Category Archives: PASS

My fifth (and simultaneously my first) PASS Summit

The PASS Summit is something special. It is the largest gathering of SQL Server aficionados on the planet. With attendance reported at over 4000 people each year, that is one biiig pile of SQL Server geeks!

As the PASS Summit is held in the USA, it is quite special to be able to attend for me (and many other non-US based people). I was lucky in having employers that were happy to send me on an all expenses trip to Seattle for the past few years (I skipped the Charlotte-based Summit to make sure my buddy and former co-worker @Fatherjack got to go). Attending has allowed me to learn plenty about SQL Server, but to also make some life-altering connections with people that I would probably never have otherwise met.

The first life-altering connections cajoled me into speaking at SQLSaturdays: my good friends André Kamman, Mladen Prajdić and Marco Blasio. They convinced me over many beers and steaks that speaking was the next step on my journey. This culminated in my submitting my very first session to SQLSaturday Exeter 2013 entitled “Replication: What, How and Why“. While nerve-wracking, it was one of the best career moves I have ever made. Since then I have spoken at numerous SQLSaturdays and other events around Europe and met a ton of people. My speaking career hit a couple of high notes recently, I was a contestant in last year’s Speaker Idol at PASS Summit 2015 (losing in the finals to David Maxwell) and also delivering both a standard session as well as a pre-con at SQLBits XV.

However, back to the title of this post. This was both my fifth and also my first PASS Summit. It was my first, because it was the first time I have delivered a full-length session at PASS Summit. I had submitted session in previous years, but failed to be chosen for varying reasons.

This year was different! I received confirmation that one of my three submitted sessions had been chosen…… Replication: What, How and Why! To say I was surprised is an understatement. After multiple years of not being chosen, I had received a positive response. On top of that, the session that started my speaking career had been chosen. This was quite unexpected, although in previous years when PASS had surveyed attendees on what subjects they would like to see more of, Replication was regularly in the top ten.

So I dusted off the session and made some much needed updates to the flow of the session and attempted to make the content clearer. I was surprised to find that I was able to rattle off the outline of the session pretty much from memory when practicing at home. The tweaks I made allowed me to run a full 75 minutes instead of a “normal” 60 like at most events.

I was assigned an afternoon session slot on the Thursday of PASS Summit. This means I would be in the middle of the conference, straight after lunch. Going by past experience at other events, this means that pretty much all attendees are still around (unlike Friday afternoon sessions, where many take an afternoon flight home), but as it is after lunch, some people struggle to stay awake! With that in mind, I tried to keep the audience engaged with questions and interaction. This is a great way of making sure that wandering minds are re-engaged and gives me something to focus my nervous energy on.

When I stepped into the session room I was more nervous than usual – the sessions are recorded and the room looked like it had seating for about 300 people! This is larger than most events and I assumed the room would be mostly empty. Replication is a niche subject/feature and I have had between 20 and 50 attendees in this session at other events. You can imagine my surprise when I saw about 60 people already in the room. I immediately took some photo evidence Smile

OMG_1OMG_2

Please bear in mind that this was 20 minutes before my session should start, so I made sure that my title slide was visible to the entire room.

replication

This didn’t scare anyone off, on the contrary, the room continued to fill. I was officially shocked/concerned and took more photos to prove to myself after the session, that I wasn’t dreaming. I went out of the main entrance to check that the signage for the room was right (it was) and the room attendant told me she had counted 220 people into the room with 5 minutes before kick-of!

ZOMG1ZOMG2

I proceeded to deliver the session to a packed room, only a few seats remained empty with a number of people standing at the back of the room too. The session went great, with some fantastic questions from the audience – directing my explanations deeper where possible and ensuring people took the information they needed. I ended my session on time and fielded questions from about 20-30 people at the edge of the stage and then in the hallway afterwards. There are a lot of people using replication in ways that neither I nor (I’m sure) Microsoft had ever dreamed of. It was also great to hear that the SQLClinic, run by Microsoft, had a chalk-talk about replication and there were mentions of replication potentially receiving some more attention by the dev team in Redmond (about time if you ask me!).

The next few hours after my session were a blur of adrenaline. Even a week later, it is hard to believe that my first session at PASS could go so well (as far as I could assess). Now I need to wait for the session feedback and see what I can do to improve. According to some of my attendees, a deeper dive or extended session on replication is something for me to think about submitting next year.

All in all I can say that my fifth PASS Summit was great fun – I saw some new things, met some new people and enjoyed Seattle (again).

As for my first PASS Summit: fantastic. I never expected this “old” session to be such fun to present, or to be so well attended. I look forward to next year to see if I will be able to present a new session.

PS: If you attended my session, please fill in the feedback (or write a comment here). That is what helps me to improve my sessions and my presenting in general.

Thanks for reading and see you around.

