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  • Blog Post: How Does the Cloud Change a Database Administrator’s Job?

    I recently posted a blog entry on how cloud computing would change the Systems Architect’s role in an organization . In a way, the Systems Architect has the easiest transition to a new way of using computing technologies. In fact, that’s actually part of the job description. I mentioned that...
  • Blog Post: A SQL Saturday in Cambridge – Buck Woody’s Ragtime Database Workshop

    The SQL Server community is really engaged. They are an active bunch on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, they help each other on forums, they attend conferences. But that isn’t enough interaction – the community started a grass-roots effort to hold local conferences on a Saturday. Free conferences...
  • Blog Post: The Data Scientist

    A new term - well, perhaps not that new - has come up and I’m actually very excited about it. The term is Data Scientist, and since it’s new, it’s fairly undefined. I’ll explain what I think it means, and why I’m excited about it. In general, I’ve found the term deals at its most basic with analyzing...
  • Blog Post: Big Data and the Cloud - More Hype or a Real Workload?

    Last week Microsoft announced several new offerings for “Big Data” - and since I’m a stickler for definitions, I wanted to make sure I understood what that really means. What is “Big Data”? What size hard drive is that? After all, my laptop has 1TB of storage - is my laptop “Big Data”? There are actually...
  • Blog Post: Using the @ in SQL Azure Connections

    The other day I was working with a client on an application they were changing to a hybrid architecture – some data on-premise and other data in SQL Azure and Windows Azure Blob storage. I had them make a couple of corrections - the first was that all communications to SQL Azure need to be encrypted...
  • Blog Post: You Probably Already Have a “Private Cloud”

    I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of the word “Cloud”. It’s too marketing-oriented, gimmicky and non-specific. A better definition (in many cases) is “Distributed Computing”. That means that some or all of the computing functions are handled somewhere other than under your specific control. But...
  • Blog Post: Where is the SQL Azure Development Environment

    Recently I posted an entry explaining that you can develop in Windows Azure without having to connect to the main service on the Internet, using the Software Development Kit (SDK) which installs two emulators - one for compute and the other for storage. That brought up the question of the same kind of...
  • Blog Post: Back up a single table in SQL Server

    SQL Server doesn’t have an easy way to take a table backup, so I often use the bcp (Bulk Copy Program) to accomplish the same goal. I’ve mentioned this before, and someone told me when they tried it they couldn’t restore the table – ah the dangers of telling people half the information! I should have...
  • Blog Post: You Might Be a DBA

    With all apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, I was up late Friday night on a holiday weekend (which translated into T-SQL becomes “Maintenance Window”) and I got bored in between the two or three minutes I had between clicks. So I started a “Twitter” meme – and it just took off. I haven’t cleaned these up much...
  • Blog Post: Do you have a data roadmap?

    I often visit companies where they asked me “What is SQL Server’s Roadmap?” What they mean is that they want to know where Microsoft is going with our database products. I explain that we’re expanding not only the capacities in SQL Server but the capabilities – we’re trying to make an “information platform...
  • Blog Post: SQL Server for the Oracle DBA Links

    I do a presentation (and a class) called "SQL Server for the Oracle DBA". It's a non-marketing overview that gives you the basics of working with SQL Server if you're already familiar wtih how Oracle works. This class and these links DO NOT help you with "Why should I use Oracle/SQL Server instead of...
  • Blog Post: Backup those keys, citizen

    Periodically I back up the keys within my servers and databases, and when I do, I blog a reminder here. This should be part of your standard backup rotation – the keys should be backed up often enough to have at hand and again when they change. The first key you need to back up is the Service Master...
  • Blog Post: Agile isn’t always Agile

    I want to make a disclaimer before I dive into this topic – At Microsoft we use all kinds of development methodologies, and I’ve worked in lots of other shops using lots of methodologies. This is one of those “religious” topics like which programming language or database is best, and is bound to generate...
  • Blog Post: PowerShell PowerPack Download

    I read Jeffery Hicks’ article in this month’s Redmond Magazine on a new add-in for Windows PowerShell 2.0. It’s called the PowerShell Pack and it has a some great new features that I plan to put into place on my production systems as soon as I finished learning and testing them. You can download the...
  • Blog Post: Process Improvement and the Data Professional

    Don’t be afraid of that title – I’m not talking about Six Sigma or anything super-formal here. In many organizations, there are more folks in other IT roles than in the Data Professional area. In other words, there are more developers, system administrators and so on than there are the “DBA” role. That...
  • Blog Post: Backup Meta-Data

    I'm working on a PowerShell script to show me the trending durations of my backup activities. The first thing I need is the data, so I looked at the Standard Reports in SQL Server Management Studio, and found a report that suited my needs, so I pulled out the script that it runs and modified it to this...
  • Blog Post: Open the SQL Server Error Log with PowerShell

    Using the Server Management Objects (SMO) library, you don’t even need to have the SQL Server 2008 PowerShell Provider to read the SQL Server Error Logs – in fact, you can use regular old everyday PowerShell. Keep in mind you will need the SMO libraries – which can be installed separately or by installing...
  • Blog Post: Today I talk about you

    Some time back I posted a blog entry (mirrored here and here ) asking you how you design databases. Out of those responses, my own experience, studies I read, and interviews I conducted, I collected a wealth of data. Thanks for your responses. So what am I going to do with that information? Well, all...
  • Blog Post: Great Example of a Simple Cost-Benefit Analysis

    I saw a post the other day that you should definitely go check out. It’s a cost/benefit decision, and although the author gives it a quick treatment and doesn’t take all points in the decision into account, you should focus on the process he follows. It’s a quick and simple example of the kind of thought...
  • Blog Post: What to leave when you're leaving

    There's already a post on this topic - sort of. I read this entry, where the author did a good job on a few steps , but I found that a few other tips might be useful, so if you want to check that one out and then this post, you might be able to put together your own plan for when you leave your job....
  • Blog Post: System Variables, Stored Procedures or Functions for Meta Data

    Whenever you want to know something about SQL Server’s configuration, whether that’s the Instance itself or a database, you have a few options. If you want to know “dynamic” data, such as how much memory or CPU is consumed or what a particular query is doing, you should be using the Dynamic Management...
  • Blog Post: It’s OK to take a Shortcut Sometimes

    I was working this weekend with a fairly simple Excel spreadsheet, and I had to decompose one cell in it out to three columns in a SQL Server table. There are tools within SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) that should be able to do that, but I just couldn’t find my way around them properly. I’m...
  • Blog Post: ROI and the DBA

    I love them three-letter acronyms! An “ROI” is a Return On Investment – it’s a basic financial calculation that places investments in a standard number so that they can be compared. If the number is positive, then it has a “good” return on investment, and if it’s negative, you probably shouldn’t make...
  • Blog Post: Have you backed up your keys lately?

    Did you know that you already have a Server Master Key (SMK) generated for your system? That’s right – while a Database Master Key (DMK) is generated when you encrypt a certificate or Asymmetric Key with code, the Server Master Key is generated automatically when you start the Instance. So you should...
  • Blog Post: Lessons from Volunteering

    Saturday I volunteered at a work-day at our church. Our building is one of the first buildings built in this area of Washington, so it’s a beautiful old structure, which of course means there’s lots of maintenance. I’m fairly decent with tools, I’ve done some woodworking in my day, and I’ve even rebuilt...
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