GroupBy – Free SQL Server Training is free technical training by the community, for the community. Volunteer speakers submit abstracts at and you – the attendee – vote to pick the sessions. Want to present your own session or just vote on others? Join us at
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GroupBy – Free SQL Server Training

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Jul 25, 2017

SQL Server releases every 2 years. SSMS releases every month. Power BI releases every week. It’s impossible to “keep up” with technology, and it’s foolish to try. Instead, you should realize you have a limited amount of TrainingBucks: time, energy and focus. And then you have to decide how to make the most of those TrainingBucks.

First, we’ll talk about how exposure and mastery are different goals with different paths. We’ll cover how exposure does not equal mastery. Second, we’ll talk about strategies for adding more learning with the time you already have available. Third, we’ll cover what types of training lead to deeper, stronger learning. Finally, we’ll talk about having a theme in your learning. We’ll talk about how learning the wrong things is wasting your time.

During the presentation, I will use an interactive Power BI report to visualize how using these strategies will lead to more growth for less effort. This report will be publically available, so the viewers can follow along as they watch.

The goal of this talk is to give you an analytical framework and multiple dimensions to look at, instead of the simplistic “more is better”. More is not better, and if you try to drink straight from the firehose, you’ll drown. By the end of this talk, you’ll have a roadmap for how to focus your training and grow your career.

Jul 18, 2017

Are you new to SQL Server and not sure where to begin with T-SQL? Does it feel like a foreign language? The objective of this session is to go over simple T-SQL Statements and to show you how to build on them. We will focus on simple select statements and translating English into T-SQL. Once you have the Rosetta stone, you will find that T-SQL becomes like second nature. We will also focus on adding a simple where clause, order by and join. We will also create a simple backup script and learn about the built-in intellisense in SQL Server Management Studio.

Jul 11, 2017

This isn’t the dark ages anymore. You’ve learned that you need to put your database in source control and you’re competent with source control systems like TFS or Git. You’ve also learned how to express your database in script form using a tool like SSDT, DbUp or Redgate.

However, you still haven’t written as many automated tests as you know you should and you aren’t convinced you’re going about it the right way. You haven’t looked at the build functionality in VSTS yet or gotten to grips with build servers like TeamCity or Jenkins, and even if you have you aren’t sure how the process should work for SQL Server builds and tests.

In this session, I’ll explain how to use tSQLt to build a suite of automated tests to give you confidence in the quality of your code. Then I’ll talk through various ways to automate your database builds and run those tests on some schedule or trigger. I’ll also discuss the pros and cons of various different approaches so that you can understand which approach would suit your teams and projects.

Jul 4, 2017

Are you accountable for databases or database servers? Do you fix problems only to see them pop up again months or years later in slightly different scenarios? Have you been called at 2am and asked to “health check” hundreds of servers for an issue that nobody in the world has ever documented before and wished there was an easy mode to do that or even avoid the problem in the first place?

If so then Operational Validation can help you. In this session you’re going to get:

A mindset on how to handle your day to day duties in a way that keeps you efficient, honest to yourself and to others, while covering your posterior.
Free tools to fix things and make sure they stay fixed over time. Really free. As in you couldn’t pay for them even if you wanted to.
If you work with one instance you’re going to learn how to manage five hundred instances. And if you work with five hundred instances you’re going to learn how to have fun doing it.

You’re going to learn:

Jenkins, a cool web application you can install on your workstation to provide orchestration and reports.
How to integrate PowerShell with Jenkins and multi-thread efficiently in the background with PoshRSJob using ready-to-go templates so you don’t need to worry about how it works.
Then we’re going to write some tests. They’re not going to be beautiful tests. We’re going to be testing some of the scummiest, most crapulent edge cases SQL Server has to offer. Please bring tissues because there will be tears. If you’ve ever said, “I don’t know what to test”, I’ll make you regret it.
I’ll also discuss a few other PowerShell modules like CimSession and DbData and why you might want to use them for reliable and scalable tests.
By the end of the session, you should be bouncing off the wall and reconsidering your life. I want you to start screaming about Operational Validation from the rooftops, and have the tools and know-how to quickly start on your own.

