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SQLSaturday Pensacola 2019 – Interview with Azure Data Platform trainer John Morehouse

Last week we talked with this year’s SQLSaturday Pensacola special guest trainer, Angela Henry, learning more about her and the deep dive session she is doing Friday, June 28th on Zero to Dashboard. This week we had the opportunity to talk with our Thursday, June 27th guest expert John Morehouse, and about his training session “Managing and Architecting Azure Data Platform”.  Let’s learn more about John and what you can expect if attend his deep dive training…

How long have you been working with the Azure Data Platform, and how did you get started with it? So, really, I’ve only been really working with it for a couple of years now.  Prior to joining Denny Cherry & Associates I toyed around with some of the technology but didn’t get really immersed until joining Denny outfit.  The cloud is the wave of the future and in looking at the cloud providers, I don’t see any slow down in advancements any time soon.  DBAs need to get onboard with this concept and start to understand how the cloud can benefit their current organizations.

What do you feel are the top 5 most exciting features to come out with the Azure Data Platform over the past couple of years? This is a great question and Azure is a very large and wide platform so it’s difficult to pinpoint just 5 of them!  Microsoft continuously improving the landscape as well so that’s another complexity.  However, here are my top 5 (in no particular order)

  1. New generations of virtual machines that allow organizations to pick VM sizes more specific to a given workload
  2. VNet peering – which got us around having to standup gateways to having virtual networks to talk to each other
  3. Azure SQL DB geo-replication.  This allows organizations to quickly and easily geo-replicate their data to another region.
  4. Azure Automation – this helps to facilitate an organization to move to the cloud to allow for automation processes against their data
  5. Scalability – I absolutely love the fact that I can scale my compute levels for both Azure SQL DB and Azure virtual machines with only a few clicks

The training you are doing for us on June 27th, Managing and Architecting Azure Data Platform, what do you hope attendees gain from it? One of the struggles I had coming into cloud technology is having a basic understanding of the infrastructure under the hood.  Yes, you can easily stand up services or virtual machines but understanding how that plays with your current ecosystem and architecting it for the future can be daunting.  I’m hoping the attendees walk away with a better understanding of how Azure really functions at a core level.  Attendees will be able to take this information back to their shops and be confident they are walking into the cloud fully informed.

Are there any pre-requisites the attendees should know of?  Very little.  We’ll spend a good chunk of the day talking about the Azure infrastructure and what makes it tick.  Probably an understanding of basic hardware and/or networking would be helpful. The training is flexible so we can go off down tangents as desired to ensure the attendees get the most out of the training. 

What are some things you like to do for fun when you aren’t on the road presenting and volunteering for user groups and SQLSaturday events?  I have two young sons, ages 8 & 6, so I spend quite a bit of time with them.  I enjoy reading fiction novels and trying to keep up with the latest technology advancements.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know. I was a volunteer fire fighter/EMT for about 9 years when I lived in Nebraska.  I was also a bouncer at some point in time.

When you meet John, you’ll have no problem imagining him as a fire fighter or bouncer!

Learn more about Managing and Architecting Azure Data Platform and to register for John’s full day of training visit here.

Spots are limited and filling up fast. Don’t delay!

Don’t forget to also register for our main event, SQLSaturday Pensacola, a free day of Microsoft Data Platform training.

SQLSaturday Pensacola 2019 – Interview with Zero to Dashboard trainer Angela Henry

As this year’s local SQLSaturday event approaches, we thought it a good time to learn a bit more about our full day pre-con trainers. We’ll start with our Friday, June 28th guest expert and Microsoft MVP, Angela Henry, training on the Power BI suite of tools. This is Angela’s first time visiting us here in Pensacola, and we are very excited to have her! Let’s learn more about Ms. Angela…

How long have you been working with the Power BI suite, and how did you get started with it?  I have been working with Power BI since 2016.  I got started because my boss at the time asked if we could use Power BI in our company.

