ASF 023: Amit Bansal interview

ASF 023: Amit Bansal interview

Introduction

Amit R S Bansal is a SQL Server Specialist at SQLMaestros (brand of eDominer Systems). He leads the SQL and BI practice with a much-focused team providing consulting, training and content development services to more than 160+ SQL customers globally. He frequently speaks at international conferences including Data Platform Summit (India), MS Ignite (US), SQLBits (UK), PASS Summit (US) & SQL Saturday events across the globe. Amit is also honoured with Microsoft Regional Director status, MVP award and Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) of SQL Server credential. Amit has been working with SQL Server since 1999 and has been part of countless mission-critical SQL deployments. Performance Tuning in SQL Server is his core area of expertise.

This talk has taken place during SQLBits 2019 in Manchester (UK) on 1st March 2019 (Friday).
Interviewers: Kamil Nowinski (T), Michal Sadowski (T)

Audio version

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Transcript

Kamil Nowinski: Hi, Amit! Thank you for accepting our invitation to the podcast “Ask SQL Family”.

Amit Bansal: Thank you, thank you very much, it’s very kind of you to have me for this podcast.

KN: Absolutely, it’s our pleasure. At the beginning could you tell us what your full name is and where you live.

AB: My full name is Amit Bansal and I live in India. And in India, particularly I work out of two cities: Bangalore and Calcutta.

KN: What do you do for a living?

AB: I am running a company, basically as a director of a company by the name eDominer Systems Pvt. Ltd. and under which we have a couple of brands. I particularly take care of SQLMaestros, which is our brand related to doing a lot of work around SQL Server and Microsoft Data Platform, consulting and training and content development, and of course performance tuning assignments. And another part of my work is the community, which is data platform gigs.

Michal Sadowski: How did you start working with SQL Server?

AB: So the story about working with SQL Server goes back many years. I started my career as a developer. I used to do Visual Basic programming, and if I remember correctly it was Visual Basic 5, I think in 1997 or 1998 and we used to store our data in SQL Server 7. I did probably my first project with 6.5 but very quickly moved on to version 7.0. And in fact, in that year of 97-98 I had absolutely no knowledge of SQL Server. We just used to use SQL Server to store data. All we knew that there is a database there and there are some tables, and we used to just put data inside and take it out. And because we were all like application programmers doing a lot of front-end coding. But then, as our project size grew and data size started getting a little bigger, and of course there were some performance issues that were coming in, there was no one in our team who knew how to tune SQL Server databases or indexes.

KN: No knowledge about indexes?

AB: Yes, absolutely no knowledge about indexes. I didn’t even know what a B-tree structure is, to be honest, 20 years back. And yeah, then there was a good opportunity there and I took up the challenge to learn a little more about SQL Server. That’s where I think my formal training with SQL Server started. It was all self-learning. I picked up a few books and then books online and whatnot. And those days, you know, with SQL Server there were books online which used to be locally installed and you could read a lot more about SQL Server. That’s when it all started.

KN: And what new steps did you make? You started reading those books, learning something and you took some courses, trainings, conferences maybe?

AB: No, that was very early in my career to really even think about conferences. Honestly, in those years I didn’t even know what a conference is. As a matter of fact, because living in a city like Calcutta, and in those years India was not so tech-savvy and the IT story that we have in India today wasn’t there 20 years back. So I didn’t even know what a conference is. And there were no courses formally offered by companies out there. There were no such training institutes that would probably teach SQL Server, so it was all like learning by those books online which were locally installed when you installed SQL Server on your computer. No laptops though at that time, it was computers. So we read modules by modules and practice a lot of examples and then what indexes are, what B-tree structures are, how data is pulled out and reading a little more about relational engine and the query processing engine, etc. And that fascinated me so much that I left Visual Basic programming and I started focusing more on SQL Server.

KN: So you started with Visual Basic? Which version?

AB: Yes, Visual Basic 5.

KN: Ha, I remember. I started with Visual Basic 6.

MS: You present around the world and I would like to ask you about the Data Platform Summit conference. How does it looks compared to other international events?

