ASF 033: Denis Reznik interview

ASF 033: Denis Reznik interview


Denis is a Data Architect. He has more than ten years of experience in software development, database design and performance tuning for cloud and on-premises solutions.
In 2010 Denis became Microsoft Data Platform MVP and maintain the MVP status till now.
Apart from his professional career, Denis actively participates in the development of Ukrainian SQL Community and hold the status of PASS Regional Mentor for Central and Eastern Europe.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, this talk has taken place online on 09 July 2020 (Thursday) using Zencastr platform.
Interviewer: Michal Sadowski (T) & Kamil Nowinski (T).

Audio version

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MS: Hello, Denis, welcome to Ask SQL Family podcast.

DR: Hi, Michal. Hi, Kamil.

MS: So let’s start with the first question. What is your name and where do you live?

DR: So my name is Denis and I live in Kyiv, Ukraine.

MS: Okay, what you are doing for a living?

DR: Yeah, honestly, I am doing a lot of stuff – about probably 50 per cent, this is performance troubleshooting, performance and issues troubleshooting. Other 50 percent is involvement in product development, architecture and all of this kind of stuff. But, you know, I can say this isn’t 50/50 all the time. It depends on the amount of client issues happening. The amount of releases we have this month and a lot of other factors, but probably doing different stuff. And mostly for SQL Server. But for the last year, I’m also invested in my own time into Postgres learning and into I am diving into Postgres issues and some architectural questions.

KN: Which engine are working the most right now – SQL Server or Postgres?

DR: SQL Server.

KN: SQL Server, great! So what kind of troubleshooting are you facing? Generally.

DR: Well, it’s pretty different all the time. I am not doing it now. You know, I’m not a big fan of approach when you have all your scripts set up and you’re on them all the time on the issue happening and doing all this. It quickly become boring to me. And right now, I am started with talking with client about the issue, how this happened, and when this happened, and trying to gather the initial information. And then I dive with scripts, extend events, sometimes Profiler, performance counters, collect the information particularly for this case. And then to investigate it. When I see that this case is similar to the previous one, this makes my job a lot easier because I know what the issue is and I’m going into it. But in probably 80 percent of time, the issue I am working with is different. And it requires a bit different approach. So this helps me to make my job faster. And it became fun because each issue is different. You investigate it in different ways and I feel that this is driving me. I really love this process and how it’s going on.

KN: I still remember one of your sessions during the, probably it was during the SQLDay conference when you were talking about the deadlocks. So how often are you facing the deadlocks problems at your work?

DR: Pretty often. Pretty often. Big deadlock issues are happening not that much. Yeah, but some of them can escalate, so we’re quick under heavy load. And about not five but about maybe four years ago for one big customer, we have the rate of deadlocks thousands per day, tenth thousands. And that was yeah, that was pretty big issue for them because the system quickly became slow.

KN: Yeah, definitely.

DR: Yeah, it was happening, not so fast. It was growing, growing and growing until that point when the issue do sufficient big effect on the system, And that is the point when I was involved.

KN: So in that point, when you’re involved, what is the best solution or what is the best maybe in general approach how to resolve it and how to in the future avoid that situation.

DR: For that case, the approach was to switch the transaction isolation level for those particular queries involved in the deadlocks. We switched them to snapshot isolation on application-level. So for this issue, I worked through with the development team and this is often what I do. I work with the development team, with services department team, with support team. On my position, I work in with all departments and different stuff. And I really love these because I love this interaction. Also, I am interacted, I’m working with clients a lot. This is pretty interesting and pretty entertaining. And for this particular case, we do these change on an application level. The product is pretty big and complex and it’s very risky to go with read committed snapshot, because you never know. Some parts of the products will change their business logic after this change. In this case, snapshot isolation is much safer because you can set it on, you can hold all database with read committed like it was previously, but for several sessions, particular sessions, you can set them in snapshot isolation. And this is what we’re doing in the product. On the start application check if snapshot isolation is enabled. If it is enabled, it started these few queries in snapshot isolation. So all other approaches we share we’re thinking about did not work. I found this pretty quickly because the queries involved into deadlocks had a lot of variety. And we can’t we preserve them. Scan direction forward or backward. Because for some cases, in the query plan, it will be better to do it forward for some cases it will be better doing backward and we can’t really avoid deadlock in that case without removing shared-lock and it is what we did. Sometimes I see deadlocks when I do troubleshooting for other issues like timeouts or heavy queries. I am just checking the system health session, if there are any deadlocks there. Sometimes there are few, sometimes there are thousands, hundreds, and this is the point when I started investigation again for that deadlocks.

MS: I imagine that solving the deadlock issues is not on the right to purely technical skills that you need to figure out which query it is, but it’s also related to learning developers’ how to write proper code. And how do you find it with learning the others how to make this stuff working correctly?

