SQLSaturday 97 Austin     #97

This was a great event! This was Austin’s first SQLSaturday, so it’s quite an accomplishment and something to celebrate.  I brought my family with me since my wife wanted to do some shopping in San Marcos. The drive down went well and we only had two hickups. The first was just a minor hold up due to a grass fire in the highway median. Texas has been in quite a drought so this is unfortunately common right now. The second was traffic on 35 once we got into Austin, but I was able to get around all of it. The speaker dinner was held at the Iron Cactuss restaurant and was a buffet style BBQ. The food was great and everyone had a great time networking with a bunch of wonderful people.

The next morning I headed out to the Thompson Conference Center on the University of Texas campus. Being a college, it was obviously well suited for an event like this. UT was late getting the building open so things started off behind schedule, but the Austin team was able to get everything back on track.

Opening Ceremony
Wes Brown gave a good opening and a great job thanking sponsors, volunteers, and speakers. My hat is off to Wes, Jim Murphy, and AJ Mendo for putting on a wonderful event.

Session 1
Michael Hotek spoke on SQL Server Perfomance Analysis. Mike is a Dallas speaker and helps run the Ft. Worth group, but this was my first time to hear him speak. He did a great job covering the process flow of the SQLOS to help explain performance waits. He talked about the gotchas with using performance monitor, talked about the DMVs, and even touched on extended events.

Session 2
Steven Ormond spoke on SQL Server Memory. Steven is a really great guy and it was a pleasure to meet him. He did a great job in his live demos of limiting the max server memory to demonstrate various methods of how to find memory pressure in your system. He showed what counters to look for in performance monitor and what they mean. He also showed how to find the bottlenecks using the DMVs. He is a new speaker and he delivered a fantastic session. I certainly hope he continues to speak.

Session 3
I spoke during this time slot on SQL Server Mirroring. If you attended this session or want to see what it was about then you can view the abstract and download the slide deck HERE.

Lunch
Lunch was a standard lunch box with a sandwich, chips, cookie, and an apple. It was pretty basic lunch as far as quality. The venue had a good setup for lunch time networking with an outside courtyard, and the weather was perfect.

Session 4
Jim Murphy spoke on Denali Always On. I’ve always loved and gravited toward HR and DR technologies and as a fan of both clustering and mirroring this was right up my alley. I admit that I should already be up to date on this faeature, but simply have not had time. Jim wrote a nice little custom application front end to show the app connecting to the differentl replicas as he failed them over. It was an awesome touch and great idea.

Session 5
Tim Radney spoke on TempDB. Tim is a fellow regional mentor and it was great to meet him. He had an amazing session on TempDB performance and using SQLQueryStress to create contention and show how to troubleshoot it. He covered everything from best practices and PFS/GAM/SGAM, to personal experience. This was a great session and I think I might need to put together something similar. Maybe I can convince Tim to give me some pointers.

Session 6
There were some great sessions, but I ended up using this as a networking time and as always was time well spent.

Closing
The closing ceremony was a bit long for the raffle. This is a very common pain point for many of these events. I shared some ideas of what has worked for us in Dallas and hopefully that will help in the future.

Other Observations
They used the standard SQLSaturday evaluation forms that only have two criteria. One was for expectations (Did Not Meet, Met, Exceeded) and the other was a scale of 1 to 5 for overall quality. The fact that it is short and sweet might yield a greater return of forms.  People are more inclined to fill it out since it’s quick.  The tradeoff is whether it was enough for the speakers.  It worked fine for me as an attendee and speaker.

The team did a great job on the inside signs, but outside signs were a little lacking.

After Party
The after party was also held at the Iron Cactuss. It was a great time of networking and everyone had a wonderful time. The turn out was small, but it’s hard to get people to go after a full day of drinking from the fire hose and time away from family. I’ve got some ideas, that I hope try out in the future to help this situation.

Icing on the Cake
Wes Brown was awarded with an MVP award it could not have come on a better day for him. Congratulations Wes! You are most deserving of this award and we appreciate everything you do for the community.