LobsterPot submissions for SQLPASS

May 6, 2011

PASSSummit2011My guys are great! When PASS started accepting abstract submissions for their Summit (in October this year), some of the LobsterPot employees immediately started looking into ideas for talks they could do. We rate communication as one of our key values at LobsterPot, and all my staff are keen presenters.



Roger Noble was at the PASS Summit with me last year, and has since spoken at both the Adelaide SQL Server User Group and Adelaide SharePoint User Group. Considering the work he’s done in data visualisation with PivotViewer over the past year, he was keen to be able to submit a session on that. This technology is seriously cool stuff – quite a few of our clients have been very interested in it and are now using PivotViewer to get at their data in new ways. You can see examples of Roger’s work at http://pivot.lobsterpot.com.au

Get even more from PivotViewer (Roger Noble)

With the release of the Silverlight PivotViewer control from Microsoft in June 2010 we saw the beginning of a new direction for data visualisation and interactivity, allowing data to be browsed and filtered in ways that highlighted information that could have easily been missed. This session will show you how to take the PivotViewer control and enhance it even further to provide even more ways to display your data, including placing information on maps, and showing extra information in the PivotViewer tiles according to the zoom level. From sourcing data from PowerPivot and SharePoint 2010, using Visual Studio 2010 to add new functionality and improvements in future versions this session will show the range of ways that PivotViewer can effectively be used in your organisation.



Like most of the team, Ashley Sewell has been doing a bunch of work with clients implementing cubes and reports. The talk he’s put in reflects a very common emotion that he gets from clients when they first start talking about Business Intelligence. They want to know that they’re not just getting their data in a different format, but that they’re going to be able to reach into the data themselves and realise that ‘Analysis’ aspect of SSAS. Ashley used to be tertiary lecturer, and understands the importance of giving presentations that are useful as well as at an appropriate technical level. This talk will be excellent, and I really hope it gets picked.

So you’ve got a Cube. What’s Next? (Ashley Sewell)

Did you ever get to the end of an Analysis Services session thinking "Cubes sound great but what can I show the analysts and execs back at work to woo them?". If your answer is yes then this session is for you. You will be taken through some of the Business Intelligence reporting and dashboarding available using a combination of PerformancePoint Services 2010 and Reporting Services 2008 R2 with particular emphasis on combining the best of each offering to maximise the impact of your dashboards. You can expect to leave this session with a deep enough understanding (and a list of gotchas) to enable you to create your own dashboards and data visualizations that bring the data within your cube to life on the web.



As expected, I’ve put a few submissions – a pre-conference seminar and two regular sessions.

The pre-con is an enhanced version of the one I did at SQLBits 7. In that, I go through a bunch of T-SQL queries that could have been fixed using T-SQL that most people aren’t aware of. For example – many people would shy away from something like ORDER BY MAX(OrderDate) DESC, but if you understand what’s going on there, when it’s good and when it’s bad, then it can be just fine. This pre-con got excellent feedback at SQLBits, and I think it will please PASS Summit delegates as well.

Fixing Queries With Advanced T-SQL Constructs (Rob Farley)

Have you inherited queries that are not your own, and are finding that performance isn’t so great? Removing cursors in favour of set-based queries is useful, but even set-based queries can perform poorly. Understanding the impact that various constructs can have on a query plan could be key to resolving many of these issues. In this seminar, irrepressible SQL MVP Rob Farley will take a look at some real-life queries and take the audience through examples of constructs that can have significant effects on tuning. This will include complex nested joins, join simplification, procedural functions, SARGability v residuality with predicates, better execution plan reading, start-up parameters, force hints, complex sorting, ORs, effective Dynamic SQL, GROUP BY v DISTINCT, unique indexes, temporary tables, APPLY considerations, and more. You’ll discover profoundness in things you thought you knew, and you’ll even see when a covering index that returns a single row can be a bad thing. This will be a day spent in Management Studio, not PowerPoint. If you want to know how to persuade the Query Optimizer to do a better job of running your query, this day is for you. The examples will apply to a variety of versions, with most of it being useful even in a SQL 2005 environment.



Another talk that I’ve done in the past is one called “Understanding SARGability (to make your queries run faster)”. In fact, last year this talk was a ‘stand-by’ for the PASS Summit. I also gave it at SQLBits 7, with Brent Ozar (@BrentO) and Buck Woody (@BuckWoody) heckling me from the back. Brent tweeted “Okay, wow, @robfarley is a seriously good presenter”, and although he got my Twitter handle wrong (it’s @rob_farley), I was very flattered. It’s one of my second-favourite tweets still.

Over recent times, I’ve found that people really don’t seem to understand the significance of having predicates fall into the category of “Residual”. I wrote about it recently, and was quite interested to see some of the reactions that people had when they talked about it with me. Jack Li wrote a post last week about a query which took longer than expected because a Hash Match was putting a lot of data into a single bucket. This is a common problem that gets missed, because of the impact of having the selective predicate treated as residual. I’m going to write more posts on that in the coming weeks, and a lot of that will be covered in one of the talks I’ve submitted this year. Residualiciousness isn’t a real word, but I figure that shouldn’t stop me.

Joins, SARGability and the Evils of Residualiciousness (Rob Farley)

You wouldn’t believe how often people just aren’t using their indexes effectively, whether it be searching for data, or joining tables. Quite often, this comes down to predicates becoming residual. Yes, residuality is a problem, and once a predicate has become residualicious, you may as well be scanning instead of seeking. There’s so much more to SARGability than people think, and people can often miss out on significant performance benefits by not appreciating this – particularly with new and improved query hints becoming available in SQL 2008 R2 SP1 and Denali. SARGable means Search ARGument Able and relates to the ability to search through an index for a value. Unfortunately many database professionals don’t really understand it – especially in regard to joins – leading to queries which don’t run as well as they should. In this talk, you’ll learn how to tell whether a predicate is being used correctly, and to evaluate what’s really going on in your Seek or Join. You’ll even learn to use new features in SQL 2008 R2 SP1 and Denali to affect the residuality of your predicates. This is a talk involving lots of demos, showing plenty of queries and execution plans.



The other talk I’ve submitted was inspired by a conversation with my friend Jamie Thomson (@jamiet), who unfortunately won’t be at the PASS Summit this year (he does have an excellent reason though). I happened to mention something which I considered an important consideration about queries used for SSIS, and he told me I had to write a blog post about it. I eventually did, and it got me thinking about a bunch of things that SSIS Tuning Talks (like those that Jamie gives) which are very relevant to tuning T-SQL, but yet almost never get mentioned by standard talks. Some of them get covered in the pre-con seminar too, and I’m sure I’ll have to get blog posts written on some of these things over coming months.

Tuning T-SQL Using Lessons Learned From SSIS (Rob Farley)

We see presentations telling us how to tune T-SQL, looking at things like how a covering index can help avoid an expensive lookup, and the importance of set-based thinking. But there can be a lot more to finding bottlenecks in an execution plan, and there are significant parallels with the kind of concerns we have when tuning SSIS Data Flows. This session will look at some of the things that SSIS gurus explain when in looking at how to make SSIS run faster, and draw strong parallels to things that many query tuners don’t realise. If only they paid attention to the SSIS world! There will be a lot of examples in this session, explaining what’s happening in query plans and the ways that you can persuade your queries to run more like your SSIS packages, and vice-versa.



Looking at the long list of abstract submissions this year (and right now there’s about three hours for more to come in), I think it’s going to be a great event. With buzz around Denali and a stronger community than ever, I think it’s going to be huge.

There will be handful of LobsterPot employees there, and I hope you will be too!


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