DR: You know, our developers are pretty experienced, but there is a factor when you write business logic, you really can’t, especially when you’re using tools like Entity Framework or ORM systems, it’s almost impossible to Predict outcome sequel query. And it’s impossible completely to predict if there will be a deadlock or not with some other query. Well, it’s pretty easy to understand that blocking tables in the one transaction, different order will produce a deadlock and this is a situation which we definitely avoiding. But more complex deadlocks are really, really heavy to predict and working on that deadlocks is mostly reactive, because you can’t do this proactively.

MS: OK, so as I understood correctly, you’re always like to connect both worlds: I mean, business world and also the developers world that the product, the queries or the stored procedure that are being produced, they are working from the perspective of the business they are fulfilling the needs, but also from the technical perspective, they are just behaving as expected.

DR: Yeah, we just admit this is a situation which can happen. We just need to react too quickly and do what we can. And also what we did, actually it was done in the product from the beginning, we have resiliency for the connection if the query was timed out or killed like deadlock victim, we just re-run this query one more time and we do this several times. So usually single deadlock is not an issue for us. we definitely can look into it because it may make the workload more efficient. But generally, the issue for our product is a lot of deadlocks. If this happens this is issue, this is visible for a client. If this is single deadlocks or few deadlocks, it’s fine., we can handle that.

MS: You have described that you have a lot of experience from the SQL Server perspective from the SQL Server internals, you have delivered a lot of session about the deadlock around the world. And I have the question how the PostgreSQL world is different comparing to the SQL Server or is it exactly the same?

DR: It’s very different, and, you know, the difference is not about syntax, but about the internals. I can’t say that SQL Server is better than Postgres or Postgres is better than SQL Server when a dive into the internals of these two engines you understand that they both have their benefits and the drawbacks. So, for example, in case of deadlocks. Usually when you write the same application, Postgres and SQL Server, you will have less deadlocks in Postgres because you don’t have the shared locks, but all other possibilities are still there.

KN: So there’s no clear answer: which one is better?

DR: I believe the better answer is to understand the internals of the database engines which you use, and that will give you the clue to avoid the deadlocks and or other performance issues. So, in the case of deadlocks, Postgres is better.

KN: One more quick question: when it comes to the database project or managing the code of the database. So for SQL server, we have something like SSDT, which is SQL Server Data Tools, do you have something similar in Postgres world?

DR: Honestly, I don’t know, and I don’t use these database projects honestly. I’m a big fan of plain old scripts. That’s it.

KN: So incremental deployment, right.

DR: Yeah.

KN:OK, cool.

DR: This works with all engines.

KN: Exactly. That is the point. OK, Let’s go back to the general questions. I would like to know when did you start your journey in I.T. or with computer in general.

DR: With computer, definitely it was probably in school. I think sixth or seventh form and I was started with ZX Spectrum. Probably the name of computer was Sinclair 128. And I really, I loved it. My friends had these 8-bits gaming consoles, but Spectrum was a bit bigger than that. Well, almost all the time I played games about 95 percent probably and five percent of time I tried BASIC. There was a book with the computer and there were some programs I tried to write code using them, learn something, that was pretty interesting. I can’t say that I love that but it was interesting. It was very different from gaming.

KN: Definitely. I remember the BASIC I remember BASIC language. I started with the same many years ago.

MS: I guess everyone from our years remembers, I started with Commodore, so I would say it’s like closest competitor

KN: Commodore was the closest competitor to the Atari, I think. Okay. And from the professional perspective, working in I.T.: how did you start and when?

DR: My first company was the DB Best. So this is a company focused on database products and at times that was almost on database products. There was a product which called SSMA (SQL Server Migration Assistant), and that times there was no Microsoft product to support migrations to SQL Server. There were products which we were supporting migration from everything to everything. Yes, big vendors like Oracle had their own products, but there was nothing for SQL Server, and this is when DB Best came with the product and sell it to Microsoft. So I came to DB Best after that, the company was very successful and they were developing this SSMA product for Microsoft. There were a lot of very good, very experienced developers, I know that a lot of them came to Microsoft after that. And what started in that company as a young developer in 2006, that was actually five, five year the last year in university here of the fifth year. I combine work part-time and study. And that was pretty good and actually that was the point where databases became my hobby. I was software developer, honestly, and in DB Best, I started my position as engineering in testing. And I was involved into the test framework development. Well, that was pretty good for the start but I wanted more, I wanted to work with the software, some products, to create a product from scratch. And then after a year in 2007, I came to another company, Softline, and my team leader was my university teacher, Volodymyr Leshchynskyi, and he became my mentor for probably for the next a lot of years. We came through several companies and end up our journey company, DCT. He was the director of the company and I was, at the end of my journey with that company, I was head of Cloud Development Department.

MS: And everything was purely SQL Server, right?

DR: No, no. I was started as a developer and was growing this expertise as a primary one for a long time.

MS: So with which technology did you work?