AB: So Data Platform Summit is very close to my heart. I of course conceptualized and architected the conference along with my team members. And how I would compare it is, it happens in India so of course the cultural differences are always there compared to US or compared to SQLBits happening in the UK and our conference happening in India. But apart from that, the overall format is the same. We have pre-cons, we have breakout sessions, so there’s so many things that are similar to begin with. The pre-con format, the breakout session format but we do a few additional things like we do chalk talks and open talks. We brought in these new learning formats, like chalk talks and open talks are like roundtable discussions, and chalk talks are no laptops, just whiteboarding and trying to explain a concept with the whiteboard and the chalk. That’s why we call this a chalk talk. So these new learning formats had been really very well appreciated by the community, and of course our conference is not as big as PASS Summit or SQLBits but we’re slowly getting there. Year by year it’s getting bigger. This year is the fifth year, last year in 2018 we kind of touched close to a thousand delegates for the conference, so hopefully we will make it bigger this year.

KN: Nice. Also, you speak a lot, around the world. How do you prepare yourself for a speech?

AB: So just like any other speaker, I would focus a lot on the content during preparation. Thankfully the audience calls me a natural speaker. I don’t take the credit for it. It is God-gifted, being a national speaker is a God gift so I’m very thankful to God that he made me a natural speaker so I don’t have to struggle a lot to get on to the stage to get to speak. But the content that you are going to present, that should be rehearsed. So I do spend time in preparing good content for my sessions. I focus less on PowerPoints because people really want to see things in action. And I believe content is king, so if people are spending… for a pre-con let’s say people are spending a whole day with you, 8 hours, they really want a lot of rich content.

KN: They expect something hot.

AB: Absolutely, they expect a lot in pre-con. Especially when audiences pay extra for pre-cons, so they would really expect a lot. So a lot of preparation goes into pre-con, preparing all those demos and testing them again and they work fine. And because my specialization inside SQL is performance tuning, query tuning, troubleshooting, many of my demos are very unpredictable in nature, because I try to assimilate huge workloads with large databases. And they may not always for whatever reason run exactly the way I planned them to run. So lot of testing has to be done and I have to make sure that they run really well on that final day. So I spend a lot of time on demos and on the content. And for breakout sessions what happens is when you are used to spending a whole day, I mean when you rehearse a whole day’s content, then breakout sessions become a little easier. Because it is one hour or 75 minutes or like SQLBits, maybe 50 minutes, so it becomes a little easier.

MS: So you start with a notebook, let’s say, and then you just write down the idea for the session, and then build around that all of the demos, all of the session, is it correct?

AB: Yes, absolutely. So I’m taking down notes and what am I supposed to do step by step. And yeah, that’s pretty much it. I’m a little old school so I have a diary and a pen, so first I do that, like a rough sketch and then I formalize it, I use OneNote and I take my notes there.

MS: What about last-minute changes? You are just before the session, and then some bright idea just came to your mind and then you think “OK, it will be worth presenting”. Do you include that in your presentation or do you try to avoid it?

AB: I avoid doing any last-minute changes. It hasn’t really happened with me that I just get a very bright idea before the session. I’m constantly thinking about the existing content that I have to present, so it doesn’t really happen with me. But if at all it ever happened or it happens in future, I will not try to tweak the content on the fly so quickly, because that might disturb my flow. It may or may not work. I wouldn’t take that much risk.

KN: So you had a pre-con here at SQLBits. It was yesterday or two days ago?

AB: Yes, it was on Wednesday.

KN: It was amazing, right? Could you tell us something about it? You had a lot of attendees on your session.

AB: Yes, I had close to 70 people and thanks to SQLBits organizers for giving me an opportunity. This was my second time I was presenting a pre-con at SQLBits and the crowd was of course huge and the audience was wonderful. They were very patient and they interacted so well. That was amazing to see that everyone who came in the morning stayed till very end of the pre-con, which is wonderful. And something happened which was so unprecedented – I got great feedback on my LinkedIn when I posted it, so many people connected and they posted some wonderful comments. Yeah, so the pre-con went really well. Of course before delivering this pre-con here I’ve delivered it a couple of times earlier in other conferences, like Difinity and our own DPS and even SQLSaturday events. And in fact, this one day pre-con is actually an extract from my master class. And my master classes are like 40 hour, very intensive, deep dive, comprehensive training on performance and troubleshooting. So I took out the best parts, the best demos from there, the more relevant and common issues that people see, and I packaged them into this pre-con. So I think why I got such great feedback for this pre-con was because from the word go till the very end it was all demos. It was all demos. Even some concepts that I had to explain where I sometimes think a PowerPoint slide could have been better, I still did not use PowerPoint and I put those bullet points and notes as comments in my T-SQL file and store them in Management Studio. So people were just looking at code all the time, and there was demos, and I think that kept the entire session so alive and so intrigued by the demos.