What do you feel are the top 5 most exciting features to come out in Power BI over the past couple of years?  I think the biggest thing they did was change the licensing model to allow the free license users to use ALL the data sources.  Prior to that if you had a free license you were severely limited on the types of data sources you could connect to.  After that I would say wordwrap on visual titles (might sound small, but it had a huge impact), bookmarks, performance analyzer pane & global setting for disabling auto-date tables for new models.

The training you are doing for us on June 28th, Zero to Dashboard, what do you hope attendees gain from it?  I hope attendees will walk away with a better understanding of the Power BI eco system (including licensing) and the importance of data modeling.  If you don’t have a good model, it doesn’t matter how cool your visuals are if they take 10 minutes to load or refresh.

Are there any pre-requisites the attendees should know of?  This is an introductory course, so bring your laptop (sorry no macs) & your curious minds. There are a few more technical requirements, but I’ll send those out to attendees the week before class.

What are some things you like to do for fun when you aren’t on the road presenting and volunteering for user groups and SQLSaturday events?  I love to sew & swim, but not at the same time 😉

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know. I am a certified fork lift driver.

Now, want to know why Angela needed to get certified in fork lifting? Well you’ll just have to find out from her in person at the event!

Learn more about Zero to Dashboard and to register for Angela’s full day of training on Power BI visit here.

Spots are limited, register today!

Don’t forget to also register for our free day of Microsoft Data Platform training.

Stay tuned for our next guest expert interview with Microsoft MVP John Morehouse, who will be training on Thursday, June 27th on Managing and Architecting Azure Data Platform.

Retreading Back into Healthcare

Last week via LinkedIn I talked about entering the web development arena with Ashtex Solutions. At the same time I was in discussions with them, my longtime friend and “boss” @Healthware Jim Voytek were talking again, as he was looking for someone to help out with some business development. (Note – when I use the word “boss”, it’s a term of endearment. I don’t use this word lightly and is only granted to those who I respect and admire. Those people know who they are).


Much of the #sqlfamily probably don’t know just how I really came to work for PASS, but honestly, as much as the Board at the time and Judy Christianson were involved (it was during SQLRally Orlando week in 2011), it really came down to Jim. When I had a sense that PASS might be offering me a role, I pinged Jim on chat around mid-week of the event and said something to the effect of “I think PASS might be offering me a paying job”. Understanding at the time, I’d been a volunteer for PASS for about three years, and I naively at the time knew so little about the inner-workings of PASS, didn’t realize anyone was actually getting paid to do the goodness of PASS. Well, Jim was silent on chat for about two hours, which never happens. He always responds right away. I was like “hey, it’s OK, I won’t go if you feel you really still need me”. At the time, a second “Karla” had been trained and on the team for about a year. Anyway, after a long two hours of waiting to see his reaction, Jim came back with one brief sentence “You have to do it, it’s your calling”. I immediately started crying, and I think he did too. Understand, we had been working together for 12 years, so this was going to be a huge change for both of us. But I can tell you, if he had come back and said “I really need you to stay on Karla”, I absolutely would have stayed and declined working for PASS.

As most do know, I left PASS at the end of 2016. It was five very rewarding years and a great journey to be on. I announced that I’d be “retiring” from PASS but knew deep down that I wouldn’t be actually retiring, I just needed a nice long break. I’ve also cut way back on my volunteering for PASS. Speakers and attendees of the most recent SQLSaturday Pensacola were informed that this would be my last time organizing a SQLSat. Good friends Ed Watson and Mike Lawell have adopted it and will hopefully continue the event in the years to come.

Fast forward to now, and here I am taking on two companies, because yes, after a seven-year hiatus I’m back to working for Jim part-time and already loving being submerged back into the home health and hospice worlds. Healthcare has always been a passion for me and really is my comfort zone. I’m excited to be back with Jim, HealthWare, and BONUS, some of my old teammates are still there!

Know someone looking for #homehealth OASIS/PPS or #hospice software? Send them my way!




