as a 2nd node, then building the Windows Cluster, adding a SQL Server instance to both nodes, then exploring patching the instance and adding new storage. 3 sets of instructions were provided for us:

  • Beginner – Every step was laid out telling you how to complete the task, so a good walkthrough for someone who’d never built a Failover Cluster before
  • Intermediate – Less information provided, so require a bit more knowledge than the beginner track, but as both tracks used the same virtual environment if you became stuck you could flick between the 2 to try and solve your issues
  • Advanced – Basic configuration information provided, and the 2 nodes are running Windows Server Core (so no GUI, everything via PowerShell). This was a separate virtual environment to the above 2 tracks

I first went through doing a mixture from Beginner and Intermediate to make sure I was picking up the best practice and any hints on things I might have been missing in my own builds. Then back at the hotel room that evening I went through the Advanced lab as well. This really was one of the strengths of the course, you never felt you had to blitz through the labs ad feel like you’d not gotten the best out of them, and if you weren’t sure then running through them a second time gave you a chance to clarify any points.

The labs were interspersed with more sessions of slides and Allan talking. These would normally coincide with progress through the labs. So once we’d all pretty much got our WSFCs built then we’d begin looking at SQL Server Failover Cluster Instances.

There was a lot of class interaction as we had a wide range of DBAs represented. From those looking to implement their first clusters, the charity sector, consultants with a wide range of clients and those looking to implement complex solutions for large Financial companies.  This meant we often went ‘off track’, but we’d always learn something new or be made to think outside of our own little boxes.

Day 4 we started to look at the new features that came in with SQL Server 2012, Availability Groups. This lead to a few myths being dispelled as attendees weren’t as used to this as previous topics. We covered the differences between  these new technologies and their predecessor Database Mirroring. And also covered complex situations using AGs to replicate data across multi site Failover Cluster Instances.

Wrapping up we all walked away with copies of all the slides from the 4 days, a subscription to Allan’s new book and plenty of knowledge to put to use.  I also walked away with a license for a copy of SQL Sentry’s Power Suite which was a nice bonus.

Chris and Allan seem quite keen on the idea to run this course again next year, and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the various SQL Server High Availability options and the processes needed to back up the purely technical side

Scripts and Demos from Cardiff SQL Server User Group presentation, 1st October 2013

All the files from my presentation on using PowerShell for SQL Server Backups and Restores at Cardiff SQL Server User Group on 1st October 2013.

cardiff-usergroup-powershell-backups-and-restores-01012013

Any problems, just drop me a line

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SQL Saturday Cambridge only 4 weeks away!

SQL Saturday Cambridge, I'm Speaking

4 weeks till SQL Saturday 228 in Cambridge. As you can probably tell from the picture above, there might be a slight nod to one of Cambridge University’s comedy exports being used in the event promotion!

There’s a great lineup of speakers from all over the planet – http://www.sqlsaturday.com/228/schedule.aspx, if you count it up that’s nearly 30 hours of top notch FREE SQL Server (Data Platform, Developer and Business Intelligence), SharePoint and PowerShell training up for grabs.

If you’re Nottingham based then getting down couldn’t be easier . There’s still singles from Nottingham to Cambridge available that mean you can do the round trip for £26. Which for this amount of training is a bargain, so go here and register before it’s completely full

I’ll be presenting on Automating SQL Server Backups and Restores using PowerShell at 11:00 in Room 3. Hopefully see some of you there, feel free to say hello.

Free Introductory training for SQL Server beginners

Just a quick heads up for anyone in Nottingham or elsewhere in the Midlands wanting some high quality introductory SQL Server. The SQL Midlands SQL Server User group has 2 great speakers on the 22nd August. John Martin (twitter) will be presenting a Beginners Guide to SQL Server and Alex Whittles (blog|twitter) will be presenting a Beginners Guide to Business Intelligence.

The User Group is in Birmingham, but it’s a very simple trip down via train, with only a short walk from New Street to get to the venue. So well worth making the effort to get down for.

If you’re interested, register here to make sure there’s plenty of pizza.

Speaking at Cambridge SQL Saturday

SQL Saturday Cambridge logo

I was very happy on Friday morning to open my email and find an invitation from SQL Saturday Cambridge organiser Mark Broadbent (blog|twitter) offering me a speaker slot at the event. Accepting the offer didn’t really require much thinking about, not the sort of offer you turn down.

So I know where I’ll be on the 28th September 2013; Queens College, Cambridge. I’ll be talking about using PowerShell to Automate your SQL Server backups and Restores, offering you some ideas about to offload some of the more monotonous bits of a DBAs job and how to ensure you can sleep soundly knowing your backups are good, and you’ll be able to prove it.

Looking at the ‘leaked’ news on the Friday’s PreCons on the event’s Facebook page, I may well head down for one of those as well. Looking like another SQL Saturday event to me

Upcoming SQL Server User Group sessions I’m speaking at

Just a quick note about some upcoming sessions I’m presenting at SQL Server User groups over the next couple of months:

18th July – SQL SouthWest (Exeter) – Using PowerShell to Automate SQL Server Backups and Restores 

7th AugustSQL Southampton – Using PowerShell to Automate SQL Server Backups and Restores

17th OctoberCardiff SQL User group – Using PowerShell to Automate SQL Server Backups and Restores

The session will be about how I’m using PowerShell to manage awkward backup scheduling (instances with hundreds of databases), performing automated restores to test those backups, and then to verify the restored database. With all of this being logged somewhere to keep the auditors happy.

Hopefully see some of you there.

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