DR: .NET and ASP.NET particular. Those days we had developed a lot of product, but one of the biggest one was Inetgiant. That was a big advertisement website like OLX or Craigslist. We’ve not been so big as Craigslist, but we were in top 10 U.S. advertisement websites. So with max, we have 300 000 unique users coming to our site per day, that was pretty big load, I remember like when we ordered big servers, with a lot of RAM with a lot of CPUs used to handle that load. That was pretty good product where I’ve grown my database expertise a lot. Volodymyr knows me from university years because he was my mentor on my diploma, so when I came to the Softline, Volodymyr said: Okay, you’re coming from DB Best, probably your expertise in this company will be databases, start growing it. Okay. That was pretty interesting to me and I started growing this expertise and working as a web developer but database were my hobby and I grew and grew with this expertise, more and more. And each day, each year, the database world become bigger for me until at some year in 2015, I completely left application .NET Development and switched to databases.

KN: In 2015?

DR: 2015. Yeah.

KN: But let’s back in time a little bit. What happened in 2010.?

MS: We are just recording it on the beginning of July, So first congratulations for the anniversary. It’s 10 years and the question goes to the how it started that you’ll have a lot of experience, a very broad experience, not only with SQL Sever however in 2010 you have been awarded by the MVP. So how it happened that you have the MVP in 2010 and what was the journey about that?

DR: Yeah, that was really interesting journey and very good. So in our company, we have a culture of learning. When I came to Softline and then through other companies, Volodymyr, my mentor make this happening – he created this culture of learning in the company. I remember we were young in 2007-8, he gives like in university, he gave us some tasks to prepare some session and give this session for your co-workers. That was pretty good experience for me. I started speaking, at the internal community, I am started doing some sessions, small sessions about SQL Server, I was listening to guys when they do other sessions, and Volodymyr tried to find the strong points for everyone and gave them the topics to prepare. So in our company, we were like MVPs on separate technology. That was pretty interesting. My was databases and my was SQL Server. After that we have big community in Kharkiv, probably this was the biggest and the oldest user group in Ukraine called Uneta, probably each month to have one or two sessions there and starting from maybe starting even from my university years. I started go into that sessions and that was like, wow, to me, that or something new that or something interesting. That was not university lecturer format, and there were very good speakers. They were coming from Microsoft, from other companies. That was a lot of knowledge to me. I really loved that and thinking that one day I will be also speaking there. And in 2009, Volodymyr asked me, do you want to speak on Uneta? Of course I wanted. So I prepared the session. You know, I remember that session. The session was about types of indexes in SQL Server. In 2009, yes. All of them are B-trees under the hood. But anyway, that was pretty interesting.

KN: It still is.

DR: Yeah. I compare my photos from that session and the latest session. Wow. That’s so big difference. You know, I remember that how I can’t start saying I was I was not very loud, people did not hear me, they asked to make me speak louder. That was terrible. But anyway…

KN: It is normal, you are nervous.

DR: Yeah. I was nervous very much I was scared.

MS: And I was also called learning. So every time you deliver the session the next session is better comparing to the previous one.

DR: Yeah. But after session I feel l was not so bad. It was pretty, pretty good. I thought that. But now I’m thinking that it was pretty bad, for that time it was good to me. I started speaking more and more. I started blogging and you know those days in which we know that we stuck with Microsoft technologies. Actually, we loved what just was happening there. What was happening was .NET, what was happening with SQL Server, SQL Server 2008 was a very, very good release. I remember that, WOW, it has a lot of solid features, which were really good. And we knew that there was an MVP community. I read a lot of blogs that time. I know all these guys in MVP community, I know that a lot of them are MVPs, and we have been thinking that, WOW, this is this probably very cool to be an MVP, to be part of this club. But this is a very interesting point that we did not know what is happening inside or did this or this program is given to me. But we thought that it is pretty cool. So, was started, we already did some activities like speaking. I was started blogging that days where we were set this goal to become an MVP and started to force and do all these to become an MVP. And I have a partner here, partner in crime here, Sergii [Lutai] So Sergii started speaking at Uneta probably the year before me. And he was my partner in crime because when, for example, when Microsoft asked us to go on some event, we were go in together sometimes when there were a lot of work, we prepared our sessions in the train. It was very fun. And we became very good friends during all this stuff. So when he was preparing the session, he told this session to me, when I was preparing my session I spoke to him. I was giving this session to him first, giving feedback to each other. And we got the MVP probably almost at the same time. He became Silverlight MVP, I became SQL Server MVP. So we bought a beer, we have some small party in the office. That was pretty cool, I remember that, I was very happy.

MS: What do you think about this MVP program compared to the program when you started to be MVP, so like 10 years ago and the MVP program today. Is it changing or is it changed or is to the same as it was before?

DR: It is changing, but it’s still I think that it’s still pretty cool. And, you know, this is not the end of the story, I should admit that the times I was pretty young and stupid, particularly in first years, because when I became MVP, first, probably three years, were very hard to me and I really wanted to quit.

MS: Why it was hard for you?

DR: I felt when I came to [MVP] Summit, It was pretty cool, this is my first time in the U.S. and I have almost missed the plane that goes on.

