Category Archives: Rant

SQL Server, Pricing, Editions and Features

I Want Features Not Cost!

Recently Brent Ozar (blog|twitter) wrote a post SQL Server Standard Edition Sucks, And It’s All Your Fault. Needless to say, he isn’t happy with the price and what you don’t get in Standard Edition of SQL Server 2012. Brent seems to be mostly upset that since SQL Server 2008 Standard edition has been restricted to 64GB of ram. Adding additional insult, Always On is an Enterprise only feature with Database Mirroring on the green mile Microsoft will have to do something in the near future to fill this gap.

What about the rest of his list?

  • Database snapshots (a huge lifesaver when doing deployments)
  • Online reindexing, parallel index operations (wouldn’t you like to use more than one core?)
  • Transparent database encryption (because only enterprises store personally identifiable data or sell stuff online, right?)
  • Auditing (guess only enterprises need compliance)
  • Tons of BI features (because hey, your small business doesn’t have intelligence)

Yep, it sure does suck not to get any of those features and get stuck with a nice price increase.

But, Microsoft Says The Increase Isn’t That Bad(tm)

Imagine you are going from Enterprise per server to Enterprise per core on a 64 core system. At $7,000.00 a core that’s $448,000.00 bucks. If you were on SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise server licensing you paid just $13,969.00 and got it with 25 CALs. That is a 3100% increase in cost if you want to move to SQL Server 2012. Now that is something to bitch about. I can buy an HP DL580 with four 10-core processors and 128GB of ram for $24,259 retail, then pay $280,000.00 to license it. The days of hardware being a significant part of your IT deployments are gone. Hardware is getting cheaper and more powerful while software is getting more expensive. It’s almost an exact inverse equation.

So, What Are My Options

Well, few unfortunately. To license Oracle with the same features as SQL Server 2012 Enterprise you would be looking at 40% or more in licensing fees. On the open source front things aren’t much better. There just isn’t a single RDBMS with all the features of SQL Server or any other commercial offering for that matter.

Lets take a look at our options out of the box:


  • Can use maximum server memory – Yes
  • Database snapshots – Nope
  • Online reindexing, parallel index operations – Yes/Nope You can do an online operation but not parallel.
  • Transparent database encryption – Nope
  • Auditing – Nope
  • Tons of BI features – Nope


  • Can use maximum server memory – Yes
  • Database snapshots – Nope
  • Online reindexing, parallel index operations – Nope
  • Transparent database encryption – Nope
  • Auditing – Nope
  • Tons of BI features – Nope

Now What?

Heck the only open source database that has a parallel query execution core is written in Java. On the plus side HyperSQL runs on Windows. All of these offerings also have things that SQL Server doesn’t. PostgreSQL is incredibly powerful for GIS and its unique among database engines for the large amount of indexing options available. MySQL/MariaDB has a nice feature that allows you to write your own storage engine and let MySQL act as the query processor.

If you don’t need all the feature add-on’s like Reporting Services, Integration Services or Analysis services for SQL Server then I recommend PostgreSQL every time. If you don’t mind doing some grunt work you can assemble a BI stack, reporting stack and all the other wiz-bang stuff you get out of the box with SQL Server to some degree.

If you want SQL Server’s set of tools AND its outstanding query engine you WILL have to pay for it. If you want to use SQL Sever and aren’t worried about new features, support or up to date tools you can always stick with SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition 64 bit, since it doesn’t cap memory usage and allows you to use all the memory the OS has available.

Well I’m Still Unhappy.

Yes the new licensing was a kick in the seat of the pants. Ask the Oracle guys how well they took it when Oracle did the same thing in late 2005. An article on CRN reads like it was written about SQL Server 2012 in the last month. Read it and replace “Oracle” with “SQL Server” its a hoot.

“Everyone is upset about it,” said Joe Vaught, COO of solution provider PCPC.

We sure are.

Oracle declined to comment for this story, beyond sending a short statement to CRN, which read in part: “As platforms change, and market opportunities arise, we continue to examine our pricing structure.”

Can Oracle sue Microsoft for stealing their statement? I don’t know but it sure does look familiar. I can also tell you that Microsoft used Oracle’s licensing changes to gobble up the lower end of the enterprise space and dominate the SMB space all together. Our problem is there isn’t another major up and coming software company gunning for the middle and not the top of the RDBMS business. PostgreSQL is making great strides and is my favorite front runner. They are also looking at the parallel query issue too! If you can hold out for another year or two you may be able to live without some of the bells and whistles and PostgreSQL or some other platform will be good enough to meet your needs.

One Great Day And Mixed Feelings

If it happens two times then you know the first time wasn’t a fluke.

