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  • Looking for a Lead SQL Developer with a passion for data

    - by simonsabin
    Data is a huge part of what we do and I need someone that has a passion for data to lead our SQL team. If you’ve got experience with SQL and want to lead a team working in an agile environment with aggressive CI processes. Do you have a passion about data and want to use technology to solve problems then you are just the person I am looking for The role is based in London working for on of the top tech companies in Europe. Contact me though my blog or linkedin ( http://uk.linkedin.com/in/simonsabin...(read more)

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  • Microsoft guarantees the performance of SQL Server

    - by simonsabin
    I have recently been informed that Microsoft will be guaranteeing the performance of SQL Server. Yes thats right Microsoft will guarantee that you will get better performance out of SQL Server that any other competitor system. However on the flip side there are also saying that end users also have to guarantee the performance of SQL Server if they want to use the next release of SQL Server targeted for 2011 or 2012. It appears that a recent recruit Mark Smith from Newcastle, England will be heading a new team that will be making sure you are running SQL Server on adequate hardware and making sure you are developing your applications according to best practices. The Performance Enforcement Team (SQLPET) will be a global group headed by mark that will oversee two other groups the existing Customer Advisory Team (SQLCAT) and another new team the Design and Operation Group (SQLDOG). Mark informed me that the team was originally thought out during Yukon and was going to be an independent body that went round to customers making sure they didn’t suffer performance problems. However it was felt that they needed to wait a few releases until SQL Server was really there. The original Yukon Independent Performance Enhancement Team (YIPET) has now become the SQL Performance Enforcement Team (SQLPET). When challenged about the change from enhancement to enforcement Mark was unwilling to comment. An anonymous source suggested that "..Microsoft is sick of the bad press SQL Server gets for performance when the performance problems are normally down to people developing applications badly and using inadequate hardware..." Its true that it is very easy to install and run SQL, unlike other RDMS systems and the flip side is that its also easy to get into performance problems due to under specified hardware and bad design. Its not yet confirmed if this enforcement will apply to all SKUs or just the high end ones. I would personally welcome some level of architectural and hardware advice service that clients would be able to turn to, in order to justify getting the appropriate hardware at the start of a project and not 1 year in when its often too late.

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  • SSIS - Access Denied with UNC paths - The file name is a device or contains invalid characters

    - by simonsabin
    I spent another day tearing my hair out yesterday trying to resolve an issue with SSIS packages runnning in SQLAgent (not got much left at the moment, maybe I should contact the SSIS team for a wig). My situation was that I am deploying packages to a development server, and to provide isolation I was running jobs with a proxy account that only had access to the development servers. Proxies are an awesome feature and mean that you should never have to "just run the job as sysadmin". The issue I was facing was that the job step was failing. The job step was a simple execution of the package.The following errors appeared in my log file. I always check the "Log step output in history" for a job step, this ensures you get all the output from the command that you run. I'll blog about this later. If looking at the output in sysdtslog90 then you will have an entry with datacode -1073573533 and error message File or directory "<filename>" represented by connection "<connection>" does not exist.  Not exactly helpful. If you get the output from the console then you will also get these errors. 0xC0202070 "The file name property is not valid. The file name is a device or contains invalid characters." 0xC001401E "specified in the connection was not valid." It appears this error is due to the use of a UNC path and the account runnnig the package not having access to all the folders in the path. Solution To solve this you need to ensure that the proxy account has access to ALL folders in the path you are accessing. To check this works, logon as the relevant proxy user, or run a command window as the specified user. Then try and do net use \\server\share and then do a dir for each folder in the path and check you have access. If these work and you still have the problem then you have some other problem, sorry. The following are posts on experts exchange that also discuss this,http://www.experts-exchange.com/Microsoft/Development/MS-SQL-Server/SSIS/Q_24056047.htmlhttp://www.experts-exchange.com/Microsoft/Development/MS-SQL-Server/SSIS/Q_23968903.html This blog had a post about it being a 64 bit issue. That definitely wasn't the issue for me as I was on a 32 bit server http://blogs.perkinsconsulting.com/post/64-bit-SQL-Server-2005-SSIS-and-UNC-paths-Part-2.aspx  

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  • Understanding SARGability (to make your queries run faster)

    - by simonsabin
    Rob Farley is doing a live meeting this month on understanding what SARGable means. It is at 1pm BST and so if you are in the UK will be a very useful hour spent. for more details go to http://www.sqlpass.org/Events/ctl/ViewEvent/mid/521.aspx?ID=341 The description of the session  is Understanding SARGability (to make your queries run faster) SARGable means Search ARGument able. It relates to the ability to search through an index for a value, but unfortunately, many database professionals don...(read more)

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  • Something for the weekend - Whats the most complex query?

