Spring 2013 is shaping up to be a busy season for talking about SQL Server. So far I have an exciting line up of five sessions, scheduled for March and April of 2013
- On 3/8/2013 at noon MST, I will be talking about Service Broker, with the PASS Application Development Virtual Chapter. I am really looking forward to this one, only only because it will be first talk with a PASS Virtual Chapter, but also because the topic “Service Broker” is one of my favorites. This was the topic of my very first presentation at the SQL Saturday in Kansas City, back in 2010.
- On 3/9/2013 , I will be talking about Database Unit Testing with Visual Studio, at the Greater Midwest SQL Relay. Oakwood Systems organizes this annual conference in Spring and its a huge hit in St.Louis. If you are in the area, please do make time to attend this free full day event of top notch SQL Server Training.
- On 3/11/2013, I will be talking about Parameter Sniffing at the Capital Area SQL Server User group (PASS Local Chapter) in Albany, NY . I especially like this talk because I had learned about parameter sniffing while trying to tune a Query that was suffering from intermittent performance issues. Right around that time, I happened to come across Grant Fritchey’s chapter on the same topic in the MVP Deep Dives Vol.2 book . The content there in was so awesome, I decided to make a presentation out of it, and it has been a popular topic at several SQL Saturdays in the Mid-West region.
- On 3/26/2013, I will be talking about Database Unit Testing with VSTS, at the St.Louis Metro East .NET User group in O Fallon, IL . The first time I talked about this topic was at the St.Louis Days of .NET in Aug 2012 and I have noticed a renewed interest in this topic since the release of VSTS 2012.
- On 4/13/2013, I will be talking about Database Unit Testing with VSTS, at SQL Saturday #211 in Chicago, IL . SQL Saturday #31 (Chicago) in April of 2010 was the very first SQL Saturday I attended and it got me involved with the SQL Server Community. Its a huge honor for me to be selected to speak at the 2013 Chicago SQL Saturday and I am looking forward to this trip !
SQL Saturday #154 | St.Louis on Sept 15th 2012, was the first SQL Saturday event in St.Louis, I am happy to say that we started off the SQL Saturday series in St.Louis ( yes, there will be one next year as well !) on a great note. We had over 130 attendees, 11 onsite sponsors and 25 technical sessions spread across 5 classrooms.
Center for Application of Information Technology (CAIT) at WashU, generously offered the venue (6 awesome classrooms plus the common areas and facilities) to host this event. The support of sponsors played a huge role in making this event successful. We got local as well as national sponsors, plus plenty of SWAG sponsors as well. Within a month of opening our call for speakers, we had over 55 sessions submitted for this event. They were a great mix of new and experienced speakers, both local and out of town, on topics ranging across Database Administration, Application Development, Business Intelligence and Professional Development. The real challenge was selecting only 25 sessions and the selection committee put a lot of thought into coming up with the session schedule for the event.
Our team took some time to review the event, which will help us make the next St.Louis SQL Saturday even better event. Feedback from attendees, sponsors, speakers and volunteers was crucial for the team to pin-point areas of improvement.
- The duration of the overall event should be constrained from 9 AM to 4 PM, by either cutting down the session duration from 75 to 60 minutes or possibly having 4 sessions per classroom. We are trying to secure more classrooms at the venue to make this feasible, so that the total number of session offerings during the event remains the same.
- We heard great feeback about the location and quality of the recommended event hotel, and we plan to continue the same for next year
- We will definitely invest in bigger and more number of signs on the sidewalks around the venue, to make it easier for attendees to find their way to the parking area, registration desk and locate the facilities in the venue.
- We are also looking at offering a better packaged box lunch and making some healthy meal options available for next year, not only for lunch, but also for breakfast, snacks and beverages.
- The SPEEDPASS worked out very well and we were able to move attendees efficiently through the registration process. We will probably do an online ONLY version of the event schedule for next year, to mitigate any confusion arising out of last minute schedule changes.
- We plan to leverage Twitter and Linkedin for communicating a majority of updates to event attendees , and use emails ONLY for crucial milestones during the days leading up to the event
Our team is always happy to hear feedback from the attendees and we have plenty of new ideas for the next year’s event. We do have some resource constraints, considering the fact that the event is free to attend, and all of the organizers are volunteers. The event sponsorship, availability of speakers, venue, and costs can change from one year to another and our team will strive to continue providing a valuable learning experience at the event. Organizing a SQL Saturday event, represents team work at its best. On that note, I would like to thank everyone involved; the core team, all the volunteers, PASS & community mentors, sponsors, speakers and friends & family for a successful first SQL Saturday in St. Louis.