KN: It’s easy for you, you don’t have to switch between applications.

AB: Yes, of course, it’s just double-clicking the SQL file and opening it in Management Studio.

KN: I’ve visited your new website and on that website, in the menu, there are 3 blogs there. Which one is the most popular, or which one do you write on?

AB: So I used to be a very prolific blogger some time back, so I used to… Of course, I started writing SQL blogs first but then there were a couple of topics that I started writing about. A little bit about professional development, public speaking, presentation skills. And because I was traveling a lot, I started writing one or two blogs about travel tips. But I didn’t follow it very religiously and because of lot of travel and work, I was not able to maintain a consistent writing schedule and then my blog kind of slowly died down. Now a lot of people do visit blogs but they see that old content that is up there. I want to get back to writing again because that is still the most popular way of how people search for knowledge and constantly read on the go. You know, whenever they’re traveling and in their offices. But recently, I started recording lot of videos. Another thing which I saw, because my demos are so light and they were so helpful, so I thought “why not record short videos”. And I started recording them and I have put them in our YouTube channel, which is youtube.com/SQLMaestros and there are like bunch of videos. So whenever I get an opportunity, I record 10–15-minute videos of a SQL concept with a demo and then I put it up there. But yeah, doing video work here would not mean that blog is not important. I think blog still has a precedence over videos.

KN: Video is just a new form of content. Probably it’s even easier for people to watch it.

AB: Absolutely, it is easier, and because the internet is becoming so wide usage and with all those new smartphones and YouTube apps, watching videos has become very convenient. So a few years back, when you travel by train you would only see people with newspapers, and now there are no newspapers. People are with their phones and their headphones are on. And of course a few years back they had those headphones with wires, now they’re all Bluetooth and wireless. So yeah, video is becoming very, very popular. In fact, our channel, and I started it a few months back with zero, it is just touching 3000 subscribers now in just a short span of time. But yeah, but I still believe that a lot of community folks have given me feedback that “why am I not blogging”, even though they’re watching videos, but I really want to get back to blogging someday.

KN: How much do you travel? Cause you mentioned it a lot. What do you mean by “a lot”?

AB: So yeah, sometimes the travel schedule gets very, very bad. I mean it gets really crazy, so here is a very recent example: I started from Calcutta and went to Auckland via Singapore for the Difinity conference, and then after I had a pre-con and breakout sessions there, and from there I travelled to Wellington to participate in SQLSaturday Wellington, and Difinity was organized by Reza and SQLSaturday Wellington by Anupama, and I had pre-con and breakouts there. And meanwhile, my pre-con here in SQLBits was added in the second round, so I of course wanted to take this up as well, so I decided I will fly from Wellington to Manchester, so it was Wellington to Auckland and then Auckland to Doha and then Doha to Manchester. With all the stopovers and holds it was almost two days, almost 46 hours. Where, which timezone – God knows, but it was crazy travel. And then I’m going back to India now but then immediately after I go next few days, we all go to MVP Summit in Redmond. MVP and RD Summit. So yeah, so if you see the whole two months are all gone in travel. That’s how crazy it gets. But then after the MVP RD Summit there will be a bit of staying at home.

KN: That must have a lot of impact on your private life.

AB: It does, I’m very thankful to my family, my wife, my parents, my brothers, sisters and of course my kids. They cooperate so well, they support so well. I think without their support, it would have been difficult to really pull off doing so much work and travel. It’s nearly impossible. Family support is very critical.

MS: What about your work-life balance? You have mentioned about your family, about the work, so how do you find the balance between these two?

