The official PASS Blog is where you’ll find the latest blog posts from PASS community members and the PASS Board. Contributors share their thoughts and discuss a wide variety of topics spanning PASS and the data community.

Getting Started with Big Data Clusters – Part 1

So, you’ve heard about Big Data Clusters in SQL Server 2019 and want to get some hands-on experience? Let’s get you started today! This article will guide you step-by-step on how to deploy a Big Data Cluster in Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) from a Windows client. The idea is to get your Big Data Cluster up and running fast without going into detail on every step involved, so don’t expect a deep dive on every component along the way.

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Back to the Basics: Backups

For many organizations, backups tend to be a hassle-task; relegated to the bottom of the pile to be dealt with by whoever has a few minutes to spare to throw something together. For others, backups are deemed unnecessary due to other high availability or disaster recovery features in their software/hardware stacks. These assumptions are often made when time and money are limited resources, and developing new features is seen as more profitable than adding infrastructure and using up precious developer time. To begin to counter these (and other) common misconceptions, it is best to start out with the reasons that backups are important.

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PASS Summit 2019 All Access Winner - Susan Dallegro

As the winner of the PASS Summit 2019 All Access contest I was awarded a complimentary 3-day general session registration for PASS Summit 2019 plus some perks that really made my first PASS Summit experience very special.  These included on-site VIP meet and greets, free ticket to a community-hosted games night, a PASStv interview, reserved front row seating for the PASS Summit 2019 Keynote sessions, a full USB of all PASS Summit 2019 recordings, and some nice swag a PASS Summit branded back pack and water bottle.

I was super excited when I found out that I had won.  I knew that the PASS Summit would be an excellent opportunity to receive world class technical training, learn where the future of the field is heading, make new friends, and experience everything that the community has to offer.  I intended to take full advantage of the opportunity.  I thoroughly and enjoyed every minute of my time at the event.

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PASS Summit Cancellation/Refund Policy Explained

As we navigate through new territory in planning for PASS Summit, we realize that this uncertainty will naturally result in new questions from our community. Transparency is key at all times, and we have been working to get the information we need to answer all of your questions as they arise.

One of the questions we have been asked most recently relates to the PASS Summit refund policy. Wendy announced earlier this month that if we are unable to move forward with an in-person event as planned, we would be ready to switch to an alternative virtual conference. We know there are still a lot of important unanswered questions—including the pricing structure, format, and timing of the virtual event—and we hope to be in a position to provide all of these answers asap and no later than June.

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Automate Professional PowerPoint Presentations Using R

The PowerPoint presentation is the vehicle of choice for information sharing among many businesses. R brings unparalleled power to data analysis and visualization. However, getting those visualizations from a window in R Studio to a formatted slide via copy/paste is tedious and error prone. There is a better way. Jeff Renz demonstrates how R Markdown can automate the creation of presentation-worthy slides from R code. This feature saves hours of time, eliminates errors, and allows a user to update a two-hundred-page slide deck with a key stroke. This is key for decks that include state-by-state data, profit margins across dozens of product lines, or complex visualizations reliant on constantly updated data.

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What Are the Different Types of User Defined Functions in SQL Server?

A few years ago, I did quite a few query tuning engagements. Many of my clients were small software companies who typically did not have a SQL Server DBA on staff. I looked for several anti-patterns, or what I like to call “red flags,” to help find ways that I could help improve performance. One common pattern I saw was the use of user defined functions (UDF).

Just the mention of UDFs in the SQL Server community makes folks cringe. UDFs can be “bad things,” and, to the optimizer, they are often black boxes. It’s also not easy to tell when they are bad by looking at the typical tools used for query tuning like execution plans. In fact, the bad UDFs hide what is really going on from the plan.

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PASS Summit Speaker Agreement Amendment

Members of the community have recently reached out to the Board, and to me personally, asking questions about changes to the PASS Summit speaker agreement cancellation policies; particularly relating to clause 16.

I wanted to share some additional information to clear up any confusion or concerns regarding these clauses.

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Analytical Databases in the Microsoft Data Platform: A Single Source of Truth

Microsoft’s documentation calls Analysis Services an analytical data engine. This documentation references the Tabular Model relying on Vertipaq technology. The marketing involves Azure analytical databases and the growing presence of the refined Big Data tools. No matter what the message, analytical reporting relies on data. The source, structure, and retrieval are important yesterday and today.

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Supporting the PASS Community

It has been a busy few weeks at PASS as PASS HQ and the Board have been working on all the ways that we can support our community as everyone adjusts to the current global situation. We are all challenged by sweeping changes to the way we work, connect, and collaborate, and I am truly proud of everything PASS is doing for our community.

Perhaps the most obvious change for PASS in recent weeks are the 30+ SQLSaturdays that have made the decision to cancel or postpone their upcoming events. The team at PASS HQ has been working diligently to support these many events, field a multitude of questions, and to provide alternative options. We are making special considerations when re-scheduling event dates, as we aim to provide our dedicated event organizers with as much flexibility as we can. We are also offering a temporary virtual option starting with SQLSaturday events originally scheduled to take place in late March and throughout April, to pilot the initiative. We know that connecting, sharing, and learning in-person is important, and right now we have a unique opportunity to support our members in new ways, bringing people together and sharing the magic of the PASS community from the comfort of your home when you need it the most.

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The Optimizer, Statistics, and Correlated Predicates

Sometimes, a query with two predicates (filters) executes slowly, but if you remove one of the predicates it executes faster. Let’s look at why that may be, and one possible solution for it.

When you submit a query to SQL Server, the optimizer’s role is to come up with a good plan that will give accurate results quickly. One of the most important things the optimizer considers when coming up with a plan is the number of rows it expects from an operator, referred to as cardinality.

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