    - by simonsabin
    Whenever I teach about SQL Server performance tuning I try can get across the message that there is no such thing as a table. Does that sound odd, well it isn't, trust me. Rather than tables you need to consider structures. You have 1. Heaps 2. Indexes (b-trees) Some people split indexes in two, clustered and non-clustered, this I feel confuses the situation as people associate clustered indexes with sorting, but don't associate non clustered indexes with sorting, this is wrong. Clustered and non-clustered indexes are the same b-tree structure(and even more so with SQL 2005) with the leaf pages sorted in a linked list according to the keys of the index.. The difference is that non clustered indexes include in their structure either, the clustered key(s), or the row identifier for the row in the table (see http://sqlblog.com/blogs/kalen_delaney/archive/2008/03/16/nonclustered-index-keys.aspx for more details). Beyond that they are the same, they have key columns which are stored on the root and intermediary pages, and included columns which are on the leaf level. The reason this is important is that this is how the optimiser sees the world, this means it can use any of these structures to resolve your query. Even if your query only accesses one table, the optimiser can access multiple structures to get your results. One commonly sees this with a non-clustered index scan and then a key lookup (clustered index seek), but importantly it's not restricted to just using one non-clustered index and the clustered index or heap, and that's the challenge for the weekend. So the challenge for the weekend is to produce the most complex single table query. For those clever bods amongst you that are thinking, great I will just use lots of xquery functions, sorry these are the rules. 1. You have to use a table from AdventureWorks (2005 or 2008) 2. You can add whatever indexes you like, but you must document these 3. You cannot use XQuery, Spatial, HierarchyId, Full Text or any open rowset function. 4. You can only reference your table once, i..e a FROM clause with ONE table and no JOINs 5. No Sub queries. The aim of this is to show how the optimiser can use multiple structures to build the results of a query and to also highlight why the optimiser is doing that. How many structures can you get the optimiser to use? As an example create these two indexes on AdventureWorks2008 create index IX_Person_Person on Person.Person (lastName, FirstName,NameStyle,PersonType) create index IX_Person_Person on Person.Person(BusinessentityId,ModifiedDate)with drop_existing    select lastName, ModifiedDate   from Person.Person  where LastName = 'Smith' You will see that the optimiser has decided to not access the underlying clustered index of the table but to use two indexes above to resolve the query. This highlights how the optimiser considers all storage structures, clustered indexes, non clustered indexes and heaps when trying to resolve a query. So are you up to the challenge for the weekend to produce the most complex single table query? The prize is a pdf version of a popular SQL Server book, or a physical book if you live in the UK.  

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  • SSMS - Please get keyboard shortcuts working for schemas

    - by simonsabin
    My current client is using schemas which is good as it provides nice seperation. However it causes me pain on a daily basis. The reason. I can't use the built in keyboard shortcuts in SQL Server management studio. I can't believe how painfully annoying this is. It's just madness that SQL Server's own tool doesn't support a best practice feature.  You can vote on the connect item here to get this sorted https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/feedback/details/349116/keyboard-shortcut-alt-f1-sp-help-doesnt-work-for-tables-belonging-to-non-default-schemas I've blogged about this before, but this just annoys me so much I'm posting about it again. Surely it can't be difficult to change. The other option is to open up SSMS so we can use add-Ins. I've blogged that before and you can vote on that suggestion here https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/feedback/details/265567 I've also raised a connect item to give other improvements to keyboard shortcuts https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/feedback/details/390612/improvements-to-keyboard-shortcuts-in-ssms

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  • SSIS - XML Source Script

