I’m visiting Dallas this week to speak at the North Texas SQL Server User Group this Thursday. I’ll be speaking about keys: primary keys, surrogate keys, clustered keys, GUIDs, SEQUENCEs, alternate keys…well, there’s a lot to cover about such a simple topic. The reason I put this presentation together is I see a lot of confusion about these topics. Some of it’s about terminology (“I can’t find anything about alternate keys in SQL Server…what the heck is that, anyway”), some of it is misunderstandings (“what do you mean IDENTITIES aren’t unique! of course they are…they are primary keys!”), some of it is just new (“Why the heck would anyone want to use a SEQUENCE?”).
We’ll be chatting about all these questions and more on Thursday, 17 March at the Microsoft venue in Irving, Texas starting at 6PM.
Attendance is free, but you need to register at http://northtexas.sqlpass.org/ to help organizers plan for the event.
Don’t worry if you don’t know about SQL Server or don’t use it: this presentation will focus on some SQL Server specific features, but the discussion is completely portable to other DBMSs.
So many of us have learned database design approaches from working with one database or data technology. We may have used only one data modeling or development tool. That means our vocabularies around identifiers and keys tend to be product specific. Do you know the difference between a unique index and a unique key? What about the difference between RI, FK and AK? These concepts span data activities and it’s important that your team understand each other and where they, their tools and approaches need to support these features. We’ll look at the generic and proprietary terms for these concepts, as well as where they fit in the database design process. We’ll also look at implementation options in SQL Server and other DBMSs.
Hope to see you there!
My friend Joey D’Antoni ( @jdanton | blog ) and I will be giving a workshop at NoSQLNow! about new database and datastore technologies like Hadoop, Neo4j, Cassandra, Vertica, Document DB, and others. This will be a fast-paced, demo-heavy, practical sessions for data professionals. We’ll talk about where a modern data architecture would best use these technologies and why it’s not an either/or question for relational solutions in a successful enterprise. And, as always, our goal is to make the time we spend fun and interactive. This session will be a great starting point for some other session on Monday that go into data modeling for NoSQL as well as for all the other in-depth, database-specific talks the rest of the week.
Sunday, April 17, 2016
We’ve been busy keeping relational data consistent, high quality, and available. But over the last few years, new database and datastore technologies have come to the enterprise with different data stories. Do we need all our data to be consistent everywhere? What does data quality mean for analytics? Will we need relational database?
Learn how traditional and new database technologies fit in a modern data architecture. We will talk about the underlying concepts and terminology such as CAP, ACID and BASE and how they form the basis of evaluating each of the categories of databases. Learn about graph, Hadoop, relational, key value, document, columnar, and column family databases and how and when they should be considered. We’ll show you demos of each.
Finally, we will wrap up with 7+ tips for working with new hybrid data architectures: tools, techniques and standards.
Use code “DATACHICK” to save:
$100 off for Tutorials Only + Seminar Only Registration and $200 off for Full Event, Conference+Tutorials, Conference +Seminar, and Conference Only Registration.
Super early registration ends 29 January, so take advantage of both discounts now (yes, they stack!).
Last year I participated in the first Data Field Day in San Jose. I’m honoured to be a delegate for the tenth Tech Field Day which follows the same format. On 3-5 February I’ll be in Austin, Texas visiting with vendors in the software, hardware and virtualization world. There will be twelve of us participating, along with our fearless host, Stephen Foskett ( @SFoskett ).
We will be visiting these vendors during TFD10:
At each vendor visit there will be livestreaming during their presentation and we will discuss their products and services, ask questions. You can follow that stream above. Delegates are known for their brutal honesty, their insight and even some fun observations.
You can also follow along on Twitter hashtag of #TFD10. You can also post your own questions for these session using that hashtag.
What I love about field days is the the mix of delegates with a wide background in business, tech, innovation, entrepreneurship and data. This breadth means that we, as a team, look at the technology and business with a variety of viewpoints. And you get to watch it all live.
BTW, the next Data Field Day is scheduled for 8-10 June. If you have products or services you’d like to present to a team of independent data experts, contact me.
I hope you can follow along. It’s a great chance to see real world tech innovation discussions.
It’s a new year and I’ve given Thomas LaRock (@@sqlrockstar | blog ) a few months to recover and ramp up his training since our last Throwdown. The trophies from all my wins are really cluttering my office and I feel back that Tom has not yet had a chance to claim victory. So we will battling again in just a few days.
I’ll be dishing out the knowledge along with a handkerchief for Tom to wipe up his tears at SQL Saturday #461 Austin, TX on 30 January 2016. This full day community-driven event features real database professionals giving free presentations on SQL Server and Data Platform topics. All you need to do is register (again, it’s free) before all the tickets are gone.
Database Design Throwdown
Duration: 60 minutes
Track: Application & Database Development
Everyone agrees that great database performance starts with a great database design. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees which design options are best. Data architects and DBAs have debated database design best practices for decades. Systems built to handle current workloads are unable to maintain performance as workloads increase.Attend this new and improved session and join the debate about the pros and cons of database design decisions. This debate includes topics such as logical design, data types, primary keys, indexes, refactoring, code-first generators, and even the cloud. Learn about the contentious issues that most affect your end users and how to avoid them.
One of the other great benefits of attending these events is that you get to network with other data professionals who are working on project just like yours…or ones you will likely work on at some point.
Join us an other data pros to talk about data, databases and projects. And make sure you give a #datahug to Tom after the Throwdown. He’s gonna need it.
