Starting Big

I’ve long imagined that my first blog would be about the importance and scheduling of backups (very) or maintaining SLAs (very important and they should be reviewed at least once a year). Instead I believe I am going to eat the proverbial elephant blogging my process for slicing and dicing my company’s shiny new data warehouse into maintainable pieces.

About a year ago our onsite consultants started to come online and build out our structure. I was only tangentially attached to the project in that they knew they’d need some SQL servers at some point. I started to do some research into VLDBs (while it’s started out “small” the new policy was to delete nothing ever again) and quickly discovered the usefulness of partitioning (both for maintenance tasks and ETL processes. I of course forwarded on the links and after a brief discussion was told that it could be addressed later. In my naivete of course this sounded reasonable and I continued on with the million other projects I was eyeball deep in.

Woe to you who is not sure enough to stand your ground! 9 months later when I learned that I’d be dissecting their largest databases table by table to get even a reasonable maintenance plan going. After a mere 9 months backups are already up to two hours and it was time to prove that a partitioned database could alleviate the inevitable backup and index maintenance apocalypse.

So that’s where this series is starting: me, my planning and then table by table through our two largest databases (ps I won’t be posting table by table).

Cartoon of a charging elephant

I am beginning to rethink my methodology for eating an elephant…

Summit 15 in the Rear View Mirror

Summit was intense. I paced myself pretty well I thought but I was still exhausted by the end (even cutting out half a day early). It is a fantastic opportunity not only to learn and grow as a SQL professional but to grow and connect with other DBAs. To that end I quickly realized that the sessions were almost secondary: the value of purchasing the sessions for download or on USB drive is quite high especially once you return and start reviewing your notes and realize how much of them are tied directly back to something that was happening in the session and they make barely any sense.

Once I made the decision to get the sessions to review later (or to make the decision between schedule conflicts easier) it was that much easier to start meeting and connecting with others. This was, by far, the most important piece of PASS for me: meeting other DBAs, asking them questions and (hopefully) making long term connections. If there is anything I’ve learned from my many career paths is that you are only ever as good as your network: those people you can turn to when you find yourself stumped on a particular problem. I went into all the events I attended last week actively looking to grow my personal network, to find connections I could turn to when stumped. I was also looking to connect with DBAs like me: newly minted and fresh on their journey into the SQL community. Suffice to say I did a lot of talking last week, it’s not my favorite thing (I tend towards introversion like much of our IT community) but well worth it. Highlights from the week for me included sessions on optimizing VMs for SQL with Denny Cherry, Paul Randal‘s DBA Mythbusters, meeting Marius from Norway (I can’t seem to locate his card currently), going over my current plan for DW partitioning (more on that in future posts) with the SQL Cat team and getting my plan both validated and improved, chatting with a DBA overseeing GIS data in Vancouver (her card is… somewhere around here), a great nearly shouted discussion about professional development during live band Karaoke at the Hard Rock Cafe,┬ádiscussing the potential of RedGate’s Instaclone in our environment, and generally stalking the Red Gate folks in general (really they are the friendliest folks around). I’m currently waiting to hear back about getting registered for Summit 2016 (if you have a budget conscious manager perhaps the savings of early bird registration will tip the decision in your favor). It is a fantastic opportunity to learn amazing things, meet amazing people.

So fair warning next year: I’m the one on the right. If you see me coming I’m probably going to try and introduce myself.

Just two DBAs at Summit

Just two DBAs at Summit