Live Blogging: Keynote at PASS, Day 1

I’m honored to be invited to live-blog during the Summit keynotes. Most of my updates will be via Twitter, but I’ll periodically consolidate and update into blog posts throughout the keynote. Please check back frequently during the Summit for updates.

8:00 AM PST
Michelle gets situated at the blog table, running late and doesn’t even have time for coffee. Ack!

8:05 AM PST
Computer finishes booting up, Twitter loaded. Interesting statistics: 31% of folks expressed interest in Business Intelligence, up significantly from previous years. More than 400 Microsoft product developers and managers, and 98 SQL Server MVP’s, are in attendance.

8:06 AM PST
Wayne Snyder talks about Virtual Chapters. Did you know there are 5 sub-chapters in the Business Intelligence virtual chapter?

8:07 AM PST
Wayne reviews 24HoursOfPASS. Interesting statistics: 50,123 registrations, and 3,524 folks in 70+ countries.

8:09 AM PST
Wayne announces the return of SQL Server Standard. The first article was posted this past week. Content is free but only available online. Seasoned SQL Server authors can earn $500 per article. Interested parties should contact Grant Fritchey (@GFritchey).

8:18 AM PST
Closing words by Wayne: “Remember, no one should be a stranger at Summit.” Make sure to say “hi” to at least one person you have never met before. The more people feel welcome, the more successful the event!

8:24 AM PST
I receive my first-ever press announcement and immediately start leaking sharing the news. First up: SQL Server 2008 R2 CTP scheduled for November release! Also, looks like Madison is being rebranded as “SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse.” I think I prefer the simplicity of “Madison. ๐Ÿ™‚

8:26 AM PST
Microsoft announces a new TPC-E record of 2,012 tpsE. This is a platform-independent world record for *any* OLTP system. Oracle, eat your heart out.

8:30 AM PST
More details on the TPC-E benchmark world record: Unisys ES7000 model 7600R Enterprise Server on 96-core Xeon platform (first server with >64 cores). The same Unisys server also reached 102,778 QphH (queries per hour), a data warehousing performance improvement of 70%.

8:39 AM PST
Bob tells us that the IO strain on virtualized machines is there but negated by Hyper-V. We’re given a demo of live migration: it appears that migration is seamless and that transactions are unaffected by the process. Very cool.

8:42 AM PST
Bob talks about the future of SQL Server as more companies move toward the cloud.

8:50 AM PST
Bob concludes his speech by discussing the future of the data professional, and how the DBA role will not become obsolete but merely transformed.

8:52 AM PST
Ted Kummert, Senior VP of SQL Server, takes the stage.

8:56 AM PST
Ted’s Top 5 Reasons to be at PASS Summit:

#1 You are part of the world’s largest gathering of SQL Server professionals
#2 You can take your questions directly to the “source”
#3 We’ve got Wayne and Rushabh
#4 You can work hard and PLAY hard
#5 You will build skills & knowledge on the #1 database in the world

9:16 AM PST
Dan Jones, Principle Group Program Manager for SQL Server Manageability, takes the stage.

9:20 AM PST
Dan gives us a demo of SQL Server 2008 R2, including Utility Control Points.

9:30 AM PST
I need to leave to check in for my 10:30 am presentation. Bummed I’m going to miss the last of the keynote. ๐Ÿ™


Allen Kinsel on Twitter (@sqlinsaneo) recently started a new Twitter tag, #PASSAwesomeness, about all of the cool things about PASS Summit. I really like the tag, so I’m going to blatantly steal borrow it for this post. ๐Ÿ™‚

First, and long overdue, I want to give a brief recap of the East Iowa SQL Saturday. On October 17th, our local PASS chapter, 380PASS, sponsored our first ever SQL Saturday at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. By all accounts, the event was a great success! We had 90 attendees, 11 speakers, and 21 sessions. We received numerous compliments on the quality of the speakers, the niceness of the facilities, and the abundance of food. Not too shabby for our first time hosting the event, if I do say so myself. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’d like to thank all of our wonderful speakers, especially those who traveled from out of town and out of state, for making this event such a success. I’d also like to thank our amazing volunteers for helping put this all together. Lastly, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank our generous sponsors, without whom this event would not be possible. Because this event went so smoothly and was so well received in the community, we’ve already started planning our next big SQL event! In the meantime, don’t forget to check out our monthly 380PASS meetings to tide you over.

