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Updated: 13 hours 9 min ago

SQL Server Performance Tuning- Eliminating Key Lookups

Tue, 2015-09-01 08:19

Recently, I had reports from one of my clients that many users were experiencing slowness. While investigating, I found the root cause to be a key lookup on a single function execution, completely unrelated to the activities being performed by the users. A key lookup can be a costly operation that requires additional I/O and ultimately negatively impacts performance. As we all know, the disk subsystem is the slowest part of our environments, so eliminating key lookups when you can and decreasing the amount of I/O will have a positive impact on performance.

A key lookup occurs when all of the data from a query is not found in a non-clustered index, causing a bookmark lookup on the clustered index.

Let us look at the below example query and the query plan from it:

FROM AdventureWorks2012.HumanResources.Employee
WHERE LoginID = 'adventure-works\dan1'

When we look at the query and plan, we can see that our filtering on LoginID is using the non-clustered index, AK_Employee_LoginID, but the column we are returning in JobTitle is not included and causing a key lookup on the clustered index, PK_Employee_BusinessEntityID.

If we review the properties of the Key Lookup operator, we can further confirm this, by looking at the Output list.

Now, how do we address this key lookup? By creating a non-clustered index that will include all of the columns needed to satisfy the entire query and eliminate the key lookup, also known as a covering index.

Let us look at the existing non-clustered index that is already being used for a portion of our query, AK_Employee_LoginID.

We can see the index is on the LoginID column with no included columns. Now, if we add the columns from our Output list to the included columns of this existing index, we can satisfy our entire query.

CREATE NONCLUSTERED INDEX [AK_Employee_LoginID] ON [HumanResources].[Employee] ([LoginID] ASC) INCLUDE ([JobTitle])

Now by making changes to our index, we can see from the below execution plan that we have eliminated our key lookup.

FROM AdventureWorks2012.HumanResources.Employee
WHERE LoginID = 'adventure-works\dan1'

In conclusion, by creating covering indexes using the columns in the Output list, we can eliminate costly key lookups and improve performance.

The post SQL Server Performance Tuning- Eliminating Key Lookups appeared first on Remote DBA Experts.

SQL Server Job- Invalid Job Owner

Tue, 2015-08-25 07:21

Did you ever have one of those déjà vu moments when you are working in SQL Server and you swore you already addressed an issue? This has happened to all of us, and working in SQL Server every day, I’ve certainly had my fair share of SQL déjà vu.

One of those moments came after I received an alert that one of my maintenance plan jobs failed on a client’s server, and I noticed that they had the job owner set to an employee who doesn’t work there anymore. I had come to find out that in between the last successful run of the job and it failing, the client removed the user from their Active Directory. Depending on the edition of SQL Server, the output of the error will look similar to the error in the image below, but all the errors basically state that the job failed because of an invalid job owner.

I did what I’m supposed to do as a DBA and set the job owner to ‘sa.’ I informed the client that the job was fixed, and there shouldn’t be any more problems. Right…?


A couple of weeks later, I received another alert for a failed job. I logged into SQL Server to look at the error, and the job failed because the owner reverted back to the former employee. Am I going crazy? I remember I definitely changed the job owner to ‘sa.’

After doing some research, I found that there is a bug on SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2008R2 that changes a job owner of a maintenance plan job back to the maintenance plan owner that is stored in MSDB every time the maintenance plan is changed and saved.

In order to ensure that you never run into this issue again, you need to change the job owner as well as the maintenance plan owner to ‘sa.’ I’ve included the syntax below for each edition of SQL Server. All you have to do is run the SELECT statement to find the name of your maintenance plan and replace the string in the WHERE clause of the UPDATE with the name of your maintenance plan.

SQL Server 2005


FROM sysdtspackages90
UPDATE sysdtspackages90
SET ownersid = 0x01

SQL Server 2008 & SQL Server 2008R2


FROM sysssispackages
UPDATE sysssispackages
SET ownersid = 0x01

Thank you for reading.