AB: I think it’s the same problem all of us face and nothing uncommon with me also here. Sometimes work really gets very hectic and family life does suffer in the role that you are, because we are just not doing a 9-6 job in our role because we run community, so people look up to us. We are community leaders, so when you become a leader and you are running communities, there is some kind of an implicit commitment that you have towards them. Apart from your day jobs, when you’re organizing free events and webinars, and then these events happen on Saturdays, right? And Saturdays-Sundays are supposed to be family time. So there’s a lot of this commitment that you have to fulfill and it comes in-between your family life. So there is that sacrifice there. But then it’s a passion that drives you and these are things that you do that make you happy. Like for example in India, when we do these Data Platform Day events which are very similar to SQLSaturday events of PASS, so we do these DPD events as we call it under data platform gigs and in an event you see like 200–300 people turning up. That amazing, that feeling of seeing so many community folks who are working on SQL and Microsoft Data Platform and then you deliver sessions to them and they talk about their problems and you network with them – that’s amazing. So you love doing that and you see that day happening and that keeps you driving.

KN: Absolutely. Could you tell us about your MVP journey?

AB: So I was awarded as MVP in the year 2007, so it has been now 12 years. And I think just like anyone else, I started SQL community activities in 2004. So it started from Calcutta where I did the first SQL user group meeting probably in India. I don’t know if that was the first one ever. And we had just seven people in that small user group meeting. And then it started from there and then of course one event got converted to two events, and then two to three, and when I say events it wasn’t really an event. It was just like a small meetup. There were a few people just coming together. And then it started getting a little bigger and because I was doing some training during that time along with Microsoft for SQL customers, then I used to travel from two different cities, like Bangalore, Bombay, Chennai, Hyderabad, these are pretty big cities in India and a lot of IT setup there. So whenever I used to do these assignments, Monday to Friday, I used to stay over for another extra day and organize these meetings on Saturdays. And it was just like word of mouth, because there was no social media at that point of time. There was no Twitter or… I don’t even know if Facebook ever existed, then no LinkedIn, nothing, so it was just like word of mouth to Microsoft and a few customers “hey, we’re doing a group meeting here on SQL, why don’t you guys come over?”. It was just as informal as that. No formal registration.

KN: It was hard to reach people.

AB: Yeah, of course it was hard to reach people. Maybe we could just send across a few emails here and there, but that was pretty much it. And then that actually started getting a little bigger and better because something like that wasn’t really happening, but then of course who doesn’t want free training. So training, networking, get-togethers were getting really popular and Microsoft took a note of it and then one fine day I see that Microsoft has awarded me with the MVP status. I did get to know about MVP a few months back and I was like “wow this is a good thing to have” and then that eventually happened. And then of course after that, till now, till this, at least at this point while this interview is happening, I’m still an MVP. But yeah, you never know how things go in the future.

KN: You absolutely deserved it.

MS: What about your Microsoft Certified Master certification? It’s quite a huge challenge to get this.

AB: All of you have done like good research!

KN: Absolutely, we are prepared for this conversation.

AB: OK, wonderful. So I got to learn about this MCM. I learned about MCM a little late in my so-called SQL journey. Because I think this certification was very popular and predominant in the United States and because I’m not in the US and I was in India, this certification was never popular there. And whatever, fortunately or unfortunately, I had never heard about it. But then, because of my frequent travel to US and working with the product teams also, and MVP Summit, somehow I got to know about this certification that they have something called MCM. And when I looked into MCM and I saw who MCMs are, and of course there were some really great folks in the community who were so popular and were so knowledgeable, they’re all MCMs. And I learned a little more about the certification process, that there is a knowledge exam and after that there is a practical exam, and that practical exam is going to be monitored by Redmond live for five hours and then you have to put that camera and whatnot. So all that really fascinated me but I did speak to a few folks in the community about this certification that you know, “is it really worth it?” because it was very expensive. I think it was like some two thousand – three thousand dollars and you know, whatnot. So it was very expensive so I was thinking that you know… And of course that’s big money in India. So I was thinking “shall I go for it, is it worth it?”. Because there was no MCM in India. I think they were one or two folks but they worked for Microsoft and out of those folks who worked for Microsoft, also moved to Redmond. So there was literally in a way, back then, there was no MCM in India. And I was like “wow there is no MCM in India who is working outside Microsoft, I can be the first”, so that also excited me to some extent. And of course I got good feedback from the community about this program that it’s really worth it. Because sometimes many of these exams are more like multiple-choice questions and people read all dumps and whatnot and they just go and pass the exam. So I ever wanted to do that. But this MCM exam was very different. And yeah, the credibility factor, what I got from the community was that it is very credible and you should go for it. And then I decided to go for it. I started studying for it. I set up a group also, because a few people wanted to study along with me. I won’t take their names but they moved out of the group very soon. But I continued studying and I really prepared hard, I prepared well with all the resources that were there and I took the exam. I took the knowledge exam and then I passed and after that, I took the lab exam and then I passed the lab exam, and I got my MCM. And then I think at that time, my program manager for MCM was Bob Taylor, if I remember correctly. And then he put down on the blog about MCM and yeah, I was very happy. I remember, I was informed that I got my MCM credential on 31st December. I was in Bangalore at that time and my wife and I we all celebrated the New Year with an MCM. It was wonderful. I got, very proudly, like the first MCM of India outside Microsoft, so it was fantastic.

