On Tuesday, I attended Kimberly Tripp's "The Next Generation DBA: Critical New SQL Server Features NEED to Learn!" pre-conference seminar. It was awesome! She is a fantastic speaker. She covered database snapshots and database mirroring amongst many other DBA topics. I see my company using database snapshots so that developers can quickly query production data without querying the production database and also without having to copy the database to a development server. Even though log shipping still exists in SQL Server 2005, I think we'll be switching over to database mirroring to sync our disaster recovery site. Database mirroring won't be supported at RTM though.
On Wednesday, I attended three sessions: Kimberly Tripp's "Indexing Best Practices in SQL Server - Creation, Performance, Maintenance", Charles Felber's "Performance Trend Analysis Using SQL Trace", and Keith Elmore's "Fine Tuning Performance with Plan Guides".
The only negative to Kimberly's session was that it was only 75 minutes long. She said it normally takes two days to cover this material. She showed us how you can compare a Performance Monitor counter log with a SQL Profiler trace file on one screen in SQL Profiler. The counter log doesn't even have to be from the same server as the trace file; you just need to make sure that the times are synced on both servers. You can now see the execution plan graphically in SQL Profiler if you select the show plan in XML event. One thing that I found interesting was her tip to use UNION instead of OR in SQL Server 2000. In 2005, you won't see the performance improvement, but in 2000, you could see a drastic improvement. I'll have to try this one out when I get back home.
Charles' session showed us how to use SQL Trace, which is the alternative to SQL Profiler. SQL Trace is run via T-SQL commands, whereas SQL Profiler is a GUI tool. He demonstrated SQL Trace via his custom scripts. I'll be downloading them as soon as I get back. They are very well written. They are even formatted the way that I write T-SQL code.
Keith's session showed us the new plan guides feature. This is intended for scenarios where you have no control over the input SQL, such as third party applications. It is available in both Standard and Enterprise Editions. I don't currently support any third party applications, so I won't be able to use this feature, but it sounded useful.