Growing a community is not easy……

…… But it is a lot of fun!

Last Friday I put on a small community event in my home town (#SQLGrillen). It was no SQLSaturday, with just four sessions and only 2 months preparation time, but it was a lot of fun!

Why would you do this? Why for free?!

I’ve heard those two questions a lot recently in the run up to the event itself, but also over the last year since founding the Emsland SQL Server User Group.

It seems to confuse people greatly that I would want to spend my private/personal time on “work”. I have wondered if this is a regional bias (I live in a quite rural part of Germany), or maybe a cultural one (many people I have met in Germany strictly separate work from private life). If the cultural reasoning holds true, then it would explain some of the difficulties of getting attendees for the user group. Either way, I don’t consider it to be “work”. Of course there is an overlap, it is a SQL Server user group and I work with SQL Server. However, I find the social aspect of a user group/event to be almost as important as the technical side. I probably enjoy exchanging ideas/war stories with fellow data professionals more than the technical content – somehow, even though I’m an awkward geek, the human interaction is the source of greater fulfillment.

Why would I do this for free? Why do people run marathons? Why do they join various other clubs in their spare time? Do they get paid to do this volunteer work? I think this goes back to the work/private life separation thing and people not understanding how I can mix the two.

Why would I not do this?

I have made some great friends and had some fantastic experiences as part of the community and hope to “infect” other people with the community virus. I also gained a lot in my career through the things I have learned (that I would never have been able to see in my normal work day) and have gained so many connections that I now don’t need to really look for new opportunities. If I wanted to swap jobs, I just need to explore the ones that get sent my way on a daily basis.

I am not that good that people want to hire me all the time, but being out there in the community makes me visible to companies/recruiters like nothing else.

We want you!

I realise that I am preaching to the choir when writing here (if you are reading a blog on SQL Server, you are already investing time that 99% of others don’t), but I’d still like to suggest that you get yourself involved in the community somehow. There are a wide range of tasks that User Groups, Events or Associations have that need doing and are too much for their current members/helpers to achieve. Even if you don’t want to speak, there is plenty of opportunity to get involved in another way.

So please, for the altruistic side of you, or for the “get ahead in my career” side of you; get in touch with your local User Group or Association and see if you can help out in some way. You will not regret it, I assure you.

P.S. Thanks to Rob Sewell ( b | t ) for the reminder: A few places for you to start would be finding your local PASS Chapter, or if there isn’t one where you are, there are also the Virtual Chapters.

1 Year Emsland SQL User Group

Moin Moin!

Unser User Group feiert 1 Jahr mit einem Sondertreffen:

Am 04.09.2015 ab 15:00 Uhr finden insgesamt 4 Sessions statt. Es sind 4 Auswärtssprecher am Start die zu unterschiedlichen Themen vortragen werden.

Die Sessions werden gerade festgelegt, aber der Termin steht schon fest. Schaut euch die Details an und meldet euch mit dem unten stehenden Button an!

Eventbrite - Emsland SQL Server User Group: SQLGrillen

Wir freuen uns auf euch!!

P.S. Gebt das bitte weiter, wir wollen so viele Leute da haben wie möglich, danke!

 

Full day of training in Dublin!

UPDATE! Unfortunately SQL Saturday Dublin has been cancelled. This event will be re-scheduled at a later date.

 

Hot on the heels of the news of my training day at SQLSaturday Exeter, I am announcing another training day. This time I will be presenting a day of SQL Replication and Cloud Data Management on the Friday before SQLSaturday Dublin in June 2015.

I presented a session on Replication Troubleshooting at SQLSaturday Dublin last year and ran out of time with the one hour session and could have gone into more depth. After seeing the interest of Replication in the Irish SQL Server community, I submitted a proposal to the organisers of the Dublin event and the rest is history!

This will be a day taking a deeper look into the inner workings of SQL Server Replication, followed by an introduction into how you can move data between your on-premises database servers and the Microsoft Azure platform.

You can take a look at the details of the training day and register for a seat here: Deep Dive into SQL Replication and Cloud Connected Data Movement

I really enjoyed SQLSaturday Dublin last year and I am looking forward to another visit in June.

See you there!

SQLSaturday Exeter – Third time a charm!

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SQLSaturday Exeter

SQLSaturday Exeter 2015 – I’m there!

I have the great pleasure of announcing that I will be presenting at SQLSaturday Exeter 2015 in April 2015.

SQLSaturday Exeter is an extra special event for me. Not only is it a fantastically well run event, it is also the first conference that I ever presented at, way back in 2013. I had never spoken to a larger audience before and was a little nervous of speaking. However, once my session was over, I had found a new area for me to improve on and now love presenting on SQL Server. Since then, I have spoken at a variety of conferences and user groups around Europe and (hopefully) improved my presentation skills.