Today was my anniversary date for the SQL Server MVP award. I wasn’t expecting to be renewed. I was though. Three of my friends weren’t added to the MVP roster. All three of them have put in the time and work. If this was as simple of do X and Y get MVP it would be easy to say you didn’t do X enough or Y enough. That’s not the nature of an award.

a·ward verb (used with object)
1. To give as due or merited; assign or bestow: to award prizes.

An award is given. Let me say that one more time. An award is GIVEN. You may have done enough to earn an award. That doesn’t guarantee you will be given it.

I deserved it!

I dare say many have deserved it and not been granted MVP status. I thought I was one of those people. In 2004 I did a ton of crazy traveling and promotion for SQL Server 2005. I was a user group coordinator for two user groups almost 2 hours apart from each other. I sacrificed a lot. I felt I was entitled to the MVP award. I had been passed over before but this time I deserved it. I didn’t get it. Was I mad? Did I feel a bit betrayed? You bet I did. Why should someone that hangs out in a user forum all day be more worthy than me? I had a hard time accepting that I was passed over, AGAIN. It changed me. It changed my outlook on things. I sat back and evaluated why I was giving so much of my time supporting a product, made by one of the wealthiest software companies in the world, FOR FREE? Eventually, I realized it wasn’t the product or the company. I was supporting my career,  my desire to learn more and the people around me who also just wanted to learn as much as I did. So, for the most part I got over it. I quit flinching every time I was introduced as an MVP or former MVP. I stopped getting angry every time someone would say “I was sure you were an MVP!” I stopped letting my world revolve around achieving MVP status. Even though many of my friends and colleagues were current or former MVP’s. I just put it aside. I said if all the work I did in 2004 wasn’t enough then I can’t imagine how much more I could do, what else I could give up to prove I was MVP material. I just kept doing what I loved to do, working with a product I was passionate about teaching what I knew and learning from others whenever I could.

Being happy for others.

Eventually, I just got really zen about it. I watched others get the MVP and I was always happy for them. My favorite was when Jen McCown (@midnightdba) got her award. I watched it live on DBAs@Midnight. I was so happy for her I cried. I cheered at the screen and realized just how awesome Sean can be sometimes. I had several conversations about how Jen “came out of nowhere” and was awarded “early” in her efforts. Had Jen been community driven as long as I had? No. Did she take a sabbatical to have a family? Yes. Did she F**KING CRUSH IT when she got back in the swing of things? Oh hell yeah. She started blogging, recording videos and speaking in 2008. In January of 2011 she was awarded. She didn’t write a few blog posts. she wrote HUNDREDS. She didn’t record a few vids she (and Sean) started a live show on fridays. She was just everywhere, for TWO YEARS SOLID. To say just just popped fully into her MVP in 2011 is a great injustice to the amount of work she put in. Did others work harder during that time than Jen? Maybe, but I couldn’t name them.

I Finally made it.

When I was awarded last year I was unbelievably fortunate to be surrounded by my friends and the community I support. I was, and am, extremely humbled to be an awardee. Today, when I hadn’t received my nod, I was ready to pull the MVP logo from my intro slide and give the best presentation I possibly could. MVP or no MVP I love what I do. I love teaching. I love community. If I don’t get renewed next year it won’t change a thing. I will still travel on my dime, give my time and do my best. If you think that is “lip service” then I am sad for you. If not being an MVP keeps you from doing the things you love then maybe you really aren’t doing what you love.

We are all human.


It’s not wrong to want the MVP award. Its not wrong to work towards that goal. If you think you earned it and didn’t get it, thats your fault. You aren’t alone in the “I should be an MVP” club. As a former member I know just how bitter it can make you sometimes. If you want to earn something, go get your Microsoft Certified Master. It shows you are technically one of the best with SQL Server. You don’t have to speak, blog, record videos or hang out on the technet forums for years hoping to be recognised. If you work your ass off for it and you earn it Microsoft hands your certification right over.

For those of you who haven’t been awarded yet, please don’t stop trying. More importantly, don’t stop giving to the community who appreciates it more than Microsoft ever will. Realize you change lives when you teach others. Your and theirs.

So, now that I’ve ranted and rambled about the MVP what is it? Again, Jen wrote it up well.

News Flash! PASS Board Makes Unpopular Decision!


(n.) A multi-purpose response, primarily used to imply a degree of indifference. Tone of voice and circumstance often implies a meaning. Can be used when you don’t want to answer an awkward or embarrassing question, or if you just plain have nothing else to say, and you want the other person to interpret the “meh” however he/she chooses. As in: Q: “What do you think of my new dress?” A: “Meh.” or Q: “What do you want to do tonight?” A: “Meh.”


