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Dear Diary - Day 3 at SQL PASS Summit 2009

SQL Server

The last day at PASS is always with mixed feelings but as they say "Don't cry because it's over, just smile because it happened". Easier said than done as President Wayne Snyder got all choked up when he acknowledged Kevin Kline's awesome 10 years contribution to the leadership of PASS. Standing ovation in Seattle. Dr David DeWitt was back again this year for the KeyNote speech with a deep dive into row stores and column stores. Column store technology is the mechanism that enables "Vertipaq" in the PowerPivot feature of SQL Server 2008 R2 with Office 2010 and Sharepoint 2010. The 100 million row Excel 2010 demo with sub-second sorting and filtering is very impressive and David gave us the insight into how the technology has evolved and some clues into the future of SQL Server. Tremendous stuff. I attended the SQLCAT presentation on Consolidation and Virtualization with Lindsey Allen. This session focused mainly on Hyper-V virtualization of SQL Server but did emphasize other methods of consolidation. Windows 2008 Server R2 Hyper-V now supports the "Live Migration" feature and Lyndsey showed us a more detailed demo than we saw at the KeyNote on Tuesday. To see the Perfmon graph as one node takes over from another all while a SQL Script is running unhindered (ok, one blip of a second or so) is very cool. The Case Study used was that of Microsoft IT itself which had to consolidate 5,000 SQL Instances containing 100,000 databases. This time last year they had consolidated just 4 instances. Well, one year later, apparently all the servers have been consolidated with a 6:1 consolidation ratio using Hyper-V virtualization and an estimated savings of $12 million. Lunch was organised with local PASS chapters on separate tables so you could connect with your own local users. It was good to meet some folks from Raleigh, NC and talk about our relatively new chapter at http://www.TriPASS.org . BTW, good food all week too. After lunch, I ventured over to Brent Ozar's session on "Yes, I am actually using the Cloud". I knew very little about Cloud computing going into the presentation but Brent shared his immense experience in this area with honest and candid recommendations. "If I lose my MVP award after the conference, you'll know why..." as he discussed the recent shortcomings of SQL Azure. Brent compared the Cloud to where virtualization was 7 or 8 years ago and showed us how to use Amazon EC2, S3 and JungleDisk to host a SQL Server solution for just a few dollars per month. I was intrigued to find out that you could turn this into a revenue stream (well, at least cover your costs) if you provide links and visitors actually buy stuff from Amazon via your web site. Brent uses the cloud to host all the videos on the great web site http://sqlserverpedia.com for less than $50 per month so there's an application with real value. See http://www.brentozar.com/go/cloud for all the details. The last couple presentations flew by..."Madison Overview" with Jesse Fountain outlined the new SQL Server 2008 Parallel Data Warehouse and its support for 30TB databases and beyond. Each Microsoft product team seems to be trying to go for the Guiness book of records longest product names category. "Tweet if you prefer the name SQL * " said David DeWitt this morning... Finally, Gail Shaw gave us "Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics" which got us deep into index and column statistics, how they affect query plans and how to keep them updated. Or rather, how SQL Server sometimes does NOT always keep them updated, what to do about it and why. I am not sure if it is because of all the great information I have learnt or just the Microsoft party last night, but at the end of an awesome week I can certainly say with confidence "my brain hurts"...thanks to all that made this possible... cheers Brian

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