My blog has moved

I’ve moved my blog to a new platform and location.

Welcome to my new blog:


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Final chance to register for PASS SQLRally Nordic 2013

I'm attending SQLRally

Three years ago, some people had the crazy idea of arranging a viking-themed world class SQL Server / Business Intelligence conference in the cold and sparsely populated corner of the World: Sweden. It’s almost as crazy as Sweden’s efforts to host the Summer Olympic games, which Sweden hosted last time 1912 (except for the equestrian games which was held in Sweden 1956).

There are countless number of SQL Server databases in the world. The demand for SQL Server competence is huge, since millions of important applications are dependent on well-designed and well-managed SQL Server databases. SQL Server is also one of the most popular platforms in the world for building data warehouses and Business Intelligence solutions. By learning SQL Server you have fantastic job opportunities!

But how can you learn more about SQL Server when you probably already are very busy with your job? You should take the opportunity sometimes to get away from your daily duties and come back with new inspiration, new friends and new knowledge. What is then better than a really good conference?

Welcome to SQLRally

Year 2011, our crazy idea became reality: the world’s first PASS SQLRally conference outside of the US. We packed the conference center with almost 500 participants, fantastic speakers and had to close the registration one month before the event because it was fully booked! We had to cap the number of people because of fire insurance regulations (and placed some strong vikings to guard the entrance). Now we are back with PASS SQLRally Nordic 2013 with an even larger conference center, more speakers and an even more exciting programme. So don’t miss this!!! Take the final chance to register for this conference, which takes place in Stockholm 4-6 November 2013. The worst that could happen is that your boss says no…

SQLRally crowd

Watch video recordings from last PASS SQLRally Nordic here

Still not convinced? Check out all the fun at these photos!


SQLRally vikings

Looking forward to see you!

Johan Åhlén
co-founder and organizer, PASS SQLRally Nordic

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Specifying which login to use when connecting to a SQL Server using Windows Authentication

You have probably run across situations where you want to connect to a SQL Server using Management Studio and Windows Authentication, but with a different account than you are currently logged in with. As seen on the screenshot below, you don’t have the same possibility to enter a username and password as you have when using SQL Server Authentication.

Management Studio

There are a few options to change the user name.

Using the runas command in a command prompt

By typing in “runas /netonly /user:yourdomain\yourusername ssms.exe” you can start Management Studio with other credentials. You might need to replace ssms.exe with the full path name of ssms.exe (which should be under C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Binn\VSShell\Common7\IDE\ or similar location).

run as

Using the run as different user-option in Windows Explorer

Another option is to click Shift-Ctrl-RightMouseButton on the icon to start Management Studio. You then get an option to run Management Studio as a different user.

Run As different user

Using Additional Connection Parameters

You can also specify a different user account by manually entering connection parameters. You’ll need to add: Integrated Security=SSPI;User ID=mydomain\myuser;Password=yourpassword.

Management Studio

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SQL Server 2014 CTP2 released

At PASS Summit last week, Quentin Clark announced the release of SQL Server 2014 CTP2. This release is feature complete, which means you can test all the new functionalities of SQL Server 2014. I have described the main news of SQL Server 2014 in this earlier blog post.

The download is available on this SQL Server 2014 webpage.

More information in detail is available on the official SQL Server product team blog. No doubt the most exciting from my perspective is the In-Memory capabilities, enabling up to 30X performance gains, 100X faster star-join queries (typically used by data warehouses) and up to 90% disk space savings. That’s a really good reason for starting to look into SQL Server 2014.

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Finding out where your disk space is being used

I ran out of disk space on my Windows 8 laptop. This was very strange since I had plenty of free space a week ago and I haven’t done anything that should have consumed this disk space. I freed up a few GB by deleting unused files, but soon again this unused disk space was consumed. Even as I watched and clicked the Refresh-button every 10 seconds, I could see the free disk space steadily decreasing.

Was this some kind of malicious software? Or an application that kept writing to a log file? Or some performance monitoring that I had forgotten to deactivate? I had no clue and I really had to solve this, or my laptop was more or less useless.

