Apr 28

INSIDE-SQL Discounts Available

[Reposting of the annoucement on http://insidesql.co.uk]

T-7 Weeks – 7 attendees can grab a Monster discount

SQL Usergroups
After attending not 1 but 2 SQL Usergroups yesterday evening (London), where I enjoyed discussing the various aspects of INSIDE-SQL conference with some attendees and both events, the discussion did turned to the current discount promotions currently running.
So I said I’d do a quick recap of them, we have a £30.00 discount off the Early-Bird tickets which are £199.00 taking it down to just £169.00 when using code ‘SQLFamily30

For our GROUP tickets we reduced those by a generous £25.00 {Per Attendee} this ends on 30th April 2016.

  • Group (3 Attendees) now £500.00 from £575.00
  • Group (4 Attendees) now £650.00 from £750.00 

What’s this Extra Monster discount you mentioned
Mainly because we are super excited that our conference that is now just 7 short weeks to go  It’s on Tuesday 14th June.  <Someone please tell me what happended to March and April>

We wanted to start our Countdown off by offering an extra special deal for 7 (lucky) attendees who purchase our Early-Bird tickets using ‘SQLMonster50
[Drum Roll Please] they will get £50.00 off which takes our EB Ticket price to just £149.00

This will be our lowest ticket cost to attend the conference, there are only 7 uses of the code available (But you can buy more than 1 ticket)
<So you’ll need to act fast to grab these before they are all used>

Here the link to our Ticket Tailor site for this Conference to purchase your tickets.

Apr 24

INSIDE-SQL – Why run a conference


Most will know that I have been running Usergroup events on SQL Server / Data Platform for a few years now, the last couple of them as the leader of the PASS London Chapter http://sqllondon.sqlpass.org/  these events are held in the evening’s and usually consist of 1 or 2 presentations from different presenters across the spectrum of Data Platform topics.

We now run these evening events in the awesome Skillsmatter CodeNode venue and even provide recordings of the previous ones that have been recorded Past Recordings
Plus find out when the next one happening @ London SQL UserGroup MEETUP

You may have noticed we have an full-day event on 14th June (@ Codenode Venue)
so YES we are attempting something a little different, I wanted to explain a little about that and what it is about. We call it “INSIDE-SQL” and created a dedicated website for it
INSIDE-SQL Event Website to bring you all the details you’ll want to learn about it
Agenda, Presenters, Tracks, Location, Tickets, Sponsors etc..

Why are we charging for this… Good Question and it comes down to costs involved in running the event, so while we do have a few sponsors their contributions only covers a percentage of the costs involved, for the rest we need to obtain via low-cost tickets.

We have been able to keep the ticket costs down to those of a price similair to attending a Pre-con @ a SQL Saturday [So this really will be excellent value for the £’s we charge]

What do YOU get for this… We have lined up 15 Deep Dives Sessions, each one being 90 minutes in duration and between 300 – 500 level across a range of topics, these are delivered by experienced presenters, most of them MVP’s and some also MCM’s

Here is a sample extract of the Conference Schedule


Now we know you might wish to attend more than 1 session that is on the same time, sadly without time-travelling ability you’ll have to choose to attend just 1 of them
However fear not, we are recording ALL of the 15 session’s and providing these on our conference USB, so you can watch them later or watch it for 100th time.

Why do a conference
We felt there was perhaps a gap in the market for a focused DEEP DIVE conference which skips that beginner content and tackles the more challenging content
Yet still within the price range for everyone and delivered by some of the top names you’ll find at the bigger conferences, like SQLBits, PASS Summit & many SQLSaturdays.

It can also help US (PASS London Chapter) to continue to grow and due to sponsorship becoming more challenging to find, we wanted to attempt to raise a few £’s for the running costs.
[Well the Pizza’s have to be be paid for somehow]

So we ask you to support us and perhaps have yourself or one of your team attend it, we even have companies sending groups to this, all for a very low overall cost
Group of 3 only @ £500 & Group of 4 only @ £650 until April 30th 2016

Tickets available @ TicketTailor [No Processing fee] or EventBrite [Has a Processing fee]

If you like me, your love a bit of a discount
So use our (single tickets) discount code: ‘SQLFamily30’ for a wooping £30 discount
(There will be a limited supply of these, so get them while you can)

Well thanks for reading this far, and if you feel so inclined perhaps share the news of our event, we will be most grateful for your help..
Perhaps we will even see you at the INSIDE-SQL conference, remember all the information you’ll need is available on our INSIDE-SQL event website http://insidesql.co.uk
Why not follow the latest news on #INSIDESQL

See you soon at an event somewhere in the world



Feb 16

Using PowerBI & MAP Toolkit & to review your SQL Server Environments

TSQLTues Logo  This is a posting for T-SQL Tuesday #75

As the SQL Server & BI Consulting Practice lead in a Tier-1 managed Microsoft Partner consulting company www.Northdoor.co.uk , my role often involves me discussing our customer’s SQL Server environment, perhaps they are considering an upcoming version migration or need to perform some consolidations, maybe they are undertaking a SQL Server licensing compliance review or embarking on a major modernisation project.

