Call to Action – Mentoring

Published On: 2019-12-06By:

A few weeks ago I attended the annual PASS Summit conference in beautiful Seattle, Washington.  This is an event that I look forward to every year.  Being able to share my knowledge as a speaker, reconnect with friends and family of the sql persuasion, meet new people, and learn new things really helps to rejuvenate me.

During the conference I had several conversations with attendees about their own career path and what they could do to improve it.  Some were looking to start speaking, some were looking for new career opportunities, and some where just looking to improve their current situation.

As I looked around the community zone and throughout the rest of the venue, conversations like these were happening frequently.  Technical conversations, people catching up with lost connections, folks learning how the others family is doing and this made me realize that anybody can be a mentor.

So, the question is, if you aren’t a mentor, why not? If not, then I call you to action.

The Call to Action

I’ve been fortunate enough to mentor several people over the course of my career.  Not only have I mentored folks in their technical journey, but as well as their personal life. I’ve been there when they needed someone to listen, someone to just give friendly advice, or to be that person they can lean on.  Disclaimer, I’m not an expert, not a therapist, nor a career counselor.  I have, however, been through a lot in my 20+ year career.  I’ve had ups and downs in my personal life that I’ve had to battle through.

Anybody can be a mentor for someone else.  You don’t have to have a certain title, or degree, or be considered an “expert” in anything to be a mentor.   You can mentor your colleagues, your family members, friends, children, or even your next-door neighbor.  We all have histories and life experiences.  We should share them with those that really need to hear them.

Furthermore, if you are a seasoned member of PASS and a frequent speaker or attendee of #PassSummit, I strongly call you to be a mentor for someone else.  The #sqlfamily is a force I’ve never seen.  As speakers and long-time member, we all should be giving back just as those who came before us did.  I’ve been fortunate to have some excellent mentors along the way, some that might not even know they had an impact on me.  Also, take a moment and let them know if someone has been a mentor to you in some way. They might not be aware of the impact they had on you so make it known.  A simple thank you goes a long way.

Summary

Being a mentor isn’t about promoting yourself or for your own personal gain.  It also does not have to be a formal plan or need a lot of time.  It’s about listening, supporting, and offering guidance for another human being.  If you have someone in your circles that needs a little extra support, I urge you to consider giving them an extra nudge here and there.  If they need help you don’t think you can provide, help them find someone who can help.  Sometimes that’s all that is needed.

Mentor someone.  Stoke the fire they need in their lives.  Help them to see their own potential.  They can do it and so can you.  Be that mentor.

Finally, if you are looking for a mentor and haven’t found one yet, hit me up. You can schedule a 30-minute meeting with me via Calendary. I’ll listen and if I can help I’ll be more than happy to do so.  If I can’t, I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction.

A rising tide lifts all boats” – John F Kennedy.

Be that tide.

© 2019, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.


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Happy Thanksgiving

Published On: 2019-11-29By:

Yesterday was Thanksgiving for those of us living in the United States.  If you celebrate this particular holiday, I hope that it was a day full of love and care with the ones closest to you.

I was fortunate to spend the holiday visiting family and spending time with my two sons.  It was a day of exercise (a Turkey Trot), good food, laughter, being lazy on the couch, stealing tasty treats from my mothers kitchen and your basic family craziness (if you’ve met any part of my family you’ll know what I mean).  I thoroughly enjoying spending time with my family as I live several hours away from them and I only get to see them but a few times a year.  I cherish the moments and my heart gets recharged.

Looking back over the year, I’m thankful for a number of things.

  • My two sons.  Joys of my life without question and they keep me on my toes
  • Family.  They are the foundation which upon I stand
  • Friends.  They tell me like it is (like my family) and don’t hold the punches
  • My health.  I have health issues but overall I’m generally healthy
  • My job.  I love what I do and I work for an awesome company

There are countless other things that I’m thankful for however this is to be a short post today.  I have to get back to eating treats after all.  However you might have spent Thanksgiving, I hope that it was a day of relaxation, reflection, and peacefulness.

Happy Thanksgiving!

© 2019, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.


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Resuming Index Operations With Different Options

Published On: 2019-11-22By:

Starting with SQL Server 2017, Microsoft introduced the ability to pause and then resume index rebuilds.  This was a great feature and with the release of SQL Server 2019, we now have the ability to do the same functionality on the actual create index process. The ability to pause and then resume index build processes is invaluable to most organizations.   Previously, most DBAs had to carefully orchestrate index operations around daily activities, work loads, and reporting needs.  These newer features help to elevate a lot of these scheduling issues that DBAs routinely encounter.

Additionaly, with the release in SQL Server 2017, a new system view, sys.index_resumable_operations was also introduced.   This system view monitors and checks the execution status of a resumable index rebuild or creation.  You can use this view to see which table might have a resumable operation currently pending.

During my colleague Monica Rathbun’s (B|T) precon at PASS Summit 2019, I got into a conversation with Anders Pedersen (B|T) about these features.  He had asked the question ; when resuming an index create or rebuild operation, could you specifically change the original process options which were set?  In other words, change the MAXDOP or duration from the original command.

The answer is, Yes.  You can in fact change those options when the RESUME command is issued.

Let’s take a look.

Resuming an Index Create or Rebuild

Documentation on ALTER INDEX provides which options we can set when resuming a rebuild or creation operation:

<resumable_index_option> ::=
 {
    MAXDOP = max_degree_of_parallelism
    | MAX_DURATION =<time> [MINUTES]
    | <low_priority_lock_wait> 
 }
 
<low_priority_lock_wait>::= 

    WAIT_AT_LOW_PRIORITY ( MAX_DURATION = <time> [ MINUTES ] ,  
                          ABORT_AFTER_WAIT = { NONE | SELF | BLOCKERS } ) 

This means that we can change the MAXDOP, MAX_DURATION, and WAIT_AT_LOW_PRIORITY.