I managed to find a free tool, SpaceSniffer, that really helped. It visualizes your disk usage as a Treemap – with an overview and the possibility to “drill down” / zoom into the details of your disk usage by simply double-clicking on an object. This is like a Business Inteligence-tool for analysing your disk usage. However, it still couldn’t find what was causing my problem. Very strangely, the total disk space reported by the tool was much lower than the real capacity of the disk. This was very worrying – I had to continue looking…

I tried another trick. Maybe the tool wasn’t able to investigate all of my folders. I started SpaceSniffer with the “Run as administrator” option in Windows. Suddenly it found all of my disk space!

The culprit was something called “Windows Search service”, that stored an index file that took a terrific amount of space. The description of the service says “Provides content indexing, property caching, and search results for files, e-mail, and other content”. I don’t know if it’s a bug in the Windows Search service or if it’s because of my large amount of emails, but it had generated a file of 70 GB (on my 220 GB disk) and constantly growing! No wonder I was running out of space. The solution was to stop that service and delete the large file.

So my recommendation if you want to find out how your disk space is being used, try SpaceSniffer and run it as administrator.


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What’s new in SQL Server 2014?

Now that we though that nothing can get any better than SQL Server 2012, Microsoft has started announcing news around SQL Server 2014. There’s even a SQL Server 2014 web site where you can register to be notified when the trial version is available.

So, what’s new and cool?

Hekaton in-memory database capabilities

Hekaton makes it possible to really speed up databases by storing objects in RAM memory. With the really cheap memory prices today, this is a very interesting feature. The name Hekaton (which means a hundred in Greek) indicates that the goal from Microsoft is to make databases 100 times faster. This is very useful both for OLTP and DW databases (in the ETL-process). The main difference compared to most competitors is that Hekaton makes it very easy to mix in-memory data with legacy data, uses natively compiled stored procedures to increase performance further and provides a new hash index optimized for memory access. More info is available in this white paper by Kalen Delaney.

AlwaysOn improvements

With SQL Server 2014 you will be able to have up to 8 secondaries (instead of maximum 4 in SQL Server 2012). Also your readable secondaries will remain online and readable when your primary node becomes unavailable (as opposed to SQL Server 2012 where the readable secondaries become unavailable).

There’s also a new wizard that let’s you easily add a secondary node that’s being hosted in Azure as a Virtual Machine. It means you can setup a AlwaysOn secondary without having to invest in another server or building a new data center.

Updateable clustered columnstore indexes

SQL Server 2012 introduced columnstore indexes that can give a huge performance boosts, especially for large fact tables in data warehouses. However, they still relied on a traditional rowstore of data behind the columnstore index. Now in SQL Server 2014, you can truly store your data in a columnstore by using clustered columnstore indexes. Another limitation that has been lifted is that they can now be updated (INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE) as any other table. These are really huge benefits compared to SQL Server 2012.

Resource Governor for IO

The Resource Governor is a very important feature for consolidating databases and managing CPU and Memory between them. However, there has been no way to control IO, which is also a very important asset to manage. This new feature will make SQL Server 2014 even better for “SQL Server hotels” or other consolidated environments.

Further Reading

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PASS SQLRally Nordic is back!

We’re happy to announce there will be another PASS SQLRally Nordic again this year. Almost 2 years ago we started in Stockholm and now we are back! It will be held 4-6 November at the Clarion Hotel Arlanda Airport, near Stockholm.

Last time it was a sell-out a month before the event started. This year we will have an even bigger conference center, more speakers and an even more exciting programme. As co-founder of SQLRally Nordic I’m very happy with the earlier success and how SQLRally Nordic has become one of the world’s top SQL Server Conferences.

One of the news this year is a special 1-day Executive Track for decision makers and managers. We will have some of the top Business Intelligence and SQL Server key people in the world present, which means we can deliver very interesting content also for executives.

Looking forward to see you. Don’t forget to register by 10 May to get a 300 EURO discount!

PASS SQLRally Nordic 2013 top banner

By the way – last time in Stockholm we had a Viking theme. Can you guess from our graphical profile what our theme is this year?

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