Regardless of what the reason is for their SQL Server project, it’s important that we quickly gain an understanding of the complexities of the environment(s), frequently it’s the very first time we are working with the client and so lack any prior knowledge of their environment, to overcome this and to begin to answer some key questions with confidence in the accuracy of the data, we have them run a Microsoft (free tool) known as the MAP Toolkit (Microsoft Assessment & Planning), then we can start to tackle questions such as these

  • How many of X Versions and Y Editions are there?
  • What different versions of OS are the instances running on?
  • What is the breakdown of Virtual/Physical, Clustered/Standalone; 32/64-bit
  • Details on CPU models & number of Cores, How much Memory  
  • Number of Databases; Database Sizes , Compatibility levels

The MAP toolkit does have some basic reporting capabilities and provides us with a few high-level overviews, but does lacks the capability to get truly interactive with the data it has captured and we don’t really get the answers we need answering, well fortunately we can resolve that by creating our own PowerBI reports based on the MAP data tha it collected, these PowerBI reports can provide us with the interactive report capabilities which we lacked.

MAP Toolkit #1          latest version is 9.3 http://www.microsoft.com/en-in/download/details.aspx?id=7826

Following the MAP toolkit instructions and running an inventory, we have something like this report.MAP Toolkit #2

What’s next

Now we going to use the 2 excel (MAP output files) as the data for this PowerBI Report we are building, we can easily create them from the MAP Toolkit (Top Right) Options > Click the Generate Report links and save them to a local folder, they are probably named SQLServerAssesment.xlsx & SQLServerDatabaseDetails.xlsx , we’ll also want to join these 2 datasets inside PowerBI we create 3 Queries in from these 2 files, the following screenshots below depict this.

Ok, so let’s take a look here is the first PowerBI report, it consist of a Multi-page PowerBI report developed with the PowerBI Desktop app and this is just using the 2 excel files as the source.PowerBI #1 PowerBI #2

As you can see these reports have a few slicers (Filters) which can be used to filter the underlying information and the visuals will dynamically change based on the filtering that is applied.PowerBI #3

Here we are switching to the Data Pane, by adding a new column [InstanceName] into each of the 3 queries by adding a simple formula as follows, as we need  the ServerName\InstanceNamePowerBI #4

DatabaseInstances {SQLServerAssement)

InstanceName = DatabaseInstances[Computer Name] & “\” & DatabaseInstances[SQL Server Instance Name]

Databases {SQLServerDatabaseDetails)

InstanceName = Databases[Server Name] & “\” & Databases[SQL Server Database Engine Instance Names]

DatabaseDetails {SQLServerDatabaseDetails)

InstanceName = DatabaseDetails[Server Name] & “\” & DatabaseDetails[SQL Server Database Engine Instance Name]

Below we are showing the linked queries based on the joining on the [InstanceName] column.PowerBI #5

We can now use the report, share it with others and even now publish this to the web

With our finished report, we probably don’t want to have to recreate the report from scratch each time, thankfully we can simply make a copy of an existing report and then update the data held within that PowerBI report, replacing the files in the source folder and then doing a data refresh being the simplest way to load in the new dataset for an inventory run.

Alternatively we can navigate to each of the queries and selecting the first applied step which is named Source [Click the gear icon to the right] and then update the path to the excel file, repeat this step for all 3 queriesPowerBI #6

Also we could click Query > Advanced Editor and then update the relevant File-Path to the file in Advanced Editor window, then click [Done] and followed by the Refresh button.PowerBI #7

So none of that is that time consuming, just make sure the files are editable and all should work just fine, now I’m more inclined to use a SQL Server Database than Excel, so wanted to access the data directly from the MAP database and skip the Excel file step {Where Excel files gets its data anyway}

So another PowerBI Report was born, this time I’m using a T-SQL Query directly against the MAP Database, note the location of the database is generally found at (localdb)\MAPTOOLKIT.[MAP]PowerBI #8

Here we have 1 query, populated from the query and this provides all the information needed for the PowerBI Report, it’s very simple now to switch between MAP databases by simply changing the details of the source database (Server & database)PowerBI #9

In the SQL Statement (optional) pane, we have pasted in the T-SQL query (links at the end for script) we are using and make the updates the Server & Database fields as needed.PowerBI #10

That’s as far as I can take this post today, hopefully I’ve made this a quick overview of both the MAP toolkit and how we can explore the data it collects with some sample PowerBI Reports

If you want I‘ve included the example PowerBI reports with sample data loaded in them to help you get started, but why not edit these reports to suit your own layouts, and run MAP toolkit and then view the data from your own environments.

