Tony Davis is an Editor with Red Gate Software, based in Cambridge (UK), specializing in databases, and especially SQL Server. He edits articles and writes editorials for both the Simple-talk.com and SQLServerCentral.com websites and newsletters, with a combined audience of over 1.5 million subscribers. You can sample his short-form writing at either his Simple-Talk.com blog or his SQLServerCentral.com author page.
As the editor behind most of the SQL Server books published by Red Gate, he spends much of his time helping others express what they know about SQL Server. He is also the lead author of the book, SQL Server Transaction Log Management.
In his spare time, he enjoys running, football, contemporary fiction and real ale.
The idea of ‘instrumenting’ an application often seems to puzzle application developers. Modern IDEs are so full of code-tracers, debuggers and profilers that developers seem to resent the idea that applications should be designed and developed so as to be measurable. The application’s methods need to be instrumented so that, on demand, the application can … Read more
Recently, I’ve been getting more and more engrossed in SQL Server Execution plans for various reasons, including editing the forthcoming third edition of Grant Fritchey’s book. There are certain infographics that ‘speak’ to everyone. They represent highly complex concepts clearly and unequivocally. Unfortunately, the SQL Server graphical execution plan is not one of them. I … Read more
Where do I start? It’s a question each of us asks when faced with any learning goal, whether it’s how to play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on a guitar, or how to deploy a database. The answer, as any teacher will tell you, is to work out where you are now, in terms of skills and … Read more
In any engineering project, you can’t avoid testing your product against reality. A friend who once worked at a car design center told me that throughout each development cycle, in adding to a component-testing program with test-rigs and simulations, they would drive each newly-designed automobile down “Dunmore Lane”. This local road was infamous for its … Read more
When tidying out an old cupboard a few weeks ago, one after another I casually tossed outdated, dusty technical books into a recycling box. I paused however, when I reached one particular book, on “ASP for Databases” with which I’d had some editorial involvement. At the time, it had seemed just another book, albeit a … Read more
A transaction log, if sized sensibly, is like a ring buffer. It will stay the same size however much data it holds, up to a point. It is when something goes wrong that the log can turn into a disk-space-devouring monster, and my heart sinks whenever I stumble across a forum or Q&A post advocating … Read more
Much of the versatility of PowerShell comes from its impressive array of modules, mostly contributed by the community. With a simple command, one can install a module to perform a Find-String, similar to grep, or one to integrate PowerShell with a version control system (PoshGit), or to install a build automation system (Psake). With another … Read more
It can be dispiriting when we see the IT Industry take genuine attempts to solve problems, and turn them into vacuous marketing opportunities, or ways of disguising IT cuts on essential services. If a codified set of practices gets a name, and visibility, troubled organizations often clutch it as a panacea for deeper problems of … Read more
Now that the rate of hot air hissing out of the NoSQL marketing balloon seems to be abating, we can take stock of the obvious qualities of the technologies in a less excitable atmosphere. There are some impressive technologies out there. The oddly-named Neo4J, for example, is an excellent ‘Graph’, or network, database that can … Read more
You can give a deep-dive presentation about SQL Server's transaction log, and round it off by inviting questions. Your audience will stare awkwardly at their boots. Afterwards, to your surprise there will be a queue of questioners, and the questions are the ones they were too shy to ask out loud. Tony Davis answers these apparently simple, yet tricky questions.… Read more
Why has Microsoft acquired Revolution Analytics, the company who provide open source distributions of R, alongside commercial “Enterprise” extensions for big data infrastructures? R is a programming language and platform for data manipulation, time series analysis, statistical modelling and graphics. It provides powerful statistical methods that can, for example, explore the relationships between the many … Read more
When the original window-based user-interface was first being developed by Palo Alto, the team was driven by the idea that applications must be easy to use, consistent and accessible to all of humanity. This is why every window that opened in all subsequent windowing operating systems, had a rather standard design, with a set of … Read more
Over recent months, it’s been hard to avoid the growing noise and enthusiasm surrounding the push towards distributed, microservice-based software architectures. In this world, every application is a set of independent services, typically cloud-based, each with its own ‘persistence solution’, and each service communicating and sending data back and forth across the network. Many of … Read more
Recently, it has been interesting to observe a more critical and considered reaction to some of the more extreme ideas in software development, from berating the nonsense of the 10x developer, to a burning desire to consign SCRUM to the flames. Underlying some of these critiques, there is a nostalgia for a return to a … Read more
SQL Server provides a large number of built-in stored procedures that can tell us all sorts of useful information about what’s going on in our SQL Server databases. For example, the sp_help* set of system stored procedures allow us to return information regarding the structure of our databases, or any of the objects within that … Read more
PASS Summit 14 Day 1 keynote and Joseph Sirosh and Sanjay Somi demo’d Azure Machine Learning (ML) and the drive to ‘democratize’ predictive analytics. The basic idea behind ML is computers learning through “training” how to look for patterns and relationships in complex data, without being explicitly programmed to find a particular “answer”. Through iteration, … Read more
During the PASS Summit 14 keynote, TK “Ranga” Rengarajan mentioned briefly Microsoft’s DocumentDB, a new NoSQL database. I was hoping to hear more. It’s an Azure-hosted JSON document data store and seems to be an attempt to marry the schema ‘flexibility’ and easy scalability that developers crave from their databases with the transactional capabilities of … Read more
In his recent, successful bid to win election to the PASS board, Grant Fritchey (@GFritchey) opened his campaign statement as follows: The PASS organization changed my life for the better. He goes on to explain how, as a result, he’d now like to help extend the benefits he’s experienced to as many other people as … Read more
A recent, short article on O’Reilly.com, Before You Refactor suggests that if you think you need to rewrite code, you must proceed with caution, do cost-benefit analysis and so on. If you’re still convinced then, at the very least, make the changes in small increments, reusing as much of the existing code, and tests, as … Read more
One of the most pernicious and pervasive myths in business-application development is that all business logic must be kept from the relational database and contained in a separate ‘business layer’. In the most fundamentalist forms of this idea, it’s just about OK to call a stored procedure to delete a customer, for example, but any … Read more