You heard me. I think this whole situation is getting way out of hand. People are making personal attacks, making false statements on the behalf of others and generally being pin heads about the whole thing.

It’s Not The Process, It’s The People

The amount of personal attacks going on is just crazy. Andy wants to change the process, I’m fine with that. You want more transparency, I’m down. What I’m really upset about is community leaders making subtle and not so subtle attacks on the entire board. If you have a beef with a particular board member then call them out. If you have a problem with the WHOLE BOARD maybe, just maybe, its you.

JJ Abrams Runs The Board

Yep, I’m Lost(tm) too. I love a conspiracy theory, I don’t think there is an invisible monster eating people at PASS HQ though. I believe the majority of the board are trying very hard to make the best possible choices for PASS and it’s future. I don’t agree with every choice made, and I despise politics in general, but I don’t think there are 12 odd people colluding to keep out the good guys and run PASS into the ground. Were James and Kendal the last two pieces in a much larger puzzle to control the fate of PASS and SQL Server? We are about to find out….

I’m Gonna Let You Finish, But Sri Was The Best Candidate For The Board!

For a guy that said he was done with PASS politics Brent has a lot to say. I get it, you don’t like the way the bylaws are written. Run for the board and get them changed. You know and I know you would win by a landslide. You also clearly understand that the bylaws are written and approved by the board. You know who I feel bad for? It’s not Sri. He is an awesome guy, this won’t stop him at all. I fully expect him to run again. It isn’t James Rowland-Jones, he has had great success with SQLBits and will make a solid board member with PASS. It is squarely Kendal Van Dyke. Also an awesome community leader and will make a great board member. The problem is he will always have to work harder and have this stigma of being second in the votes but chosen by the board to serve over the next candidate. Who wants that following them around? Would we be having this raging hemorrhoid of a debate if Sri was picked up and Kendal was passed over for James? Kendal was gracious in defeat and would have made a mistake if he had turned down this appointment.

You aren’t going far enough

Andy Warren started the petition. I don’t thing it goes far enough. We need to strip the PASS board of the ability to appoint anyone to the board at all. If it isn’t voted on by the membership there shouldn’t be an appointment to the board PERIOD. I’m serious. All our issues stem from the fact that a few people, that we have voted onto the board, have the ability to appoint more people without the consent of the governed. While we are at it, get rid of the board, all of them. We live in an age where people can vote on topics in real time, a pure democracy, where the governors are the governed. As long as we have a representative form of democracy governing PASS there will always be a group of people to lash out at and a group of people happy to do so.


At the end of the day people are ignoring the fact this is a one year appointment. Both James and Kendal will have to face another election if they want to stay on the board for a second full term. PASS has been making changes to the bylaws, not at the speed I would like but they are changing. No matter what, you can’t make everyone happy.

Changing Directions

I See Dead Tech….

Knowing when a technology is dying is always a good skill to have. Like most of my generation we weren’t the first on the computer scene but lived through several of it’s more painful transitions. As a college student I was forced to learn antiquated technologies and languages. I had to take a semester of COBOL. I also had to take two years of assembler for the IBM 390 mainframe and another year of assembler for the x86 focused on the i386 when the Pentium was already on the market. Again and again I’ve been forced to invest time in dying technologies. Well not any more!

Hard drives are dead LONG LIVE SOLID STATE!

I set the data on a delicate rinse cycle

I’m done with spinning disks. Since IBM invented them in nineteen and fifty seven they haven’t improved much over the years. They got smaller and faster yes but they never got sexier than the original. I mean, my mom was born in the fifties, I don’t want to be associated with something that old and way uncool. Wouldn’t you much rather have something at least invented in the modern age in your state of the art server?

Don’t you want the new hotness?

I mean seriously, isn’t this much cooler? I’m not building any new servers or desktop systems unless they are sporting flash drives. But don’t think this will last. You must stay vigilant, NAND flash won’t age like a fine wine ether. There will be something new in a few years and you must be willing to spend whatever it takes to deploy the “solid state killer” when it comes out.

Tell Gandpa Relational is Soooo last century

The relational model was developed by Dr. EF Codd while at IBM in 1970, two years before I was born. Using some fancy math called tuple calculus he proved that the relational model was better at seeking data on these new “hard drives” that IBM had laying around. That later tuned into relational algebra that is used today. Holy cow! I hated algebra AND calculus in high school why would I want to work with that crap now?

NoSQL Is The Future!

PhD’s, all neck ties and crazy gray hair.

Internet Scale, web 2.0 has a much better haircut.