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The Future of IT Staffing- People vs. Robots

Thu, 2015-08-20 07:21

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The Increasing Complexity of the IT Tech Stack Will Drive the Need for Robotic Automation

I’ve been involved in database technologies for 20 years now. During that time, I have read numerous prognostications from various industry pundits proclaiming that the next release of so-and-so database would be so simple to administer that the product would no longer require DBAs for support.  Replace “database” with any technology, and you’ll find that the same industry mantra occurs.

I’m still waiting for the administrator-less database.

During my tenure in the IT field, I’ve found the following equation to be true:

 a New Features
+ New Functionality
+ New Products
+ New Technologies
+ New Architectures
+ New Business Challenges
= Increased IT Support Complexity

Although databases have become easier to administer, each new release of the database product RDX supports contains a host of new features and functionality.  Database vendors know that they must add new features to be competitive.  A competitive marketplace forces all software vendors to maximize their product’s feature set.

New technology architectures and products designed to solve a business or technical problem or improve operations are unveiled on a seemingly weekly basis.  I intended to rattle off a dozen or so disruptive, industry-changing technologies that have originated over the last few years, but any list I generate would not include all technologies that will have a significant impact on IT operations.  Plus, we all have our own opinion on what the most important, disruptive technologies will be.

What all IT professionals would agree upon is the statement below:

We understand that the only constant in the IT profession – is change itself.

We know that this continuous explosion of new technologies will never stop and that increasingly restrictive time constraints faced by many IT support personnel prevent them from analyzing, selecting, implementing and administering them.  IT professionals need solutions that reduce the amount of time they spend maintaining current systems to allow them to focus on improving future service.

Process automation, although having a wide range of application, has the common goal of replacing human activities with technology to reduce cost and improve the quality of repetitive processes. For information technology departments, the goal will be to deploy robots to reduce the amount of time humans spend on repetitive, mundane, low ROI activities.

Process automation will allow IT personnel to use that extra time to improve business operations, think strategically, plan, innovate and deal with the ever-increasing rise in information technology complexity.

Additionally, process automation will allow IT departments to use the capabilities and strengths that robotic processes provide to fully leverage the benefits of their human counterparts- benefits that cannot be provided by robotic processes.

Unlike manufacturing’s deployment of automation to totally replace humans:

The relationship between humans and robots in the IT space will be harmonious, interdependent and collaborative – not competitive.

IT professionals will interact with increasingly intelligent robotic processes as they would with any technology designed to support their needs.  Here’s a quick example from RDX’s own automation project.  We support hundreds of mission-critical database environments.  When a problem occurs, it is our responsibility to absolutely resolve it as quickly as possible. Every minute counts.

RDX’s robotic processes automate the collection of diagnostic information required to perform problem analysis. The robots either solve the problem on their own or interact with RDX human support personnel. The key to faster problem resolution is to reduce the amount of time collecting diagnostic data and spend that time analyzing it.  Robotic processes can collect the diagnostic data far more quickly than their human counterparts.  RDX’s support personnel use their historical and collective knowledge, ability to analyze, creativity (thinking outside of the box) and innovation to solve the problem.  This cooperative, interdependent human/robotic interaction allows RDX to reduce our Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR).

Benefits of Humans

  • Creativity, thinking outside of the box
  • Planning
  • Easily adapt to changing inputs and external influences
  • Ability to quickly analyze conditions with complex intersecting rules
  • Natural curiosity
  • Collective knowledge, group problem solving
  • Ability to identify key facets of information from large, varied input sets
  • Social and cultural understanding

Benefits of Robotic Processes

  • Consistency – Repetitive tasks are performed with no deviation. Less deviation = higher quality
  • Speed of execution
  • Scalability – Build the robotic process once and deploy as needed
  • Provide the ability to leverage pockets of tribal, operational knowledge by capturing, standardizing and embedding that expertise in robotic automations

Future IT Departments will Consist of Both Humans and Robots

As I stated in a previous article, a competitive market arena will continue to accelerate the features and functionality provided by automation products. As the offerings mature, they will become more robust, more intelligent and more cost effective.