MS: So it was some kind of the impostor syndrome?

DR: Yeah, I saw all these guys, who are writing the blog posts and books which I am learning from. And I said, what the f**k I am doing here? I am not that good, that’s pretty hard to me because you know that like for actors, there are two approaches [Konstantin] Stanislavski and [Mikhail] Chekhov. Stanislavski forced you to feel the role, to feel that torsion emotions, feelings and play from this point. And Chekhov is from more from external stuff like if you are playing a driver, you should wear the hat, you should wear them costume of driver, you should sit in the car and play from this perspective from external things. I felt like I came to MVP not from internal impulse but from external pretending. And I did not feel like an MVP that days. So I am started evolving and I am started to improve my skills and all this stuff and it became much better. But honestly, I feel myself, so I get an MVP in 2010, I have done a lot of sessions about SQL Server 2008 in the next few years. But I believe the main point when I become that, okay, this is fine, I love this and this is my place. That was 2013 when I moved from Kharkiv to Kyiv changed my life a lot. That was very big point to me.

MS: So this movement from Kharkiv to Kyiv started that you start to feel like MVP, not like the person that is aiming to be an MVP or it was something else, that was right to that.

DR: Yeah, I believe at that point I have that kind of impostor syndrome and all kind of these. I feel myself like I tied into a small community in Kharkov and I wanted to try my myself in something bigger.

MS: You are one of the organizers of the one of the biggest SQL Saturday in Europe. Europe, it’s the SQL Saturday in Kyiv. So how did it start?

DR: Yeah. We will come to this shortly. I will tell the story how I moved to Kyiv. That was pretty interesting. So in 2012, there were a lot of things happening, but this product Inetgian was going down because of Google regulations and we completely lost it at some time. And starting from that date, my department, web development was becoming smaller and smaller because we have less projects and so on and so on. So at the end of 2012, I felt that I am not moving the company forward, but I am probably slowing it down. I was thinking that I need to change something and probably move to another company. Probably that was very good decision because this was not only about myself but about the company as well. And I feel that my boss has also taken me up, but it’s pretty hard for him too. Hopefully, another department was grown. Yeah. And it was pretty good the days, so I was pretty safe to go. I went to sleep and I thought, where can I continue my career in 2013? And honestly, two companies came to my mind. First one is the Frayman Group in Kyiv, there were lot of my friends and very good, no not very good, but, you know, exceptional experts working there. A lot of them came from Microsoft, Microsoft Innovation Center, from other big companies, and particularly there were Konstantin Kosinsky, first Microsoft MVP in Ukraine for SQL Server. And that year he moved to, this is a different story, but I went to his trainings to improve my SQL Server skills when I was very young. And here he was like a prototype for me, like a solid MVP, big expert in SQL Server. And I tried to become like him.

KN: You had very good mentors and gurus in the SQL Server.

DR: Yeah, he was really guru. And second company was Kaspersky because they have very good database expertise. I was thinking about it. And in the morning I wake up from the call Viktor Shatokhin from The Frayman Group called me and said, Hey Denis, how are you? Don’t you want to work with The Frayman Group? How this is happening?

MS: Let me think.

DR: Yeah. I asked for one day talk with my boss in DCT, he was fine. He was like, yeah, well we moved for a lot of years for only he was disappointed a bit, but he was fine and let me go. So I talked with Viktor and you know, in a few weeks I went to Kiyv and started my work in The Frayman Group. And that was the interesting story. Konstantin Kosinsky moved to Microsoft and I came to his position, particularly took the database expertise in company. And I was started with deadlocks because Konstantin went probably three, four months ago and there are some issues which needed to be fixed pretty urgently. And in that company in Frayman Group, I get my evaluation of my technical skills and I’m alleviate this impostor syndrome, because I feel: Okay, well, right here in new company, big company with serious product, very experienced people, the best people probably in Kyiv that time, I am getting very good. That was a changing point for me. And starting from that time, I feel that my sessions also became much better. Probably the first successful session they get in 2013 at Microsoft SWIT conference. I was talking about SQL Server 2012. But honestly, I when I started preparing this session, I thought that this session is not for me. I don’t like it. And I might actually do SQL Server deep dive session, instead of that, I called the SQL Server 2012 deep dive to satisfy the conference plot. But honestly, it was about all the layers inside SQL Server. When I came to the conference, there was a big rush there, a big mess. Organizers put me in this smaller room about 100 or 200 attendees, but there was too many attendees who wanted to see my session, that they were crowded, that they start arguing. They argued to organizers in Twitter and my session was urgently moved to the biggest hall. And it was completely packed. WOW, I was very honored and pleased with that. And I did my best to do this session and this session became the best on the conference and after that I like I validated myself as a technical specialist, and, you know, as an MVP, I also validated myself for that ok, probably, I am fine staying with this community, nobody will argue about this. And I really love the community. That’s it’s definitely changing its evolving, but it’s very good. And I love to see you guys there.

KN: Thank you. Yeah, exactly. So it was 2013, right?

