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Prepping for Next Event - SQL Connections

I’m just now getting started on a new presentation for the SQL Server Magazine Connections ( event coming up in March.  This year’s SQL Connections will be held at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hotel in Orlando, Florida from March 20th to the 23rd.  The Hyatt is a beautiful resort hotel with great golf, an amazing set of pools connected by tunnels, equestrian diversions, and a full lake with boats.  It’s probably one of the nicest venues I’ve ever stayed at for a technical conference.


Another thing that I really enjoy about SQL Connections, on top of the wonderful location, is getting to catch up with all of my far-flung friends (say that five times fast!) and colleagues.  I’m looking forward to seeing fellow MVPs, speakers, and writers like Itzik Ben-Gan, Gert Drapers, Andrew Kelly, Brian Moran, Tom Rizzo, Ron Talmage, Kim Tripp and many others.  There aren’t many other events of this type in the early part of the year.  So I probably wouldn’t otherwise get to see many of these fun folks until TechEd, at the earliest.


Another benefit of SQL Connections for me is that, for the price of one event, you can also attend as many of the sessions as you like in Visual Studio Connections or ASP.NET Connections.  Since I live and breathe SQL Server, I rarely get a chance to learn about these other areas of the Microsoft technology stack.  So it’s a rare opportunity to sit back and learn.


Finally, my favorite activity at any event is meeting hardworking SQL Server professionals who want to talk a little shop.  I always enjoy hearing about what everyone is up to and what areas are making them sweat the most. 


Now for a preview on my session.   I’ve called this session ‘Bare Metal Tuning’; I got the idea for it based on the large number of questions I’ve seen on the SQL Server newsgroups about the initial setup of a SQL Server’s hardware.  This session drills into a wide variety of best practices for setting up a server’s memory, disk arrays, networking, OS, etc.  For example, the session spends a good deal of time explaining how to tune I/O, what kind of RAID is good in which situation, and how SAN technology plays on SQL Server.  I’m still surprised by the number of people who are ignorant of the difference between having adequate disk space and adequate disk throughput.  Although disk space and throughput are related, having one does -not- mean you’ll automatically get the other. 

An added bonus for me is that I'm working with (and learning a lot from) Jim Drover of the HP Solutions Centre in Toronto, Canada.  Although I learned my hardware chops on Compaq servers, Jim has added exponentially to my knowledge about the latest servers and benchmarking techniques.  You can be sure that this session will be chock full of real-world experiences and lessons.


So how does this topic sound to you?  Are there any specific areas within hardware tuning that have been problematic or challenging for you? 







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