As a result, the set of activities assigned to humans and robots will be fluid in nature.  As more activities are assigned to robots, their human counterparts’ roles will continue to evolve.   Robots will free IT professionals to focus on strategic activities that only humans can perform.  Robots will not replace us; they will allow us to analyze, implement and administer increasingly complex technology architectures.  Architectures that solve business problems, increase competitive advantage, improve decision making and reduce the cost of doing business.

That is a good thing for technology professionals and the business operations we support.






The post The Future of IT Staffing- People vs. Robots appeared first on Remote DBA Experts.

SQL Server – List Row Count for all Tables and Find Largest Table in a Database

Wed, 2015-08-19 06:48

As a database administrator, I have encountered many occurrences in which a business user has asked to provide the number of rows for tables within a database. If you haven’t been asked yet, I’m sure the time will come. When it does, I have a script that you can add to your toolbox that will allow you to fulfill the request!

This script returns the schema name, table name, whether the table is a heap or has a clustered index, and row count for every table within a database.

SELECT sch.NAME AS 'Schema'
	,tab.NAME AS 'Table'
		WHEN par.INDEX_ID = 0
			THEN 'Heap'
		WHEN par.INDEX_ID = 1
			THEN 'Clustered Index'
		END AS 'Index Type'
	,SUM(par.rows) AS 'Rows'
FROM sys.tables tab
INNER JOIN sys.partitions par ON tab.OBJECT_ID = par.OBJECT_ID
INNER JOIN sys.schemas sch ON tab.SCHEMA_ID = sch.SCHEMA_ID

Below is the result set returned when the script is run against AdventureWorks2012.

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Not only can you quickly capture table row counts with this script, you can also identify heaps (tables without clustered indexes).

The post SQL Server – List Row Count for all Tables and Find Largest Table in a Database appeared first on Remote DBA Experts.

How to Use Project-Level Parameters

Wed, 2015-08-12 06:23

SQL Server 2012 introduced a feature called project parameters. Of course, like many other developers, I was stuck on not fixing something that was not broken. Over time, I learned that project parameters are very beneficial features to use, especially when moving a package from DEV to QA and finally to PROD. Let’s take a quick look at how to set up package parameters and how to use them to manipulate connection strings at runtime.

First, we want to open a blank SSIS solution and navigate to the solution explorer. The solution explorer has a top-level folder which is the name of your solution. In my example, it’s called PackageConfig. Right below that, you will see a little bluish colored icon with the name Project.params:


This is where all the fun starts. You’re going to make your first project parameters file from here. Right click on Project.params and click open. I bet this screen looks really familiar! It looks just like your variables pane in SSDT.


Next , you are going to create an entry. So click the “ADD PARAMETER” button at the top left corner of the Project.params designer view. Let’s configure a local connection string. Name your parameter. Make your data type a string and enter in the connection string variable. I would mark the parameter as required, as it’s your main connection string in your package. Also, give it a good description so that you know what it is for. Here is a screen shot of mine below:

Next, you want to save the file. You can click the Save icon or go to File and then click on Save. Once you have it saved, we want to create a regular connection string to the target source. Once this is done, we are going to make some changes, and you will see how we configure the connection to use the project-level connection string parameter that we just built.

My connection manager now looks like this:

The next step is to right click on that created connection string and click on Parameterize. SSDT will do all the work for you now. You don’t even have to change the properties to evaluate the expression. NICE!!!!!

When the Parameterized GUI opens, make sure your property is set to ConnectionString. Then click “Use Existing Parameter” and navigate to the project-level parameter that you created a few steps back. It should similar to the screenshot below with your own naming convention.