Jun 27, 2017

How easy is it to hack a SQL Server? In this session, we'll see examples on how to exploit SQL Server, modify data and take control, while at the same time not leaving a trace.

We'll start by gaining access to a SQL Server (using some "creative" ways of making man-in-the-middle attacks), escalating privileges and tampering with data at the TDS protocol level (e.g. changing your income level and reverting without a trace after payment), hacking DDM, and more.

Most importantly, we'll also cover recommendations on how to avoid these attacks, and take a look at the pros and cons of new security features in SQL Server 2016.

This is a demo-driven session, suited for DBAs, developers and security consultants.

Jun 20, 2017

You know about the cloud but you’re not there yet. Is it hard? Is it easy? How do you get started? Come to this session and see for yourself. We’ll start with nothing and end up with a deployed Azure SQL Database. We’ll even run a quick PowerBI report and enable Geo-Redundant Disaster Recovery with a couple clicks.

The goal is to take the mystery out, to show the capabilities and get you thinking about what going to the cloud could look like and what it can do for you and your company. I believe the future belongs to those who have this knowledge and know where to apply it.

This will be nearly PowerPoint free and we’ll log into my Azure Portal and build out an environment from scratch and learn as we go. We’ll migrate data from an “on-premises” database into our SQL DB and we’ll query it. You’ll leave with an understanding of the capabilities, some resource links outlining what we did and hopefully some curiosity to see what else is up there in the cloud as you start exploring with your own trial. Platform as a Service isn’t the answer to every problem, but after you see how simple it is to get started, maybe you’ll get some ideas of where it is.

Jun 13, 2017

DevOps is a hot topic in today’s software development world, however, most of the knowledge and experience with DevOps is based around application software and ignores the database. We will examine how the concepts and principles of DevOps can be applied to database development by explaining the core concepts of managing scripts, automated building, testing, and deployment of database changes. Once you understand the principles of a DevOps database development process, you can generate scripts used for direct deployment on your instances or sent to customers for them to execute.

In this session, we will cover tracking the changes made to your database and capturing them in version control. We will show automated building and testing of your code on a separate environment and the generation of an upgrade script that a DBA and developer can review and deploy to QA, test, staging, production, or any other environment.

This session will use Redgate Software tools to accomplish specific actions, with explanations on how the same actions can be alternatively built by anyone.

Jun 6, 2017

When storage doesn't perform and scale it causes issues for SQL Server and can make DBA life extremely challenging.  In many cases, SQL Server storage is provisioned on a SAN.  However, very few DBAs even get to see a SAN or understand how it works.  Even though the SAN is someone else's responsibility, as a DBA you feel the pain and you're typically a first responder when there is a problem.  Understanding the "magic" behind it will make you a better DBA and help you have productive conversations with your storage administrator.  After all, pointing fingers has a negative impact on your superhero status!

In this session, you will learn what a SAN is, how it works, and why it's typically used vs. direct attached storage.  These 'black boxes" have a lot of capabilities, so you will also learn about some of the common features today that they offer and how they can help you.  You will also learn about what can go wrong, some basic troubleshooting when you're not getting what you expected, and how to communicate with your SAN administrator if you're not getting what you need.

May 30, 2017

It’s a work day, and you’re in front of your monitor battling a vicious query. You’ve already tuned a query or two in your life and have some tricks up your sleeve, but nothing seems to get this query down to a reasonable time and allow you to drink that cup of coffee you want so bad.

SQL Server 2016 adds a few impressive new features that might help you with that.

During the session, we will look at the different performance tuning aspects the new features enhance: Execution plan history and enforcement using the Query Store, live query execution visualization, DMV enhancements, new query hints, and more.

Join this session to see how SQL Server 2016 makes performance tuning easier and more efficient.

May 23, 2017

SQL Development is a broad subject with many roads to choose from. Often times SQL Developers feel overwhelmed and unsure which areas they need to focus on. The purpose of this session is to give a high-level overview and present paths for further study and growth. Subjects reviewed in this session will include coding patterns, error handling, and execution plans. Demonstrations of free tools will also help developers find ways of simplifying their daily tasks. Attendees will leave this session empowered with knowledge and directions for further growth.

