Monday, November 30, 2009

How do -You- use SQL Server

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I had the great pleasure of meeting Jorge Segerra (Blog | Twitter), @SQLChicken on Twitter. We got together for an hour or so at a Starbuck’s in Tampa, talking about all kinds of things, SQL and otherwise. The conversation got around to SQL Saturday coming up in Tampa, and Jorge invited me to present, to which I replied, “What would I talk about?” Eventually we got it down to I should discuss how I use SQL Server at work. I find I have a sort of unique type of work environment with SQL Server. I told Jorge that I wondered what other people do with the product, and he suggested I ask the question in my blog, so here we are.

In the spirit of the chain of posts that asked folks how they got started in SQL Server, I would like to tag a few folks and ask the question… What do you do with SQL Server in your work? I know in general terms, people do dev or admin, backups, restores, or some combination of those, but I’m curious about a little more detail.

For instance, what goes on in my place of work is, in a few words, like this. We are a marine electronics manufacturing facility – we make fishfinders and related accessories. Originally, we got SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition as part of a package that laser engraves barcodes on printed circuit boards, serializing them so we have traceability through the manufacturing process. The board serial becomes the fishfinder unit’s serial number that the end user uses to register his unit with us after he buys it, and for software upgrades, etc.

During the manufacturing process, I can grab the data gathered at various electronic test points, by way of the test software sending test data to SQL Server as the tests are completed. With this data, I can get manufacturing rates and yields, which get reported both in realtime in the form of charts displayed on a projection screen on the production floor, and in reports that management reviews every other day. Both the charts and reports are excel files, in which I use Microsoft Query to communicate with SQL Stored procedures to retrieve the data, and then use Excel tools to display it, sort it, do what-if scenarios, charts, etc.

We are owned by a parent company, which uses J.D. Edwards World Enterprise database (which is running on top of a SQL Server 2000 instance) to run the business, and we have been having our parent company send some of the enterprise data to our SQL Server, such as work orders, part number lists, etc, which I join in with the tables on our local SQL box to be able to combine data for reports. We are in the beginning stages of sending data the other way, into JDE, to automate completions to close work orders, etc.

Also, lately, we have been using our employee time management company send hours, which are collected automatically from digital time clocks on the network, through a secure FTP connection, which I also copy into tables on SQL, joining them with the rates and yields collected, to be able to then report on Labor Efficiency.

All of the above I plan to break down into a coherent set of slide decks, to present at a SQL Saturday, the details of how these things get in and get out, the T-SQL code I’ve written, etc. For right now, though, as I said in the beginning, I’m curious as to what, in general but more detail then “I’m a DBA” you do in your workplace. How do you use SQL Server, what kinds of uses have you found for it, what in your environment benefits from it, etc?

I’ve been, as some of you know, trying to learn SQL Server, and this is part of my journey of knowledge. Knowing how other people use the product, what goes on in the industry, these are things of which I have no knowledge, and would like to.

To start the round-robin off, I would like to specifically tag Jorge Segarra (you knew that one was coming didn’t you?) and also Denny Cherry (Blog | Twitter) and Grant Fritchey (Blog | Twitter), just because they’re such interesting folks :) Personally, because I’m from New England, I’d also like to hear from Adam Machanic (Blog | Twitter), and Mike Walsh (Blog | Twitter).


  1. Good idea for a blog post. Thanks for the tag even if it means I'm not interesting but just a New Englander ;-)

    I'll think of a few ways we use it. Won't be terribly glamarous but I'll do my best.

  2. At least you're a New Englander. I guess growing up in Oklahoma has me voted out of the club... but then again, I HATE winter here, so maybe I'm not a New Englander.

  3. I hate our winters also and I have never lived anywhere other than New England :)

  4. I tell you what, I have been away for seven years, and, even though I always said that I hated New England Winters, I think that is what I miss most of all from home is simply winter. We got a light snow one afternoon here last year, I took video to capture such a rare sight!