Shop Talk: 2022-03-14

The Recording

The Panelists

  • Kevin Feasel
  • Mala Mahadevan
  • Mike Chrestensen

Notes: Questions and Topics

SQLbits and Hybrid Conferences

Our first topic of the night was a after-action report from Mala, who spoke at SQLbits. We also talked a bit about how difficult running a hybrid conference is: you have the difficulties of an in-person conference with the difficulties of a remote conference and few economies of scope.

HA/DR for a Small Shop

Most of our episode’s theme came from a question from rednelo, who reached out after the prior episode and asked about disaster recovery options. The short story is that they’re a small shop with one production server hosting both SQL and web servers. A Windows patch ended up breaking connectivity between the web server and SQL Server and they eventually needed to take a downtime to recover.

Rednelo followed up by mentioning log shipping as an option and wanted to see if that was reasonable. Spoilers: yes, it can be, especially for smaller shops.

One of the resources I love is Brent Ozar’s HA/DR planning worksheet. The last update was in 2016 but it’s still pretty well valid, with the only major addition being distributed availability groups.

Shop Talk: 2022-02-28

The Recording

The Panelists

  • Kevin Feasel
  • Mala Mahadevan

Notes: Questions and Topics

Upcoming Conferences

Our first topic of the night hit on two upcoming conferences. First is SQLbits, which is coming up March 8-12. Registration is open right now and there are in-person and virtual options available. Note that this is a paid conference. Tracy will be there.

Second, DevIntersection, which includes the SQL Server & Azure SQL Conference, has a $100 discount if you use the code AZUREDC. This is also a paid conference and is in-person. I will be there.

Goodbye Big Data Clusters and PolyBase Scale-Out

The entirety of today’s episode was a Viking funeral for Big Data Clusters and pre-2019 PolyBase, based off of this Microsoft post. In short, Big Data Clusters are dead. PolyBase is not dead. We also talked a bit about making bets and I stretched that metaphor like riding 2-7 off-suit to a full house.

Shop Talk: 2022-02-14

The Recording

The Panelists

  • Kevin Feasel
  • Mala Mahadevan

Notes: Questions and Topics

Upcoming Conferences

Our first topic of the night hit on two upcoming conferences. First is SQLbits, which is coming up March 8-12. Registration is open right now and there are in-person and virtual options available. Note that this is a paid conference. Tracy will be there.

Second, DevIntersection, which includes the SQL Server & Azure SQL Conference, has a $100 discount if you use the code AZUREDC. This is also a paid conference and is in-person. I will be there.

Rant One: Dimensional Modeling is Dead

Mala wound me up and I took it out on this poorly-reasoned article. The article includes a woeful misunderstanding of the purpose of normalization, makes unsupportable claims about storage and compute prices, claims that dimensional models are too hard for business users to understand while recommending that we use source systems for queries instead, and misunderstands the whole point of data lakes. Data lakes don’t replace data warehouses; they augment and help solve a different kind of problem.

In short, the gist of the article is, “Yes! You, too, can pay more money to be stupid!”

Non-Rant One: $FAMOUS_COMPANY

The above article is exactly what this article parodies. No rant on this one, only raves.

Rant Two: the Value of Normalization

Mala and Mike got me wound up a second time on the topic of normalization. We talked about this argument, that normalization isn’t used and isn’t useful. I tried to be a little less ranty here; whether or not I succeeded, you be the judge.

First, let me lay something out: normalization is a logical consequence of set theory and relational design. It isn’t a set of rules you bolt on afterward; it’s an understanding of the properties which underlie the fields of mathematics which underpin relational database technologies. It’s fundamentally about getting your data model correct. Now, a few points in increasing order of rantiness:

  • Normalization as formal logic is under-used in industry, so I agree to that extent with the tweeted argument.
  • It is also difficult to change this. For example, try getting a talk on normalization accepted. I’ve tried; it’s hard.
  • Where I start disagreeing is with the notion that “nobody” does normalization. I disagree with it in literal terms—I use it; therefore, that statement is not literally true. I also disagree with it in practical terms—formal application of the rules of normalization are under-used but informal application is pretty common. It could be used to better effect if people were trained in its mechanisms.
  • That’s where I start blaming academia: you’re not doing a good job of teaching normalization. People don’t understand the concepts because they have relatively few good examples. Therefore, we stop teaching it? Is that actually the right answer? Because the consequence is that the people you’re training end up with crappier data models as a result.

Shop Talk: 2022-01-31

The Recording

The Panelists

  • Kevin Feasel
  • Tracy Boggiano
  • Mike Chrestensen

Notes: Questions and Topics

Upcoming Conferences

Our first topic of the night hit on two upcoming conferences. First is SQLbits, which is coming up March 8-12. Registration is open right now and there are in-person and virtual options available. Note that this is a paid conference. Tracy will be there.

Second, DevIntersection, which includes the SQL Server & Azure SQL Conference, has a $100 discount if you use the code AZUREDC. This is also a paid conference and is in-person. I will be there.

Columnstore and Rowstore

Mike came up with the theme for tonight’s episode, which is a discussion of columnstore databases. The context of this comes from a statement in 2013 that columnstore databases are 10-50 times faster than relational databases and that traditional relational databases would disappear in favor of columnstore databases.

In all fairness to the person who made the statement, columnstore databases are considerably faster for analytical queries than traditional rowstore indexing. What happened in reality, though, is that traditional relational databases gained columnstore capabilities, such as clustered columnstore indexes in SQL Server. As a result, we saw another instance of a new technology challenging the existing relational model and leading to a synthesis of the new technology into the existing paradigm.

