PASS Summit 2018 PreCon Session is Selling Fast

Published On: 2018-10-01By:

My precon session at the PASS Summit 2018 titled “SQL Server Security” is scheduled for November 5th, 2018 in Seattle, Washington at the Seattle Convention Center.  Seats for my session at selling fast, and if you’re thinking of attending you’ll want to get your ticket to this great session soon.

During this full day Precon, we will review a variety of ways to secure your SQL Server databases and data from attack. In this session, we will discuss proper network designs, recommended firewall configurations, and physical security options. We will also review data encryption options, password protection options, using contained databases, and Always On Availability Groups security.

If this session interests you, you’ll want to sign up now as seats may run out (I have no idea which room the PASS Summit plans on putting my precon in).


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Lots of announcements about #Azure and #SQLServer were made at Ignite today

Published On: 2018-09-24By:

Today starts the Microsoft Ignite conference. Like we are used to seeing at a Microsoft conference, Microsoft had a lot of announcements during the Ignite Keynote today.

SQL Server

Probably the most significant announcement for the Microsoft data platform user is the new preview version of SQL Server 2019 that’s now available.  This new version is bringing big data capabilities with this new release. You can ingest, store and analyze vast amounts of data with a built-in Spark and Hadoop distributed file system. And new connectors let you query databases like Oracle, Teradata, and MongoDB directly from SQL Server, breaking down data silos for faster insights.

Azure SQL DB

On the Azure Data Platform side of the world, we have the announcement that Azure SQL DB now supports databases up to 100 TB in size using the Hyperscale feature of Azure SQL DB which you’ll see coming on October 1st, 2018.  Hyperscale is an excellent move for customers, as many customers were blocked by the fact that they couldn’t move the database to Azure SQL DB simple because of size; and this limit is going away in just a few short days.

Along with the legacy database platform, we have Managed Instance which was in Public Preview.  The fact is that it is in preview is no-more; Managed Instance is being released in General Availability starting on October 1st, 2018.  Managed Instance will make migrations to Azure much more accessible for many clients that need support for a SQL Server instance because of features that aren’t available in Azure SQL DB. Managed Instance will bridge this gap for customers giving customers basically full SQL Server functionality within a PaaS service.

In the Azure SQL DB space, we see new features for optimization of query performance getting released to General Availability.  These features include three new features called row mode: memory grant feedback, approximate query processing, and table variable deferred compilation. With minimal effort, these features can collectively optimize your memory usage and improve overall query performance.

Azure SQL DW

Azure SQL DW isn’t being left out of the new feature party. Azure SQL DW is getting a new lower pricing tier to allow more companies to get into Azure SQL DW without the high cost of entry that we used to have.  The new pricing tier gives customers all the scalability and functionality that they are expecting from Azure SQL DB without having to commit as much money to the process.

Cosmos DB

On top of these pretty impressive announcements, there’s a significant new feature for Cosmos DB as well; Multi-Master writes.  While this feature has been in preview since Build, not everyone has been aware of the new feature. The Cosmos DB landscape changes as multi-master write enters General Availability allowing developers to build applications which even more availability and scalability.

Azure Stack

If you have deployed Azure Stack and you were worried about being left out of the Microsoft Ignite announcements, I can put your mind at ease.  Azure Stack doesn’t include support to expand your environment; which leaves companies with no ability to grow. This limitation changes as your Azure Stack environment can now be increased to up to 16 nodes.  The hardware still needs to be purchased from an approved vendor such as Cisco, Dell, HPE, etc.

Windows 2019

Windows 2019 will be entering Global Availability in October 2018.  This new release of Windows Server introduces a ton of features in its own right.  This version of Windows Server increases security over prior versions as well an creating an easier path to a hybrid environment between on-premises environments and the Microsoft Azure environment.

Azure Disks

One of the most significant announcements is in the Azure Space.  Microsoft is introducing the new Ultra-SSD performance tier for hosting storage in Azure.  This new performance tier will provide VMs and workloads with every more performance than is available today in the premium tier of Azure Storage.

Been stored from moving to Azure because Managed Disks didn’t support big enough disks? That isn’t going to be a problem anymore as Microsoft has released larger Managed Disk capacity tiers allowing you to have 8TB, 16TB and 32TB size drives.  Using these new storage sizes, you have to potential to add up to 2PB of space to a single Azure Virtual Machine.  If you have a space concern moving to Azure, that concern should be gone.  While this feature is currently in Public Preview, I’m sure that’ll it’ll become generally available soon.