Using WideWorldImporters, I issued a resumable CREATE INDEX command with a MAXDOP = 1

USE WideWorldImporters
GO
CREATE INDEX ix_fact_sale_profit ON fact.sale (profit) WITH (ONLINE=ON,RESUMABLE=ON,MAXDOP=1)
GO

-- Executed in another session
ALTER INDEX is_fact_sale_profit on Fact.SALE PAUSE

Checking our new system view, sys.index_resumable_operations we can now see that the process has been paused.

We can see that the process is a CREATE index along with the actual SQL syntax that was provided to the instance.

Using Live Query Statistics we can also see the execution plan that depicts the MAXDOP = 1

We can then issue a RESUME command and change our options.

ALTER INDEX ix_fact_sale_profit on Fact.Sale RESUME WITH (MAXDOP=2,MAX_DURATION=1)

Using Live Query Statistics again, we can now see that the MAXDOP=2 along with the parallelism operator.

In this case, the max_duration was set to 1 minutes.  The create process did not take longer than a minute, however, if it had the process would have paused automatically.  Once it has been paused, the rebuild/create process would have to manually resumed.

Durability

One additional thing to note is that this resumable process is durable and will persist from a restart of the SQL Server instance.  The metadata about the index create or rebuild will remain ready to be resumed whenever ready.  This way you will not have to restart the entire process over again if the SQL instance is forced to reboot.

Furthermore, because the data is contained within the user database itself, if the database is involved in an availability group, you could failover to your secondary replica and re-issue the RESUME command.  Assuming the database is online and functional, the index operation will resume accordingly.

Summary

Microsoft continues to evolve the SQL Server platform with every turn of the corner. Introducing resumable index rebuild and creation operations will provide a great benefit for database administrators.  Scheduling index maintenance can now be easily scheduled to match their production workloads to ensure their indexes are rebuild and created in an appropriate manner.

Furthermore, for you Azure SQL DB users, these features are already present in your database in Azure.  Take advantage of them if you have a highly concurrent workload to ensure minimal disruption to your production environment.

© 2019, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.


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The Right Consultant Is Worth All The Money

Published On: 2019-11-15By:

Hiring consultants is like buying a new washing machine.   In other words, you get what you pay for some times.

A couple of months ago, my washer and dryer were going out and I have been aware of this for some time.  I was hesitant to purchase new appliances in attempts to prolong the outlay of funds as long as possible.  In the meantime, I was dealing with a little leaking water, some bearings going out which caused the washer to be relatively loud (like a small jet engine) at times and a dryer that took a least two cycles to fully dry clothes.  Of course, these appliances were of the lower end on quality, size and were fairly basic.  Nothing fancy.  Absolutely nothing wrong with that, in fact, I think I got more use of them than I thought possible at the time they were purchased.

Eventually, I got tired of dealing with the time and energy I was spending on laundry.  I rather enjoy doing laundry and it wasn’t enjoyable anymore.  Yeah, I know I’m crazy, but it is something about going from chaos to order, like mowing the lawn for me.  I usually enjoy mowing the lawn too and no I won’t mow your lawn.  Essentially I was spending quite a bit of time running loads through the process.   With myself and two kids to wash for, that was sometimes a daily occurrence.

It was time for me to upgrade.

Let’s Go Shopping

Now if you have done appliance shopping lately, there is a very wide variety of appliances you can purchase.  Different colors, sizes, models, features, brands and most importantly, price.  I finally settled on a very nice LG model which I absolutely love.  They are great machines thus far and I’m quite happy with my purchase.  These are mid-range appliances, not the low end but also not the high end in terms of price and capabilities.  Both are larger capacity as well.

Now that I have new appliances, recently I have realized that I spend less time, energy, and money doing laundry.  Keep in mind, the amount of laundry hasn’t changed, only the items I use to do my laundry has changed.  I now have a larger capacity for throughput, in nerd terms.   After doing a few loads of laundry in the new appliances, I had a thought about hiring consultants.

When you need to hire someone to do some work, take the time and do some research.  Talk to the consulting firms and see what capacity they can offer.  Even when shopping for consultants, like appliances, it is perfectly acceptable to shop around and find one that fits.

Consultants Doing Laundry

Hiring consultants is like buying a new washing machine.   In other words, you get what you pay for.  I purchased larger appliances that has some better options for what I wanted while spending an appropriate amount of money

If you are shopping for a consultant, regardless of which field, look at the consultants that might be priced higher.   If you purchase a lower hourly priced consultant, they might not have the features or capacity that you really need.   Yes, you might save money per hour but in the long run projects might take longer because they don’t have the capacity or options to truly facilitate your needs.

Allow me to be clear here, this does NOT mean that hiring at a lower price per hour implies that those consultants lack skill or knowledge and/or some how are unable to do the work.  What I am saying is consultants who can command a higher price per hour have most likely been through the trenches and could potentially get you the most ROI for you.

Note – Consultants who actively work to save you money are worth their weight in gold.

Summary 

At the end of the day, you must do what is right for your organization.  However, many organizations want the lowest bidder regardless what the outcome might be.  Consider those higher end consultants and see what they can do for you.  Don’t let the price per hour steer you away from them just based on money.  You might just be surprised that they can help you save money in the long run.

Good luck shopping!

PS – I absolutely love my LG washer/dryer if you are in the market.  Returning from PASS Summit 2019, I was able to all of my laundry in a single load whereas previously it would have been at least two loads, if not three.

© 2019, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.


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