DR: Yeah.

KN: When exactly did you start SQL Saturday, organizing SQL Saturday?

DR: Yes, SQL Saturday were started the bit early, in 2012 in Kharkov. The first Ukrainian SQL Saturday happened in Kharkov.

KN: And it was organized by you or by the team?

DR: Yeah, yeah, probably before I started to be an MVP. There is a guy in our community, Andrey Korshikov. Do you know him?

MS: Yeah.

DR: So Andrey Korshikov is really a father of SQL community in post-USSR countries region. I think he became an MVP earlier than me and I invited him to came to Kharkiv to Uneta to give a session. He came to Kharkov. He invited me to go Karsnodar. I went to Karsnodar and that was the first and the last time when I forgot my laptop at home. Wow, that was… Fortunately I saved my session, slides to the OneDrive. But that was pretty hard to prepare a new laptop there and do all this kinda stuff.

MS: I guess it was, what, one of the most challenging technical incidents that you had in your life?

DR: Yeah, after that, I make myself a note that never forget laptop on your session. This never happened again. I have some other speakers notes that was the first note.

MS: But I remember that in Katowice, SQL Saturday Katowice, you had some issues with the charger to the laptop. So you had the laptop, however, without the charger.

DR: Yeah. That was the second one. We bought the charger in the supermarket, but it was not powerful enough to power a [Lenovo] W530. That’s pretty old and the big ThinkPad laptop, well it was charging when I shut down the P.C., but when I open it, it can’t charge. So I charge that before the session started and it was not enough to complete this session, unfortunately.

KN: Yeah, I remember that situation where you’re presenting an almost one hour and I think the battery was enough for that session. Yeah. And also, I remember during the MVP summit when we were sitting together next to each other and I’ve seen your laptop it’s pretty big and very powerful, right? Probably the same.

DR: I’m going to change it this year.

MS: Did you observe any difference comparing the conferences that are in Eastern Europe or Central Europe, comparing to the U.S. or the Western Europe?

DR: Almost, on U.S. I was only on MVP and PASS Summit, I would say that PASS Summit is pretty similar to SQL Bits in terms of attraction, sessions, entertainment. I don’t know that this is just my feeling, but it’s more like West Europe and the U.S. and East Europe. Yeah, because SQL Day is definitely different from SQL Bits. And this is just my feeling, my opinion, but I love SQL Day more.

MS: Thank you.

DR: If this is some kind of spirit, maybe. But you know, you come to give Slovenia, Krakow, Wroclaw and when you come down to Netherlands conference, Belgium conference SQL Bits, you feel the difference. I can’t say that something is bad or good, it just different. I am enjoying both kind of conferences, but probably because I am from Eastern Europe, it’s spirit is closer to me. So that’s it.

KN: How would you encourage people to go to visit Ukraine for the conferences, for technical conferences?

DR: Oh, that’s a lot. I’m just describing what is here in Kyiv. We have pretty good prices for hotels, for food, for attractions. And we have pretty good Ukraine cousin.

KN: Oh, definitely.

DR: The Kyiv city is very old and it has a lot of historical places, sights, and the time for SQL Saturday May actually the end of May is the best possible time to visit Ukraine. It’s not very hot and it’s definitely not cold. It’s warm. The visit card of Kiev is Chestnut Tree. And during this time, these chestnut trees have flowers. And it’s pretty unique experience. You know, when you walk down these historical streets, I see all these sides, churches, monuments, the Golden Gate of Kyiv from the Kyiv Rus times, you feel the spirit of this city and it’s really unique. I am just trying to describe all these to the visitors. Those who loves this tell this story to others. And I believe the Kyiv is too, very attractive now.

KN: Yeah, definitely. Definitely.

MS: We can confirm, we had the pleasure to be in Kyiv on SQL Saturday with Kamil so we can confirm that. It’s really nice place to go, especially for the SQL Saturday.

DR: Thank you. I really enjoyed having you in Kiev.

KN: We can’t touch our picture when we are sitting and drinking a beer. Very good beer, by the way.

