SQLskills SQL Server Immersion Training: A Retrospective

Last week I attended the inaugural training event of the new four-week SQL Server Immersion Training offered by Kimberly Tripp and Paul Randall of SQLskills.com. The four available training weeks include:

  • Internals and Performance
  • Performance Tuning
  • High Availability and Disaster Recovery
  • Security, PowerShell, and Development Support

I attended the Internals and Performance class in Dallas, and I will also attend the Performance Tuning class in March, also held in Dallas. While these classes can be used to help you prepare for the MCM, they are designed to be taken by any DBA who wants to deepen their understanding of SQL Server. In fact, only a handful of the 29 attendees at the Internals and Performance tuning class were interested in pursuing the MCM. Most of them, like me, just wanted to gain a deeper level of understanding of SQL Server.

While his session was held in Dallas, only about a half dozen were from the Dallas area, with attendees coming from all across the United States and Canada. There was even one attendee from New Zealand. Most of the attendees were experienced senior DBAs or developers from a wide variety of small and large organizations. While I had meet a couple of the students before, most of them were new to me.

This week’s training was taught by Paul and Kimberly, with Kimberly doing about two thirds of the training. (Other training weeks may include different guest speakers.) One advantage of both of them teaching was that if whoever was teaching at the time wasn’t able to answer the question, the other one looked up the answer and provided it to the class. Great husband and wife teamwork.

The training was mostly lectured-based, with a lot of time spent using a whiteboard and PowerPoint slides, explaining the various topics. I like whiteboards, as this adds a visual component to the learning, which is good, as I am more of a visual learner than a verbal learner. Lectures were followed up with demos as needed. One thing the class did not include was labs, although we were given a DVD that had a VHD of Windows 2003 and SQL Server 2008 with about 60 hours of hands on labs that we could do on our own. I would have liked to have spent some lab time in class to help reinforce the learning, as I am not sure I will be able to find time to go through them on my own. On the other hand, the sessions were so information-packed I am not sure where any extra time could be found to do the labs in class, unless some of the existing content was removed, or the sessions last into the evening.

I have been a SQL Server DBA for over 16 years, and over the years I have attended many Microsoft Certified SQL Server Training classes, third-party training classes, one-day seminars, and more conferences than I can keep track of. This is on top of a lot of self-study and on-the-job experience. While I have learned a lot over the years, the learning has been fragmented, meaning that it has been hard for me to put everything into perspective.

The main reason I wanted to attend the SQL Server Immersion training was to help me review what I have learned in the past, to learn SQL Server at a deeper level, and get all this information in a concentrated form so that I could view it more holistically. This past week has met my expectations very well. While I was familiar with about 80% or so of the content, reviewing it as a whole has not only helped me to remember what I already know, but to help put many things into a better perspective than the fragmented knowledge I already had.

In many ways, the training reminded me of when I attended graduate school. Graduate school content was similar to what I had learned as an undergraduate, but it provided a greater depth of knowledge, and helped me to see the bigger picture. It also provided me with new knowledge and tools in my area of study. This same is true of the SQL Server Immersion Training. While I already had a great base of knowledge in SQL Server, the training has helped me to better understand SQL Server from a new perspective.

In many ways, the following paraphrased quote, which Paul said on the first day of training, I think does a great job of summarizing the benefits of attending the SQL Server Immersion training.

“My goal is not to tell you the exact answer, but to teach you how to determine what the best answer is for your situation. This is because most recommendations are generalizations, and don’t apply to all situations. Best practices are good starting points, but you have to determine for yourself what is best for your own systems.” –Paul Randal

If you want to raise your DBA career up to a new level, I highly recommend you attend the SQLSkills SQL Server Immersion training. The benefits from the training will begin to accrue immediately, and will help you throughout your entire DBA career.

3 thoughts on “SQLskills SQL Server Immersion Training: A Retrospective

  1. I went to the old style training back in December, and I loved it! I have to second the “putting everything into perspective”, it really helped a lot and I had quite a few light bulb moments.

  2. I went to the one held in August 2010 — great class by two of the top experts in our field. I’d like to go to the other three!

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