A technical blog about my projects, challenges, and discoveries in the world of data warehousing using SQL Server, Power BI Desktop, DevExpress, and more.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Top Ten Things I Learned at SQL Pass on 10/13/2011

The learning continues...

1. The "AlwaysOn" feature of SQL Server 2012 greatly simplifies high availability through redundant servers and simultaneously optimizes reporting by allowing you to use secondary servers for reporting and the primary server for transaction processing. However, it is currently unknown whether or not AlwaysOn will be in any edition other than Enterprise. It seems likely that it is an Enterprise-only feature.

2. The "ColumnStore Index" feature in SQL Server 2012 could radically speed up queries against tables in the Shelby v.5 database, especially attendance history. I can't wait to try it out. I may install Denali to try it out even before the official release of 2012.

3. There is a version of SQL Server Express coming out with 2012 that can easily be embedded into applications. This could potentially be a way to simplify the distribution of Shelby v.5 for those customers who do not own a license of SQL Server Standard. I will be looking into it more back home.

4. The "Semantic Model" features of SQL Server 2012, when coupled with the "FileTable" feature make for a powerful combination, capable of doing searches for document content based not just on matching of strings but actually pairing of concepts. I was blown away by the demo. Any librarian in the world would have been salivating over the processes and results I saw.

5. Two more times in one day I was shown the fallacy of putting dates inside of a function in the WHERE clause. I will never do it again, I promise! But I also learned that datetime and smalldatetime are being depricated in SS2012, meaning that we should probably start using the other, new data types for time. I will pass that info along to our database developers.

6. I learned that by simply changing the varchar data type to nvarchar, we could be capturing special characters for names, addresses, and more, which would make the v.5 database friendlier to international users. I'm going to do some testing on this when I get home too, to verify what is happening in our db right now when someone puts special characters into the varchar fields.

7.  I need to kick the habit of not specifying the length of varchar values and others when I use them as variables. I've been snakebit by that one before, and what I learned today just reinforces that I need to specify length 100% of the time.

8.  Some people, no matter how smart they are about what you want to discuss, can just be too annoying to talk to. It's just better to bide your time and find someone who may not be as knowledgeable but who is willing to listen and to converse at a pace that matches your own.

9.  The 2013 Summit will be in Charlotte, NC. That will be much more convenient for me to attend, and I am very much looking forward to not having to adjust to a new time zone in order to participate.

10.  Making free form reports with PowerPivot data in the background is not only possible, it allows for greater control over formatting and the embedding of elements such as sparklines into the data results. Free form reports can even use slicers to control the content. The only downside is the fixed nature of the rows and columns, which is why PivotTables are so handy in the first place.

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