SQL Rally Dallas: My Experience

SQL Rally 2012 in Dallas officially started yesterday (May 10th, 2012). The old saying “time flies when you’re having fun” is so true! I made new friends, met old friends and learnt a lot more than I thought my “sleep deprived and jetlagged mind/body” could.


Being a somewhat  generalist within the SQL Server space, I am interested in DBA, DEV and BI sessions equally. So, I decided to attend the following sessions:


Craig Purnell on “Upgrade Roadmap: Let’s Delve into SQL Server 2012“ 

     A superb session on what’s in store when upgrading SQL Server, the techniques and what to watch out for.

William E Pearson III on “Overcoming Barriers and Avoiding Mistakes with BI“ 

     Bill delivered this session with lots of audience interaction with the aim of group experience/knowledge sharing.

Patrick LeBlanc on “Developing and Managing a BI Semantic Tabular Model in SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services“ 

     A fundamental session for building Tabular Model solutions in SQL Server 2012.

Bob Ward on “What’s New for SQL Server 2012 Supportability“ 

     Another fantastic session for full-on DBAs!

Greg Galloway on “Making Heads or Tails of Analysis Services Storage“ 

     Greg shared his wisdom and knowledge of how MOLAP and ROLAP differ from the new Tabular Model in SQL Server 2012. A must session for those who are deciding whether to implement using Multidimensional or Tabular Model.

John Welch on “SSIS Performance Tuning“ 

     SSIS could sometimes be a real beast, and John showed us how to tame slow performing SSIS solutions and what to watch out for.

Robert Davis on “TempDB: Performance and Manageability“ 

     This session answered most of those myths (or statements) of TempDB and Robert discussed important factors to consider for better performing TempDB.


They were all superb and I wish I could attend the other sessions as well. I asked prior to the conference if the sessions will be recorded and I haven’t received a confirmed answer yet. However, the slide decks will be up on SQL Rally website in due time.

So, all the way from Australia, I’d like to thank the sponsors, PASS, speakers and the volunteers for making SQL Rally possible and such a great event. PASS is about sharing and networking. Safe trip home for interstate and overseas attendees. Hope to see everyone again in PASS Summit 2012 and other SQL events!

One last thing: I love Dallas! You are all lovely and friendly people!!!!

[Edit - 20 May 2012]

SQLRally PPTs and demos are now available to all attendees for download – simply log in and click on a session title to access the materials. http://www.sqlpass.org/sqlrally/2012/dallas/



SQL Rally Dallas: Wednesday Pre-Con Review

It was a prefect weather to start Wednesday Pre-Con SQL Rally sessions today. I decided to atted Greg Galloway’s 99 Tips for Tuning and Enhancing Analysis Services session today. It was very informative. I highly recommend this session. Greg prepared the material very well and thoroughly, including providing hard copy hand outs for attendees and allowing attendees to copy the demo files. As most pre-con sessions are, Greg’s session definitely came from first-hand expert knowledge and experience as well as hours (or even more) of preparation.

Greg mentioned the followinng in his preview of the Pre-Con session:

Q. If there was one thing you wish attendees would implement after attending your workshop, what would it be? A. I wish people would take an hour to set up logging of Perfmon counters and trace information so you can see how performance is trending over time. I’ll do my best to convince attendees how useful this information can be and show what I personally choose to log.”

Yes, I will be turning on the Perfmon counters in my environment. I’ll be setting up a template and monitor this overtime; both for SSAS Tabular Model instance and Multidimensional instance.

Thank you Greg for the 99 tips! I’ll be referring to your slide deck on regular basis now.

SQL Rally Dallas 2012: Tuesday Pre-Con Review

I landed in Dallas on Monday 7th May 2012 afternoon. I was very excited to be in Dallas, not only it was my first visit, but also the fact that my brain would be like a sponge absorbing new information at SQL Rally.

Dallas Convention Center is huge! I was lucky that I didn’t get lost here. Luckily with the guidebook, I was able to find where I was meant to be for registration, i.e. Area A Lobby. (If all else fails, check your wifi, if you can find “PASS Wifi”, you’re close to it!). The registration was easy and smooth. Sri Sridharan greeted me when I registered for the precon sessions. The morning started very well indeed.

So I went to my first session of SQL Rally today which was a pre Con session with Denny Cherry, Storage for the DBA. I decided to come to this session with a motive of knowing or understanding how to talk to the Infrastructure team in terms of setting up storage / virtualisation in an optimised way.

Denny was great in his presentation. He knows a lot about storage, virtualisation, network, SQL Server (and many others) which makes him a good presenter for the session. Although my knowledge of storage limited, I was able to keep up with the speed. Sure, I still have quite a lot of questions, but now I know what questions to ask and what to bingle.  I would highly recommend this session to any DBAs, especially those who have their own Data Centers. If your company provision the storage / server / virtualisation to another third party such as Rackspace, etc, this session would be immensely useful because  you can ensure that you (or your company) are paying for the service that meet the business requirements. I am very certain that every attendee would have had a unique learning experience from one another. If you missed out this session, hopefully it will be featured in another upcoming session.