Azure Files

Microsoft has improved the Azure Files feature of Azure Storage as well. Up to today, Azure Files was only available on storage accounts which are set up on Standard Storage.  Starting today, customers will see Azure Files is available for storage accounts which are built on Premium Storage as this feature is entering Public Preview.

There’s More

There’s a ton of new features available in Azure, SQL DB, Windows, the Developer Experience, and more. I only touched the surface of what was released today.  Check out the Microsoft documentation and the other Ignite sessions for more information on what else was released.


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PASS Summit 2018 Speaker Idol Contestants

Published On: 2018-09-18By:

Today is the day that I have the privilege of announcing the PASS Summit 2018 Speaker Idol contestants.  The contestants have been grouped into three groups, with each of groups presenting on either Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

The groups that we have for the PASS Summit 2018 this year are:

Wednesday (4:45 PM)

  • Heidi Hasting
  • Ameena Lalani
  • Christopher Wolff
  • Dennes Torres de Oliveira

Thursday (4:45 PM)

  • Leslie Andrews
  • Janusz Rokicki
  • Michael Johnson
  • Paresh Motiwala

Friday (11:15 AM)

  • Randolph West
  • Peter Shore
  • James Donahoe
  • Rob Volk

The winners of these three days will then be presenting again in the finals on Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm along with one runner-up.  Each of these 12 attendees to going to get some great feedback from our panel of judges (which I’ll announce later).

I wish everyone luck, and all see you at the PASS Summit.


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High Availability and Disaster Recovery are expensive, until you need them

Published On: 2018-09-10By:

If you work in IT, you probably heard about the disaster that Azure had last week with their South Central US (Texas) region.  This outage has been a significant problem for a lot of customers, as well as to Microsoft.

When it comes to having a high availability or disaster recovery plan in place, they become vital very quickly.  Based on what we know so far, this started with a lightning strike. A lightning strike wasn’t exactly something that could be planned for or could have detected in advance.  Because we couldn’t prepare for the problem, all we could do is react. Reacting to an issue like this requires planning. That planning is a High Availity or Disaster Recovery plan.

On social media, I see questions like, shouldn’t Microsoft be doing High Availability and Disaster Recovery for you if you are in Azure?  My answer to that is a resounding no.

High Availability

High Availability would only be useful for a full building failure like Microsoft Azure had, if it was set up recently using Zones.  The High Availability would only be successful because a single building was taken offline due to the lightning strike.  The outage only impacted VMs, and not entirely.  The outage leads me to assume that PaaS services were able to stay online because the PaaS services are set up to use Zones within Azure. If VMs aren’t set up in Zones, then the services that they provide have no guarantee that they would stay online.

If you’ve told customers that Azure VMs will be staying up, without building High Availability into the design, then you’ve told the customer something that simply isn’t true.

Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery isn’t included in any service that Microsoft offers unless you pay for it, and even still Disaster Recovery planning is only available on a couple of services that Microsoft provides.  As Microsoft doesn’t offer Disaster Recovery on most of the services, this means that you need to plan for your Disaster Recovery needs yourself.

Yes, Disaster Recovery planning costs money, I get that.  These costs might be hard for a company to swallow, but how long can the company last if the services that it depends on are offline.  Can your company last for a day or two with customers getting no response to your website?  These customers might assume that you’re gone out of business and use a competitors service instead of yours. That might mean that money is lost, not just now but in the future.

Disaster Recovery doesn’t have to be a full disaster recovery environment.  You may be able to get away with restoring backups to get the website back up and running.  You might be able to get away with a small part of your environment being set up for Disaster Recovery.  You might need a full Disaster Recovery environment setup. It all depends on what your specific business needs and what you can afford.

All Clouds Can Fail

If your applications aren’t in Azure, or Amazon’s AWS service, or Google Cloud you aren’t immune to this problem.  If you have a server at the office that hosts the application that runs your business, what happens if a lightning strike happens to your building and the server you have stopped working?  Will your business survive?  What are the plans if this happens?   If you don’t have this plans, or you need to review these plans, we can help, you need to reach out to us, and we’ll see what we can do to help you out, including what kind of High Availability and Disaster Recovery plan is right for you.

Yes, High Availability and Disaster Recovery is expensive, or it can be. But when the time comes, it’s costly not to have High Availability and Disaster Recovery.


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Globally Recognized Expertise

As Microsoft MVP’s and Partners as well as VMware experts, we are summoned by companies all over the world to fine-tune and problem-solve the most difficult architecture, infrastructure and network challenges.

And sometimes we’re asked to share what we did, at events like Microsoft’s PASS Summit 2015.