Click ok. Now your Connection Manager icon should have an additional little box below noting that there is an expression that is evaluated on the connection.

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Now manipulating this connection string to look at QA instead of DEV is easy. All we have to do is manipulate the file that was built for the project parameters. Here is how to get the file location. Right click on Project.params in the solution explorer and go to Properties. There is a full path entry that tells you where your parameter file is located. Navigate to the file and open it. Here you will see a series of XML tags. In your SSIS Property Tag you will see an entry for “VALUE.” Here you can manipulate your target connection string to be your QA Server.

I advise you to make sure your database is present on the target server, change LocalHost to being the QA Server name and then save the file. Now you are done, and next time the package runs at runtime, it will use the changes you made in the project-level configuration file. No more making multiple copies of the same package and manually making connection string changes or using other methods like using tables to store connection strings or config files. Project-level parameters also come in handy when you have multiple packages in the same project that utilize the same connection strings. They eliminate the need for you to manage multiple package connection managers and put all the management in one place.

I encourage everyone to stay tuned for more TIPS to come in the near future.

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SQL Server – Cluster Network Name Resource ‘SQL Network Name’ Failed to Create Its Associated Computer Object in Domain

Thu, 2015-08-06 09:50

A frequent issue that I’ve encountered while performing an installation of a SQL Server failover cluster is “The cluster resource ‘SQL Server (MSSQLSERVER)’ could not be brought online due to an error bringing the dependency resource ‘SQL Network Name (SQL2012CLS)’ online.”  Upon checking the cluster events in the Failover Cluster Manager, you will find the below error.

Cluster network name resource ‘SQL Network Name (SQL2012CLS)’ failed to create its associated computer object in domain ‘AD.DOMAINNAME.ORG’ for the following reason: Resource online.

The associated error code is: -1073741790

Please work with your domain administrator to ensure that:

– The cluster identity ‘WIN2012CLS$’ can create computer objects. By default, all computer objects are created in the ‘Computers’ container; consult the domain administrator if this location has been changed.

– The quota for computer objects has not been reached.

– If there is an existing computer object, verify the Cluster Identity ‘ WIN2012CLS$’ has ‘Full Control’ permission to that computer object using the Active Directory Users and Computers tool.

The cause to this error is that the ‘SQL2012CLS’ was not created, or properly “pre-staged,” within AD, and ‘WIN2012CLS’ doesn’t possess the required permissions to create the object.

In a cluster, the SQL Server Database Engine is dependent upon the SQL Server Network Name resource, so a failure in the Network Name will result in a failure in the SQL Server resource.

There are two resolutions to this issue.

One resolution is a preventative action that can be done prior to beginning the installation of the SQL Server Failover Cluster, and the other resolution is reactionary to the issue experienced during installation to be able to continue. Both resolutions require access and permissions to AD.

The resolution that will prevent this issue on future installations is to “pre-stage” the VCO.

  • Log in as a user with permissions to create computer objects in the domain.
  • Under Active Directory Users and Computers, create a “New Computer” object within the desired AD Container for the VCO (this will be your SQL Server Network Name).
  • Once the object has been created, you can then add the CNO (this will be your WSFC Name) to the security of the VCO with “Full Control” over the VCO.

To achieve the resolution that will be reactive for your current errors, you need to grant the proper permissions to the CNO.

  • Log in as a user with administrative permissions in the domain.
  • Under Active Directory Users and Computers, grant the CNO (this will be your WSFC Name) “Create Computer Objects” permissions.

After doing this, you can retry your previously failed installation, and it should be successful. To verify if this issue was corrected, you can navigate within the SQL Server (MSSQLSERVER) Cluster group and attempt to bring the Server Name resource online. If the resource is able to be brought online successfully, your issue is resolved.