DR: Yeah, I agree. Oh, honestly, that’s a beauty. But that brewery was closed. It’s on there next year. We wanted to involve them to the sponsorship again, but they said, okay, guys, we’re sorry, we’re closed, but we have other pretty good beer. And if you go back to SQL Saturday, I feel that I am moving to a different question, but we became friends with Andrey Korshikov and he was the first from our community who learned about PASS. This organization registered his Krasnodar user group as a PASS chapter and went to the PASS Summit in 2011, probably, and tell me all this story and encourage me in Kharkiv and Konstantin Kosinsky in Kyiv to create the SQL user group registered as a PASS chapter and go to the PASS Summit. And this is what we did. We made few sessions, but again, I was pretty young and stupid and I had a lot of ambitious. Right now, I feel that it’s, well, maybe it’s good to achieve some goals, but definitely is not good for yourself. I didn’t feel complete in that time. Yeah, I feel like I’m doing this, this, this. I will be so cool. But it is not. So then I started this Kharkiv user group we made one meeting and I still thought that was stupid. We have big user group Uneta here, What the f**k? – I don’t want to run another one, I would rather support Uneta and my guys who run this user group. So this will be much better. And now when I came to Kharkiv every time I make a session on the Uneta user group. It’s not that big these days, but I have this old feeling that this is the user group where I was grown as a specialist, I learned a lot from the speakers of Uneta that time. But anyway, I organized SQL Saturday in Kharkiv and a lot of foreign speakers came to this SQL Saturday. And this is the point where MVP community and SQL (Data Platform) community interacts. Because when I went to MVP Summit in 2011, I meet a lot of MVPs and particular a lot of MVPs our region and we started talking. And next year, when I started SQL Server conference, SQL Saturday conference, I start writing to all of them, probable about 50 or 40 percent agreed to come. But that was more than enough. We had three tracks. We had a lot of foreign speakers, probably 70 percent of foreign speakers. By the way, this is the time when I met Mihail [Mateev] and Niko [Neugebauer]. So these three guys: Mihail Mateev, Niko Neugebauer and Andrey Korshikov actually go to the community guys who involved me to SQL/Data Platform community and who teach me everything I know right now. But probably right now I evolved and get some my knowledge, but that times they were my mentors and my teachers in the community. Mihail submit the session because this is what he is doing – he saw that new SQL Saturday, he submitted here an Niko came because he was PASS evangelist that years and Andrey came because we already know each other and that was a really unique experience. I organized SQL Saturday for the first time we had more than 100 attendees. It was very big success. We had a lot of positive feedback. And I saw the attendees at the conference – they really enjoyed it. After that, we had a beer that was probably the first post to the #sqlbeer hashtag there, but it was Niko, Andry, Mihail and me. We discussed the community, the PASS there all of PASS the community. All these questions about the conferences. Wow, that was pretty good. I learned a lot about the community, about the conferences, organization. Before that, well we had a conference Uneta Plus one year before. And I was involved, I was in the organization team, so I knew something about conference organization, but SQL Saturday Kharkiv was the first where, I was involved by myself.

KN: And then the second one I was in Kyiv, right? When you moved to the Kyiv.

DR: Yeah, but that was not my conference. You know, I was involved as an organizer, but I was more like a mentor. That conference was done by Konstantin Khomyakov, my good friend. And he was also working in Frayman Group. I met him on PASS Summit in 2012. At that times, Konstantin Kosinsky went to Microsoft. And he left Kyiv user group, the Konstantin Khomyakov. We talked with him about SQL Saturdays, so he was going to organize SQL Saturday in May in Kyiv. So when I went to Kyiv probably first day, we drink some drinks with Konstantin. Well maybe not some drinks, but we drink a lot to celebrate. And he told me the story, that’s different. That’s personal. But you know he is still my good friend, despite the fact that he’s living in Australia. I really miss him because he became an MVP few years in 2014 or 2015 he became an MVP. He came to few Summits. But now I haven’t seen him for ages. So at that time, he was a group leader and I was helping him to build the user group and SQL Saturday from my experience. That times I remember that we started from the sessions in our office, in the office of The Frayman Group company, and there are three, five people, ten people coming to our events on the on one year probably we have both 20 or 30 people who did not able to fit the room. That was what I remember. That was Vitaly Popovych session about range locks in SQL Server. It was pretty good after the time was started to find new place for our group. But SQL Saturday Kyiv was done by Konstantin. He was running the user group and I was helping him. And honestly, that was a pretty unique and good experience for me. This is, this was the principle which I built into user group and SQL Saturday after that in years. In this place, when you need a community to grow, when you need to do something for the community, you put your ambitions behind that. That was a pretty good moment for myself, for my personality, because I feel that I really love doing that. And the community win from these because we’re moving together but not separately, we’re not running different user groups or competing with each other, but together we’ve made much more than we will be able to deliver separately.

MS: And also, it looks like that at the very beginning of your journey, you had a mentor. And now you are the mentor for the others.

DR: Yes, that’s true.

KN: And also, it looks like there is plenty of work, plenty of efforts you made during the all the years, at least 10 years, last 10 years, so I’m just wondering, you know, how would the priorities have been changed during those years and how the work-life balance works for you?

DR: A lot of things changed and particularly user group right now is a big user of group activity right now. Is it be different from 10 years ago because conferences that days, there were not a lot of conferences, user groups in Ukraine particularly, but these days we have a lot of paid conference with a very good content, very good speakers, and it’s very hard to compete with that in user group. User group became a niche product. That days, it was main product, it was off as a main product probably in 2015, 2016. That was main product after that became less and less. Right now is a more niche product in Ukraine. Priorities changed a lot. You know, since that time I was married, my kid was born. I love him very much. I can’t say that a lot of things changed in this era. I still love user group activity and community. But yeah, it is different and last year I feel that I am this is this is personal, but I started to seek more and more and I feel that these have affect on my sessions as well.  Each year, starting probably from 2017, it became more and more hard to me to deliver a good session, to organize a good conference. I think more and more efforts on this and this is what I did not enjoy it, enjoy it, too. Because sometimes. I started to do not very good sessions. Well, not completely bad, but not very good. I feel I can give myself a feedback. What was good? What was bad? What I can improve? What I can’t improve?