I’d also like to take a moment to discuss the PASS Summit. Unless you’re a DBA who’s been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the PASS Summit. If you *have* been living under a rock — and hey, I’m not poking fun, I used to live under a rock, too! — then what you need to know is that the Summit is the largest SQL Server conference in the world. It’s a gathering of Microsoft developers and SQL Server gurus; the rest of us show up to try to absorb as much from them as possible. Since I’ve recently moved to the Business Intelligence team, I’m extremely excited to delve into the amazing amount of BI content offered.

I’m also deeply honored to be presenting at the Summit this year on some of the performance tuning techniques I’ve used with great success in my production environments. The session is titled, Super Bowl, Super Load – A Look At Performance Tuning for VLDB’s. If you’re interested in performance tuning or VLDB (very large database) topics, consider stopping by to catch my session. From what I can tell, I’ll be presenting on Tuesday from 10:15am – 11:30am in room(s?) 602-604.

If you read my blog, or if we’ve ever interacted in any way on the internet — Twitter, LinkedIn, e-mails, blog comments, etc. — please stop by and say “hi”! Aside from all of the awesome SQL Server content, I’m really looking forward to meeting as many new folks as possible.

And on that note…

Getting to meet all of the amazing SQL Server professionals out there who have inspired and encouraged me in so many ways #PASSAwesomeness

Why I’m Blogging Less

I’ve received a few questions asking why I’ve been blogging less frequently, and even one inquiry after my health. Rest assured, I’m completely fine. But there are 2 perfectly good reasons why I’ve been blogging less these days.

East Iowa SQL Saturday:

I’m the event organizer for East Iowa SQL Saturday, which is eating up a lot of my free time. If you haven’t yet heard about our SQL Saturday event, let me give you a brief overview. It’s a FREE, one-day training event geared toward SQL Server professionals and anyone who wants to learn more about SQL Server. We have 22 sessions planned covering a variety of topics, from Business Intelligence to Disaster Recovery to SQL Server 2008 topics. And if you’re a .NET developer, we also have some .NET-related presentations, including PowerShell and MVC.

We’re very fortunate to have snagged an excellent set of speakers. Jessica Moss, Louis Davidson, Timothy Ford, Jason Strate, and Alex Kuznetsov are just a few of the great speakers we have lined up.

There’s only a handful of spots left, so if you’re interested in attending, you should register soon. To find out more details about the speakers and sessions, or to register, be sure to check out our website at

The Other Reason:


Yes, that’s right, I’m with child. Expecting. Eating for two. Bun in the oven. In the family way. You get the idea.

So when I’m not at work, planning SQL Saturday, or playing Civilization Revolution, I’m sleeping. For those who remotely care, I’m due around Super Bowl time in February 2010.

2010: The Year I Make Contact

2010: The Year I Make Contact

Rest assured, this blog isn’t going away. And hopefully once I get through SQL Saturday and then PASS Summit, I’ll have more free time again. ๐Ÿ™‚

East Iowa SQL Saturday – Call For Speakers, Open Registration

A few announcements regarding the East Iowa SQL Saturday:

  • The date has changed to October 17th due to scheduling conflicts. Please update your calendars.
  • We’re still looking for speakers! We currently have 10 submissions, but we’d like to have double that. If you’re even thinking about submitting a session, please do! Who knows, Iowa City may be closer than you think.
  • Registration is open! If you’re planning to attend the East Iowa SQL Saturday, please make sure to register by clicking on the “Register” link and completing the short questionnaire. Seating is limited, so make sure to register soon.
  • Also, if you’re in the area and would be interested in volunteering, please send me an e-mail at michelle at sqlfool dot com.

Bored this summer?

Bored this summer? Do you like to help others? Do you have too much free time? Do you find yourself thinking, “Man, I really should spend more time indoors.” If you answered “yes” to all any of these questions, then have I got a proposition for you!

What could be more fun than getting second-degree burns at the waterpark, you ask? Volunteering on the PASS Performance SIG! That’s right, we’re looking for a few good women and men to join our ranks as content contributors. Specifically, we’re looking for people to write articles and/or host LiveMeeting events on performance-related topics. Not a performance expert? This can be a great way for you to learn more.

In case I scared you off in my opening paragraph, let me assure you that it really does not take that much time to be a volunteer. Just 3-4 hours a month can be a huge help. We’re also looking for contributors of all experience levels, so if you’re only comfortable writing intro-level articles, that’s definitely okay.