On 12 April 2011 it was Yuri’s Night — the night we space fans celebrate Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 history-setting flight into space. In 2011 we were celebrating 50 years of manned spaceflight. On that same day in 2011, we reached the end of support for SQL Server 2005 SP4. On 12 April 2016 we will reach the end of extended support for SQL Server 2005. That means no more hotfixes, no help from Microsoft and no love for your data still living in SQL 2005 databases.
I’m hoping your organization is already on its way to upgrading and migrating data and applications to newer versions of SQL Server. SQL Server 2016 is already being used in production by early access customers. No matter which version you will be migrating to, I want to share with you some of the features and perks you’ll have available to you now that you are moving away from a dead version. Of course there are hundreds of enhancements that have happened since 2005, but today I’m focusing on those that a data architect would want to use in a database design for enhanced performance, security and data quality.
If you are designing for data warehouse type solutions, this is the closest thing we have for a "turbo switch" for SQL Server. Columnstore Indexes achieve high compression rates since they store columns together instead of storing rows together. They also support much faster query performance for batch and aggregation queries. They typically achieve 10x performance increases, sometimes even more. This feature was introduced in SQL Server 2012, but you’ll want the advances to this feature that came with SQL Server 2014.
SEQUENCEs have been around in other DBMSs for a while, but were introduced in SQL Server 2012. These special objects work much like IDENTITY columns, but offer more flexibility and use cases. The main feature is that you can grab a sequence (or a bunch of them) before you insert a row. Many developers use GUIDs for similar reasons, but GUIDs are much longer and therefore had performance downsides. SEQUENCEs are integer types.
New Data Types
So many new data types have been introduced since SQL Server 2005, but the ones that really stand out for me are DATE, TIME, DATETIMEOFFSET, the geospatial types, and the deprecation of timestamp.
It wasn’t until SQL Server 2008 that we had access to data types that comprised only the DATE or TIME portion of a point in time. So we had to do all kinds of conversions just to strip out unwanted data (00:00:00). We also had to make room to store that unwanted precision. Storing millions of rows of unneeded zeros hurts performance, both operationally and for backup and recovery.
SQL Server 2008 also introduced DATETIMEOFFSET, which allows us to track data in context of its time zone. If you remember the days when meeting invites did not include this important piece of information, you’ll know why this is important.
The spatial data types GEOGRAPHY and GEOMETRY and have added a new and feature-rich way of tracking places, their geometry plus special features that make it much easier to answer questions like "which is the closest" or "is this address located in this neighbourhood". If your data story includes location points, you’ll want to use these.
SQL Server was always an oddball when it came to the data type TIMESTAMP. In other DBMSs, this data type was one that included date and time, to a very large precision. In SQL Server, TIMESTAMP is a type of row version identifier that has nothing to do with TIME. So data architects migrating from other DBMSs were often bitten when they used the wrong data type. Microsoft announced in 2008 that it was depreciating TIMESTAMP and recommending the use of ROWVERSION, which is similar (but not the same) in functionality.
SQL Server 2016 currently includes support of Always Encrypted, a feature that does just that: it support the encryption of data from application to database and back, so that it is better protected than solutions that encrypt data once it is written to the database. I’m always reminding you that keeping your CIO out of jail is part of your job description, right?
As our data gets bigger and bigger, the size of our databases is growing as well. That means that performance takes a hit. Developers want us to take shortcuts on data quality to improve performance because size matters. One of the ways to help manage data volumes is to move "cold" data to other storage locations. Starting in SQL Server 2016, we can stretch a database to Azure, which means that data that isn’t accessed as often can be stored in the cloud and retrieved when needed. This allows our hot data to be local and fast, while the cooler data is more economical to store and still there and your application doesn’t even have to manage this difference.
In SQL Server 2016 we are getting support for JSON processing. This isn’t the same as a JSON data type like we have with XML, but a set of import and export features for providing relational data as JSON documents and brining JSON data into SQL Server. Now you won’t have to manage all those curly brackets on your own.
One Last Thing…
As vendors withdraw support for their products, third party tool makers do so as well. If you are supporting older, out of support versions of databases, it’s likely that your data modeling, data quality and data integration tools are also dropping support for these solutions. You’ll be left supporting database systems without vendor support and without professional enterprise class modeling and design tools. I know how hard it is to keep track of databases that my tools can’t connect with. Don’t let sticking with an old version be the end of data modeling support for that data.
If you like geeking out about space and data types, you might want to check out my 1 April 2014 post on a new data type.
Show Your Data Some Love
These are just a tiny number of the types of features that will be available to you when you upgrade to modern versions of SQL Server. The advent of security, data quality and performance features are leaving your old solutions behind, putting your data at risk and leaving your customer data feeling unloved. There’s a data space race going on. Don’t live your company using old technology to manage data. Go fix that!
Are you an educator teaching at an accredited university or college? Do you want Azure cloud subscription grants for you and your students? All you need to do is register with some basic information at:
The current grant amounts (subject to change and regional differences, of course) for reference:
If you teach a technology-related course, you may be eligible for these grants. Remember, Azure includes more than Microsoft technologies, so these grants can cover a wide variety of course subjects.
I get asked to help teams increase the performance of their database (hint: indexes, query tuning and correct datatypes, in that order) or to help the scale it out for increasing workloads. But when I open it up to take a look, I see something that looks more like this meme.
All those cheats, workarounds and tricks they’ve used are going to make the engine optimizers work harder, make the tuning of queries that much harder and in the end it’s going to cost so much more to make it “go faster” or “go web scale”.
Where are the nail clippers in your data models and databases?
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