KN: So how long did it take you to prepare?

AB: Because there was so much work that was always going on, I did not take a break actually. It’s not like I put my work to rest, because the work is giving me my daily living, I can’t put it to rest and just study for an exam suddenly. So I was continuing to work and whatever time I was getting, I did spend extra time in preparing for the MCM exam. So I think I prepared for about two years.

KN: Still long.

AB: Yeah, because the amount of time I was able to spend was very little. So every day I would just spend very little and sometimes a whole week will go by and I would not study at all. So that’s why it was like sporadic and preparation… slowly and slowly like a tortoise speed, for two and a half years I was covering module by module because Microsoft published a syllabus, like backup/restore, indexes and whatnot. So yeah, it took that much time. And then I was studying, studying, studying, preparing demos, I was seeing a lot of stuff and I was like “okay, I think it’s enough, let’s go and take the exam”. You know, one day I decided “okay, let’s go and take the exam”.

KN: “I think I’m ready”, right?

AB: That’s the best part. Because of working so much with SQL Server and then studying on top of it, I never felt I was ready. I was like “enough, let’s go and take the exam”. And I just went ahead with the exam.

KN: Especially, as a professional, you work and get the experience… It’s basically your work but you are still learning. That’s the good part.

AB: Yes, absolutely, you’re always learning, you’re constantly learning. Every day you will learn something new.

KN: So what is the personal achievement that you are most proud of?

AB: Work-related or overall?

MS: Up to you – it can be work, it can be personal, it can be both.

AB: I think, touch wood, my God’s-graced, the personal achievement is that I am still with my family and I talk to them every day. We still live together, I can spend time with my parents and with my kids, I think that’s the biggest achievement above everything else.

KN: How many kids do you have?

AB: Two kids. My son is seven years old and my daughter is four years old.

KN: Cool, wonderful age.

MS: What hints would you give to young people that started to work on the IT market. They just graduated, they would like to start working with SQL Server.

AB: First, young folks who are just graduating or about to graduate, it’s not that they should choose working with the product. SQL Server, at the end of the day, is a relational database software so it’s a product. They should focus on building careers. What they love doing the most. Many young folks, and when I say “young people”, I’m of course keeping the India perspective in mind. When they think about jobs and when they think about careers, they always go by which job or which career is going to pay me the most. Shall I be a data scientist, is that going to pay me the most? Shall I be a developer and then I can move all the way and become an architect and project manager, is that going to pay me a lot? I would advise them not to run behind the job that is going to pay the most, but what THEY love doing the most. So if they love playing with data, then they should pursue that. If let’s say things like machine learning algorithms excite them, then they should start thinking about building their careers in that path. Because there’s a saying: “if you make your hobby as a profession, you’re most likely to succeed”. So take examples of leading sportsmen: Roger Federer or in cricket you take name of Sachin Tendulkar. They pursued their hobbies and converted into profession.

KN: So that kind of passion. Then you are happy with your work.

AB: Absolutely. Because then you enjoy what you are doing. And you’re not just doing that for the sake of doing a job. Because when you start doing something just because it’s a job and you have to do it, then you wouldn’t enjoy and you wouldn’t really be very successful, at least in the long run.

MS: What do you think about Microsoft’s certification program? Because it changed recently, so from the typical exams where you have 4 answers and then you’re just selecting one, into role-based certification.