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A Day in the Life of a Remote DBA

Wed, 2015-08-05 09:30

For most, walking into the office and grabbing that first cup of coffee signals the start to the workday. But for the team of remote DBAs at RDX, their job never truly stops. They’ll attest that it comes with the territory; that providing 24×7 database administration services requires them to always be in tune with the environments they manage. When you’re responsible for critical data stores, the typical 9am-5pm doesn’t quite cut it.

24/7 Monitoring Alerts

The start to any day for an RDX remote DBA begins with checking email (oftentimes, right after the morning alarm goes off). Alerts from the 24×7 Database Operations Center regarding problems that have occurred overnight will need to be added to the day’s priority list. These could include any potentially failed backups, limited drive space, reports that aren’t firing, or any other database issues that our monitoring agents have identified.

The monitoring team at RDX takes care of the time-consuming, daily database tasks so our remote DBAs are able to focus on higher-level projects occurring in each client account. With the information provided by the monitoring team, a day’s work can begin to be prioritized.

Prioritizing DBA Work & Database Maintenance Tasks

Prioritization and organization are the keys to a successful day. With multiple clients to manage per DBA, identifying critical tasks for immediate completion while also allotting time to work with customers to enhance and improve the efficiency and performance of their database environments are daily priorities. Once tasks have been prioritized, the DBA manager is notified of tasks that an individual DBA will be working on for that day.

From there, any database maintenance issues stemming from recent monitoring notifications are addressed. For example, if data backups failed from the previous night on a specific Oracle or SQL database, the primary DBA corrects the issue, and the client is notified of the solution implemented. Once immediate issues have been corrected, remote DBAs begin preparing for any upcoming client meetings.

Client Meetings

Prepping for any scheduled meetings each day is dependent on what the client values. For clients concerned with daily performance, snapshots of current metrics as well as any requested reports are discussed. For clients concerned with the long-term functionality of their environment, meetings revolve around recent progress and upcoming to-dos on the projects at hand.

In short, the remote DBAs at RDX function as integral parts of our clients’ teams and tailor not only meetings, but also methods of contact to each client’s preferences. Text messages, phone calls, and emails are promptly responded to by the primary or secondary DBA on an account, so no one is ever in the dark regarding their critical data.

Ticket Requests / Long-Term DBA Projects

As meetings progress throughout the day, DBAs are continuing to work on prioritized tasks and long-term projects for each account. A ticket deadline could be approaching that requests administering index improvements for a SQL database, and before lunch is the best time to handle this task to ensure it’s completed ahead of schedule. While finishing this task, a new ticket may appear in a DBA’s inbox that’s a quick request for setting up security and permissions for new users needing access to a database. Small tasks like this are typically handled immediately.

An account’s primary remote DBA takes care of quick-fix issues as soon as possible; and if the primary DBA is handling a critical issue at the moment, the task is handed to the secondary DBA to complete. With each account having a primary and secondary DBA (as well as the ability to draw from an entire team of DBAs), immediate requests from clients are always handled quickly and efficiently.

During the afternoon, a DBA is continuing to balance meetings, ticket requests, and also long-term projects/planning for the environments they manage. Our DBAs may be working on a major migration from 2005 SQL Servers to 2012 SQL Servers for a particular client and designate time in the afternoon to work on data backup and restoration to keep this project moving forward. The prioritization done at the beginning of each day continues to be adjusted and dictates the work being completed.

Assisting Fellow DBAs

The team-oriented atmosphere at RDX fosters an environment of knowledge sharing and mentoring. Throughout the day, DBAs will act as mentors or receive training from their fellow team members. Remote DBAs understand that their customers are not buying the services of a single technician; they are buying the collective knowledge of an entire team of database support professionals. Knowledge sharing is an integral part of the service delivery philosophy and each DBA dedicates time daily to learning and teaching others. It’s this team atmosphere that allows RDX DBAs to keep the environments they manage ahead of the curve as well as efficiently deal with critical issues when they arise.