KN: I’m not sure about you, Michał, but I didn’t notice that.

MS: Yeah, I had the same feeling. I just had a feeling that you have too high you set too high expectations for that, that you would like to have each session that the next session is like 50 percent better comparing to the previous one. And you are at the moment top notch specialist, so it’s like impossible to have better session.

KN: Exactly. Sometimes you need to just set the baseline, you know, very high-level baseline. But still it’s a baseline. Yeah.

DR: Thank you. Thank you. But I feel that this is. This is myself. But I put myself under this pressure. So this year before 2020, I decided to not completely quit, but rapidly decreased the amount of sessions. So this year I did not came, probably you noticed that I didn’t came to SQL Day. This is nothing personal, I love this conference. I didn’t come to Belgium conference Data Mind Connect. I did not come at the conference fwDays in Ukraine, where I usually coming. I spoke a lot for several years, I will skip this year to have some rest, and avoid this pressure. And you know that before the New Year, I quit as a leader of Kyiv user group. So Ukrainian data community right now, led by Yevhen Nedashkivskyi, you know Yevhen.

KN: Yeah

DR: He was part of our organization team, he done a great job. And right now he’s leading a user group. I am still in the team. Yeah. We have four members of our community: Yevhen Nedashkivskyi, Eugene Polonichko, Mykola Pobyivovk and me. Yevhen is the main guy right now. As for SQL Saturday my last SQL Saturday was this year it wasn’t happening because of coronavirus. But next year, Eugene Polonichko will take this responsibility and became the main organizer, probably.

MS: But I hope that you are still a mentor.

DR: Sure. I will still be in this team, in the team anyway. And also, I quit from being PASS Regional Mentor this year, last year, actually. Before the New Year. Yeah.

MS: So maybe it will be some kind of the vacations or holidays for like one or two years and then hopefully you go back to the community because you have a lot of experience that you can share with the others.

DR: Yeah. Yeah, that is true. I have this kind of rest. I would say I’m going out from pressure and you know, right now I have I feel empowered to speak this autumn at some conferences and I will return next year and submit for a SQLDay, if you will consider my session of course. Despite that fact I missed this year, I will be very honoured and happy.

MS: Are always welcome on the SQL day conference. In case we are discussing the future, how do you feel about the roles like DBA role, how it will evolve in the next few years because the world is changing, I’m not saying on about the pandemic, about the coronavirus, but much more about the technology. So from your perspective, how do you feel about the evolvement of the roles?

DR: Well, that’s pretty interesting because I don’t like to make a forecast. Usually this forecast and some of the areas are not very good in 5, 10 years Let’s try. I predict the DBA role will not change a lot. Well, when I think about these distinguish between database developer and DBA, I know a lot of DBAs I’ve worked with very good, exceptional DBAs. And as for me, I am more kind of a developer, I have DBA and developer skills which I use in my work. But I came from the developer world. And DBA for me is not only about technologies and operational work, it’s some kind of mindset when I interviewed DBAs in our company or developers, I believe the DBA is more of a mindset that everything should be controlled, you should take care about your server. So these and that was done, and this is systematic approach. I have a checklist, DBA checklist to setup this and that they should be in this area. This should be balanced and so on. And so. So the developers are different in this area.

KN: Are you trying to say that developers don’t care?

DR: We don’t touch politics.

KN: This sounds like a political answer.

DR: Yeah, this. This is some kind, This is what I see. This may be my personal bias. But anyway, when you work with a problem so you have performance issues as a DBA, you probably will have a plan, I will collect performance counters, I will collect extended events, I will check DMV, I will run these Glenn Berry’s scripts to check this and so on. If you’re a developer, you will go in different stuff. You will collect traces. You know, DBAs will be still there in 5, 10 years and not a lot of things will change. This is my I believe in this because this is some kind of mine. Yeah, that’s some kind of mindset. There is at this type of job which will not be done by other people or by artificial intelligence.

MS: But you can hear that there is cloud-first cloud-only, all of this stuff with machine learning, with artificial intelligence that you just need to go to the portal, click three times and then everything is done. Do you think that it’s possible that it will happen soon like we’ve been next? I don’t know, five years.

DR: Yeah, probably. It will happen soon, but DBA will not go away. This is my belief. They will be always a place to work for DBA, Even with all these technologies and artificial intelligence,

KN: And that’s very good news for all the DBA around the world.

DR: But I’m not very good in forecasts. So not so good news.

KN: So Denis you as a mentor, when you’re having a lot of experience, obviously. So what kind of hints would you give to young people who are just starting working on the I.T. Market?

DR: In the community or on the…?

