04 March 2009
04 March 2009

The Greasy Pole

Programmers often have an old-fashioned view of their trade. They enter the profession imagining that they will spend most of their time puzzling over complex algorithms, developing dazzlingly creative and compelling applications, writing operating systems in their spare time and secretly working on their own computer language. In fact, of course, most programmers’ lives consist … Read more
17 February 2009
17 February 2009

In Pursuit of Simplicity

Dynamic Management Views (DMVs) are an incredibly valuable addition to the DBA’s troubleshooting armory, laying bare previously unavailable information regarding the under-the-covers activity of your database sessions. Why, then, aren’t all DBAs using them? Why do even those that do use them speak wistfully about “good old sysprocesses”? It’s because DMVs are so complex that … Read more
03 February 2009
03 February 2009

The Publishing Maul

Over recent years, Agile development and Scrum have been championed by some developers, and various consulting firms, with a quasi-religious fervour. Initially, I was sceptical but Scrum has taken hold among the Red Gate development and testing teams and, as I started to witness their “daily scrum downs”, I was moved to act. Why should … Read more
26 January 2009
26 January 2009

Beg, Borrow, Steal before Build

The art of developing an application, or maintaining a database server, really consists of finding ways of postponing or avoiding programming. As Phil Factor points out, most good DBAs and developers are marked out by a propensity for “bone-headed stubbornness and practice beyond the patience of an ordinary mortal“. It’s only when this attitude blinds … Read more
13 January 2009
13 January 2009

Running before you can walk

Everyone here knows what a nested loop join is, right? However, I am still willing to bet that if you ask three different people, you will get four subtly different answers. I admire a person who can take a subject that has apparently been “done to death” and bring a new clarity to it. I … Read more
19 December 2008
19 December 2008

Bar-Poo for DBAs and Developers

DBAs and Developers seem to live in parallel universes. If and when they talk to each other, the air is often thick with misunderstanding. It seems that what we have here is a deep-seated communication problem. Although the two groups share a common technical language, they use terms slightly differently. A ‘domain’, ‘transaction’, ‘object’, ‘entity’ … Read more
09 December 2008
09 December 2008

Microsoft and the Grid

David DeWitt and his team at Microsoft have been exploring the ‘next frontier’ of architectures for building the parallel and scalable database systems that will be needed to support the “petabyte” data warehouse. The way forward is the “share nothing” grid architecture, which will underpin the likes of Madison, and will offer Commodity SMPs connected … Read more
25 November 2008
25 November 2008

The Battle Against Lawless Database Design

One of the most entertaining sessions I attended at the recent PASS conference was “Much Ado: A Panel discussion about Nothing”. I never fail to be amazed by the passion and energy that a bunch of database guys will put into a debate about “don’t know” (null), and its many nuances. This debate inevitably can lead to … Read more
19 November 2008
19 November 2008

PASS 2008 Keynote, Part 2: Kilimanjaro, Madison and Gemini

Ted Kummert opened by reiterating the message of Microsoft’s increased level of support for the PASS conference, and introduced members of the SQLCAT team who were in attendance. Ted’s data storage division needed to consider four main “pillars” of development: Enterprise data platform ­ — Ted mentioned security advances and a few other things I … Read more
19 November 2008
19 November 2008

PASS 2008 Keynote, Part 1: Wayne Snyder

This is the first full day of the PASS 2008 conference in the wonderful city of Seattle. After a great pre-con with Bob Beauchemin, a lively SQLServerCentral party and a severe attack of jet lag, I emerged bleary-eyed for the Wednesday morning Keynote address Usually I like to listen, digest and then blog, but through … Read more
11 November 2008
11 November 2008

Building Technical Communities

The SQLServerCentral technical forums have matured and evolved over the course of many years. They were initially stoked by the sweat and toil of a small number of experienced DBAs, including Steve Jones, who were willing to dedicate a substantial amount of their day to answering questions. Slowly, the community grew as more people took … Read more
24 October 2008
24 October 2008

Reasons to Deprecate

I’m happy to see features and services of SQL Server deprecated by Microsoft if it is for a good reason. Good reasons include conformance with SQL Standards or rejection by the community of users; I consider Microsoft’s commercial convenience to be a bad reason. I suspect that everything possible has been said about Microsoft dropping … Read more
14 October 2008
14 October 2008

What’s Up With SSDS?

What’s up with SQL Server Data Services (SSDS)? Presumably, we’ll get to hear more at PDC on October 27th, when the SSDS team present their plans, but the current signs aren’t encouraging. When Microsoft announced their “database services in the cloud” at the launch of SSDS, we blinked with amazement. The prospect of being able … Read more
30 September 2008
30 September 2008

And so it came to PASS…

On 18-21 November this year, in the great city of Seattle, PASS will be holding their 10th annual conference. If you work with SQL Server, you should attend if you possibly can. It’s an independently-organized summit, but with the hand of Microsoft firmly up its sweater. This means plenty of real-world technical sessions from community … Read more
21 July 2008
21 July 2008

The myth of over-normalization

I’ve always been suspicious of denormalizing an OLTP database. Denormalisation is a strange activity that is supposed to take place after a database has been normalized, and is assumed to be necessary in order to reduce the number of joins in queries to a tolerable level. C.J. Date is quite clear on this; well, he … Read more
08 July 2008
08 July 2008

VB.NET: The Ugly Duckling

One of the greatest pleasures of programming in C# is that wonderful, giddy, feeling of superiority one has over VB.NET programmers. In C#, one has a vague awareness that what one is doing has elegance and style. It must be the effect of the curly braces. By contrast, VB.NET steadfastly maintains its status as the … Read more
24 June 2008
24 June 2008

SQL Server Tumbleweed Awards

Several parts of SQL Server look as though they were started and then suddenly abandoned. The classic example is the TEXT datatype. Phil Factor has a theory on most things, and in this case it’s that the programmer responsible for implementing the TEXT datatype at Microsoft succumbed to the unbearable pressure of the job, one … Read more
06 June 2008
06 June 2008

CLR, beer and turkey

It is strange that two important programming techniques in a SQL Server Database can’t be done in TSQL. The first is, of course, being able to read multiple results from a stored procedure. You can do it in ODBC/ADO and so on, but not in TSQL. The other obvious failing is that one cannot write … Read more
27 May 2008
27 May 2008

The Object-oriented Orthodoxy and the DBA

Server Management Objects (SMO) is a very impressive product. SMO (and its previous incarnation, SQL-DMO) is essentially an object-oriented interface into the management of SQL Server installations and databases. It provides an intuitive way for the VB or C# programmer to automate any operation that can be performed via SSMS. We’ve run a few SMO … Read more
13 May 2008
13 May 2008

The DBA Daily Checklist

The average DBA has to perform many routine checks on his or her servers. There will be daily checks, weekly checks and, probably, monthly checks. A short while ago, we were having quite a debate about what items would be on the DBA Daily checklist. Because we all like lists with ten items in them, … Read more