Dealing with Critical Issues

It’s no secret in any industry that unforeseen problems can occur, but being adequately prepared to deal with them ensures efficiency. Before leaving work, a DBA could be notified that a subscriber server has been corrupted. It may require staying late, but critical issues are always dealt with immediately, and our DBAs work tirelessly until the issue is fixed. Even for issues that arise late at night, our 24×7 Database Operations Center will put you in contact with an experienced, on-call DBA who works to correct any critical issues occurring after hours.

After reconfiguring the corrupted database, ensuring its replication, and confirming the database is functioning properly, the day can begin to come to a close. But if you ask any of our remote DBAs, it’s never truly over. Keeping up with emails, requests, and industry news never stops just because they’ve left the office. It’s all part of being a database administrator and making sure their clients’ environments are performing efficiently.

If you’re wondering how remote DBA services can help your business tackle today’s database management challenges, please contact us to speak with a qualified representative. We’re focused on reducing your database administration costs, while monitoring, maintaining, and protecting your data stores.

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The Non-Technical Art of Being a Successful IT Professional – Excelling at Verbal and Written Communications

Tue, 2015-08-04 08:56

One, out of many, criteria we use to evaluate candidates for positions at RDX (Remote DBA Experts) is their communication skills. Because we are a remote services provider, our ability to have “face-to-face” communications with our customers is somewhat limited. Most of the communications that occur are through e-mails, ticket comments and conference calls.

As a result, it is critical that all professionals who join our organization possess more than just high-quality technical skills. They have to be able to communicate effectively to our customers, or they will not have a successful career with us.

However, possessing excellent communication skills is not just limited to technicians who work for remote services providers. The importance of improving your communication skills cannot be understated. I don’t care how strong of a technician you are, if you can’t communicate effectively with your peers, you won’t be able to succeed in this profession. In the old days, you might have been able to get by with just your technical skills. That is definitely not the case in today’s business world.

In a recent interview with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet at the University of Nebraska, Buffet was asked what one piece of advice he would give to others wanting to be successful. He stated that students “should polish their public speaking skills.”

Take a look at your last performance appraisal forms. I’m betting that a lot of the criteria you are being judged upon focus on communications. The key words and phrases to look for are “ability to work in a team environment,” “keeps supervisors informed,” “maintains good communication with the user community,” “ensures the content of the communication is at the appropriate level for the intended audience” and “provides system and user documentation for projects and system enhancements.”

So, let me get off my soapbox and get to the topic at hand. How exactly do you improve upon your verbal and written communications? If you don’t have good communication skills, all is not lost. Like anything else, these skills can be learned.

Improving Written Communications
Have you ever read a document or email that was so poorly written that you had a hard time understanding what the writer was trying to convey? Maybe the document or email contained numerous spelling and grammatical errors. What was your opinion of the author? Not good, I’ll bet. Whether we like it or not, we will be continuously judged upon our written communications throughout our careers. From entry-level to CEO, you will be judged on the words you write.

You’ll find that my recommendations on verbal and written communications have a common theme. They focus on formal education, gaining experience and best practices.

Formal Classroom Education
Universities, colleges and high schools all offer adult night classes. You will be able to find a local educational institution that offers classes on effective writing skills or public speaking. I still have a couple of my college textbooks on my desk that I still use as references.

Books and Websites
You need the tools of the trade to write effectively. As I stated previously, I still use a few of my aging college textbooks as references. I also have Anne Stillman’s book appropriately titled Grammatically Correct: The Writer’s Essential Guide to Punctuation, Spelling, Style, Usage and Grammar. This is the book I refer to about 90% of the time when I am attempting to improve my grammar, spelling and punctuation.

I also visit one website regularly when I write. If you hop on to your browser of choice and navigate to or, you will go to the same website. This very helpful website allows me to quickly find definitions, synonyms and antonyms. If I want to obtain information specifically on grammatical rules and concepts, I’ll visit the Guide to Grammar and Writing website. The numerous drop-down lists allow me to quickly navigate to the topic I am looking for.

