Announcing my SQLBits Pre-conference Session


High Availability Lab on your Laptop!

Having been a speaker at SQLBits since 2010, I am excited to announce that I will be finally delivering a preconference session at this year’s event in Telford and it is only fitting that my session returns to subject matter that is quite close to my heart.

In 1998 I was made responsible for a SQL Server 6.5 Failover Cluster (running on Windows NT 4 Enterprise) and quickly learned the value of having test environments for Availability solutions. The only problem was that Virtualization was in its infancy, physical hardware for non-production loads was restrictively expensive for Enterprises, and not many people understood the technology! If you wanted to test out High Availability concepts and functionality, you were generally forced to do so in Production – And a lot of us got burnt!

Today we have numerous rich Virtualization Platforms, hardware is cheap and Evaluation Software is free (for time-limited evaluation), but despite all these things, I still see most companies failing to provide Highly Available Virtualized test platforms for their DBA’s and Administrators.


Don’t wait until your environment is hit by the Creeper!

In this session, I will show you how to Build Your Own SQL Server High Availability Test Lab (on your Laptop and beyond!) so that you no longer need to put your production environment at risk, and are empowered to play with varying scenarios to your hearts content from the comfort of your own armchair. Once we have our own test platform, we will then focus on SQL Server High Availability (up to and including SQL Server 2016, Windows 2016 and Azure) and take a comprehensive look from the ground up covering simple and complex topics in an easy to understand format!

After attending this training day you will have comprehensively learnt the fundamentals of implementing and managing SQL Server High Availability solutions and will understand how you can deploy these on your laptop, home network, and work test environments.

If this all sounds like your cup-of-tea, then check out the rest of my abstract below:

Build Your Own SQL Server High Availability Test Lab (on your Laptop and beyond!)

Speaker Bio:
Mark Broadbent is a Microsoft Certified Master in SQL Server, Microsoft Data Platform MVP, Chapter Leader, Virtual Chapter Leader, SQLSaturday Cambridge founder (the UKs first SQLSaturday), SharePoint Saturday Cambridge founder, SQL Nexus board member and was awarded Microsoft’s Community Contributor award in 2011 and the PASS Outstanding Volunteer award in 2012. Mark is a regular speaker at both International and National events and is an expert in HADR solutions, SQL Server migration, and SQL Server Concurrency control.

• Are you struggling to understand SQL Server High Availability?
• Would you like to build your own test environment?
• Would you like to practice fail-overs, adding or removing Availability Group Replicas, Cluster Storage Migrations or play with Hybrid deployments -all from the comfort of your own arm-chair?

If any of these are true then have no fear, for in this demo-rich pre-conference I will explain how you can build your own “High Availability” environment in the safety of your own laptop *1, home network or work test network.

We will start from nothing and configure your lab from the ground up until we have a fully functional working Virtualized Domain, Availability Group Replicas and even a multi-instance SQL Server Failover Cluster and then start playing with them to destruction.

By the end of the day you will not only learn the fundamentals of SQL Server High Availability, but will also understand more advanced topics such as:
• Deployment and builds
• Cluster troubleshooting.
• Hybrid deployments and Interoperability.
• Availability Group Monitoring and Performance.
• Virtualization for High Availability.
• New features in Windows 2016/ SQL 2016

*1Please note that deployment on a single host is for testing purposes only (in case that wasn’t obvious!)

Take aways:
Attendees to this session will receive access to a set of scripts, notes and a pre-built Hyper-V time-limited virtual lab for your own testing and enjoyment.

Attendees will not be expected to have prior knowledge of High Availability, Virtualization, and Operating System configuration and Networking, but a basic understanding of these concepts will lessen the learning curve when we come to implement those things.

When the SQLBits preconference sessions are made public I will add an extra link for booking!

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7 Days of PASS – Day 7

karlaAfter a very heavy night (my only one of the trip) I wake to a pounding head and dry mouth. Having consumed at least one bottle of soda during the night I start on another and then move onto Coffee. There is no keynote today and therefore no rush, so I leisurely get my stuff together and contemplate breakfast. No rush that is until I look to my phone and notice a tweet telling me that the UK community is in the Community Zone at 8am, but given that the time is currently 7:30am I realize that it will be impossible for me to make it in time. I’ve represented this area many times before and am no longer the UK RM, so I excuse myself and let others step up.

When I finally make it across to the convention center at around 10:20am, I hang out in the Community Zone for an hour and chat to a few people whilst recharging my batteries and eating my breakfast. I also start scribbling some notes for a 5-minute segment that Kevin Kline (b¦t) has asked me to fill for his Staying involved with PASS Community session. 30 minutes later I bumped into Karla Landrum (t) and accompanied her to Round 3 of Speaker idol. I will be honest and say that in my opinion (and the opinion of a few others I talked to) the best man (delivery) did not win that round and instead the win should have been given to Robert Verell (b¦t). No matter, because it became a mute point when Robert was ultimately granted a runner-up slot to the final.

By the time lunch arrived, I bump into Niko and sit with him for a while, and after he has finished eating, we go and grab a Coffee. Niko is also speaking at this community session for 5 minutes, so we hang out until it is time to head over the road and deliver our soundbites. I love hanging out with Niko, and he always makes me feel happy and always has something interesting to say.
The session is fairly well attended and goes quite well, as do our 5-minute segments. Hopefully, there was a little value to be had, but the session was cut a little short so attendees could go to the prize draw.

