Category Archives: SQL Server

Is Cataloging Your Data Important?

Data continues to be the lifeline for companies across the globe. As maturity levels continue to grow across companies, one aspect that sometimes needs to be checked is cataloging your data. You can think of this practice as metadata management for data sets.

Insights into one’s data is a substantial competitive edge for any company, whether stored in a data warehouse, data lake, or some other repository that allows teams such as Business Intelligence, Reporting and Analytics, and business consumers to make decisions based on said data.

We could go into a whole different segment on data quality. However, one of many reasons for cataloging data would be to help data professionals from exerting time expenditure on gathering and cleaning the data.

Several tools out there can be of use; I will only go into some of them, but one that I have consistently fallen back on is the Azure Data Catalog functionality Microsoft has produced. Some of the core benefits are:

  1. Integration into existing tools and processes with open rest API’s.
  2. Spending less time looking for the data, and more time getting value from it.
  3. Comprehensive security and compliance are built in.

Introduction to Azure Data Catalog | Microsoft Learn

As you look for continued ways to help cut wasteful spending, ensure consistent data quality, secure, and make your data compliant with ongoing regulations, it would behoove you to look at the Azure Data Catalog.

Your data availability depends on how far you can go as a data-driven company.

Continuing on the Journey of Azure Synapse Analytics

Azure Synapse Analytics has always enamored me. With its analytics service capabilities bridging the gap between enterprise data warehousing and Big Data analytics, it provides the end users much freedom to query their data.

One of the newer features that came out recently was the Cosmos DB synapse link to Azure Data Explorer. Having a big data analytics platform with near-real response times has constantly been engaging and diving more into the world of the Cosmos DB functionality. Within engineering and strategy, combining components such as geospatial and unstructured data; can be a game changer for most.

For those not keen on diving into the Azure Analytics space, Microsoft offers a rolling monthly update with all the latest and greatest features the team and platform are pushing out. Some of the go-to resources I have to be helpful are:

Azure Synapse Analytics Blog – Microsoft Community Hub

Azure Synapse Monthly (Updates) Blog

Getting started with Azure Synapse Analytics – Guy in a Cube

If you are into the data space, check out the evolution of Azure Synapse and what offerings and impact it could have for your industries.

The PASS Data Community Summit

I’m looking forward to attending the PASS Data Community Summit this year in Seattle, Washington. I’m also glad to have the opportunity to speak with fellow Microsoft MVPs Josh Higginbotham and Dr. Victoria Holt on a panel around Transformation and Innovation: Why the database must be included hosted by Steve Jones

In looking at this year’s lineup of speakers and sessions, several ones stand out to me. From a Sr. Level perspective, I’d like to tap into a few sessions:

Automate your Data Quality Validation by Aaron Nelson

Extend Azure DevOps to Take your CI/CD to the Extremes by David Bojsen

Overall, I do like how the tracks are broken out within the session catalog to give a sense of what they look like:

  • Analytics
  • Architecture
  • Database Management
  • Development
  • DE&I
  • Professional Development

It’s great to see some of my good friends, and new speakers I haven’t heard from yet regarding pre-cons. You should check them out and can do so here. Below are a few of my favorites.

The keynotes as well look to be shaping up to be something special:

It will be much fun and excellent content this year. As always, happy to chat if you see me; this event is one I’ve attended, spoken at, and volunteered for since 2011. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

The Power of User Groups

AzureDataCommunity

Fascination has always been with me when thinking of developing local talent. It has helped me immensely in my career both as an attendee, presenter, chapter leader, and more. One can glean immense value from becoming involved in a local UG (user group), whether by the connections made in networking, friendships formed, or learning something new that can help you on your journey.

This post isn’t one to talk about the past and looking at the rearview mirror, but seeing something tremendous and looking through the windshield. That phrase was told to me recently by a mentor, and it stuck with me. For those that aren’t aware, Microsoft has done a great job at intertwining a global network for user groups to come together and share knowledge to further impact communities.

Helpful Links:

  1. Can submit your group here – https://t.co/IzONhUQqel?amp=1
  2. Can submit your event here – https://t.co/0cE0sA5rbF?amp=1
  3. Find a user group on meetup – https://t.co/uRBu6utV5N?amp=1
  4. Upcoming community event list – https://t.co/IzONhUQqel?amp=1
  5. FAQ’s for the Azure Data Community – Azure Data Community FAQs – Microsoft Tech Community

This statement provides an in depth belief of what is starting to transcend community events globally in this arena:

We are Community Owned, Microsoft Empowered. Group leaders own their group, membership lists, content, etc. In that way we aren’t a governing umbrella organization. We’re a network of user groups with a common goal.