May 16, 2017

Query Store in SQL Server 2016 is one of the most relevant improvements for production DBAs. It introduces the concept of click-once mitigation approach to query performance regression.

But that’s not the sum of all enhancements in the query performance analysis and troubleshooting space introduced in SQL Server recently.

In this session, we will learn about other enhancements that can help you troubleshoot query performance.

Ranging from new xEvents to Showplan improvements, from LQS (and underlying infrastructure) to the revised Plan Comparison tool, learn how these can help you streamline the process of troubleshooting query performance and gain faster insights.

May 9, 2017

Have you ever considered a situation where Columnstore Index can be quite the opposite of what one would expect from it? A slow, wasteful source of painfully slow queries, lagging the performance, consuming irresponsible amount of resources ...

Setting the wrong expectations (it won't run 100 times faster on EVERY query), selecting the wrong architecture (partition by 100s of rows instead of millions), using and aggregating by the large Strings in the fact tables - this list is actually quite large.

What about some of the less known limitations for building Columnstore Indexes? The ones that will bite you suddenly in the middle of the project - when you do not expect it at all?

Let me show you how to achieve those painful mistakes and you will surely know how to avoid them :)

May 2, 2017

With the release of SQL Server 2016, we were finally able to play with, in my opinion, one of the most exciting new features in SQL Server 2016, the Query Store!

The Query Store serves as a flight recorder for your query workload and provides valuable insights into the performance of your queries. It doesn’t stop there, however, using the performance metrics the Query Store records, we can decide which Execution Plan SQL Server should use when executing a specific query. If those two features aren’t enough, the Query Store provides all this information inside easy-to-use reports and Dynamic Management Views (DMVs) removing a great deal of the complexity of query performance analysis.

During this session, we will take a thorough look at the Query Store, its architecture, the performance impact of enabling the Query Store, DMVs, the built-in reporting and the custom Query Store Dashboard.

No matter if you are a DBA or developer, the Query Store has all the data you need to make your time analyzing query performance a whole lot more fun!


Apr 25, 2017

Parameters are a fundamental part of T-SQL programming, whether they are used in stored procedures, in dynamic statements or in ad-hoc queries. Although widely used, most people aren’t aware of the crucial influence they have on query performance. In fact, wrong use of parameters is one of the common reasons for poor application performance.

Does your query sometimes run fast and sometimes slow – even when nothing’s changed? Did it happen to you that a stored procedure, which had always been running for less than a second, suddenly started to run for more than 5 seconds consistently – even when nothing had changed?

In this session, we will learn about plan caching and how the query optimizer handles parameters. We will talk about the pros and cons of parameter sniffing (don’t worry if you don’t know what that means) as well as about simple vs. forced parameterization. But most important – we will learn how to identify performance problems caused by poor parameter handling, and we will also learn many techniques for solving these problems and boosting your application performance.

Mar 28, 2017

Move up to Management Studio Superstar with these great productivity tips! We’ll explore stuff like keyboard shortcuts, configuration options, how to keep your SSMS settings synchronized across multiple environments and other really useful everyday tricks and hacks. Think “hey, wait, how’d you do that!?”

Did you, for instance, know that you can hold down the Alt key while selecting text? The “Alt trick” works for copying, pasting, moving, even typing. Handy if you want to re-use text horizontally instead of just vertically. Like comparing the contents of columns in two tables

Some of the other things I’ll cover:

- Previewing and quick-reference stuff you can do with keyboard shortcuts
- Quickly navigating your code to find errors or bookmarks

No undocumented stuff, no registry editor, and nothing you wouldn’t put into production. Just really clever productivity tips that will take some of the burden off your everyday work.

But I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Your code may still run slow, and you’ll probably write just as many bugs – but you’ll write them quicker and with so much more style and panache.