Watching My Next Steps

As I make my way through the all too familiar Hartsfield-Atlanta airport, I can’t help but feel like a kid headed back to school tomorrow. I am going back to work in the world of data. Of course, I have all of the typical emotions: excitement, giddiness and anxiety. For the first time in nine months, I get to sport my handy, dandy backpack, not the everlasting PASS 2012 one, that would have likely made me even more emotional. I went with my neon green Microsoft Ignite one, guaranteed to stand out like the beaming smile on my face.

Before I get to what company I’m working for now, I need to thank a few people in the #sqlfamily. First off, Kendra Little [b|t] and her post “My Six Month Plan, Post Brent Ozar Unlimited”. I have worked since I was fifteen years old, and outside of time off for maternity leave with my two beautiful daughters, I have never taken more than two weeks off between jobs. Kendra’s post really resonated with me and gave me the courage to take some time for myself. Leaving my role at PASS wasn’t easy, and I knew it was going to mean putting a bit of distance between myself and most things PASS in order to really be able to make this time off count. Thank you Kendra for sharing your story, these past several months have been so therapeutic for me, my family, and my soul.

I also need to thank Steve Jones [b|t]. He was the primary reason that Rodney and I attended SQLSaturday Baton Rouge. While I knew I was ready to go back to the working world, I was struggling on just which direction to go in. When you have such a diverse background as I have, the options began to be overhelming. I did “test run” going back to the healthcare field (business operations side), but quickly I was finding it wasn’t challenging enough. I think in time it might have become something more, but I am too ambitious to just idle and play the “wait and see” game. I knew that going and listening to Steve present, and a heart to heart chat after his session, was going to help clear the muddled mess going on in my head. Steve, you have no idea how much our friendship means to me. You and Andy [b|t] will always have a special place in my heart.

Lastly I must thank the most important person in my life, commonly known as “my @SQLBeat”, my wonderful husband Rodney [b]. Without his support, I likely wouldn’t have ever made the leap to one, leave PASS, and two, take some time off for a “reset”.  Thank you for affording me this luxury and being there for me always.

After planting a few seeds while at Baton Rouge, it was less than 48 hours that I was contacted by Jim Murphy [t]. That’s right, I am excited to announce that I’ve joined SQLWatchmen as Director of Marketing and Business Development.


I’m looking forward to working with Jim, Wes [b|t], Philip and the rest of the team, and taking the reins on the marketing side, so they can continue to focus on the quality, technical consulting they provide. Many of my friends are consultants, and often I’ve heard them say that marketing is typically their biggest challenge, because of course, they gravitate to the technical side.

The timing of all of this was just all too perfect. Turns out SQLWatchmen is ready for that full time marketing person and I am excited they chose me, the giddy, geek girl with the neon green backpack ready for my first day.


SQLSaturday Pensacola 2017 – Interview with Friday, June 2nd precon trainers and @MidnightDBA hosts, Sean and Jen McCown

Yesterday we discussed with Tim Mitchell his training “Building Better SSIS Packages happening Thursday, June 1st for our upcoming SQLSaturday Pensacola. Now let’s learn more about our Friday seminar, “The Enterprise Maintenance Lifecycle: Problems & Solutions”, with trainers Sean McCown and Jen McCown.

The McCown’s, owners of MinionWare, LLC, have an extensive background as DBAs, using their combined years of experience to create Minion, a suite of products to help you manage your servers and databases. They also host a show on Friday evenings, DBAs@Midnight. Now to the interview…

How long have you been working with SQL Server, and what brought you into working with it? 

Sean: 22yrs.  Actually, I was a French chef before so falling into SQL was quite an accident.  Getting into the full story now would take too long.

Jen: I’ve been working with SQL Server since sometime in the early 2000s, so that makes over 15 years. Like almost everyone else, I was doing something else when I was asked to do a little database work. Then, Sean told me that databases were way better (and more lucrative) than the work I’d mostly been doing before, so I took his word for it! (He was right, by the way.) 

The training you are doing for us on Friday, June 2nd, “The Enterprise Maintenance Lifecycle: Problems & Solutions”, what do you hope attendees gain from it?