Now, my afternoon will be spent on spending time to recover from jetlag and enjoying Dallas.

Upcoming DirectQuery vs Vertipaq Presentation

How exciting is it for us SQL Professionals to have so many SQL Server events since the beginning of the year? We’ve had 12 Hours of SQL, 24 Hours of PASS, 24 Hours of PASS in Russian edition, SQL Server 2012 Virtual Launch, SQL Saturday (ANZ tour is currently running) and plenty other PASS virtual chapter sessions.
I’m quite honoured that I’ve been selected to present at SQL Server User Group in Sydney, 24 Hours of PASS, and SQL Saturday #138 as well as being picked by the Community to present at SQL Rally Dallas this year.

I’d like to focus a bit more on my upcoming SQL Saturday #138 session and SQL Rally Dallas session. The title is “DirectQuery vs Vertipaq Mode in SSAS Tabular Model”. This session will take you to a second step to see what’s beyond the default option (In-Memory / Vertipaq). 

Since the time I wrote the abstract for SQL Rally, Microsoft has rebranded Vertipaq to “xVelocity in-memory analytics engine (VertiPaq)”. Some of the project settings / options have also been changed to refer to “In-Memory”, instead of Vertipaq; while some remain as Vertipaq such as in the Tabular Model Analysis Server Properties. Despite the name changes, they mean the same thing in SSAS. 

The DirectQuery vs Vertipaq Mode in SSAS Tabular Model session brings a tiny step beyond your first leap to deciding/considering In-Memory Tabular mode. It concentrates on introducing DirectQuery and how different it is to In-Memory. The demo will also show how the two modes differ in query execution, design and maintenance aspects; giving you enough information to make an informed decision on which mode to use based on your business case. 

If you are new to Tabular Model or PowerPivot and would like to know more about it, there are quite a number of great resources to get you up to speed with it, as listed at the end of this post. Hopefully by then, you’d be comfortable in learning more in my upcoming “DirectQuery vs Vertipaq Mode in SSAS Tabular Model ” session. Having said that, if you’re completely new to Tabular Model but want to know what’s the fuss is about, come to the session – and have your first leap to learning Tabular Model with me. 

I have been having a great joy using Tabular Model in my current work, and am continuously extending my knowledge by preparing for this presentation. So I do hope that you can attend SQL Saturday #138 in Sydney or SQL Rally in Dallas and join me at the session. 


Reading/Watching List

Welcome to Tabular Projects



Building your first Analysis Services Tabular BI Semantic model with SQL Server 2012

Speaker: Frederik Vandeputte



Building the Perfect BI Semantic Tabular Models for Power View

Speaker: Kasper De Jonge



Developing and Managing a Business Intelligence Semantic Model (BISM) in SQL Server Code Name “Denali” Analysis Services [BIA-316-M]

Speaker: Cathy Dumas


Note: if you have the PASS Summit 2011 DVDs, pull this session out and start watching it. Cathy was superb in this presentation and I would consider this as an energetic presentation where I “ooo… aaaa…”-ed a few times!

SQLRally Dallas 2012 Website



Sharing with SQL Server Community

I have just attended a local SQL Server User Group in Sydney run by Victor Isakov earlier this month.

In this meeting, Victor went through some updates on SQL Server 2012, the launch date and most notably the changes to the certifications and the courses being offered. More information about the certifications can be found here: http://specialops.sqlpass.org/Certification.aspx#fbid=Z7vC96QRoxV

Special Ops tour is starting in USA from early March. We, in the southern hemisphere, can watch the Launch online on March 7th. Hopefully there is going to be a SQL Saturday event held in Sydney shortly to go through changes in SQL Server 2012.

Also, the 24 Hours of PASS is on next month on 21 March 2012 00:00GMT (check your local time by clicking here). I attended last year’s sessions and they were very impressive. There are 24 back-to-back sessions that you can pick from and I will be presenting one of them with a topic called “High Volume Data Processing Without Driving Your DBA Crazy!”. So, why not Register Now?

SQLRally 2012 is fast approaching. 40 General Sessions have been announced and there is a chance for the Community to vote for the next 20 Sessions. Check out these sessions and hope to see you there!

Edit: ANZ SQL Saturday Tour is here from 12 – 28 April 2012. For more info on the relevant cities, please go to:

Brisbane http://sqlsaturday.com/135/eventhome.aspx
Wellington http://sqlsaturday.com/136/eventhome.aspx
Canberra http://sqlsaturday.com/137/eventhome.aspx
Sydney http://sqlsaturday.com/138/eventhome.aspx
Adelaide http://sqlsaturday.com/139/eventhome.aspx
Perth http://sqlsaturday.com/140/eventhome.aspx

Hope to see you there!

(Special thanks to Rob Farley for letting me know!)