Oh, and while I’m begging for volunteers, we’re still looking for speakers for the SQL Saturday in East Iowa. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’re interested in either, then please send me an e-mail at michelle at sqlfool dot com for more information.

PASS Summit 2009

My abstract for PASS Summit 2009 was accepted! Woot! You may not be able to see it from where you’re sitting, but I’m doing the happy dance. ๐Ÿ™‚

In case you missed my original post on my abstract submission, here’s what I’ll be presenting on:

Super Bowl, Super Load – A Look at Performance Tuning for VLDBโ€™s

Few DBAโ€™s have the opportunity to experience a real-life load test in their production environment. Michelle Ufford works for, a company that has experienced phenomenal success with its Super Bowl ads. These ads are designed to drive traffic to the companyโ€™s websites, which puts the database servers under high load. In her presentation, Michelle will explore the performance tuning techniques that have resulted in an 80% reduction in server response times and allowed her VLDBโ€™s to reach rates of 27k transactions per second. Topics will include vertical and horizontal partitioning, bulk operations, table design, and indexing.

Do you read my blog? Do I read yours? Do we exchange weird messages on Twitter? Do you have free cookies? If you’re going to to the PASS Summit and answered “yes” to any of these questions, then I want to meet you! Make sure to say “hi” to me in Seattle. ๐Ÿ™‚

East Iowa SQL Saturday – Call for Speakers!

The Call for Speakers is now open for the East Iowa SQL Saturday! This is our first time hosting a SQL Saturday, and there’s a lot of excitement and interest from our local SQL Server folks. There’s some interest from local speakers, but we’ll probably also need to pull in speakers from outside of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City to support the number of tracks and attendees we plan to have.

The event will be held on October 10th, 2009 at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Special thanks to Russ Allen for his help with securing a location for us!

For those who are not in the immediate area but would be willing to travel, here’s some general travel times from major cities in the area:

  • Chicago – 3.5 hours
  • Omaha – 3.5 hours
  • Milwaukee – 4 hours
  • Kansas City – 4.5 hours
  • Minneapolis – 5 hours
  • St. Louis – 5 hours
  • Indianapolis – 6 hours
  • Columbus, OH – 9 hours (hint, hint, Jeremiah!)

So if you’re in the general area, please, PLEASE consider speaking at our SQL Saturday. Pretty please with sugar on top. ๐Ÿ™‚

You can find out a little more information and submit sessions at our SQL Saturday website.

User Groups Are Like Guilds…

(channeling “Forest Gump”)… you never know what you’re gonna get. Ack! Sorry, I just can’t help myself sometimes. Moving on…

I was recently discussing guilds with my gamer husband and he commented how much running a user group sounds like running a guild. For those of you who aren’t already aware, before I traded my gaming addiction for a SQL one, he and I ran a guild together with around 140 members.

The Guild
Not sure what a guild is? Check out the The Guild, a popular, very humorous, and only slightly exaggerated web series.

The more I’ve thought about what my husband said, the more I realized how right he is. Allow me to share my (questionable) thoughts on the subject:

Guild Masters

Some guild masters are great leaders and others are just very dedicated; the same is true with user group leaders. If you spend all day trolling forums and working on maxing your DPS, you’re probably a good gamer but it doesn’t necessarily make you a good guild master. Similarly, being a SQL samurai does not necessarily prepare you to lead a user group. A handful of people are just naturally good leaders; most everyone else has to acquire the skill, often through painful experience. Before starting a guild or user group, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you in the market for an unpaid part-time job?
  • Do you like to alphabetize your DVD collection?
  • Do you enjoy helping n00bs (junior admins)?
  • Have you ever led an anti-social, semi-violent mob before?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, don’t worry, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should not start your own guild or user group. But you may want to consider first joining an existing group to ensure you’ll enjoy the experience. Either way, you’ll quickly find out how important it is to have…


You can’t do it alone. Well, you can try, but don’t expect the 40-man heroic raid you scheduled to start on-time or run smoothly. Every guild and group leader needs supportive and dedicated officers. If it’s your first time leading a group, try to recruit someone who has leadership experience but perhaps doesn’t have the time or energy to be El Jefe; this person can be an invaluable resource for you. And if you have run a group before, you still want officers to help distribute the workload. Officers can help with a variety of tasks, from managing supplies to organizing major events. Lastly, they’re also a great point of contact for your…


Guildies (members) are the fine men and women who have entrusted you to lead them into battle (provide stimulating meetings). Without them, you would have no guild (user group). They have joined for any number of reasons: some are new to the game and want to learn (junior DBAs), some are interested in meeting new people with similar interests, and others are just there for the free food.