Sean: So many DBAs don’t have a solid understanding of what it takes to have a maintenance plan in an enterprise.  I see it all the time where they’ve got completely different solutions on all their servers.  There are a number of issues that are caused by one-offing solutions, and simply not having a coherent plan.  I want you to come away with an understanding of the different aspects of maintenance that you need to take into account, as well as a cohesive strategy for your shop.  We’ll talk through all this with you and send you away with a working solution that you can deploy everywhere.  The class is very demo heavy and we discuss every aspect of your server maintenance routines.

Jen: I hope they learn to fly. Barring that, I hope they really get a good, distilled shot of our combined experience: the backup and maintenance issues that get overlooked or glossed over, the really really important things that get overlooked or glossed over…you get the picture.

What made you decide to start doing full day trainings for SQLSaturday events?

Sean: This topic especially isn’t covered in any depth by anyone out there.  You can find a blog post here and there on backups, etc., but nothing in the depth you need to truly manage an enterprise.  I wanted to have the freedom to explore this very deep topic as fully as I can.  My only regret is that I’ve only got one day.

Jen: Why did I start doing full day training? Sean bet me I couldn’t talk for 8 hours straight. Guess I showed him.  Also, we seriously have a lot to say about backups and maintenance, that we think is absolutely vital for every SQL Server DBA.

What do you feel are the top 5 most exciting features to come out in SQL Server over the past 3 years?

Sean: Certainly none of the Azure stuff.  I like the features that do production DBAs some good.  And I tend to like the lesser-known features.  I really like delayed durability for heavy OLTP shops.  I also love that they’re making some of the legacy data types able to reindex online… has that been within three years?  Oh well… And I like that they’re merging a lot of the functionality between enterprise and standard.

Jen: Don’t look at me…I’m still excited about the DMVs and windowing functions! 

What are some things you like to do for fun when you aren’t on the road presenting and volunteering for user groups and SQLSaturday events?

Sean: Well, I still cook a lot.  I’ve been baking more in the past year than I have before.  I’ve also been doing Kenpo since I was 15, and I garden.  Fruits and veggies mostly.  I’ve got a number of fruit trees, fruit bushes, herbs and the like.

Jen: I run, I read, I pick up various hobbies and put them back down again. Three years ago I built the kids a tree house. This year I’m registering people to vote, and thinking really hard about picking up the piano again (not literally).

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

Jen: I wear a size 10.5 running shoe. And I’ll answer for Sean, since he wanted to say something about bonnets…he’s got the best defined calves I’ve ever seen on an IT guy.

The McCown’s have also provided a video on what you’ll learn at this precon.

Rates for both our precons go up May 5th, so be sure and register this week to save yourself $20. The link again to the McCown’s training is here.

Be sure to also reserve your spot for SQLSaturday Pensacola!

SQLSaturday Pensacola 2017 – Interview with Thursday, June 1st precon trainer, Tim Mitchell

As mentioned in last week’s post, SQLSaturday Pensacola #617 is rapidly approaching, and there is still a lot of work to get done, but things are coming along smoothly. Often attendees want more than just the 60 minute “shot-in-the brain” they get from sessions at training events, hince why many SQLSaturday organizers now add full day deep dive training seminars the days prior to their event. Pensacola is no different. We’ve been doing precons since 2011, our first was with Andy Leonard “A Day of SSIS”. That first precon was a huge success, and since we haven’t had any deep dives on SSIS since, we thought it a good time to bring the topic back around.

This year we have Tim Mitchell training on “Building Better SSIS Packages”. Tim is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, and is a consultant for and owns Tyleris Data. I first met Tim at SQLSaturday Tampa #32 in 2010. He was taking photos at the event, and I invited him to do the same for our next SQLSaturday. He graciously accepted, and that’s where our friendship began. Now, let’s learn more about Tim and what he has in store for us here in Pensacola this year.

How long have you been working with SQL Server, and what brought you into working with it? 

I got my start with SQL Server in 2003. My employer at the time used an outdated system for keeping track of technical service requests, and I lobbied for a year to get a new app for tracking this information. My request was approved, with one stipulation: I would have to learn how to manage the new system’s SQL Server back end. Soon after taking on that new responsibility, I discovered that working with data was my calling.