    - by simonsabin
    The XML Source in SSIS is great if you have a 1 to 1 mapping between entity and table. You can do more complex mapping but it becomes very messy and won't perform. What other options do you have? The challenge with XML processing is to not need a huge amount of memory. I remember using the early versions of Biztalk with loaded the whole document into memory to map from one document type to another. This was fine for small documents but was an absolute killer for large documents. You therefore need a streaming approach. For flexibility however you want to be able to generate your rows easily, and if you've ever used the XmlReader you will know its ugly code to write. That brings me on to LINQ. The is an implementation of LINQ over XML which is really nice. You can write nice LINQ queries instead of the XMLReader stuff. The downside is that by default LINQ to XML requires a whole XML document to work with. No streaming. Your code would look like this. We create an XDocument and then enumerate over a set of annoymous types we generate from our LINQ statement XDocument x = XDocument.Load("C:\\TEMP\\CustomerOrders-Attribute.xml");   foreach (var xdata in (from customer in x.Elements("OrderInterface").Elements("Customer")                        from order in customer.Elements("Orders").Elements("Order")                        select new { Account = customer.Attribute("AccountNumber").Value                                   , OrderDate = order.Attribute("OrderDate").Value }                        )) {     Output0Buffer.AddRow();     Output0Buffer.AccountNumber = xdata.Account;     Output0Buffer.OrderDate = Convert.ToDateTime(xdata.OrderDate); } As I said the downside to this is that you are loading the whole document into memory. I did some googling and came across some helpful videos from a nice UK DPE Mike Taulty http://www.microsoft.com/uk/msdn/screencasts/screencast/289/LINQ-to-XML-Streaming-In-Large-Documents.aspx. Which show you how you can combine LINQ and the XmlReader to get a semi streaming approach. I took what he did and implemented it in SSIS. What I found odd was that when I ran it I got different numbers between using the streamed and non streamed versions. I found the cause was a little bug in Mikes code that causes the pointer in the XmlReader to progress past the start of the element and thus foreach (var xdata in (from customer in StreamReader("C:\\TEMP\\CustomerOrders-Attribute.xml","Customer")                                from order in customer.Elements("Orders").Elements("Order")                                select new { Account = customer.Attribute("AccountNumber").Value                                           , OrderDate = order.Attribute("OrderDate").Value }                                ))         {             Output0Buffer.AddRow();             Output0Buffer.AccountNumber = xdata.Account;             Output0Buffer.OrderDate = Convert.ToDateTime(xdata.OrderDate);         } These look very similiar and they are the key element is the method we are calling, StreamReader. This method is what gives us streaming, what it does is return a enumerable list of elements, because of the way that LINQ works this results in the data being streamed in. static IEnumerable<XElement> StreamReader(String filename, string elementName) {     using (XmlReader xr = XmlReader.Create(filename))     {         xr.MoveToContent();         while (xr.Read()) //Reads the first element         {             while (xr.NodeType == XmlNodeType.Element && xr.Name == elementName)             {                 XElement node = (XElement)XElement.ReadFrom(xr);                   yield return node;             }         }         xr.Close();     } } This code is specifically designed to return a list of the elements with a specific name. The first Read reads the root element and then the inner while loop checks to see if the current element is the type we want. If not we do the xr.Read() again until we find the element type we want. We then use the neat function XElement.ReadFrom to read an element and all its sub elements into an XElement. This is what is returned and can be consumed by the LINQ statement. Essentially once one element has been read we need to check if we are still on the same element type and name (the inner loop) This was Mikes mistake, if we called .Read again we would advance the XmlReader beyond the start of the Element and so the ReadFrom method wouldn't work. So with the code above you can use what ever LINQ statement you like to flatten your XML into the rowsets you want. You could even have multiple outputs and generate your own surrogate keys.        

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  • Don't forget SQLSocial tonight with Brad

    - by simonsabin
    Don't forget there is a SQL Social event this evening with Brad M. McGehee founder of http://www.sql-server-performance.com/ and now works at Red Gate.Brad is a fascinating guy and amazingly lives in Hawaii. Can you imagine working with SQL Server and living in Hawii. How cool. We might also be graced by the one and only Steve Jones editor of SQLServerCentral.com. Steve's got a great insight into building your career and lots of the stuff that you don't often hear at usergroups so hopefully he can make it and we can discuss some of the things like what makes a good data person during the open Q&A session. Both are fellow SQL MVPs and so the evening should be good. You can still register for the event by going to http://sqlsocial.com/events.aspx. If you have any problems let me know.  