You can also take advantage of Microsoft’s spelling and grammar checker tools in Word. You will need to be careful with some of the recommendations. Use Anne Stillman’s book or the Guide to Grammar and Writing website as a reference if you suspect that the Microsoft tool’s recommendation is incorrect.

Obtaining Assistance from Accomplished Writers
When I first started working in a corporate environment, over 25 years ago now, my writing skills were terrible. Luckily, I had a manager that understood the importance of both verbal and written communications. I would write a memo, she would correct it with her red pen and send it back to me for a rewrite. Many of them had a “Nice Try!” and a smiley face on top. Even though all of the rewrites (and smiley faces) were somewhat exasperating, her persistence forced me to become a better writer.

It’s relatively easy to find fellow technicians who excel at written communications. Think about all of the emails and documents that come across your desk on a daily basis. You can read the content and also review the text for ease-of-reading and grammatical style. Find the folks who are good at written communications and ask for their input. I think you’ll find that most of your requests will be warmly received.

Practice Makes Perfect
Like public speaking, the more you write, the better you’ll get. That’s one of the benefits of writing articles, blogs, books, etc…. It keeps your skills sharp.

You also can become involved with company newsletters and related communications. When I first started my quest to become a better writer, I took on as many writing tasks as possible. When I asked to join a newsletter, I always started the conversation with “I’m not the greatest writer, but I’m trying to learn.” I also asked my peers who worked on the newsletter to critique my work. The more I was critiqued, and the more I plugged away at writing, the better I became.

Improving Verbal Communications
We have all heard that speaking in front of an audience is the number one fear for most folks, surpassing both financial and health problems. Let me give you a couple of hints and tips that have helped me throughout my career.

Toastmasters International
I cannot recommend this organization highly enough. Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization that focuses on improving communication and leadership skills. Toastmasters is also a great place to network and advance your career (it makes for an impressive bullet on your resume).

Toastmasters International consists of hundreds of Toastmasters Clubs that are governed by a Board of Directors that is elected by Toastmaster members. The Toastmaster website provides a search function that allows visitors to find nearby clubs. If you want to learn how to speak effectively in public, do yourself a favor and search for the clubs in your area. I think that you will be surprised at how many clubs there are.

You are not only taught the skills you need, but you are also provided with the opportunity to showcase your new found talents by giving speeches to fellow members. The key benefit of speaking at Toastmasters is that you are giving speeches to others in a supportive environment. Everyone there wants to improve their communication and leadership skills.

Formal Classroom Education
It would be a rare event indeed if you found an institution of higher learning that didn’t provide classes on public speaking. If you are attending school to obtain that next degree, you need to make sure one, or more, of those classes pertains to verbal communications. Many colleges offer adult education curriculum at night. Review the night class curriculum for local colleges. I would be surprised if you didn’t find one or two classes on public speaking.

Amazon’s rating system makes it easy to select books on public speaking. Do a search and check out the reviews. Two of my favorites are The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking by Dale Carnegie and Presentation Skills 201: How to Take it to the Next Level as a Confident, Engaging Presenter by William R. Steele. Amazon carries both of these books in stock.

Personal Recommendations
Here’s a quick list of recommendations that have helped me improve my own public speaking skills:

When you attend presentations from others, pay attention to both the material the speaker is presenting and how they present it. I once saw a representative from Microsoft give a presentation on their new operating system to a group of 700 people. By the end of his speech, he had the entire audience “high-fiving” each other on a regular basis. I thought to myself, “he generated this much enthusiasm over a new release of an operating system?” I stayed right where I was and watched him give the presentation to a second group of 600 with the same result. The second time I paid close attention to his presentation style and stage mannerisms. I’m not saying that you should attempt to clone your presentation style from a particular speaker, but you can improve your own communication skills by learning from accomplished speakers.

