One DBA's Ongoing Search for Clarity in the Middle of Nowhere


Yet Another Andy Writing About SQL Server

Monday, September 17, 2012

SQL Saturday 154 Rocked - Great Job St. Louis!

This last Saturday (09/15/2012) I traveled to St. Louis to present at #sqlsat154.  My colleague David Klee (blog/@kleegeek) and I each had one session chosen to present - he spoke on Database Health and Performance and I spoke on the Ola Hallengren Maintenance Solution.  This is the first SQL Saturday I have been to with Klee where we haven't given our marquee "Virtualizing Business Critical SQL Servers" presentation, but we were still looking forward to the event.

 Unfortunately my travel was pinched on both sides of the trip so I missed the Friday night speaker dinner and I had to leave early before the last session of the day Saturday (also missing the after-party) but the SQL Saturday I saw was great, especially considering this was the first ever SQL Saturday in St. Louis and it was organized by a team without any SQL Saturday experience anywhere else - they nailed it!

First, they used the SpeedPASS, which is cool because it is a single stop to print off your admission ticket, name badge, lunch ticket, and vendor raffle tickets all at once.  Definitely something every SQL Saturday should be doing if they already aren't.

Second, they created a Guidebook for the event which gave the speakers and attendees an easy way to pull all of the event information (schedule, local map, etc.) onto our smart phones - again something every SQL Saturday should be doing (and maybe they already are.)

The conference hotel was the Crowne Plaza Clayton, just a couple blocks from the event.  It was a classy older hotel with wood floors in the guest rooms and a very nice complementary breakfast.

It was a beautiful Saturday and we walked to the venue, the  Center for Application of Information Technology (CAIT) at Washington University St. Louis.  It was a nice venue with decent-sized classrooms and the best part was that all of the classrooms were very near each other so there wasn't lots of roaming through the building looking for your room.  The only exception was the room I in which I presented, which was up one flight of stairs from the others, but that room was directly adjacent to the opening registration area so even it was still easy to find.

Klee had the first session of the day and the room was overflowing with about a dozen people standing or bringing in extra chairs in the back of the room. 


Klee presents a firehose of information in this session and even though I tech reviewed his slides it is still all I could do to keep up as we flew through the data.  He had lots of good questions from people on his performance metrics and how they applied to physical servers versus virtual servers and vice-versa.  Afterwards several people approached us for follow-up, which was great!

The second session of the day for us was "PWNED! Security, SQL Server, and You!" by Arie Jones (blog/@programmersedge).  This session was informative and more than little scary as Arie discussed the fact that most of the malware loose in the world is based on freely available tools - tools that both the good guys and bad guys use to do battle on a daily basis.  The session was about more than just SQL Server, describing tools that can exploit networks, operating systems, and more. He described how he recently checked a hotel he was staying in and could have had widespread access using those relatively simple tools.  Like I said - scary stuff.

 The next session (the last before lunch) was "Cubicle to Consulting" by Scott Shaw (blog/@shawsql).  As I have spent 10+ years as a cubicle employee and only 11 *months* as a consultant I was interested to hear Scott's take on the topic.  I also was interested in meeting Scott as I have talked to him online but never met him in-person.  Scott had a very even-handed approach, describing the pluses and minuses of each situation and comparing each of them to being a contractor, which he described as being a combination of the two.  Very informative non-technical content.

We did have a great moment of comedy in this session when Scott described how he is often confused with @sqlshaw (SQL Server MVP Chris Shaw) and promptly two people in the room started tweeting about Chris (@sqlshaw) rather than Scott (@shawsql) and it drew a somewhat confused response from Chris since he wasn't even at the event in St. Louis. {-:

Lunch was prepacked sandwiches from Amighetti's.  The sandwiches had too much mayo on them for me (I'm picky that way) but I heard lots of positive comments from the other attendees.  Lunch also brought us sponsor presentations, so we learned about Scott Shaw's employer Oakwood - a BI and infrastructure consultancy based out of St. Louis.

I was up for the first session after lunch with my presentation on how to "Maintain Your DBs with Help from Ola Hallengren." 

 I added some demos to the presentation this time around and it added some needed detail (and length) to the presentation and overall it went very well.  Similar to Kansas City I had several people in the room who were already using Ola's MaintenanceSolution.sql and just wanted to find out whether they were already doing what I was pitching, and I had several others who had never heard of it before (or had heard of it and never investigated it) and based on the questions and comments I believe I had some converts. {-:   My slides are available at the SQL Saturday #154 site on my presentation page here.  Similar to Klee's session, after my session we had some great follow-up questions and distributed some business cards.

As I mentioned above I had to skip out before the last session of the day to catch my flight (I missed out on Brian Flynn's (@brianpaulflynn) session on "Pivoting Performance Data & Pinpointing Problems" - maybe next time Brian!) but overall I was very impressed with Sanil Mhatre (blog/@sqlsuperguru) and the SQL Saturday 154 team and their efforts and I am definitely looking forward to the next SQL Saturday St. Louis!

As I have previously stated, the SQL Saturday phenomenon has exploded in the last couple of years and if there isn't one near you, contact Karla Landrum (blog/@KarlaKay22) and PASS and they will help you set one up - it is definitely worth it!


  1. I was a convert from the KC session. Helped me straighten out a rat's nest of half-implemented maintenance plans on a server I inherited a while back (among many other atrocities, there were a half dozen fullrecovery dbs that had never seen a single log backup, and the logs dwarfed the data as one might expect), and it makes things very simple for administration.

    Even thought briefly about trekking over to enjoy SQLSat in St Louis, but not this time alas. Loved the session and look forward to another KC event.

    1. Great to hear it Nic - there are a handful of free tools that just rock for SQL Server (I usually call out MaintenanceSolution.sql and sp_whoisactive but there are others) - the SQL Community is amazing that way!

      Glad you enjoyed the presentation in KC!