The Azure Data Community will continue to grow worldwide, and I challenge you to become involved in your local area. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in leadership at a local level and a global level in years past; nothing is more rewarding to see and help others continue to grow on their journey.

T-SQL Tuesday #135: The outstanding tools of the trade that make your job awesome

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on a T-SQL Tuesday topic and glad to see the topic being discussed by Mike Bronowski (blog) on tools.

Throughout my career, I’ve worked for companies that have allowed me to utilize some pretty nice tools. Whether they are vendor or community-related there are a plethora of options for all platforms and prices.

Some of the ones that I have a special place for can be found here, but I’ll specifically name a few below:

Forums

SSIS

Maintenance / Performance Tools

Utility Tools

Red Gate Tools

SQL Sentry Tools

PowerShell Tools

One thing outside of the above I like to look at periodically are mentors. These morph over time and have a unique ebb and flow about them based on where you are at in your life, career, or journey. Solidifying some good mentors can become just as valuable an asset as a physical tool in your toolbelt.

Thank you, Mike for hosting this month!

What is T-SQL Tuesday

If you want to learn the what, when, how or why to T-SQL Tuesday you can click here for more information.

T-SQL-Tuesday

Release Your Inner Synapse

I don’t know about you, but as Microsoft has produced the Azure Synapse platform, I see a plethora of needs that could be fulfilled by it. Being in a financial institution I am constantly reminded of the world we live in now and the real need and desired for all things data.

The Azure Synapse platform is a complete platform for analytics which blends data warehousing needs, data integration, and big data into one end to end single service at a cloud scale.

Now more than ever data is at the forefront of business. It is the lifeblood to most and as the digital economy continues to expand at an exponential rate technology will need to keep pace. “Without analytics, data is a cost center, not a resource” I think that statement provides great insight into the future of businesses and data itself. If you stop and think about it, data in general, will either make or break you in most cases from a business perspective, and we are only as good as the information we take in at any given time.

Below is a high overview of what the Analytics Service offers:

As companies start need data at an unprecedented pace we find that having a one-stop shop offering for your data will become a game changer and give companies an edge. What does this unified experience look like for you?

I have many opinions about the platform, but what I like a lot about it is the ability to support multiple programming languages such as Python, .NET, SQL, and others. This combined with having integrations in AI, Machine learning, and business intelligence all on the same unified platform continues to set the bar high for future enhancements.

As you can see from the above figure the Analytics runtimes for SQL and Spark. Being able to have insights into shared data lakes opens several doors for businesses to take advantage of analytics like never before.

Security is also a big proponent of Azure Synapse. From automated threat detection to always-on data encryption; to column-level security you will find that there is an elaborate methodology in keeping your data safe and secured. One thing I still would like to check out is the Dynamic Data Masking that Azure Synapse supports.

If you haven’t checked into Azure Synapse yet I encourage you to do so. As you get acclimated and dive into it you will find quickly that you are in control of your data allowing you to query your data on your terms.

Additional resources to help you get started are:

Azure Synapse Analytics

Azure Synapse Documentation

Get Started with Azure Synapse Analytics

Friend of Redgate 2020

Last week I was excited to receive an email from Redgate notifying me that I have been renewed for another year as a Friend of Redgate. Our shop has been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to utilize some of these products

As for the Friend of Redgate program it has been an amazing journey with Redgate. Six years ago they decided to take a chance on me, and am thankful that they did. Together, we have learned a lot together and I’m constantly realizing how much a program like this continues to make an impact for the community. I think Redgate sums it up pretty well:

“Our Friends are all experts on the Microsoft Data Platform, know Redgate and our tools and share our commitment to the community.

Over the last 20 years, our Friends have worked with us to create a whole host of learning content, solve problems on the forums, and develop even better software for our users. Their recommendations have also enabled us to reach and help more data professionals across the world.

The Friends of Redgate are an integral part of the Redgate team; generously sharing their time, expertise and insights with us. We’re hugely grateful for all their support and look forward to collaborating with the group, and helping them in any way we can, for many years to come.”

I look forward to serving the community, and this program continues to allow me an avenue in making a difference. Thanks Redgate for the opportunity!!

Friend of Redgate 2019

The crew at Redgate has deemed me worthy enough to be in their Friend of Redgate program for another year. I continue to be honored an humbled to be a part of something in which I believe in.

“The Friends of Redgate program is an exclusive group of influential and active community members, such as popular blog writers, speakers, consultants, as well as Microsoft Data Platform MVPs.”

Back in 2011 I was new to PASS, I attended my first PASS Summit and was just figuring out what the SQL Community was. Redgate was the first company to allow me to be part of a program such as this, and for that I am grateful.