Mar 21, 2017

Let’s face it, using SQL PowerShell prior to SQL Server 2016 was like installing training wheels on a Ducati. But things have massively changed. Your community feedback was incorporated before SQL 2016 shipped and presto, SQL PowerShell is actually useful all of a sudden.

But it gets better! The SQL Tools team at Microsoft has promised to keep adding new cmdlets every month and keep making improvements to the SQL Provider.

SQL PowerShell offers faster ways to manage SQL Servers, develop & deploy SQL databases, and identify performance bottlenecks. I will show you these new features in the new SqlServer module and why you will find it useful, whether you are a SQL Developer, B/I Developer, or DBA.

The SQL Server team has already delivered cmdlets to help you manage SQL Server Agent Jobs, review the SQL Error Log, Add / Manage & Remove Logins, and write data to tables in SQL Server.

2017 promises even more cmdlets and you don’t want to be left behind!

(P.S. That picture of the TreeMap up there, that was generated in PowerShell and I will show you why it’s so awesome for Performance Tuning.)

Mar 14, 2017

No one wants slow performance of their application.

In this session, you will learn about three mistakes which DBA often do which kills SQL Server’s performance. We will understand what are those errors, why those particular errors are prevailing in the industry and how we can fix it.

We will explore various settings as well as code which will kill SQL Server Performance. At the end of this session, every attendee will receive scripts which will help them improve their SQL Server’s performance. This session is of intermediate level – you just have to know a little bit about SQL Server and a lot more you will learn in this session. The session is carefully crafted from the real world experience for DBA so they can learn tricks which can help them to improve their server’s performance.

We will discuss various SQL Server Settings, File Placements as well as ignored details related to SQL Server Performance.

Mar 7, 2017

In 2009 John Allspaw and Paul Hammond delivered the session “10 deploys per day – Dev & ops cooperation at Flickr.” In forty-six minutes they changed the way millions of people would think about the software delivery process for years to come. It didn’t have a name yet, but DevOps was born. DevOps folk preached about the cloud, automation, rapid delivery and any database technology that wasn’t relational…

In 2013 Kenny Gorman declared “The DBA is Dead”.

For the record, I don’t believe that, but a lot of people do. What is certain is that the world of IT is changing, and the traditional DBA role, and most other data roles, are changing with it.

I’m going to explain what DevOps is, where it came from, and its implications for SQL Server. We’ll cover the human and technical basics of database DevOps – and I’m going to discuss some changes that data folk need to make.

Feb 28, 2017

User-defined functions in SQL Server are very much like custom methods and properties in .Net languages. At first sight, they seem to be the perfect tool to introduce code encapsulation and reuse in T-SQL. So why is this feature mostly avoided by all T-SQL gurus?

The reason is performance. In this session, you will learn how user-defined functions feed the optimizer with misleading and insufficient information, how the optimizer fails to use even what little information it has, and how this can lead to shocking query performance.

However, you will also see that there is a way to avoid the problems. One type of user-defined function, the inline table-valued type, may not be the easiest to use, but it is the only type of user-defined function that doesn’t impact performance. I will show how, with just a little extra effort, you can reap the benefits of code encapsulation and reuse without sacrificing performance.

Feb 21, 2017

Whether you are a developer, DBA, or anything in between, chances are you are not always following best practices when you write T-SQL. Unfortunately, many so-called “bad habits” aren’t always obvious, but can lead to poor performance, maintainability issues, and compatibility problems.

In this session, you will learn about several bad habits, how they develop, and how you can avoid them. While we will briefly discuss advice you’ve probably heard before, like avoid SELECT * and don’t use NOLOCK, you will also learn some subtleties in SQL Server that might surprise you, how some shorthand can bite you in the long run, and a very easy way to improve cursor performance.

By changing your techniques and ditching some of these bad habits for best practices, you will take new techniques back to your environment that will lead to more efficient code, a more productive workflow, or both.

Get more information, resources, and more here:

Feb 14, 2017

In this session, We will walk through various features of Power BI, How Power BI can transform your company's data into rich visuals and Easy yet powerful Analytics solutions for your whole organization.