SQL Saturday #154, the first SQL Saturday in St.Louis is almost here (Sept 15) and I wanted to share some details of this exciting upcoming event.
This event will be held Sep 15th, 2012 at the CAIT Campus of Washington University in St.Louis. The Street address of the venue is – 5 Jackson Avenue, Center for Application of Information technology (CAIT) at Washington University in St.Louis, Clayton, MO 63105. Please follow this link for directions to the venue. The venue is only a short walk from the recommended hotel (Crowne Plaza Clayton). There is free parking for the event attendees in the attached parking Garage (Lot #60) on saturday, you do not need any parking pass or permit. The Garage can be accessed via Lee avenue. From this Garage, take the elevators to Level 1 and follow the signs for SQL Saturday #154 Registration desk. The registration desk will be open for attendees from 7.30 AM and the first 100 attendees to come in with a SPEEDPASS will get a free event t-shirt ! There will be coffee and donuts for breakfast (first come first served!). The first session for the day starts at 8.30 AM.
CAIT has generously offered the use of their facilities to host the event and we would like to remind all of our attendees be respectful of their premises. We do want to make sure they will continue supporting us next year. We have 200 registered attendees (unfortunately, there are still 60+ on the waitlist!), 25 awesome sessions , and 16 sponsors (11 onsite) ! This is going to be a big event in a tight space and it would help for all the attendees to familiarize themselves with the classroom locations in the building.
We will be bringing in lunch boxes from Amighetti’s , a St.Louis favorite on the Hill (The Hill has all the awesome Italian restaurants in town). Your lunch tickets (for those who paid for lunch before midnight of Tuesday 9/11/2012) will be available on your SPEEDPASS. You can take your food and beverages (cans and plastic bottles ONLY) into the classrooms to eat. The Gold sponsors will be presenting 30 minute sessions during lunch in each classroom. Please do stop by their booths and to say hi (such events are not possible without their generous support) and drop your raffle tickets (also on your SPEEDPASS) to enter yourself in drawings for awesome prizes.
There will be plenty of volunteers to help out at the event (look for people wearing blue shirts and wearing lanyards that say “STAFF”). After the last session of the day, we will all assemble in and around room #024 for the closing ceremonies – namely a thank you note and raffle prize drawings ! While we are trying our best to make sure we have taken care of everything, this is our first time organizing an event of this size and we would really appreciate all the help and support we can get to ensure a great event.
The after party will be a small informal gathering of the event attendees at Schlafly Bottleworks, in Maplewood, MO 63143. The SQL Saturday #154 team is only suggesting this venue. Attendees are responsible for their own food and beverages at the after party. SQL Saturday #154 organizers will not be responsible for anything at the after party.
On Friday night (sept 14) around 9.30 PM, we are planning to having a pre-event party in the form of SQL Karaoke. Mike Talayna’s Juke Box Restaurant (1115 Hampton Avenue St. Louis, MO 63139 (314) 647-7600) starts their karaoke at 9.30 PM. All speakers and attendees are welcome to attend (look for kathi Kellenbeger at the event to find the SQL people). The SQL Saturday #154 team is only suggesting this venue. Attendees are responsible for their own food and beverages at this party. SQL Saturday #154 organizers will not be responsible for anything at the party.
We strive to ensure all of you will have a great time at SQL Saturday #154. Please do make the best of the awesome free opportunity to learn and network.
SQL Saturday #122 | Louisville, KY on July 21, 2012 was the 5th SQL Saturday I have attended so far, and my 3rd as a speaker. The St.Louis contingent – Kathi Kellenberger, Kim Tessereau, Mike Lynn, Jay Carter, Cindy Baker and me ! – was especially excited to attend this event, not only because it’s organized by our friend Malathi Mahadevan, but also for a chance to escape the St.Louis heat !
We had almost forgotten about the time zone change when we drove into Louisville at 6 PM Central sharp, only to realize we were an hour late for the speakers’ dinner! The Bristol Bar & Grille was the perfect location for a great speakers’ dinner, and gave us all a chance to relax, network and enjoy some good food (My personal favorite was the Espresso Crème Brûlée).
