SQL Phone Home: Teaching Your SQL Servers to Call for Help

I’ve worked in quite a few shops that have differing views on SQL Server monitoring. A lot of this involves creating scripts and SQL Agent jobs that fire alerts. The problem is that these tend to become noisy. So I’ve come up with a “see something, say something” methodology.

If you’ve ever ridden the New York City subway, you’ve probably heard the “If you see something, say something” phrase. It’s what I’m modeling this after.

As I go through this presentation, I start with a premise and then build on it. I start with basic alerts and then go through looping through your data to build a more complex alert. Rather than than describe it in a blog, just play with my scripts and see what I do.

You can find the scripts here: sqlphonehome

My Foundational Five

A few months ago, Brian, my boss, and I were fortunate to attend a leadership workshop led by Adam Jorgensen from Pragmatic Works. I think pretty highly of Adam, and the workshop was pretty incredible. He challenged the participants to define their Foundational Five.

Your foundational five is defined by answering the following five questions. My spin is that I wanted to have five answers for each question.

#1 – What does my team need from me?
#2 – What does the company or my boss need from me?
#3 – What do my peers need from me?
#4 – What does my family and/or community need from me?
#5 – What do I need from myself?

For the past few months, I’ve been stewing around what this meant, and I had some ideas in my head. But like a lot of things, thoughts are meaningless until you start to focus them and put them into writing.

Here is my take on Mike Hillwig’s Foundational Five.

#1 – What does my team need from me?

  1. To provide them with the tools they need to make good decisions
  2. To keep them educated and their skills current
  3. To provide them with experiences that will advance their careers
  4. To listen to their needs and concerns
  5. To provide a strategy that they can execute in order to support our clients

#2 – What does the company or my boss need from me?

  1. To grow my technology skills so that I can provide better guidance to my team
  2. To grow as a leader in order to help the company support our clients
  3. To grow my team in terms of their expertise and experience
  4. To take care of myself so that I can take care of my team and my clients
  5. My boss needs me to be supportive of his goals

#3 – What do my peers need from me?

  1. To continue being the company’s SQL Server guru
  2. To lead the team of SQL Server DBAs so that we can deliver on our promises to clients
  3. To bring my “A Game” every day
  4. To not take myself quite so seriously all the time
  5. To bring my experience to the table

#4 – What does my family and/or community need from me?

  1. Reggie and Ruby need me to be home in the evening so they aren’t lonely
  2. Reggie and Ruby need me to bring home the kibble
  3. The SQL Community needs me to provide leadership, guidance, and education to the entire community can grow.
  4. My family needs me to be there for them
  5. For me to be successful so that I can make the community successful

#5 – What do I need from myself?

  1. To stay healthy
  2. To earn a decent salary so I can do things like eat, travel, and own a home
  3. To continually better myself
  4. To keep learning
  5. To be true to myself

Boston #sqlsat500 Friday Precon Announced

One of the things I love about hosting SQL Saturday is giving stuff away. Our sponsors give us a lot of money, and we spend that money on the community. After we cover the event expenses, it’s fun to spend on things to give away. We buy things like tablets, books, gift cards, laptop bags, and even a Surface Pro. I get to play Oprah for a few minutes, giving away my favorite things.

Not everything can be free, though. So when I can, I like to get inexpensive things, specifically training. SQL Saturday is a free event to our attendees, courtesy of our sponsors. But on Thursday and Friday, we try to squeeze in as much inexpensive training as we can. We bring training classes that could cost thousands of dollars for only a few hundred.

On Friday, March 18, Microsoft Data Platform MVP Denny Cherry will be presenting SQL Server Performance Tuning and Optimization. Denny is one of the most highly regarded names in the SQL Server community. He could charge thousands of dollars for a full day training class, and it would be worth every penny. For the Boston SQL Server community, a full day of training with Mr. Denny is only $249. If you purchase those tickets before December 31, it’s only $199. You just can’t beat that price.

On Thursday, March 19, my dear friend and fellow Microsoft Data Platform MVP Jes Borland will be teaching how to move to to Azure. Stay tuned for more details.

Five Hundred! #sqlsat500

Five Hundred! #sqlsat500

Keeping secrets is difficult for me, and I hate keeping secrets. But the news is out, so now I can blab about it all I want.

SQL Saturday #500 will be in Boston!

What’s better than being a milestone event? We’re hosting it on St. Patrick’s Day weekend! Things are really early on yet, and Andy and I have has a lot of work to do. But I promise we’re going to have a killer event.

Our precons and keynotes are already wrapped up. We have awesome things lined up. Stay tuned…


Number Five

Number Five

Me in front of the Tweet Wall

This weekend was SQL Saturday #437 Boston BI Edition, or as I like to call it, Number Five. It was the fifth event that my team has run, and this one may have been the smoothest of the five.
Over the past three years and five events, we’ve built a formula that works. This time, we mixed it up by adding Andy Mallon (w|t) to the team. Over the past several months, Andy and I have become very good friends, and the level of trust I put in him was staggering. At one point I handed him my Amex card and said “Just don’t buy a car.”

We’re incredibly fortunate to have sponsors that give us money to run such an event. And our user community is so eager to learn. I close every event by asking if their heads hurt. The response is always a resounding yes! That means we did our jobs right. Our speakers come in from near and far to teach. And my team gives up time away from their jobs and family to set up for an incredible event.

Me at SQL Saturday

Photo by Paresh Motiwala

This year, Andy was in charge of food, which is a big part of the organization. He turned to his friends at Flour Bakery and Cafe to provide lunch. This is the bakery owned by James Beard Award nominated chef Joanne Chang. She’s the one who beat Bobby Flay with her sticky buns.

I wish people saw just how much work a SQL Saturday event is. The amount of prep that goes into it is unbelievable. And I just can’t thank my team enough. From Robert (t), who picks up on the details that I miss, to Melissa (t), who picks up emails left and right from attendees and sponsors, to Paresh (t), who snaps photos and makes sure our volunteers know what needs to be done. But really, it was Andy this time around who had become my right hand.

As I mentioned, it was our fifth event. It was also the fifth event sponsored by Pragmatic Works. We publicly thanked them. And we thanked Nick, part of their New England sales office, who is always one of the easiest sponsors to work with.

Andy in front of the Tweet Wall

This time around, I wanted to try something new. It was something I saw the folks in Pittsburgh do. We had a tweet wall, with the hash tag #sqlsatbostonbi, we encouraged people to tweet the heck out of our event. And tweet they did! We used a website that creates a presentation based on tweets and photos on Instagram. It was a lot of fun.

We announced something that is important. I just can’t continue hosting two events like this every year. So I’m going to lead the spring SQL Saturday and Andy will lead the fall BI Edition SQL Saturday. By trading off with each other, it will be a lot more effective and much less exhausting.

So one more SQL Saturday is a memory. Next up is the PASS Summit.

I’m an MVP!

I’m an MVP!

MVP_Logo_Preferred_Cyan300_RGB_300ppiIt’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since I typed those words for the first time.

Today, I got the email from Microsoft that I’ve been granted their MVP Award for the second time.

I’m humbled by this. It makes me part of a community of technology professionals that do some amazing work.

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