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SQLSaturday Pensacola – Interview with Ed Watson and Mike Lawell, full day training on “Getting the New DBA Up to Speed with Performance Tuning”


SQLSaturday Pensacola is coming up quickly, set for June 4th. We have some amazing speakers coming from all over the US and here locally. Check out our schedule to see what you can learn this year (for FREE) from our SQL Server and Data experts. And don’t forget to register so you can secure your spot!

In addition to SQLSaturday, each year we like to provide some deep dive training sessions (commonly known as precons) the couple of days prior to the event. There trainings are not free, but we keep them reasonably priced (appx. $130 per) for training that would typically cost a lot more. It’s top notch quality training that these presenters have offered to do at a low cost because of their love for sharing what they know and have learned themselves through their own experiences. The funds raised for these trainings helps to cover the speaker’s expenses, but also some of the expenses we incur for the SQLSaturday event.

This year we have a precon set for Thursday, June 2nd and one for Friday, June 3rd (more on the Friday precon below). I wanted to share with you an interview I did with Ed Watson [t|b] and Mike Lawell [t|b], our Thursday precon presenters coming down from Atlanta training on “Getting the New DBA Up to Speed with Performance Tuning”. I personally like to know more about speakers before investing my hard earned dollar. Personality goes a long way for me, and typically a bio isn’t enough to really get to know the type of presenter they are. Yes, I want to be entertained while I’m learning, does that make me a freak? No need to answer that, on with the interview.

How long have you been working with SQL Server, and what brought you into working with it? 

SQL Saturday 480 - Nashville - Jan 2016 - Headshots-Med[Ed] I’ve been working with SQL Server exclusively for eight years.  Before that I worked for seven years with Progress 4GL RDBMS as a consultant.  Some of those years involved a random SQL Server 6.5 or 7.0 instance.  Progress was used heavily in manufacturing sector and there is not a lot of that in Florida so the market forces pushed me to jump to SQL Server and I never looked back.

MikeLawell_812[Mike] I started working on SQL Server 6.5 in 1996, at BellSouth Mobility, when I designed a data model for tracking Cellular Phone fraud (with an Access front end). Yep, I said it. Stop laughing! Then I moved to the Marketing Information Systems team at BellSouth Cellular Corporate, where I was doing all sorts of database analysis work. Then I started building an application for BellSouth the required a database backend, they gave me SQL Server licenses that weren’t being used. And the addiction started. Ever since, I’ve been in SQL Developer, Data Architect, Team Lead, Production DBA, Manager of Data Services, Database Consultant.

The training you are doing for us on June 2nd, Getting the New DBA Up to Speed with Performance Tuning”, what do you hope attendees gain from it?

[Ed] When I was a new DBA I was alone and had to discover many things through trial and error.  Consequently, I made more mistakes than I would like to admit.  In this course we want to help that new DBA get started and not have to make as many mistakes as I did.  Luckily, I worked for the government, otherwise I might have been fired for a few of them.  I want to make sure that new DBAs do not experience the same frustration nor the deer in the headlights look I had when there were performance issues.

[Mike] Ed, you were alone, but you got me now! Ed’s right, we all start somewhere, and I started when there wasn’t a SQLSaturday and the only “community” was in UseNet groups (like Google Groups for the younger crowd). The mistakes I made were pretty ugly. I spent 60 hour weeks for a long time improving my skills. I read many books by Ken Henderson, Kalen Delaney, and many more.

I expect the attendees to walk away with enough information that they can go home pull out our material and go through it until they understand it. No attendee will walk away with the information in their head. I’ve never seen anyone survive the drink from the fire hose.

What made you decide to start doing full day trainings jointly?

[Ed] Mike is smarter than I am but I am much better looking and funnier, of course, so the thought was that I would keep people entertained while he made sure that they learned something. Yes, I totally made that whole thing up, well except for the better looking part…have you seen my luxurious hair?

[Mike] Yeah, I keep telling you that just to make you feel good. J Who needs hair anyway? You smell kind of funny too.

Actually, I was doing a performance troubleshooting session and Ed was doing a similar session. Mine was better, but I liked Ed (because he had hair), and I didn’t want to steal all of his attendees; so I said, lets join forces. We can’t give more than a taste of what is needed in an hour. If we do a part I and II we can give attendees 2 hours of sequential information.

Then we did a half day precon… couldn’t get Ed to stop talking… and realized we had more than enough material to do a full day (if Ed didn’t talk so much). J

There you have it.

What do you feel are the top 5 most exciting features to come out in SQL Server over the past 3 years?

[Ed] The query store, live query statistics, integration with R, updateable column store indexes, and in-memory OLTP.  As a consultant all of our questions revolve around those features and Power BI.

[Mike] Yeah, what he said. And, how about InMemory OLTP that might actual be useful. And god love Microsoft for the Clustered Columnstore Indexes (yeah, what Ed said)! What about fixing improving Availability Groups to be compatible with Distributed Transaction Coordinator. Woohoo. And improving the replication performance of the AGs! And my favorite AG improvement is… adding another auto-failover target. So if my data center goes down it will automatically failover to the DR site. Pure genius!

Always Encrypted looks like it is going to be very beneficial to many of my clients. Can’t wait to put it into action. And then there is Stretch Database. Is that something like Stretch Armstrong? Hmmm.

What about Data Tools!

What are some things you like to do for fun when you aren’t on the road presenting and volunteering for user groups and SQLSaturday events?

[Ed] Mike and I are certified SCUBA divers, which we will be doing while we are in Pensacola. I collect vinyl and attend between 20 and 30 concerts and music festivals a year.  I am an avid college football fan and Atlanta Braves baseball fan.

[Mike] Yep, love to scuba dive. I’ve been to Bonaire, Cozumel, Okinawa, North Carolina, bunches of springs in Florida.

I like to travel with my wife, we spend a lot of time visiting our condo on 30A.

Tell us something about yourselves that most people don’t know.

[Ed] I’ve lived all over Florida, am a self-proclaimed beach bum, love roller coasters and Disney world, and my superpowers including being able to do math in my head and never getting hangovers (I’m of Irish and Scottish descent so yeah it’s in my DNA).

[Mike] I’ve lived all over the United States, Indiana, Ohio, California, Georgia, ok, not all over… but close. I worked at amusement parks (Cedar Point, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita, CA (ok, only one day), Great America in Santa Clara, CA and even Sea World. We used to do fun stuff on rides to freak out the visitors. Ask me when I’ve had a beer or two at the after party.

I’m a scuba diving instructor, who taught Ed so I’d have someone to dive with. Kidding, we have a great group of SQL Scuba friends who dive together. My Twitter Handle is @sqldiver …imagine that.

I’m a real estate investor with my wife who does it full time.

Well, I feel like I’ve known you both a long time now, and I learned something new about each of you. Very cool! We look forward to having you here guys!

Get full details and register for Ed and Mike’s precon, visit their site here. Not a “new” DBA, but know someone who is, please share these details with them. They will always remember that it was YOU who got them pointed in the right direction!

Next week you’ll get to hear all about our Friday precon presenter, David Pless [t|b], a Microsoft Technical Solutions Professional. David’s day will be packed with “SQL Server 2014 and 2016 Performance Improvements and New Features”, which will include info on SSRS and PowerBI. Stay tuned!






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