The training you are doing for us on Thursday June 1st, “Building Better SSIS Packages”, what do you hope attendees gain from it?

My hope is that the attendees learn the easy way a few things in ETL design that I’ve learned the hard way. For every design pattern I demonstrate in this class, there are numerous mistakes, missteps, and bad designs I’ve worked through to discover a better way to solve that problem.

What made you decide to start doing full day trainings for SQLSaturday events?

I’ve always enjoyed the targeted, conventional presentations that are typically an hour or so in length. However, this format doesn’t allow a lot of time to have conversations or learn about the attendees’ data pain points. I put together my first full-day presentation about five years ago, purposefully building in some extra content that I could either use or skip based on what I learned about the attendees and what they expect to learn. I found that the full-day format makes it easier to have conversations rather than just monologue, and I can tailor the content I deliver based on questions and input from the audience.

What do you feel are the top 5 most exciting features to come out in SQL Server over the past 3 years?

It would be hard to nail down just five, but here are a handful of things that are exciting to me, in no particular order:

  • The revamp of SSRS in 2016
  • Inclusion of enterprise features (such as partitioning) in Standard Edition starting in SQL Server 2016 SP1
  • SSIS improvements in SQL Server 2016, including custom logging levels and package-level deployment
  • Azure SQL Data Warehouse
  • SQL Server on Linux 

What are some things you like to do for fun when you aren’t on the road presenting and volunteering for user groups and SQLSaturday events?

When I’m not traveling, I enjoy hanging out with my wife and kids. I enjoy baseball (go Rangers!), golf, and snow skiing. I’m also a craft beer adventurer, and enjoy trying new beers wherever I go.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

In my past, I have been both a police officer and a firefighter.

Well I certainly learned some things about Tim that I didn’t know already, and looking forward to taking him out to some of our great local breweries here in Pensacola!

Tomorrow stay tuned for our interview with Sean McCown and Jen McCown training on Friday, June 2nd on “The Enterprise Maintenance Lifecycle: Problems and Solutions”.

Rates for both our precons go up May 5th, so be sure and register this week to save yourself $20. The link again to Tim’s training is here.

SQLSaturday Pensacola 2017 – Just Five Weeks Away!

It seems like just yesterday when we held our inaugural SQLSaturday #14 in Pensacola, way back in 2009. Honestly though, it seems like a long time ago. Much has changed since 2009. Looking at some of our event sessions from that first event speaks to the passage of time: “A First Look at Visual Studio 2010” and “Introduction to Microsoft Silverlight.” SQLSAT617_web

Now, at an unbelievable #617, we are excited to be a part of the ongoing success of SQLSaturday as we prepare for our June 3rd, 2017 event.  We have speakers coming from 12 states, as well as a few locally grown SQL talents, sharing their knowledge on the latest and greatest in the Microsoft Data Platform. Not only have the SQLSaturday events come a long way, but the enhancements in SQL Server 2016 has made great strides from what it was back when I was using 2008 R2.  Microsoft is always improving, and doing an even better job of listening to those in the data community on their desires for SQL Server 2017. It truly is an exciting data world we are all experiencing, and it’s great that we have so many in the community willing to share what they know at SQLSaturdays all over the world.

Now back to SQLSaturday Pensacola, you can check out our full schedule here. We are also very fortunate to be able to provide two full day pre con sessions on the Thursday and Friday prior to the main event.  This year Sean and Jen McCown of MinionWare will be training on Enterprise Maintenance Lifecycle: Problems & Solutions, and Tim Mitchell will be covering Building Better SSIS Packages.  I’ll be covering more on these trainings in my next posts.

While topics may change, the community that is drawn to SQLSaturdays to come together to learn and network and perhaps further their career and skillsets, is one that we serve proudly here in beautiful Pensacola.

Be sure to reserve your spot today!

Interested in sponsoring? There’s still time!

Let your friends and colleagues know about our event. Download the SQLSaturdayPensacola2017_EventFlyer.