PASS 2008: D-Day (a.k.a. Main Conference Day 1)

Things got off to a great start with PASS President Wayne Snyder coming on stage to the tune Born to Be Wild with appropriate video clip and real motorcycle (and don't forget the shades!).  Lots of awesome things coming soon to a database server near you.  Joe Webb has a great summary of this morning's Keynote.

Given my current work situation, I play a lot of different roles, so I fully expected to be bouncing around between the four different tracks that we have here (DBA, Application Development, BI, and Professional Development).  But today turned out to be a mostly DBA-track kind of day.  It started off with a session by Greg Low of SQL Down Under talking about Avoiding Recompilations. Without even running Profiler, I can tell you right now that some of the systems I have inherited have this problem.  Given the abundance of temporary tables that are used in stored procedures, and the tendency for past developers to use multiple temporary tables at various points through lengthy procedures practically guarantees that we have recompile issues.

By the way, did you know that when comparing two ad-hoc SQL statements to determine whether a cached plan can be reused, that something as simple as an extra space can make the system generate a new plan rather than reuse a cached plan?

After Greg's session we broke for lunch and the Exhibit Hall opened.  It was great to see all the vendors and to meet in-person some of the sales folks I have been talking to on the phone over the last couple of years.  Microsoft is doing some mini sessions that they call Chalk Talks, and I watched part of one on the subject of writing Custom Reports to be used in SQL Management Studio.  I'll have to go lookup some of the fine points that I missed by standing so far away, but this was definitely good info.

After lunch I went to Brad McGehee's DBA 101 talk.  It was a little bit of déjà vu as several of the points he was making I had just gone through and cleaned up on several servers.  Due to recent staffing changes, we have had some areas of risk that needed to be addressed.  There were also several tips and suggestions that I will incorporate to make sure we have the basics covered.

Next was Joe Webb's talk on Identifying Performance Bottlenecks.  You know how some people are really skilled in an area but cannot explain it to anyone else, and then there are others who are both skilled and able to teach others?  Joe definitely falls into the latter category.  Having been both a student and a teacher for a few different subjects, it's something that I am attuned to, and Joe did a really good job.  Performance tuning is an area I need to get into deeper.  Unfortunately, it's one of those topics that could probably fill a whole day (or two, or three...) so Joe could only go so far with it in his 75 minutes.  But it was enough to get me started on better monitoring and spark some ideas that I can work with right away.  So, did you know that you can put together a combined view containing SQL Server Profiler information synchronized to PerfMon results?  Great demo, Joe!

To finish the day I was headed to Upgrading to SQL 2008, but it was a packed room (SRO) and my knee was bugging me so I opted out of that.  I did spend about 20 minutes in a session on building Super Reports (also SRO), where one report can meet the needs of a variety of folks with a little creative coding of Expressions to hide portions of the report and to dynamically change the sorting and grouping.  That is something I am getting ready to dive into, also, so it was nice to see some examples of just what I was thinking of doing.  And the Linked Report option in RS 2008 so you can have one actual report file published to a variety of locations with different parameter sets, subscriptions, and so on is really cool.  It is likely that our first production installation of SQL Server 2008 will be a new corporate Reporting Server.

As you can see it was a busy day, and a very valuable one, too.  Looking forward to two more days just like it!  If you're not here, start making plans to be here next year.  Or to go to the European Summit next Spring.  It's worth it!

posted @ Wednesday, November 19, 2008 9:49 PM

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