Sample Files are on available at the following for download


Oct 22

Northdoor PLC Welcomes their SQL Server Technology Evangelist

I have the enormous pleasure of announcing that I’ve now joined Northdoor PLC www.northdoor.co.uk as their SQL Server Technology Evangelist, our office is centrally located in London


It is exciting to be working with their existing team, and to bring along my own experiences and SQL Server knowledge to add to the mix, I will be primarily responsible for leading and developing our existing SQL Server practice, so I look forward to being able to add some new offerings and enhance the experience we have working with our existing and new clients over the coming years

logo  mslogo20130312_sml

Northdoor is an IT consultancy and solutions provider. We help fast-growing enterprises achieve their business objectives through IT enablement. With over 20 years of experience, we have been a trusted adviser to many organisations.
Northdoor combines specialist skills across IT consulting, enterprise infrastructure and IT support and managed services into one integrated solution for our clients

So please follow our twitter account @SQLNorthdoor for daily news and information from the world of SQL along with information & events and also what our Team-SQL are doing out in the community

We will have vacancies {for permanent staff} to fill as we expand our SQL Server Practice, already we are looking to find another to join our team, so if you know SQL Server and want to become part of this dynamic team, you can email me for details, I’ll let you know what vacancies we have available

Upcoming Events

  • 28th Oct 14 – Leeds – SQLRelay
    • Presenting my DQS/MDS Session
  • 30th Oct 14 – London
    • Just as a SQL Relay volunteer, as SQL Relay is one of favourite events
  • 1st Nov – Portland, USA – SQLSaturday #337 Oregon
  • 7th Nov 14 – Seattle, USA – PASS Summit 2014
  • 3rd Dec 14 – PASS Chapter London evening event (6-9PM)

There is more still to come in 2014 but I’m still working on the arrangements for them right now.. so watch this space for further announcements

Aug 18


SQL_XOne of my favourite features I’ve been recently presenting on covers the practical usage of partitioning

“Effective Index Partitioning & Compression Strategies”

We all know that ‘Indexing’ is KING when it comes to achieving high levels of performance in SQL Server. When Indexing also combines 2 of the Enterprise features: Partitioning & Compression, we can often see substantial gains. Learn how to identify those objects that benefit greatly from being Partitioned or Compressed, OR combining both of these features to even greater effect. Using Demos to illustrate the performance gains with real-world examples, Take away advanced scripts for use in your own environments.

SQLBits XII Telford  (Jul 2014)







Video {Stream | Download} Video Effective Index Partitioning Compression Strategy

PDF Presentation Effective Index Partitioning & Compression Strategies PDF (Telford SQLBits 12)

I’ve also presented this partitioning-compression session @ these other events

  • SQLSaturday #269 Exeter (Mar 2014)
  • SQLSaturday #208 Madison (Apr 2013)

This session was originally 2 separate sessions on partitioning & compression

“Effective Data Management Using Data Compression”

  • SQL-in-the-City London (Jul 2011)
  • SQLSaturday #105 Dublin (Mar 2013)
  • SQLSaturday #115 Portugal (Mar 2013)









Aug 18

SQL Relay 2014

SQLRelay 2014 – Unlock insights on any data

We’re bringing SQL Server to a town near you Join us for our analytics focused, FREE all-day conference UK-Map

With some of the best speakers in the world!

With a track dedicated to the SQL Server engine we’re helping you ensure maximum stability, availability and potential for your data. Our other track will focus on getting that data and turning it into something meaningful.

Visit the website www.sqlrelay.co.uk to register, as you can see spaces are going fast, don’t delay register today while spaces are still available

Event Date Day Spaces left1 Register
Reading 13/10/14 Mon 116 (58%) Register
Southampton 14/10/14 Tue 74 (74%) Register
Bristol 15/10/14 Wed 17 (19%) Register
Cardiff 16/10/14 Thu 30 (40%) Register
Newcastle 27/10/14 Mon 55 (61%) Register
Leeds 28/10/14 Tue 109 (55%) Register
Birmingham 29/10/14 Wed 58 (39%) Register
London 30/10/14 Thu Sold Out (Wait List) Register








SQLRelay2014Organising3 I’m the Lead for the Reading event this time around

SQLRelay2014Speaking3  I’ll be delivering some sessions again at some events

SQLRelay2014Going3  I’ll be attending as many of the events as I can

Aug 17

BA Conference

MDS and DQS – Beyond the TLAs to Data Quality

Many three-letter acronyms (TLAs) adorn our database world. This session focuses on two recent additions – MDS (Master Data Services) and DQS (Data Quality Services) – explaining what the new features are and exploring how to leverage them to improve your data quality. High data quality is fundamental to any business analytics system. In this session, we’ll begin with an overview of data quality and the latest Microsoft tools available, and then demonstrate MDS and DQS and how to use them together for continuously improving data quality. We’ll also look at how to integrate them into your existing data-quality strategies. Data quality is everyone’s responsibility – but we can still lead the way forward. Join this session to see how.