As a quick side note, no matter how transformational or interesting your technology, it’s a bad bet to say that relational databases are going away. The most generous I can be here is saying that if you hang your hat on “traditional” you might win the technical point—technologies like SQL Server, Oracle, and PostgreSQL changed and incorporated columnstore capabilities. On the broader point, we’re nearly a decade later and relational databases are 7 of the top 10 on DB-Engines.

Shop Talk: 2022-01-17

The Recording

The Panelists

  • Kevin Feasel
  • Mala Mahadevan
  • Mike Chrestensen

Notes: Questions and Topics

SQLbits Coming Up

Our first topic of the night hit on SQLbits, which is coming up March 8-12. Registration is open right now and there are in-person and virtual options available. Note that this is a paid conference.

Becoming a Data Analyst

Our main topic of the night came in from a chat question:

I want to become a data analyst. I’m currently working in a profession not related to tech. Is this a pipe dream?

This is a great question and we spend a lot of time on (hopefully!) practical tips on how to get into the world of data analysis. Mike, Mala, and I come at this from different angles and one of the things I reiterate a few times is that data work is a career people move into, not start in. Quite often, somebody starts in a different field, begins to do data analysis within that area, and eventually decides to specialize in it when they find out how fun it is.

Shop Talk: 2021-01-03

The Recording

The Panelists

  • Kevin Feasel
  • Mala Mahadevan
  • Mike Chrestensen

Notes: Questions and Topics

Code Reviews

The main topic of this episode was around code reviews. We talked about some of the pain points when doing code reviews for database changes, how they differ from application code reviews, and also ended up going down some cryptographical rabbit holes.

Here’s the link to the T-SQL static code analysis checks Mala and I discussed, as well.

Shop Talk: 2021-12-20

The Recording

The Panelists

  • Kevin Feasel
  • Mala Mahadevan
  • Mike Chrestensen
  • Special Guest Star Jeff Moden

Notes: Questions and Topics

Board Elections

Board elections for the Triangle Area SQL Server Users Group have wrapped up and we are happy to have Tracy Boggiano and Mike Chrestensen back for their two-year terms. Thank you to everybody who voted.

Technical Debt

Our big topic was around technical debt, including a description of what it is, how you can minimize it, and even how much it matters. I decided to play Devil’s Advocate a bit, as developers tend to be on the “fix all the technical debt!” train, and somebody’s got to make it interesting…

Mike brought up Martin Fowler’s tech debt quadrant, which gives one helpful way of distinguishing classes of technical debt. I fumbled around with some thoughts and will need to write a fuller blog post to get my ideas out. Jeff Moden also made an appearance and talked about his situation, which sounds to me like a really difficult one to be in (to put it nicely).

Shop Talk: 2021-12-06

The Recording

The Panelists

  • Kevin Feasel
  • Mala Mahadevan
  • Mike Chrestensen

Notes: Questions and Topics

Board Elections

Board elections for the Triangle Area SQL Server Users Group are currently running. Get in touch with me via Meetup if you are eligible to vote (i.e., are a member of the Meetup) and have a vote up or down on the slate of candidates.

Reflections on the Year

This episode was an early “reflect on the last year and think about the next” type of episode because we didn’t have any content I was traveling. Thank you to everybody who is a part of TriPASS; we appreciate your existence.

Shop Talk: 2021-11-22

The Recording

The Panelists

  • Kevin Feasel
  • Mala Mahadevan
  • Tracy Boggiano
  • Mike Chrestensen

Notes: Questions and Topics

Board Elections

Board elections for the Triangle Area SQL Server Users Group are coming up soon. We have two candidates running for re-election: Mike for the Vice President of Membership and Tracy for Vice President of Programs. If you are a TriPASS member in good standing, you can also run for one of the leadership positions; get in touch with me via Meetup if interested.

Conference Thoughts

All four of us shared our thoughts on the recent PASS Summit. Overall, I think it was a successful first attempt, but it did have some rough edges. From there, I spoke a bit about the Live! 360 conference last week, where it was good to see some people for the first time in a couple of years.

NULL, Sargability, and Performance

The back half of the episode mostly dealt with performance tuning considerations, particularly when dealing with NULL. I started off hinting that I’d disagree with a good bit, but in the end, most of the advice was reasonable.

Shop Talk: 2021-11-08

The Recording

The Panelists

  • Kevin Feasel
  • Tracy Boggiano
  • Mike Chrestensen
  • BONUS SPECIAL GUEST Chris Wood

Notes: Questions and Topics

Thoughts on Day 1 of PASS Summit

We started out with some thoughts about the first day of PASS Summit, which is now almost over because I’m bad at uploading these videos in a timely fashion. I moderated Steph Locke’s pre-con on data science, which was really good. Tracy saw Rob Sewell’s pre-con on ARM templates and Bicep, which was also really good.

Special Guest Interrogation

We invited Chris Wood on to ask a whole bunch of questions about PolyBase. This is probably a good reason to point at PolyBase Revealed, the world’s best book on PolyBase.

We dove into several topics, including parts of how PolyBase works, how you can analyze problems, and where you can find details on why performance is slow.

SQL Server 2022

We also talked about SQL Server 2022’s announcement at Ignite. Since then, we saw the PASS Data Community Summit’s first day keynote dive into more of the topics and vision.