Next up on my schedule was Chris Hyde’s R session to lend my moral support and even though I had seen his material before in Phoenix, I felt he did a good job presenting that topic and set the level about right. Analytics are clearly something that I want to get more into, and while I have spent a little time with R Services, I am currently focusing my efforts more towards using Spark for now before returning back to SQL Server R Services and integration.

After a short break, I decide to join Karla again for the last session of the day and final round of Speaker Idol. Kudos must go to the eventual and well-deserved winner who had definitely stepped up his game since winning the last round. His delivery was better than Robert’s this time -but it was close.

The end of this session marked the end of the Summit.

speakeridolI went back to my hotel for a very quick rest before meeting up with fellow MCM Ryan Rineheart (b¦t) and we headed across to the Taphouse for a few quiet drinks and food. It was great to finally see Ryan after so many years since our last meeting, and we both have far more white hairs than we used to. In my case, this is mostly concentrated on my chin.

This marks the end of my trip to the PASS Summit in 2016, and due to personal reasons, may even be my last time at the PASS Summit period. But things can change, so I’m keeping my options and intentions open for now.

If it does prove to be my last, it has been a blast and has been great knowing you all. For those of you returning in a weeks time for the MVP Summit, I look forward to seeing you there!

Peace x.

See also in this series:
7 Days of PASS – Day 6
7 Days of PASS – Day 5
7 Days of PASS – Day 4
7 Days of PASS – Day 3
7 Days of PASS – Day 2
7 Days of PASS – Day 1

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7 Days of PASS – Day 6

drdewittToday is the big day of my presentation, and it is Thursday 3am and I have slept since 10pm, having managed to achieve a few extra hours of prep on my session the night before until jetlag smashed me across my head. My session is the last one of the day which means I have just under 14hours to go before completing what I actually came here to do.

I work fairly diligently up to 8am and having completed my slide deck to my full satisfaction,  I run through the demo a couple of times and am happy that I can leave for day 2 on the blogger table to listen to Dr. DeWitt’s highly anticipated Keynote speech. I grab a bite to eat on the way and my favorite Salted Caramel Mocha and take my seat next to my buddy Niko. Dr. DeWitt’s speech did not disappoint and he covered and compared Data Warehousing in the Cloud across different supplier platforms. The conclusion we arrived at was perhaps unsurprisingly that Microsoft’s SQL Data Warehouse was the best offering, but I also felt his analysis was an unbiased critique (as much as that is possible given his background). Either way, it was a fascinating and inspiring talk.

After my live tweeting, I headed back to my hotel for the next 6 hours or so to complete work on my session and polish some of my notes and make ALL my materials publically available to my attendees. My point will be to say that even if my delivery or session sucks, they have EVERYTHING they need to play with (and implement) In-Memory OLTP.

As the time draws nearer, my only disappointment is that I would have liked another couple of weeks to develop this session to my satisfaction, but I have given it everything possible up to now, and more time and personal compromises have been made than I care to admit to. I steady my brief and fleeting flutter of nerves as I walk across to the Convention Center and promptly head into the speaker room to prepare my final pieces of the jigsaw, making sure that materials, connectivity and other things that could go wrong are addressed. I am happy and ready.

As I walk towards my session room (one of the biggest at the Summit), Niko is finishing off his Columnstore next door. He has done a great job by the looks of things, and he has had a good audience. My room (6B) already has around 40 people scattered around and more people gathering to come in from elsewhere as I start setup on the stage. After a few minor video reconfigurations and 15 minutes later, the recording team is ready and happy -and so am I. By 4.45pm I am really happy that in such a big room I have got a good sized audience at such a late hour, and am ready to begin. The loudest cheer of the day came not long afterward when I announced in my opening that it is late, I expect to have a beer in my hand by 6pm, so would forgo the opening slide’s 10 minutes of waffle. A brief but enthusiastic round of applause rippled around the room -which lifted me a little.

presentingOverall, my session and delivery went as well as I could have hoped for (all things considered). I had no technical problems, no demo fail, no major timing problems and a gaggle of people sticking around for a long chat about their environments and the use of In-Memory OLTP. This is always a good sign (especially given the time), and I do not get out of my session room until at least 6.30pm! I drop my laptop off at my hotel and as I set out to meet up with a few friends, I bumped into one of my session attendees who enthusiastically called my over and kindly told me I had given a great session. I was even happier to hear this when he told me that he had already been to a couple of other In-Memory OLTP sessions during the Summit, so having his feedback (with that in mind) was nice. Hopefully, my general audience feedback will be kind, but time will tell!

After meeting my friends, we all headed over for some dinner before finally wandering up towards the Redgate Party and hung out for a few hours until closing. Next up was the traditional trip to Bush Garden for SQL Karaoke with a small group of people, but upon entering it was clear the venue was jam-packed with non-PASS people. We grabbed one quick drink and moved onto another Karaoke joint called Hula Hula (where we could swing a cat), and here we spent an enjoyable few hours before closing and frantically headed back into Seattle for a swift half (or two) at a nearby bar to Pike Place Market.

An enjoyable but tiring night was over and by 2 to 3am I was back in my bed!


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