University of Louisville is a short 10 minute drive from the Marriot Hotel, and thanks to the email notifications with directions, as well as plenty of signs, we had no trouble finding the venue. Thanks to SPEEDPASS, there were no lines at the registration desk and I found they had my favourite Asiago Cheese Bagels for breakfast! My first session for the day was Andy Thiru‘s ”SQL Azure Intro and What’s New” session and it surely exceeded my expectations. I have never had the opportunity to work with SQL Azure so far, and this session gave me the knowledge and tools to get me started on my own. The next session on my list was “What Sequence objects are (and are not)” by Louis Davidson. I used to be an Oracle DBA until a few years ago, and took sequences for granted, until I discovered SQL Server doesn’t have them (until 2012). With their introduction in SQL Server 2012, I took this opportunity to get myself reacquainted with Sequences.
I had some delicious Veggie Wraps and a Cookie for lunch – again, no lines and no waiting! Post lunch, I took a break in the Speakers’ Lounge to review my upcoming session on Parameter Sniffing, where I discovered a cooler full of Ice Cream! I had to stop myself after two servings and got back to reviewing my slides & checking my demos. A majority of the attendees for my session were quite involved with the topic, giving rise to several discussions and Q&A, thus making my session all the more valuable for everyone in the room. I was really pleased with the generous evaluations and great feedback for my session.
The last session of the day for me was “Bulletproof: Hardening your SQL Server from Attack” by Sarah Barela. As a developer, I take care of hardening my code against SQL Injection, but usually let administrators worry about securing the servers and databases. This session revealed the amount of work administrators (Database, Server as well as Network) put in to secure our servers ! After the last session, it was time for the closing ceremonies and Raffle. The SQL Saturday #122 Team hosted a great event with a full day of valuable SQL learning. I am really thankful to the SQL Saturday #122 Team for giving me the opportunity to present my session, and the support of all the sponsors to making such events possible.
I am looking forward to see my friends from Louisville again, at SQL Saturday #154 in St.Louis on Sept 15th , the very first SQL Saturday in St.Louis !
SQL Saturday #118 | Madison, WI on Apr 21st 2012, definitely ranks amongst the most rocking SQL Saturdays I have attended ! Jes Borland [blog|twitter] and team produced a top-tier event for both speakers and attendees alike. This being their first SQL Saturday, I feel very fortunate to have been chosen as a speaker and present my session on Service Broker. Taking a 6 hour road trip on Friday evening, I rolled into Madison with the St.Louis contingent (Kim Tessereau [blog|twitter], Mike Lynn [twitter] & Jay Carter). It was too late to join the speakers’ dinner, but we did have an awesome dinner at a Hibachi grill !
On the morning of Apr 21st, we found our way into the Madison Area Technical College and were pleasantly welcomed at the registration desk – with no lines ! The SpeedPASS worked out really well for the event, and they also had a printer at the registration desk to help attendees print one. There were plenty of volunteers helping attendees find their way around the venue, and the breakfast was great. All of this made a great first impression – very well done !
Bill Fellows [blog|twitter] kicked off the event with an awesome session on TSQL sweets in SQL Server 2012, followed by an equally good session on SSIS 2012 new features by Norman Kelm [blog|twitter]. Next up, was my interview with Karla Landrum [blog|twitter], at the PASS booth, for the upcoming SQL Saturday event in St.Louis. It worked out for the best, to have a face to face discussion with Karla, because we ended up talking for over an hour and I learned so much more about the makings of a successful event. We have moved one step closer to hosting the very first SQL Saturday in St.Louis, in the Fall of 2012!
I hosted the Service Broker “Cows of a Spot” lunch table and it turned out to be an exciting opportunity to network with fellow Service Broker enthusiasts. The delicious baked beans, burgers, as well as the the efficient crowd management skills of the volunteers deserve a special mention. The next session on my list was about Filegroups. Jes made an impressive presentation (LEGOs were involved !) about how Filegroups help with Performance and Management of your database. Thanks to her presentation, I have learned the skill of Piecemeal Restore of selected Filegroups .
I took a short break from SQL Learning in the Speakers’ Lounge to brush up on my presentation . I then picked up my shiny new speaker’s shirt and settled down to review my presentation material. After dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s I headed up to my session (last session for the day). I was pleasantly surprised to see a few familiar faces in the audience. This was only the second time I presented my Service Broker session at a SQL Saturday, and I really appreciate all the support and positive feedback I got from the audience ! One of the very useful pieces of information I learned from the Q&A with the audience was the idea of using Extended events to troubleshoot service broker applications, since Microsoft announced deprecation of SQL Server profiler in a later version.