In this new fast paced world of web 2.0 and databases that have to go all the way to Internet scale, the old crusty relational databases just can’t hang. Enter, NoSQL! I know that NoSQL covers a lot of different technologies, but some of the core things they do very well is scale up to millions of users and I need to scale that high. They do this by side stepping things like relationships, transactions and verified writes to disk. This makes them blazingly fast! Plus, I don’t have to learn any SQL languages, I can stay with what I love best javascript and JSON. Personally, I think MongoDB is the best of the bunch they don’t have a ton of fancy PhD’s, they are getting it done in the real world! Hey, they have a Success Engineer for crying out loud!!! Plus if you are using Ruby, Python, Erlang or any other real Web 2.0 language it just works out of the box. Don’t flame me about your NoSQL solution and why it is better, I just don’t care. I’m gearing up to hit all the major NoSQL conferences this year and canceling all my SQL Server related stuff. So long PASS Summit, no more hanging out with people obsessed with outdated skills.

Head in the CLOUD

Racks and Racks of Spaghetti photo by: Andrew McKaskill

Do you want this to manage?

Or this?

With all that said, I probably won’t be building to many more servers anyway. There is a new way of getting your data and servers without the hassle of buying hardware and securing it, THE CLOUD!

“Cloud computing is computation, software, data access, and storage services that do not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system that delivers the services. Parallels to this concept can be drawn with the electricity grid where end-users consume power resources without any necessary understanding of the component devices in the grid required to provide the service.”

Now that’s what I’m talking about! I just plug in my code and out comes money. I don’t need to know how it all works on the back end. I’m all about convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources. You know, kind of like when I was at college and sent my program to a sysadmin to get a time slice on the mainframe. I don’t need to know the details just run my program. Heck, I can even have a private cloud connected to other public and private clouds to make up The Intercloud(tm). Now that is sexy!

To my new ends I will be closing this blog and starting up to document my new jersey, I’ll only be posting once a year though, on April 1st.

See you next year!

How do you change something that can’t be changed?

As many of you know, Steve Jones was cut by the Nomination Committee and won’t be on the ballot this year. He made the announcement in a short blog post.

In the comments Andy Warren said “I’m disappointed as well. I think the NomCom tried hard to apply the process we gave them, so the fault – in my personal view – is with the process, just not rich enough. I’ll write more when I’ve had a chance to reflect some.

I would be disappointed – again, speaking just as me – if anyone elects to walk away from PASS because of this. Don’t agree with PASS on this or any other issue? Fight the fight to change it!”

I agree, if you walk away just because of this issue that would be a mistake. If this is last in a long list of mistakes that is a different matter all together.

From the Bylaws:
”These Bylaws may be altered, amended, or repealed, and new bylaws may be adopted by a two‐thirds vote of the Board of Directors, provided that at least thirty (30) days’ written notice is given of intention to alter, amend, or repeal these Bylaws and to adopt new Bylaws prior to the specified date of the vote.”

Thirty days, that’s all it takes to make a fundamental change to how PASS operates. Oh, and a two-thirds vote from the BoD. So, my question is how do I change something about PASS without running for the BoD? Did you know the qualifications for the BoD haven’t changed once since 1999? You have to be more qualified to run for the BoD than you do the President Of The United States. People govern our society with less qualifications and more success.

Not wanting to walk away from an organization I have been involved with for several years I choose to fight for change. My first little fight was attend meetings at the Summit voice my opinion and push for change. Next, to vote for people like Andy Warren and Tom LaRock. I think both are agents for change. Andy has been very vocal and has been as transparent as possible during his tenor on the BoD. I can’t say that for everyone else. The anemic amount of information coming from PASS and the BoD in general is just embarrassing. You don’t see much unless there is a firestorm going on. I also got evolved in the program committee this year. Again, I was a little surprised by how little information is fed back to submitters and the general lack of transparency in choosing speakers. I couldn’t run for the BoD this year but I was planning to run next year and getting my ducks in a row for that. Lastly, I talk a lot. I talk to leaders in the community, people involved in PASS and folks on the board.

I’ve also spent a lot of my time at the local level running the Austin, TX UG for several years and starting the San Antonio, TX UG. I speak regularly at my UG and more recently, at SQL Saturday events. Local community building is a passion for me. When Andy, Steve and Brian got SQL Saturday going I was just in awe how quickly it took off and how well local chapters handled these events. The thing that blew me away was the cost to the attendees. The quality of the training is on par with the Summit in most cases. In some cases it can be a little better as Baton Rouge showed me that you can include the .net folks as well and still have an awesome SQL Server event. We are also in the planning stages for our own SQL Saturday in Austin. Have I put in as much work as say Patrick LeBlanc? Maybe not yet but I have put in more than your “average” PASS member.

