Midweek Update on SQL Cruise Alaska 2017
We find ourselves moving towards the end of SQL Cruise in Alaska after three days of port time in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway mixed with sessions and Office Hours in the afternoons once aboard the ship. The model by which these Tech Outbound SQL Cruise events work is that while in port the time is yours to do as you please: exploring the port cities themselves, helicopter rides landing on glaciers, jet boats to watch whales, or snorkeling (yes in Alaska) are just a few the attendees took part in so far this week. However, thanks to the itinerary we are back aboard the ship in the early afternoon and we wrap the day with sessions or time specifically dedicated to meeting to discuss issues our attendees are facing from the office, the Microsoft data platform roadmap, or career topics just to name a few.
Ketchikan (Day 2) Recap
Our Sunday (yes, the one that occurs on a weekend) was a 12 hour day of classes and a formal group dinner. The attendees needed a break from the ship and the rigors of class and found it in Ketchikan, Alaska. We had a cohort of attendees and staff (with their family members) head to Mountain Point for snorkeling. Rockfish, stars, sea cucumbers, urchins, and jellyfish were front an center for those attendees – I being one of them – for the morning.
Others reported back that they had great success in watching bears in the wild enjoying salmon dinners during this year’s spawning run, whale watching, and kayaking. We all had plenty of time as well to explore this vintage fishing town even if just for shopping or connecting to wifi now that we were on land.
We arrived in port at 7am Alaska Time and returned to the NCL Jewel at 3pm for guidance and consideration points for managing very large databases by Andrew Kelly from SolidQ. This is a very important topic for many now – and for more every year – as rules enforcing data retention continue to require us to retain and manage more data while doing so without impacting performance. Healthcare and finance industries have had to deal with this problem for years but many industries adopt – or are adopting – similar retention requirements for their data and growth ensues. My 15 years in healthcare IT have shown me that most – almost all – third-party vendors do not provide any functionality for archiving older data that ages out past the threshold and most healthcare concerns don’t architect solutions to extract and archive this data themselves. The end result is explosive growth in live OLTP databases and Andy’s session provided insight into how to cope with these large databases.
Following this session, we held a free-form Office Hours allowing the attendees and Technical Leads to break-out into focus groups. From what I was able to observe topics included career development, performance, patching, Powershell, and Linux points.
By the time dinner was slated we all seemed to have a balanced and fulfilling day of relaxation, adventure, learning, and discussion.
Juneau (Day 3) Recap
Juneau afforded us more time in class since we were in port from 7am until only 1:30pm. We had to be on board as our itinerary involved cruising up the Tracy Arm fjord to the base of the Sawyer glacier. The trip takes 6 hours so we had plenty of slow cruising time to reach our icy destination. Port for the attendees included sea kayaking, visits to the Mendenhal glacier either by land or helicopter, dog sledding, eagle watching, crab bakes, hikes and so many other adventurous excursions. Personally, my family and I walked the town and had the most amazing halibut tacos I think I’ll ever have. Some days that is as adventurous as you need.
We joined together back on the ship for what is called “Tools Day”. This goes back to the February Caribbean SQL Cruise when the ship was unable to doc in port for a scheduled visit due to issues with the port. The attendees voted overwhelmingly to forgo relaxing in the sun and in pools aboard the ship and instead asked for the sponsor’s representatives to provide in-depth sessions on the offerings their companies provided to the attendees.
On the Alaskan SQL Cruise the two gold sponsors took this opportunity to go into their products and also solicit feedback from the attendees. We closed the day with Argenis Fernandez presenting on storage fundamentals. The session was supposed to be focused on all-flash arrays but gauging the attendees’ interest storage fundamentals. As we reached the glacier it was decided to table the second half of the session until Friday before we arrive in Victoria, British Columbia.
Skagway (Day 4) Recap
Skagway was our final day in Alaska and marked the start of the second half of the week for SQL Cruise. It was also our longest day in port, starting at 7am and leaving port at 5pm. Many of the attendees – either by train or by car – made their way to the Yukon Territory through the White Pass. This was the same pass that saw 60,000+ prospectors attempt to make their way 600 miles into gold country in the mid-1800s. Then for 90 minutes we had a first-ever Ask Me Anything (AMA) with Bob Ward during Office Hours covering everything from Adaptive Query Processing, deprecation of features, high availability, spills, the Microsoft data platform roadmap, Desired State Configuration, and cumulative update/service pack update strategies just to highlight a few. This was a high point of the week as we were afforded time with someone of Bob Ward’s caliber and access to address questions that in some cases only he could answer. It appears the full court press is on to have him return to one of the two Tech Outbound SQL Cruise events already planned for 2018.
This week has been a great mix of adventure, growth, and training. For all measures this SQL Cruise event is one of the best to date. We still have two more days as part of this event though and I’ll be covering those in a final article to come next week. If you’re interested in the 2018 events then you should visit techoutbound.com.