MS: for example, they are just graduating from university and they are just looking for their first work and they would like to work in I.T.

DR: That’s a very good question. You are here for the first work, I would say don’t care about anything. Just find the work and go. At this point, when you go out of university, you are looking for a job. At this point, you don’t know what you want to do, honestly. So find any job and start work and start doing your best and start to grow in this company. And then you will feel what you like to do, what you don’t like to do. And next job, maybe you will fit yourself in this company and everything will be great. If not next job, you will find based on these feelings and this experience, they will ask these questions on the interview. You will learn about this company and it will be better.

KN: And those are looking at your experience and history on your story, basically, it’s maybe at your first or second job would be good to find some mentor or guru or who can learn from. Right.

DR: Yeah. that’s true.

KN: That can speed up your journey, basically. 

MS: Or maybe even set up the milestone that you need to achieve, because sometimes when you are just after the university, as you have said, probably you don’t really know what you really want to do in your life.

DR: Yeah, that’s true. And this is also a very dangerous thing. It’s it seems like good and it’s good. But you know that when you grow up, your ambitions will be different. Your understanding of the world and your career will be different. And if you said this, go for five 5, 10 years, go in one year, it’ll be completely different. It’s very good to set goals, but it’s also very important to correct the goals from time to time.

KN: Revisit those goals.

DR: Yeah, if your goal does not expire, You if you feel that it’s not your goal. Yeah. It’s not very good for you right now. You should be able to change it every time. And this is very important, especially for young specialists, because you can see like somebody is MVP, I want to be an MVP. This is my go, you go to these. And then you understand: What? This is not what I want. And you should have courage to admit that this is not my goal. I need to set to another. And you can’t really understand this until you will go into this path. If you want to be an MVP, go till the end. Try to achieve it. If you feel that this is not your goal at the middle of the path, correct this goal.

MS: What is the hottest feature that you have on your learning list that you would recommend focusing on? So I would say that are two questions. First one is what is your learning list? And the other one is what do you think that will be beneficial to know in the close future?

DR: Honestly, I have about 10000 tabs in my favourites bookmarks in my browser. I’m not sure if I will finish it till the end of my life with this is my own list. I use Feedly, I check blogs regularly of the top SQL Server specialists and Microsoft blogs. But right now I’m doing this probably once per month. I am not very good on this. In this in my top least right now is Postgres internals in my learning at least use reread SQL Server internals book. Yeah, I read it, but not completely. I read a few chapters when they need some information, but they initially from start to end.

MS: You mean SQL Server 2008/2012 internals by Kalen Delaney.

DR: Yeah. 2012. I would like to learn something more about Kubernetes and Docker. I feel that this is a very interesting and Linux as well. I am not very good at Linux but they use it from time to time. Well, for SQL Server I have a lot of tabs in my favourites, but I do not have any particular something to learn. And the second question is the cool feature, which I would recommend to learn about.

KN: Yeah

DR: Yeah. So if this question, I would recommend not to learn about a particular feature, but I would recommend learning both internals of SQL Server storage engine, SQLOS, Query Optimizer.

KN: So you mean to learn and know how the engine behind the scenes works.

DR: Yeah. SQL Server internals is a great book to do with these, to work with this. Also, if it’s too hard I would recommend using Ken Henderson books. Those are my favourites. I started from. I still love them. I feel that the information in that book very important and very hard information to understand was given with very simple words so that books are pretty old. Therefore, SQL 2000, but as I remember, maybe I’m wrong right now because I became a bit old these days. But and I read this a lot of time ago. But I feel that the information given there is still valid right now.

KN: Cool. We put all the links, those into these books at the end of the transcript.

MS: At the end of our conversation, could you please tell us where we can find you? You mentioned that you suspend your activities. But where we can find you in case someone is interested to get in contact with you.

DR: Facebook probably is the best channel.

MS: Okay. We will just attach the links. Probably you are also on Twitter, on some other platforms?

DR: Twitter, Facebook and pretty rare on LinkedIn. I’m also going to start my channel, YouTube channel during this commute, self-isolation. I thought about blogging, both probably blogging. I will skip it. Maybe I will blog something.

KN: So let us know when you started your YouTube channel.

DR: Videos will be better. Yeah. For me.

KN: That’s cool.

MS: Thank you very much for joining us today and hope to hear your song.

DR: Thank you for inviting me.

KN: Thank you very much, Denis, for sharing your knowledge and sharing your experiences.

DR: Thank you have a nice day. Bye

MS: Thanks.

KN: Thank you, you too.


Useful links

Denis’ profiles: Twitter | LinkedIn | Blog

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About author

Michal Sadowski
Michal Sadowski 13 posts

Senior Database Platform Engineer, leader of Krakow chapter of Data Community Krakow - PASS Chapter. With more than 10 years of experience in Microsoft technology, helps in advisory for performance optimization on database and application levels. Holds many Microsoft certificates including MCSA: Windows Server 2008/2012/2016, MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014/2016, MCSE: Data Platform and MCT.

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