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  • Don't forget to confirm your SQLBits registration

    - by simonsabin
    If you filled in the registration form for SQLBits VI and haven't received an email requesting you to confirm your registration then you are not confirmed and we will be assuming you aren't coming. You need to get that email and click on the confirmation link to confirm your registration We currently have 30 people that have not confirmed. So if you haven't seen an email then please check your spam folders for the email. If you still don't get any luck then please contact us (contactus(at)sqlbits.com) If you are not confirmed and turn up on the day then you will only get in if we have room, and it looks like we wil be over subscribed. you can check your registration status by loggin in to the site and going to the http://www.sqlbits.com/information/Registration.aspx. Check their is a confirmation data at the bottom.

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  • Don't forget to confirm your SQLBits registration

    - by simonsabin
    If you filled in the registration form for SQLBits VI and haven't received an email requesting you to confirm your registration then you are not confirmed and we will be assuming you aren't coming. You need to get that email and click on the confirmation link to confirm your registration We currently have 30 people that have not confirmed. So if you haven't seen an email then please check your spam folders for the email. If you still don't get any luck then please contact us (contactus(at)sqlbits.com) If you are not confirmed and turn up on the day then you will only get in if we have room, and it looks like we wil be over subscribed. you can check your registration status by loggin in to the site and going to the http://www.sqlbits.com/information/Registration.aspx. Check their is a confirmation data at the bottom.

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  • SQL Server service accounts and SPNs

    - by simonsabin
    Service Principal Names (SPNs) are a must for kerberos authentication which is a must when using sharepoint, reporting services and sql server where you access one server that then needs to access another resource, this is called the double hop. The reason this is a complex problem is that the second hop has to be done with impersonation/delegation. For this to work there needs to be a way for the security system to make sure that the service in the middle is allowed to impersonate you, after all you are not giving the service your password. To do this you need to be using kerberos. The following is my simple interpretation of how kerberos works. I find the Kerberos documentation rediculously complex so the following might be sligthly wrong but I think its close enough. Keberos works on a ticketing system, the prinicipal is that you get a security token from AD and then you can pass that to the service in the middle which can then use that token to impersonate you. For that to work AD has to be able to identify who is allowed to use the token, in this case the service account.But how do you as a client know what service account the service in the middle is configured with. The answer is SPNs. The SPN is the mapping between your logical connection to the service account. One type of SPN is for the DNS name for the server and the port. i.e. MySQL.mydomain.com and 1433. You can see how this maps to SQL Server on that server, but how does it map to the account. Well it can be done in two ways, either you can have a mapping defined in AD or AD can use a default mapping (this is something I didn't know about). To map the SPN in AD then you have to add the SPN to the user account, this is documented in the first link below either directly or using a tool called SetSPN. You might say that is complex, well it is and thats why SQL Server tries to do it for you, at start up it tries to connect to AD and set the SPN on the account it is running as, clearly that can only happen IF SQL is running as a domain account AND importantly it has permission to do so. By default a normal domain user account doesn't have the correct permission, and is why so many people have this problem. If the account is a domain admin then it will have permission, but non of us run SQL using domain admin accounts do we. You might also note that the SPN contains the port number (this isn't a requirement now in sql 2008 but I won't go into that), so if you set it manually and you are using dynamic ports (the default for a named instance) what do you do, well every time the port changes you need to change the SPN allocated to the account. Thats why its advised to let SQL Server register the SPN itself. You may also have thought, well what happens if I change my service account, won't that lead to two accounts with the same SPN. Possibly. Having two accounts with the same SPN is definitely a problem. Why? Well because if there are two accounts Kerberos can't identify the exact account that the service is running as, it could be either account, and so your security falls back to NTLM. SETSPN is useful for finding duplicate SPNs Reading this you will probably be thinking Oh my goodness this is really difficult. It is however I've found today in investigating something else that there is an easy option. Use Network Service as your service account. Network Service is a special account and is tied to the computer. It appears that Network Service has the update rights to AD to set an SPN mapping for the computer account. This then allows the SPN mapping to work. I believe this also works for the local system account. To get all the SPNs in your AD run the following, it could be a large file, so you might want to restrict it to a specific OU, or CN ldifde -d "DC=<domain>" -l servicePrincipalName -F spn.txt You will read in the links below that you need SQL to register the SPN this is done how to use Kerberos authenticaiton in SQL Server - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/319723 Using Kerberos with SQL Server - http://blogs.msdn.com/sql_protocols/archive/2005/10/12/479871.aspx Understanding Kerberos and NTLM authentication in SQL Server Connections - http://blogs.msdn.com/sql_protocols/archive/2006/12/02/understanding-kerberos-and-ntlm-authentication-in-sql-server-connections.aspx Summary The only reason I personally know to use a domain account is when you can't get kerberos to work and you want to do BULK INSERT or other network service that requires access to a a remote server. In this case you have to resort to using SQL authentication and the SQL Server uses its service account to access the remote service, and thus you need a domain account. You migth need this if using some forms of replication. I've always found Kerberos awkward to setup and so fallen back to this domain account approach. So in summary to get Kerberos to work try using the network service or local system accounts. For a great post from the Adam Saxton of the SQL Server support team go to http://blogs.msdn.com/psssql/archive/2010/03/09/what-spn-do-i-use-and-how-does-it-get-there.aspx 