With all of that said, I can can tell you honestly, I don’t know most of the BoD very well at all. When people run for the BoD there is a good chance I probably haven’t heard of some them and have to dig to find out who they are. The BoD is elected by “Members in good standing”, a group that probably doesn’t know them ether. If you say there are around 200 chapters* and at least one chapter leader per group, some have committees and such but we are keeping this simple, that gives us 200~ or so “Leaders in the community” I bet most of them don’t know the whole BoD. 51%* of UG leaders knew who their regional mentor was, you know the person designated to liaison between chapters and the parent organization. Almost half of the UG’s have no real interaction with PASS. So how do these folks get voted in? They may be a known speaker or did some campaigning to raise awareness, honestly I think it comes down to the limited number of “qualified” candidates and the number of slots available. A coin toss in most cases. The few people that may be truly informed, say around 100, may have some influence as well. That is out of the roughly 40,000 possible PASS membership (if each UG averages 200 members). Fundamentally, 15 people decide what PASS is, not the 40,000 they represent.

Lets be honest, PASS isn’t a community organization, it is the Summit.  Everything that PASS does is to get people to go to the Summit. I don’t see much in the way of UG support, other than the “comp” to the Summit. PASS is a marketing machine period. They use the UG to funnel people to the summit and “give back” by giving the UG leadership one summit pass, and they are looking to restrict that*. Douglas McDowell said* “There is always some misunderstanding that this is not an easy or free benefit for PASS to offer, the actual cost for a Summit comp is high since all the event facilities and food and beverage are all charged per-attendee plus incremental consumption – it adds up quick and requires a lot of allocated budget.” It is a marketing expense, and a fair one at that. How many people do the UG’s reach out to? I spend quite a bit of time cheerleading trying to get people to go to the Summit. It takes a lot of money to do the Summit. At the end of the day it touches around 3,000 people. Less than one tenth of the voting PASS membership. What has PASS done to reach out to the other 37,000? We got SQL Saturday! Oh, that was built by people outside PASS, then handed to PASS. How many people has SQL Saturday help train? With 40+ events done if each event had 200 people show that is 8,800 people, since 2007 no less. We got the UG’s! Again, local people do all the leg work they find their own funding, speakers and meeting space. The 24 hours of PASS is the only thing of true value outside the Summit that has come from inside PASS. PASS, as a parent organization isn’t relevant to 90% of my UG membership, we could be a chapter of the local funeral directors association for all they care. After 6 years I’ve all I have received are slide decks, comps and enough money to run the UG for about 6 months. In return I spend 11 months out of the year getting as many people as I can to attend the Summit.

Is the BoD all setting around like Snidely Whiplash and twirling their collective mustaches? I don’t think so. Did the NomCom receive secret orders to stand in the way of people like Tim, Steve and Brent? Nope, I’m sure they didn’t. Instead they have built up a system that feeds itself. The machine is self sustaining and there aren’t enough people at this point to make the changes at the top that need to happen. The focus is so tight on the Summit that everything else is just sparklers and window dressing. I say kill the Summit, focus on the local and regional events. You won’t need a three million dollar budget to reach out to the vast majority of the membership. The community will benefit as a whole. Have open elections, not just for the BoD but other key jobs inside the organization. Open it up, all the way. I have worked with other non-profits before, everything was open to the public, there were no closed BoD sessions or hiding from the community we supported, and I tell you that community needed a hell of a lot more than training, we were effecting peoples lives.

I’m begging you, the BoD, to fix this. Not just the duly elected members but the members from Microsoft and CA as well. As for my fellow chapter leaders, speakers and event organizers SPEAK UP! We are still a small group inside the electorate but we represent a much wider range of it than the BoD. Lastly, you the person who comes to the UG’s, attends the Summit or goes to a SQL Saturday let as many people know that you would like to see change, you are providing something in exchange for the education whether you pay the 1,500 bucks for the Summit or show up for free to the other events. You have the ultimate power as a consumer, the all mighty dollar. Demand more for your investment.

My issues with PASS as an organization didn’t start today. It has finally come to a boil though. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do in the future with PASS. I plan on staying involved with SQL Saturday events and building local community as much as possible. As for my ability to fight for change, I think I’ve reached the end of that road. There were UG’s before PASS and there will be UG’s after PASS has faded away. I for one look forward to joining ASSP, the Association of SQL Server Professionals, if they understand what caused PASS to loose the backing of the SQL Server community in the first place.

*(taken from