I, personally, have been a product user of Redgate for many years and look forward to much continued success in the products that they produce. If you get time go check them out.

Thanks Redgate; it is an honor and privilege!!

SQL Saturday Louisville–Bout That Time

SQL Saturday Louisville is less than a week away!! A lot of hard work has gone into putting on this event by some great organizers and volunteers. It has been awesome to be part of the journey with them. You can check out the event homepage here and if your keen on checking out the schedule then you can check that out here

Fortunate this year to be co-presenting a lunch session with Justin Randall (b|t) “Break Through Your Data Performance Barriers with SentryOne” It’s going to be a fun time as we look into a case study that our shop partnered with them on – going to be an epic time!!

This year will be our 10th event and while I have been a part of these for the last three years I would be remiss if we didn’t take a moment and just thank the many who paved the way for our local community to get to where we are now. If you are coming to the event; please do look around and when you see a volunteer please give them a hearty thank you – believe me; it does go a long way.

Big thanks to our sponsors below for helping support us this year!

180 – Is It Time For A Turnaround?

What needs to change? The challenge to explore is are there things in your current day to day that needs to change? Maybe there are some habits, things, processes that need to be turned around. One of the most difficult things about turning around in my mind is acknowledging the fact that you were actually going the wrong way. What….we make mistakes…..nope, never, nuh uh. Admitting to that is not often an easy task.

We may uncover some inefficiencies in your processes at work, we might discover that the direction we’ve been heading in leads to a dead end, or we may even get to that point where we say, “yeah it’s time for a turn around”. It’s then you begin to start to look for that exit ramp; you look for the place where you can turn your flicker (turn signal for some of you) on so you can get off the journey you are on and go a different route.

How do you turn around? Sometimes our pride makes it hard in admitting the road we have been on isn’t the right road we should be taking. We don’t like using the word humble because it makes you feel vulnerable or weak. In my past experiences in technology, and I’ve been doing this now for 18 years is that there is usually always something we (I) could have been doing better.

The path you are on may feel right and other people are taking it, and because it feels right it is unnatural to do a 180; a different direction than what others are doing – it’s not natural.

When is the last time you yourself have said the words I’m sorry? If you haven’t in a while then yeah it’s unnatural. C’mon you know what I’m talking about. You run into these people everywhere; the ones that think their way is always the right way. They call you stupid or point out your mistakes 24/7 telling you how ignorant you are. Or you run into someone who says you won’t be worth anything why are you even trying. Entertain me for a minute and what if that same person did a 180; they didn’t give you a heads up and came up to you and told you that they were sorry. It’s a different road.

This is all well and good Chris but what about you? Ha, well my friend I’ve been taken several exit ramps over the years to turn around. Both professionally and personally. This post is more on the technical side of the house so, there are some things that maybe we can do differently in our day to day work that may cause us a 180-degree turnaround.

  • Backup plans
  • Maintenance
  • Life Cycle Management
  • Documentation (sigh, yeah I need to look at this one)
  • Platform Upgrades
  • Communication (this could be a topic in and of itself and in my mind should be a continual work in progress)
  • Hiring guidelines
  • Career Pathing
  • The security model for databases
  • Disaster Recovery

The above is not an all-inclusive list but it’s a start. Some of the ways that have helped me over the years and may help you in tackling such an initiative are:

Think Progress, not perfection  – this is a big deal because if you are like me you’d like everything to be perfect. You may find yourself using the term “Never Again”. I challenge you to let go of that mentality and you claim victory one day at a time.  If you mess up one day; and you will. It will be okay. You can’t change yesterday, but today is a new beginning.

Think future, not past – yes the past is important because it is full of lessons learned. With that said the past can’t keep you chained; instead focus on the future of where you are going; where your team is going, and where your shop is going.

Think training, not trying – this may sound weird coming from me because I do believe you should try. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m focused on training yourself for the tasks at hand. Example; if I wanted to go try for the Olympics and I go out and try my chances of succeeding aren’t very high. Why? cause I haven’t trained for it. Then if I look at my day job at the shop if I am trying to do something without training for it am I being efficient enough?

So, I ask this question – is it time for a turnaround? I get to work with a lot of tech people locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. I hear a lot that this would have been nice to know a long time ago and it’s too late now. I’m too far in my career. You don’t want to take that exit ramp because of the unknown. My own personal opinion it’s never too late to make a turnaround.

Now I don’t know the road you’ve been on I can only speak for myself. All I am presenting here is that if you are at a point where you know there needs to be a turn around don’t be afraid to take it. Keep fighting the good fight and make a difference wherever you are.