Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server 2008

I've been really busy lately. A big component of that time has been my involvement with the new Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server 2008 program. I was privileged to be chosen to teach six days of the fifteen day program in the recent alpha rotation. In addition, I decided to attend (and pay !) to attend the rotation, do the exams and qualifying lab.

Well it was quite an experience!

Anyone considering this program needs to understand the demands that it will place on your time. The three weeks of classes run from 8am to 6pm daily but most attendees would then spend up to another three or four hours per night studying while there. On the weekends, you have lab work that needs to be completed before the next week and each Monday morning, you have a two hour Prometric exam. On the final Saturday, you have another two hour Prometric exam followed by a six hour hands-on qualifying lab. I was with a wonderful group of people on this first rotation and have to say that all looked exhausted at the end.

Paul Randal and Kim Tripp covered the first week, Adam Machanic, Paul Nielsen, Allan Hirt, Ron Talmage, Andy Kelly, myself and Gert Drapers covered the second week and I covered the third week.

While I obviously can't tell you anything about the exam content, I'd be giving nothing away by saying it's in a different league to the questions you see on the MCITP exams. And the final qualifying lab has some carefully chosen scenarios that you need to navigate your way through, with lots of little (intentional) road-blocks on the way.

If you look into doing this program, you need to block a bit over three weeks of your life completely out. It's also expensive and what might surprise you more is that most candidates don't pass at the first attempt. I was one of the fortunate ones to do so this time but you should not consider it to be any sort of failure if you don't achieve it on the first attempt. You can retake the exams (with similar rules to the other Prometric exams) but you can't retake the qualifying lab until you've passed the exams. You only get two attempts at retaking the qualifying lab or you then need to retake the whole course. (I believe that would happen at a 50% discount but you should check the rules for clarification). Also, don't plan to fly out on the Saturday night at the end. Leave the time to have dinner with the rest of the people in your rotation and avoid any time pressure related to flights. That's the last thing you'll want on your mind at that stage.

Regardless, it's highly recommended if it makes sense for you. I'll be back teaching in the next rotation and I'll look forward to seeing any of you that decide to tackle it.


SQL Server 2008 Systems Views Poster

Another project that Ron Talmage and several other of my colleagues have been working on is a new system views poster for SQL Server 2008. I'm told that it's going to go out with the December issue of SQL Server Magazine.

I got a copy of this at the PASS summit and it's excellent. In fact, stocks ran out before the conference even really got started.

Congratulations to all involved.

SQL Server 2008 Upgrade Technical Reference

I've been working on the SQL Server 2008 Upgrade Technical Reference with a number of my colleagues (Ron Talmage, Aaron Johal, Steven Abraham, Allan Hirt, Herbert Albert, Antonio Soto, Joe Webb, Craig Utley, Dejan Sarka, Larry Barnes, Pablo Ahumada, Kathy Blomstrom) and a bunch of great folk from Microsoft (Arvind Rao, George Huey, Richard Waymire, Siva Harinath, Edward Melomed, Deepika Mistry, Fernando Caro, Goldie Chaudhuri, Max Verun, Vijay Tandra Sistla, Tom Michaels, Justin Erickson, Devendra Tiwari, Jingwei Lu, Fernando Azpeitia Lopez, Ketan Duvedi, Lukasz Pawlowski, David Noor, Matt Masson, Karandeep Anand, Jen Witsoe, Suzanne Bonney, Megan Bradley, Tresy Kilbourne, Bronwyn McNutt).

I am really pleased to see that it has become available and that you can get all 486 pages of goodness here:




Outstanding new book: T-SQL Fundamentals (Itzik Ben-Gan)

I'm so glad to see that my colleague Itzik Ben-Gan has his T-SQL Fundamentals book now available. This book has been needed for some time. It's been updated for SQL Server 2008 and I'm sure it'll fast become one of the standard SQL Server 2008 references.

Details are here:

The companion web site for the book is here:



PASS Community Connection – New Zealand

I'm really pleased to see that Nathan Pitcher and the gang in New Zealand have organised a PASS Community Connection event. It will run in Porirua (same place as their last SQL Code Camp) on December 6th / 7th. I'll be there to deliver a few sessions and the keynote along with Adam Cogan. Peter Ward, Chris Auld, Daryl Burling, Dave Dustin, Duncan Murch, Myles Matheson and Bruce Cassidy are also all doing sessions. It should be a great weekend.

For more information, hit:

Great news on Datadude licensing

When I've been doing sessions around the world on DataDude (Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals), the main feedback I've had is "great product but pity we'll never get to use it because of the licensing".

Sanity has finally prevailed. In today's PressPass announcement, while there's interesting news on product naming (Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0), there's great news that the developer and database professional editions will merge and in the meantime, people licensing the developer edition will now get DataDude as well. (and vice versa). This is a big step forward for the product.

SQL Server 2008 eBook from MSPress (and free)

Hi Folks,


I recently wrote a chapter in the new eBook "Introducing SQL Server 2008" at MSPress. Peter DeBetta was the main author and Mark Whitehorn also wrote. It's now available:




And it's free !




(PS: I've had a few people ask how you read it. It downloads with a cfm file extension for some bizarre reason. It is a pdf. Just rename it to be one and you should be fine).