AB: I think it’s a good change that Microsoft has done. I got to know about this change just now when you told me. Because Microsoft certifications were something that I left long back. I think my last certification was in 2001, and in 2000 I did MCDBA and then MCSD .NET. After that, I have never done any Microsoft certification. Of course, MCM was different but then it was a different category altogether. So if they have done this change, it’s very good because those MCQs like multiple-choice question format wasn’t really taking a candidate anywhere. And as we know, the way the industry is, how people used to send proxies to do the exams and the internet was flooded with brain dumps and you know, cheat sheets and whatnot, and people just used to have all these paper certificates. You just call them paper certificates. So you would actually see a guy with 10 to 12 different Microsoft certifications but when he sits down for an interview, he doesn’t really know anything. And then you realize. So yeah, it’s good that Microsoft has changed that and made the exam more role-based so that you could test practical skills of the candidate. So I think that’s a great move.

MS: Let’s talk a little bit about Azure Cloud etc. What do you think about the current trend of migration to the cloud. Is it going to replace SQL Server on-premise or not?

AB: No, I don’t think Azure Cloud would replace SQL Server. I would say it will complement SQL Server. So going forward, you might see more hybrid deployments, but that notion that SQL Server will go away or on-prem will go away, that’s not going to happen. At least I don’t see that in the near future. But hybrid is a reality that we are seeing, where companies are looking at new projects being deployed on the cloud. Critical data is on-prem but then some portion of data is moving on to the cloud. There a lot of these scenarios and use cases, I think that is a reality. And cloud has its own advantages. It also has disadvantages. It’s not that it’s always a rosy picture out there. Companies have suffered, they have burned their fingers, we see cloud is very cost effective but sometimes we see that it is five times more expensive than what it could have been on-prem. So those realities are there and companies and vendors like Microsoft or Amazon they’re fighting it out to see how it can benefit every entity.

MS: What do you think about the role of DBAs, database administrators within this hybrid environment? Is the role of DBA changing?

AB: Of course, the role of DBA is changing and that’s for good because a DBA was only managing let’s say on-prem SQL Servers. Most customers that I worked with DBAs, there were of course a few cases where DBAs were like so hardcore with only SQL Server, but then with most companies, I was seeing DBAs are managing SQL Server as well as a bit of Windows infrastructure. But with the advent of cloud, we are seeing that now they are managing these deployments on the cloud, they’re managing their Azure accounts and credentials, and their sequel deployments in the cloud. So that’s an expansion and extension to their skill set. And this has to happen and it is happening very naturally and gradually. I think DBAs should be more open to expanding their skill set rather than to really put so-called a no-show to this change, that “I am a SQL Server DBA and I want to remain that”. No, the attitude should be that you have to move forward with the trend.

MS: Until what point do you automate your environments? Are you a fan of automation?

AB: Yes, of course. Automation is about improving productivity. So it’s not about being a fan or not being a fan. I think it is more about the need of organizations. Large organizations with let’s say dozens and hundreds of deployments, they really cannot survive without automation. Think about installing, think about patching, think about taking multiple backups of databases across hundreds of servers. Without automation it’s just humanly impossible to achieve that kind of resilience and consistency.

MS: So once that’s forward, do you rely on automatic features like Plan Correction from Query Store?

AB: At this point, maybe I’m just slightly not up to date with using those features right now because I’m still working with many customers who are in slightly older versions or the current versions, like 2012, 2014, etc. We’ve done a few POCs, where we just tried to see how new versions behave etc., but maybe I need to have a little more experience and see real-world usage of that. But yeah, from what I hear from the community that these features are very promising, so hopefully they’ll definitely do good. I have my faith in the SQL team, they’re bringing all these good features, so I’m sure they’re doing that with due diligence and of course they’re very customer focused, which is a great thing about the product team. There’s so customer-focused, so everything that they’re doing in their product is based on customers’ feedback.

KN: For those customers that you are working with. Are they looking into migrating to Azure or how many of them are looking into such activities, in terms of percentage?