The more you speak in front of an audience, the better you will become. Absolutely, positively “practice makes perfect” in this case. Start your public speaking career by starting with a small audience. Maybe you know a particular database feature or a tip or trick that you think your fellow technicians may benefit from. Invite them to a meeting, create a presentation and present it! Work your way up to larger audiences. Join local users groups and ask if they would allow you to give a presentation. When I was speaking regularly, every time there was a call for presentations from a user group, I would submit several presentations.

I have found that the more prepared I am, the less I am affected by anxiety before and during a speech. I always present a speech to myself, my wife or my dogs numerous times before I give the speech in public. The more times I do it, the more confident I become.

I always visit the room in which I am going to speak. It makes me more comfortable when the time comes to stand up in front of the audience. I also stand right in the middle of the aisle and introduce myself to as many participants as I can. It helped me to feel more comfortable when I step up on stage.

IT shops are no longer evaluating technicians purely on their technical skills. They will now evaluate you on the total package of technical and soft skills you bring to the table. We all know the importance that our technical skill sets have upon our success in this field, but you also need to be well-rounded in all of the skill sets your managers are looking for.

Thanks for reading,

Chris Foot- Oracle Ace
Vice President – Delivery Strategies and Technologies

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Upcoming database updates [Video]

Wed, 2015-07-29 10:46

Just as summer calls for a wardrobe refresh, different databases across the tech world are getting updates as well.

Hi, and welcome to RDX!

It is common for databases to update randomly throughout the year, with the reasoning behind these changes varying from simple bug fixes to an overhaul of an outdated system. Some updates currently in the pipeline involve Oracle’s database and open-source heavy-hitter PostgreSQL.

While reports of vulnerabilities are common in the media these days, Oracle is working hard to mitigate any issues related to its databases and has sent through updates for its MySQL database, reported The Register.

As for the open-source field, Softpedia noted that PostgreSQL 9.5 will have many new updates that will alleviate worries of duplication and conflicts, and also attempt to ensure the software keeps up with more established databases.

For the smoothest transitions between older and updated versions of databases, consider a database administration service to take care of the heavy lifting, so you can spend your time and energy elsewhere.

Thanks for watching.

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Databases continue to be exploited

Wed, 2015-07-29 03:54

Hacking is an entirely commonplace practice these days, even though it does seem to come as a surprise when it happens. Some film portrayals of hackers show grand data centers with flashing lights and typists furiously clicking away, obtaining entrance to secure government files. However, many hackers don't need highly sophisticated software to gain access to any number of locations.

While it's very likely that databases get hacked just about every day, it's not commonplace  that a government agency is compromised. According to some recent Twitter activity, "hacktivist" group Anonymous has made yet another attack on a public office's database.

More databases, more problems
According to CBS News, Anonymous claimed it has hacked the United States Census Bureau database, stealing data on over 4,000 census workers. And why has such an attack been made on an innocuous agency? The motivation, as noted on a website that stores and displays stolen information, was responding to a set of free trade agreements that have yet to be passed or denied, CBS reported.

Why the group has a stake in this trade agreement plan at all is still is mystery to government officials, who have assured the public that the database was non-confidential and that the internal network remains secure and free from unauthorized parties, reported the source.

Latest in a long line
Even though the data that was stolen and distributed affected over 4,000 census workers, the data is relatively harmless, given the contrast of other breaches in recent history. Of course, it would be better if no information was accessed at all, but that's just the nature of the database business at the moment.

The Office of Personnel Management data breach is still fresh in many people's minds and those millions of individuals affected by the attack live in fear that their Social Security numbers will be bought and sold on a black market, causing untold damage and stress. And while American citizens and business owners reel from the impact, there is something that other institutions can do to mitigate their risk.

By investing in a database administration service, businesses are more protected than they would be if they were left to their own devices. DBA experts are highly trained and can look for the insecurities in a given data center that could potentially let hackers in if left unchecked. Don't be the next database in line to suffer an attack, check out remote DBA services today.

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