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  • Spatial data in the UK

    - by simonsabin
    I am just loving the fact that the Ordance Survey has now released a huge amount of data that can be used freely. I’ve downloaded the Panorama (tm) data http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/products/land-form-panorama-contours/index.html . which is all the contours for the UK This I’ve loaded into SQL Server using Safe Computing’s FME ( http://www.safe.com/ ). This is because the data is a Autocad DXF file and translating that to SQL Server spatial data is not easy. The FME workbench is not...(read more)

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  • We've hit 400 registrations for SQLBits VI

    - by simonsabin
    After a mad rush for registrations to SQLBits VI we ahve now hit 400 registrations. We still have places yet but don't expect then to be available long. At the current rate you've got 7 days until we will have filled up. So get registering, also if you can't make it please make sure you un register. Finally if you haven't received an email saying your registration is confirmed then you won't be confirmed. We currently have 40 registrations that are uncomfirmed. If in doubt please contact us.

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  • We've hit 400 registrations for SQLBits VI

    - by simonsabin
    After a mad rush for registrations to SQLBits VI we ahve now hit 400 registrations. We still have places yet but don't expect then to be available long. At the current rate you've got 7 days until we will have filled up. So get registering, also if you can't make it please make sure you un register. Finally if you haven't received an email saying your registration is confirmed then you won't be confirmed. We currently have 40 registrations that are uncomfirmed. If in doubt please contact us.

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  • Trace Flag 610 – When should you use it?

    - by simonsabin
    Thanks to Marcel van der Holst for providing this great information on the use of Trace Flag 610. This trace flag can be used to have minimal logging into a b tree (i.e. clustered table or an index on a heap) that already has data. It is a trace flag because in testing they found some scenarios where it didn’t perform as well. Marcel explains why below. “ TF610 can be used to get minimal logging in a non-empty B-Tree. The idea is that when you insert a large amount of data, you don't want to...(read more)

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  • I’m a dev is this relevant to me?

    - by simonsabin
    I was asked the question today whether the master class that Paul and Kimberley are running next month  (http://www.regonline.co.uk/builder/site/tab1.aspx?EventID=860887 ) is relevant for someone that is a developer. Yes yes yes yes . Consider it like your favourite album, there might be some of the songs that you hate but the rest you love and a couple in particular you will listen to all the time. If you are a developer then you will find that some of the stuff around backs and recovery might...(read more)

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  • SQL Server Denali - Serverless SQL Server

    - by simonsabin
    Who hates having to install SQL Express to get SQL Server. Anyone ever used those automatigally attached databases you can do with SQL Express. Yes! Wow you must be the only one. SQL express whilst its awesome to have a free version of SQL its a total pain to install. OK you could go with SQL Compact edition but then you lose half of your features. As part of the SQL Server Denali   feature announcements they have mentioned a new “serverless SQL Server” (Watch the video http://www.msteched.com...(read more)

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  • ORMs - Should DBAs just lighten up?

