By Mark Knutson
After attending and presenting at a recent Minnesota SQL Saturday, I thought I’d share some insights and reflections on this event, and its incredible impact on SQL server professionals like myself.
Getting into SQL Saturday
I’ve been attending SQL server user group meetings for years and have always enjoyed the discussions about new technologies, along with insights into existing ones. These events are a great opportunity for developers like myself to stay on top of trends and new technologies as they emerge. As someone who’s worked as a senior level employee for much of my career, I’ve been used to my role as “the guy you go to when you have questions.” With SQL server user groups, I finally have someone to go to! They opened up a whole new world for me, and as I began networking with other SQL Server users, my professional knowledge deepened.
As the industry has evolved over the years, SQL user groups have become increasingly popular, and they’ve led to other events, like SQL Saturday. These events are held across the country (and globe!) as a way for SQL professionals to come together and learn about the latest industry trends. They’re entirely run by volunteers – a great way to network and stay on top of the industry.
Upping the ante as a SQL Saturday presenter
This year marked my first opportunity to serve as a presenter. The first decision I had to make was a topic. In the past, I had noticed that some SQL Server engagements I attended had a common thread: Departments starting out informally using SQL, then needing additional information as they determined it was time to transition to a more formal administration approach. Taking the opportunity to offer insights and shed some light on this transition for SQL Saturday attendees seemed like a good fit.
The SCS force at SQL Saturday
I showed up Saturday morning, bright and early. After chatting with my SCS coworkers Joe McWilliams and Andy Mauch, I watched a database administration presentation in the beginners track to see how other presenters where handling the subject. It was a relief to see that this presentation offered a different perspective than my own!
I also had a chance to see SCS Consultant Will Weber explain some advanced DAX programming techniques, which helped me understand some complex concepts. Later, I watched SCS Consultant Eric Ness present on data mining techniques.
My presentation was scheduled for the last time slot of the day, and folks were a bit tired by that point. I was pleased to see that in addition to Eric Ness, my manager Dan English was in attendance, as well as my sons. One is an engineering student who studies in the building next to SQL Saturday, and the other is an infrastructure support professional who is exposed to SQL Server peripherally through my job.
For those of you who couldn’t join us at Minnesota SQL Saturday, here are a few key takeaways, straight from my presentation, titled “The Care and Feeding of the Adolescent SQL Server”:
- Disable the SA account.
- Make sure all jobs and databases are owned by SA.
- Determine who has administrative privileges and make sure they ought to have them.
- Use active directory groups to manage security rather than SQL Server groups.
- Perform log and database backups at least daily, even if a virtual machine hosting process also performs backups.
- Take database backups and restore them to a test server to ensure that the backup process is working properly.
After some nerves about my topic, the presentation was a success. There were a few questions after my portion of the presentation, which showed me that the audience was interested and engaged in my topic. I was surprised, though, to see that I took the entire 75 minutes to cover the material I had prepared – it flew by!
I’m very grateful to my SCS peers for supporting me on my first SQL Saturday presentation. It was a great day for the entire SCS team, as we were able to “flex our skills” and share some important SQL server knowledge with industry peers.