It was definitely a November to remember this year and after a long weekend I’m still reflecting on everything that has taken place. First came SQL PASS, with 5,000+ attendees from over 50 countries all looking to improve their skill sets, make meaningful connections and learn tips, tricks and tools to help them build, manage and protect their SQL Server environments. The following two weeks we spent time out in front of SQL Server DBAs in a program called “SQL Server DBA Days”, educating the DBAs of existing EMC customers on the features and capabilities of products they may already have and perhaps didn't know they have available to use. For the purposes of this post though we are going to focus on SQL PASS.



PASS has always done an outstanding job of making their content available online and this year is no different. If you are looking for a better understanding of the content presented, you can find free video content of keynotes and interviews here. One of the better received keynote sessions was Rimma Nehme's breakdown of what a cloud database is and how to use them.


The primary themes of this year’s PASS were really no different than any year…  Performance and Data Protection are always the top of mind for SQL DBAs. In most organizations SQL Server is usually one of the last things that is virtualized in the environment. As most companies have now completed virtualizing their environment and the majority of SQL Servers are now virtualized, another recurring theme has emerged: Agility. This is the promise of cloud.


Many sessions focused on the use cases and benefits of Microsoft Azure. In the keynote we also see a glimpse into the future of Azure, where you will have the ability to leverage a concept that we at EMC have been talking about for many years now. Keep your active data hot and keep your inactive data cold. Microsoft is taking this to a whole new level though by leveraging SQL Server In-memory functionality in conjunction with SQL Azure.




Learning about new SQL Server features and capabilities for most DBAs though is kind of like real estate shopping for a new house but knowing that you won’t be buying for a few more years. The reality for most organizations out there is that they have just finished retiring SQL Server 2005, the majority of their environment is now on 2008 R2 and they have SQL Server 2012 deployed but it isn’t really running anything mission critical yet. This is reality though for most DBAs though. So, in many cases they need to look to infrastructure improvements to enable the performance, protection and agility they desire.


It should be no surprise based on the themes of Performance, Data Protection and Agility, that we staffed our booth with representatives from our XtremIO & Data Protection and Availability Division.


XtremIO: Redefining the Agile Data Center

Conversations about performance with all-flash arrays may be exciting for the first few minutes but even the worst AFA on the market will give you amazing performance compared to a traditional array. The more exciting conversation is how to now leverage the performance and realize the other benefits of an array that has never been designed for spinning disks.




Many AFA vendors focus on checking off boxes like deduplication and compression in order to be able to say “us too, we have those features”. To really move the needle though, it isn’t just having these features, it is about enabling agility through these technologies. Leveraging our inline data reduction capabilities we can enable game changing efficiency and agility for test and development environments as well as for all your reporting and analytics needs.




Data Protection and Availability

This was the third time I’ve attended PASS and one of the things that happens at the booth every year are conversations just like this:


  • Me: “Hi, how are you… is there anything I can answer for you today?”
  • Attendee: “You guys are the (Data Domain or Avamar or NetWorker) guys, right?”
  • Me: “Well, yes. That is one of the things we do.”
  • Attendee: “We deployed that this year. It works great, we really like it.”
  • Me: “Great, glad to hear it!”


There isn't much better advertising than completely unsolicited and uncompensated praise right in front of other potential customers.

The EMC Data Protection Suite delivers advanced integration with SQL Server enabling DBAs and application owners control with faster, more efficient backups. EMC NetWorker centralizes, automates and accelerates data backup and recovery across the environment.


Just because you might not be able to change what version of SQL Server you are running on doesn't mean that you can't improve your overall performance and agility. However, if you are one of those organizations that is looking at SQL 2014 and Azure integration and want to make sure you will have your data protected whether your it is on-prem or in the cloud?  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!


In Closing…

In the interest of time, I’ll point you to some of the great resources available to you.



And lastly, follow us on Twitter for regular updates.


@EMCXtremIO   @EMCProtectData   @bryanjwalsh


Looking forward to next year's SQL PASS as well as some upcoming SQL Saturdays as well.