    - by simonsabin
    I did a presentation at DDD8 on the entity framework and how to stop your DBA from having a heart attack. You can find my demos and slide deck here http://sqlblogcasts.com/blogs/simons/archive/2010/01/30/Entity-Framework-how-to-stop-your-DBA-having-a-heart-attack.aspx Whilst at DDD Mike Ormond interviewed me about my view on ORMs and the battel between DBAs and Devs. To see what I said go tohttp://bit.ly/bnf1By

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  • Don’t forget the London SQL Social tomorrow evening - all things SQL Server and beyond

    - by simonsabin
    Its not too late to register for the SQLSocial event in London on Tuesday (7th June, tomorrow). This is a must attend event for anyone that wants to know what’s coming with SQL Server in the next release or are considering SQL Azure. You can register here http://sqlsocial20110607.eventbrite.com/ For full details of the event go to http://www.sqlsocial.com/Events/11-05-09/An_evening_with_the_SQL_Server_Leadership_Team.aspx...(read more)

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  • Newbie error with Windows Azure–403 not authorised

    - by simonsabin
    Azure uses certificates to manage secure access to the management side of things. I’ve started looking into azure for some SQLBits . So in doing so I needed to configure certificates to  connect. VS nicely will create a cert for you and copies a path for you to use to upload to azure. I went to the Azure portal ( https://windows.azure.com/Default.aspx ) found the certificate bit and added the certificate. However after doing this I couldn’t connect. After trying numerous fruitless things, including...(read more)

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  • Usergroups in london this week

    - by simonsabin
    Don’t forget there are 2 usergroup meetings in London this week. The first is on service broker (by far the best but under used feature in SQL Server IMHO) and resource governor. This one is in Victoria on Wednesday http://sqlserverfaq.com/events/216/Service-Broker-Intro-Terminology-Design-Considerations-Monitoring-and-Controlling-Resources-in-SQL-Server-Resource-Governor-Data-Collector.aspx Then on Thursday Hitatchi Consulting are hosting a BI evening on DAX in Powerpivot and a case study in high...(read more)

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  • SQLBits 8 – Conor’s back

    - by simonsabin
    I recently announced the awesome line up for SQLBits 8 in which I mentioned Conor Cunningham . Yes we have Conor coming back. Conor is the most popular SQLBits speaker ever. Conor Cunningham is a Principal Software Architect at Microsoft on the SQL Server Query Processor Team.  He's worked on database technologies for Microsoft for over 10 years and is holds numerous patents related to Query Optimization and Query Processing.  Conor is the author of a number of peer-reviewed articles...(read more)

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  • Paul and Kimberly are coming the UK

    - by simonsabin
    Are you working with SQL, if so then attending a Paul Randal and Kimberly Tripp seminar is a must. The amount these guys know about SQL is just scary. Their life is so SQL that the last time I was having dinner at theirs they were arguing the severity levels of certain IO error codes. Talk about extreme. Paul and Kimberly are running a Master class on the 17th June at the Radisson Edwardian Heathrow. The normal price is a bargain at £249 + VAT. I’ve managed to negotiate a discount of £100 for my...(read more)

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  • SQLBits VI session submission - Today is your last day

    - by simonsabin
    We will be deciding on the sessions tomorrow (Tuesday 8th March) so make sure you get your session in for SQLBits quick. Don't forget we are focussing on performance an scalability so make sure your session covers one or both of these. To submit your session Step 1 - Complete your Speaker Profile Step 2 - Submit My Sessions

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  • SQLBits VI session submission - Today is your last day

    - by simonsabin
    We will be deciding on the sessions tomorrow (Tuesday 8th March) so make sure you get your session in for SQLBits quick. Don't forget we are focussing on performance an scalability so make sure your session covers one or both of these. To submit your session Step 1 - Complete your Speaker Profile Step 2 - Submit My Sessions

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