PASS BA Conference Chicago (Apr 2013)


Aside from the Summit I have presented this MDS/DQS intro session @ these other events

  • SQLSaturday #281 Edinburgh (Jun 2014)
  • SQLSaturday #237 Charlotte (Oct 2013)
Aug 17

Summit 2013

Load Testing with SQL Server Tools

It’s often difficult to know how your SQL Servers will perform under different loads. By performing load testing, we can gain these key insights, perform modifications to existing configurations, and understand the impact on performance levels.

Come learn about the native tools at our disposal for performing these important load tests and how we can identify when performance levels begin to drop. Using demos of these native tools – including Distributed Replay Utility (DRU), Database Tuning Adviser (DTA), Perfmon, Extended Events, and Profiler – we’ll see how to plan and perform a load test project, gain an understanding of SQL Server’s performance under varying load scenarios, and discover which tell-tale indicators can help alert us to performance degradation.

PASS Summit Charlotte (Nov 2013)

This will be my 3rd consecutive year attending a PASS Summit, this one is a little different as we are in a different city, this year we are on the east coast in the lovely city of Charlotte (North Carolina) the home of NASCAR and we have some friends there as well, as it is also home to SQL Sentry


PDF Presentation PASS 2013_NeilHambly_LoadTestingSQLServer

Aside from the Summit I have presented this Load Testing with SQL Server Tools session @ these other events

  • SQL Relay 2013R2 Norwich (Nov 2013)
  • PASS DBA Virtual Chapter Virtual (Dec 2013)
Aug 17

Summit 2012

SQL Server 2012 Memory Management  

SQL Server 2012 brings a wide range of changes, including a key change in how SQL Server memory is managed. Earlier releases of SQL Server have two memory managers, which have now been merged into one. And that’s just the beginning of the changes for SQL Server memory. This session will dive into SQL Server 2012’s new memory architecture. We’ll see how to diagnose memory performance issues and gain insight into memory pressure issues. We’ll also cover the settings to adjust memory configuration levels and their impact.

PASS Summit  Seattle (Nov 2012)

This was my 2nd year @ the Summit as well as my 2nd time presenting a summit session, this time around it would be a regular 75 minute session on Memory Management with a special focus on the changes in how memory is managed with the SQL Server 2012 release

MemoryMgmt2012_title MemoryMgmt24HOP_title

Video link http://www.sqlpass.org/SessionResources/Stream.aspx?sid=3158  & Download Material

PDF Presentation  DBA-312 SQL Server 2012 Memory Management PDF

Aside from the Summit I have presented this Memory Management session @ these other events

I’ve was also able to present a special Deep-Dive 2-Hour version (Jan 2013) of this session at quite an unusual conference location, as this was aboard a Cruise ship  Really! YES, Really! I’m talking of course about the acclaimed SQL Cruise experience http://sqlcruise.com/ Sqlcruise_title

It was my 2nd SQL Cruise experience, having already been a ‘cruiser’ on the Alsaka SQLCruise in 2011, the term ‘Washy Washy’ will always be with me, maybe you should also ask Tim Ford about the Oreo challenge (it’s harder than it looks) This 2013 Miami SQL Cruise I was also fortunate enough to be chosen as one of their technical leads, I was indeed in good company as this listing shows http://sqlcruise.com/2013-trainers/


Aug 17

Summit 2011

Why are we Waiting..  

PASS Summit  Seattle (Oct 2011)

This was my 1st PASS Summit session and one I have presented it elsewhere as well, it is primarily focused on explaining performance issues via the analysis of the Wait Stats sys.dm_os_wait_stats DMV, we use the DMV to identify performance issues and discover WHY the queries are waiting and on what type of resource


Slides PDF  DBA_320_Why_are_we_Waiting_NeilHambly

Video link http://softconference.com/pass/sessionDetail.asp?SID=274928  sync’d with presentation. Duration: 75 minutes  – Think most should be able to access this now if your a PASS member and have logged in, this is of course just one of the sessions from the 2011 Summit, you have access to the others as well – which is just awesome

With 310 attendees (full double room) this was a quite a step up in # attendees from my previous largest audience so far with ~100 being the largest I had ever had presented before this, incidentally that was my 1st ever presentation (London March 2010) If I recall correctly

I’ve also presented this wait-stats session (or some variation of it) @ these other events