This time around, I have been asked to present a new topic: “Stories from the Trenches: Upgrading SQL with Minimal Downtime“, where I plan on showing how to use the high availability features of SQL Server to help perform upgrades whilst keeping downtime to a minimum.

But wait, there’s more!

As is the tradition of the organisers of SQLSaturday Exeter, they like to mix things up a bit and also try new speakers out (hence my chance back in 2013). This has lead them to also choose me to present a pre-conference training day session!

Check out the full list of speakers/sessions in this video created by the SQLSaturday Exeter team:

 

Being chosen for a pre-conference training day is another first for me and I am excited/scared/humbled/ecstatic to have been chosen to do this – many thanks to the SQLSaturday Exeter organisers, you brave fools!! 🙂

I will be presenting “SQL Server: An Introduction” and as the title suggests, this will be an introductory day, covering a set of basic information on SQL server. It is designed for accidental/occasional DBAs that have been using SQL Server for <12 months.

You can find a full description/abstract for my training day here: SQL Server: An Introduction

The training days are full day training sessions on one topic, priced at £150 per attendee (early bird rate).

The full list of available sessions is here: SQLSaturday Exeter Training Day – if you don’t fancy my session, there are 7 other sessions to choose from. I dare you to not find a session that could be useful to you! 🙂

See you in April!

I’m off to prepare my sessions and look forward to seeing you in Exeter in April.

Speaking at SQLKonferenz, Darmstadt

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Jump to English Version

Ich spreche auf das größte SQL Server Konferenz im deutschsprachigem Raum, SQL Konferenz in Darmstadt in Februar!

Obwohl ich seit 13 Jahren in Deutschland lebe ist das nur das zweite Mal, dass ich als Sprecher in Deutschland auftrete. Ich kann zwar Deutsch (fast) fließend sprechen, bin dennoch mehr aufgeregt als wenn ich auf Englisch vortragen muss.

Meine Session heißt “Real World SQL 2012 -> SQL 2014: Migration einer AlwaysOn FCI/AAG Umgebung” und soll anhand eines Kundenprojektes, die tatsächlichen Überlegungen, Schritte und Stolpersteine aufführen, die zu einer Systemmigration gehören.

SQL Konferenz ist ein Konferenz über zwei Tage mit einem “Pre-Conference” Tag davor, wo einzelnen Themen etwas tiefer erläutert werden können. Schaut einfach in die Agenda rein um alle Sessions zu sehen. Es sind wirklich erfahrene und sehr gute Deutsche wie auch internationale Sprecher angemeldet.

Zudem, gibt es ein “Early Bird” Rabatt. Damit kann man €150 sparen wenn man sich bis Heiligabend anmgeldet, also schenkt euch ein frühes Weihnachtsgeschenk und registriert euch heute!

Wir sehen uns dann in Darmstadt in Februar 🙂


English Version

I have been chosen to speak at the largest SQL Server conference in the German speaking world, SQL Konferenz!

Although I have been in Germany for 13 years now, this is only the second time that I have had the opportunity to speak at a conference here. It is also the first time that I have been listed to speak in German (eek)!! I am fluent in German, using it on a daily basis, but this is still making me more nervous than speaking in English.

I will be presenting a new session this time, based on a real customer implementation of a system migration/upgrade from SQL 2012 to SQL 2014, including the addition of AlwaysOn Availability Groups. I thought it would be nice to offer a look at how a real-world project of this kind has actually been done, rather than sticking to the theory.

SQL Konferenz is a two-day conference with an additional pre-conference day with deep-dive, day-long sessions on a few different subjects. Check out the agenda to see what sessions are on offer – there are 40 sessions on the two conference days, with plenty of extremely good national and international speakers.

Also, there is an “Early Bird” offer available which can save you €150 on the standard registration price. This offer is only available until Christmas Eve, so go and treat yourself to an early Christmas present and register now!

So if you are planning your training for next year and would like to visit Germany, combine the two and come and visit SQL Konferenz.

Wir sehen uns dort 🙂

Speaking at SQLSaturday 356 Slovenia

SQLSat Slovenia

I have been selected to speak at one of my favourite SQLSaturdays – in Ljubljana. I will be presenting my session “Replication: What, How, Why” which I have presented before at a few other events.

As I understand it, the event is actually full up. This means two things:

  1. You are registered and will be attending: Yay for you, please make sure you do attend. If you can’t attend, please make sure to de-register so that other people may have the chance to attend instead.
  2. You are not registered and would like to come: Put your name on the waiting list and hope that you can attend.

I’m really looking forward to coming to Ljubljana again, it is one of my favourite cities and is especially beautiful in the winter.

If you can make it to SQLSaturday Slovenia, come and say “Hi”. I’ll only be on a flying visit, landing in Slovenia on Saturday and leaving again on Sunday, but I intend to enjoy myself for the brief time I’m there.

See you in 9 days!