The closing ceremonies followed and I am really happy for all the winners of the raffle prizes from the event’s generous sponsors. After a big round of applause for the speakers, volunteers/organizer and the sponsors, the St.Louis contingent hit the road for the long ride back home.
Having worked with Oracle databases during some portion of the last decade, I was introduced to the Sequence Object. Since then, I had been especially missing this feature in SQL Server. But my wait is over with its introduction in the release of SQL Server 2012!
A sequence is a user defined, schema bound object that will generate a sequence of numeric values (in ascending or descending order) according to specification. Unlike identity columns, a sequence is created independent of any table.
Before we explore the sequence object in more detail, here is a brief summary of the difference between identity and sequence.
Sequence is Table independent while Identity is Table Specific
Unlike Identity, you can obtain the new value from a Sequence before using it in a SQL Statement
New value for a Sequence can be generated for both UPDATE as well as INSERT statements
You can define the minimum & maximum values as well as cycling & cache size options for a Sequence
Unlike Identity, a sequence object will not auto increment without any reference to it
You can create a sequence by using the T-SQL Create Sequence statement or in SQL Server Management Studio by navigating through the Object Explorer to Your Database > Programmability > Sequences, Right click and Create New Sequence.
Let’s look at a simple T-SQL statement for creating a basic sequence;
CREATE SEQUENCE dbo.demo_2012_sequence AS INT START WITH 1 INCREMENT BY 1 MINVALUE 1 MAXVALUE 10000 CACHE 20 CYCLE;
Some of the interesting points to note here are;
- The MINVALUE and MAXVALUE should fall within the range of the data type of the sequence object
- The INCREMENT BY can be positive (makes an ascending sequence) or negative (makes a descending sequence), but not Zero (0)
- CYCLE – Specifies if the sequence should restart when the maximum value ( minimum value for a descending sequence) has been reached
- CACHE – Can improve performance by pre-allocating the number of sequence numbers specified, thus minimizing disk IOs. Note that an unexpected shutdown may result in the loss of values remaining in cache.
Once this sequence object has been created, you can use the Next Value For function, to generate a sequence number from it. It is a non-deterministic function and can be used in stored procedures and triggers. When using it in a query, please be aware of the limitations and restrictions on its usage; the most notable one being the restriction on using it in queries that contain SET Operators like UNION, UNION ALL, etc. It can also be used in a Default Constraint as well as an OVER ORDER BY Clause. A complete list of the restrictions and limitations on its usage is available here.
You can get one or more values out of the sequence object. You can also ALTER the sequence object to RESTART it, or change many of its properties. Let’s look at some examples.
- Example 1 – Get one value out of the Sequence Object at a time
-- get one value out of the sequence object at one time SELECT NEXT VALUE FOR dbo.demo_2012_sequence AS seq_no; GO SELECT NEXT VALUE FOR dbo.demo_2012_sequence AS next_seq_no; GO
And the results look like:
seq_no ----------- 1 (1 row(s) affected) next_seq_no ----------- 2 (1 row(s) affected)
- Example 2- Restart the sequence and get multiple values out of the sequence object at one time
-- creating a table and populate it with 5 rows CREATE TABLE #demo_sequence (demo_name VARCHAR(12)); INSERT INTO #demo_sequence VALUES ('row_1'), ('row_2'), ('row_3'), ('row_4'), ('row_5'); GO -- Restart the sequence from 1 ALTER SEQUENCE dbo.demo_2012_sequence RESTART WITH 1 INCREMENT BY 1; GO -- get 5 values out of the sequence object at 1 time SELECT NEXT VALUE FOR dbo.demo_2012_sequence AS seq_no, demo_name FROM #demo_sequence; GO
And the results look like:
seq_no demo_name ----------- ------------ 1 row_1 2 row_2 3 row_3 4 row_4 5 row_5 (5 row(s) affected)
You can also use the system object sys.sp_sequence_get_range to generate and return a number of values, along with some of the metadata related to the range.
The sys.sequences view can also be used to query metadata for a sequence object. It contains one row for each sequence object in the database.
SELECT current_value, cache_size, is_cached, create_date, is_exhausted FROM sys.sequences WHERE name = 'demo_2012_sequence'; GO
And the results look like:
current_value cache_size is_cached is_exhausted --------------- ----------- ----------- ------------ 5 20 1 0 (1 row(s) affected)
In conclusion, the new Sequence Object can provide a viable alternative to Identity, and is definitely worth exploring for your next project.