At end of session with following Power BI Dashboard example

- sp_Blitz in Dashboard
- SQL Server Info Dashboard
- Twitter Dashboard
- World Dashboard

Most important takeaways from session -

- You will be learning basics of Power BI with the additional perk of analyzing sp_Blitz in Power BI.
- Various features of Power BI making you from ZERO to HERO
- After this session, you will be able to analyze data into Power BI

Feb 7, 2017

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is an easy-to-use tool for automating reports and creating highly visual dashboards. Although SSRS is easy to learn there are many tips and tricks that can improve your report building experience, not to mention make your reports run blazing fast!

This rapid-fire session goes over my learnings from the past six years of developing high-performance SSRS reports, including topics like multivalue parameter efficiencies, how to best utilize subreports, and performing SQL CRUD operations with SSRS.

Each rapid-fire topic includes sample data and an SSRS reporting example that users will be able to try out for themselves.

Jan 31, 2017

Are you faced with complaints from users, poor performing code from developers, and regular requests to build reports? Do you uncover installation and configuration issues on your SQL Server instances? Have you ever thought that in dire times avoiding Worst Practices could be a good starting point? If the answer is “yes”, then this session is for you: together we will discover how not to torture a SQL Server instance and we will see how to avoid making choices that turn out to be not so smart in the long run.

You are probably thinking: “Hey, wait, what about Best Practices?”. Sometimes Best Practices are not enough, especially for beginners, and it is not always clear what happens if we fail to follow them. Worst Practices can show the mistakes to avoid. I have made lots of mistakes throughout my career: come and learn from my mistakes!

Circles in the SQL Server Hell:

Design sins:

  1. Undernormalizers
  2. Generalizers
  3. Shaky Typers
  4. Anarchic Designers
  5. Inconsistent Baptists

Development sins:

  1. Environment Pollutors
  2. Overly Optimistic Testers
  3. Indolent Developers

Installation sins:

  1. Stingy Buyers
  2. Next next finish installers

Maintenance sins:

  1. Careless caretakers
  2. Performance killers
Jan 24, 2017

By far the most important SQL Server release since the heady days of 2005, SQL Server 2016 represents a huge leap forward in a number of key areas. You've no doubt heard plenty about such features as Query Store, JSON support, Polybase, and the other big-ticket items. But there are also a number of very cool features that don't usually make the top 10 lists. In this talk, you'll learn about enhancements to indexing (including both Columnstore and traditional b-tree indexes), DMVs, compression, string handling, encryption, configuration, and even time zone support. These smaller features may not be highlighted in the latest glossy ads from Microsoft's marketing department, but they're the kinds of things that add up to make your life easier. Attend this session to learn all sorts of new and different reasons to upgrade as quickly as possible.

Jan 17, 2017

Stack Overflow is the largest online community of developers, and the performance and reliability of our SQL Server databases are crucial to serving over 1.3 Billion page views each month with each rendered in ~10-20 milliseconds. The Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) team is responsible for designing and maintaining our infrastructure (SQL Server, Redis, IIS, Haproxy, ElasticSearch, Fastly CDN) and finding ways of getting the most performance from a minimal amount of physical hardware. We try and design all of our solutions to be as simple as possible, and we believe that troubleshooting should be a first class feature of any critical system.

This high-level session will show how we use Availability Groups (AGs) to scale out the SQL workload and meet our current HA/DR needs, as well as future plans to use Distributed AGs to solve a pesky issue called “the speed of light”. It also will show the monitoring systems we use, namely OpServer and Bosun (both Open Source!), to quickly identify production SQL issues and ensure that performance is a top-priority feature.

I will also outline some of our key development principles, such as collecting exceptions in a central location, the benefits of using a Micro-ORM like Dapper, and the pros and cons of using the new JSON T-SQL functions. I will describe our experience finding the best tool for the job (like database migrations), where single purpose tools often beat all-encompassing frameworks. Keep in mind this information is heavily weighted toward the needs of a large .NET based web property, so YMMV. But my hope is you will leave with a few new tricks and a better understanding of how far you can go with a simple SQL Server architecture.

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