AB: So I can put it this way: let’s say 20 per cent approximately are looking for immediate migrations, in the sense that they definitely want some portion of data to go on cloud, so they’re immediately ready to do something. I mean a hybrid scenario. Right now, I have no customer who says “no, I want to shut down my on-prem and I just want to go to the cloud”. I have no one who had ever told me that, and I don’t have any customer in that category. So if percentage is what you are looking for, then we have 20 per cent who are ready to migrate now. Migrate means the hybrid model. I could say that about 30 to 40 per cent of our customers who are thinking about doing something in the cloud, they are maybe doing POCs or they are still deciding their roadmap and their investments for the next year or so. And then the remaining are still dormant. And there may be government institutions where things move very, very slow, the adoption is very slow. So there are industries like that. They’re dormant, so they are just running with what they have, and they just know that there is something called cloud but what it is and how it works and things like that they just don’t know right now.

MS: You have mentioned that you are learning every day, so what have you learned recently that was really interesting for you?

AB: The most recent thing that I learned is that… So we are doing this, in my demos I was doing these table-valued parameters. And with table-valued parameters, there are no statistics or indexes, with TVPs and TVFs. The cardinality estimator will always show you an estimated number of rows as one, but then I was trying to play around with recompile and I learned that “okay, with recompile you will still get some numbered, and in the new cardinality estimator, the estimation is hundred not one”. So yeah, these were a few new things that I just learned about when I was doing more research with the new cardinality estimator. That happened in recent pre-cons.

MS: Do you have any list of the items that you would like to learn in the future?

AB: Yes, in a summarized way, my learning list is of course to really go deep with some of the new features of SQL Server in the performance space. Query Store, Adaptive Query Processing, Intelligent Query Processing and all of that. I have overview of that because I’ve not dived very deep into it. And my diving deep is of different level altogether. So I want to spend quite a bit of time there with those things and upgrade myself there.

MS: You have mentioned that not many of your clients are ready for the cloud but what do you think about the “cloud-first, cloud-only” approach?

AB: “Cloud-first, cloud-only” approach I think is a statement that comes from Microsoft, from the product teams, because whenever they’re working on a new feature or designing something new, they think about cloud first. I think it’s good because they see that future is going towards cloud, so of course when you know that’s what the target is, then you will always keep that in mind. So I have nothing to criticize that approach. I think it’s good, but I think they should not forget the on-prem factor also, and I think it should be a balance of both.

KN: Which part of your work is the hardest?

MS: Is it travelling, delivering workshops?

KN: Preparing for workshops?

AB: Nothing is so hard as such. [laughs] I think the hardest part here is when too many things happen at the same time, because I have a team back in Calcutta, I have a team back in Bangalore and we’re doing community events also, and I’m traveling and doing conference sessions also. Then there is a masterclass coming up in March, we have to do some work for that also. Then there is some content recording going on. So when too many things happen. And then we are hiring new team members into our team. So when so many things pileup and are happening parallelly, then it gets a bit difficult to manage and coordinate.

KN: So you need to manage your teams, right? One team or more teams? You mentioned at least two teams.

AB: One team is in Calcutta, our Calcutta office, and the other team is in Bangalore, the Bangalore office. So there are two teams there, because we have two offices. So I manage both these teams.

KN: How many members do your teams have?

AB: My current SQLMaestros unit has about 20 team members.

KN: Nice, good. OK, Amit. Thank you very much for being a guest on this podcast. It was a pleasure to have you.

AB: Thank you very much for hosting me and inviting me for this interview. It took me by surprise but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and you made it so real. That’s the amazing part of it, so thank you very much.

MS: Thank you. The very last question is about where we or the listeners can find you. Twitter, website?

AB: Of course, just like anyone else, all channels are open. There is Twitter – @A_Bansal, that’s the Twitter handle. I’m there on LinkedIn as well. And what else? Of course I’m on Facebook. Probably the best is you go to Google, type Amit Bansal and I’ll show up. [laughs]

KN: Thank you very much again.

AB: Thank you, thank you.

Useful links

Amit R S Bansal – Twitter | Private Website | LinkedIn Profile| SQLMaestros Website |
Event: Data Platform Summit (India) | SQLBits (UK)

Post Scriptum

I may look pretty funny on the picture above actually. This is not a real suit what I have worn. SQLBits is also well known from Friday’s party and that was the time when we were conducting the conversation. So, it’s not my work suit – you see part of the party’s costume of mine.

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Kamil Nowinski
Kamil Nowinski 156 posts

Blogger, speaker. Data Platform MVP, MCSE. Senior Data Engineer & data geek. Member of Data Community Poland, co-organizer of SQLDay, Happy husband & father.

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