Over time, you’ll find membership waxes and wanes; people switch servers (move to a new city), trade in gaming for a more boring hobby (switch from DBA to sysadmin), or just run out of time in the day. There’s little you can do to change this, so you’ll inevitably have to do some new-member recruitment. However, if you’ve got a good group, you’ll find much of your advertisement is by the word-of-mouth of current members. Still want to recruit new members? Try throwing some big…


Whether it’s an end-of-game dungeon or a SQL Saturday, everyone loves a good event. There’s a couple of things you should be aware of, though. First, always, ALWAYS plan for people to not show. Don’t take it personally; life just happens. I’ve heard that 70% of registrants is a good estimate of how many people will actually show up.

Secondly, while everyone loves to attend events, not many people want to actually help organize one. If you’re lucky enough to get volunteers, treat them very well! You’ll quickly find out a good volunteer is worth his or her weight in…


Just as dungeon bosses drop loot (prizes) both good and bad, so do sponsors. Very few guildies are motivated solely by loot, and loot is not absolutely necessary for a successful event. Still, everyone likes to win, and there’s really nothing like the joy of rolling a perfect 100 to score that epic dagger (erm… I guess the best translation for this one is having your ticket drawn to win a copy of Quest’s Capacity Manager).


One of the most popular event types is a PvP (player vs. player) raid. This is where your guildies attack members of opposing factions, just for fun and bragging rights. To help make user groups even more guild-like, I’m currently organizing raids against the local Oracle and mySQL user groups. We hope to use the element of surprise to really lay into ’em. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

All jokes aside, guilds and user groups may not be _exactly_ the same, but there are certainly a surprising amount of similarities. If nothing else, both definitely involve a lot of time, effort, and dedication, and I think many of the leadership and organizational skills learned in a guild are truly transferable to the “real world.”

Hopefully by now you’re either feeling motivated to start a user group, or you’re off to the store to stock up on Cheetos and Mt. Dew, the sustenance of choice for most gamers, so you can survive the weekend locked in the basement playing PC games. Whatever the case… have fun!

Webcast Tomorrow!

I’m excited to be doing a webcast tomorrow with the infamous illustrious Brent Ozar for Quest’s Pain-of-the-Week. The title is “Getting Started with SQL Server Management Studio,” and as you’ve probably gathered, it’s pretty entry-level stuff. If you read my blog, then chances are you don’t need to watch this webcast. But if you know anyone who’s trying to learn SQL Server or is trying to make the upgrade from 2000 to 2005/2008, this may be a good webcast for them.

I’ve also got a few other speaking engagements coming up:

June 2nd: Cedar Valley .NET User Group
I’ll be reprising my Iowa Code Camp presentation on “SQL Server for the .NET Developer” for CVINETA. This presentation focuses on what you need to know about good table design, indexing strategies, and fragmentation… you know, what you wish every .NET developer knew about SQL Server. ๐Ÿ™‚

June 11th: PoTW: Time-Saving SQL Server Management Studio Tips & Tricks
I’ll also be doing this webcast with @BrentO as a follow-up to our webcast tomorrow. It will focus on how to save time and improve your sanity by using some neat little tricks in SSMS 2008.

Performance Considerations of Data Types

I’ve just finished my first real content for the PASS Performance SIG. I decided to write on “Performance Considerations of Data Types,” as I think this is one of the easiest and most overlooked topics in performance tuning. Here’s a summary:

Selecting inappropriate data types, especially on large tables with millions or billions of rows, can have significant performance implications. In this article, Iโ€™ll explain why and offer suggestions on how to select the most appropriate data type for your needs. The primary focus will be on common data types in SQL Server 2005 and 2008, but Iโ€™ll also discuss some aspects of clustered indexes and column properties. Most importantly, Iโ€™ll show some examples of common data-type misuse.

If you’re interested in this content, you can find it here: Performance Considerations of Data Types.

Special thanks to Paul Randal and Paul Nielsen for providing me with technical reviews and great feedback. You guys are awesome!

Thanks also to Mladen Prajdic and Jeremiah Peschka for their great input. You guys are awesome, too!