Tony Davis is an Editor with Red Gate Software, based in Cambridge (UK), specializing in databases, and especially SQL Server. He edits articles and writes editorials for both the and websites and newsletters, with a combined audience of over 1.5 million subscribers. You can sample his short-form writing at either his blog or his author page.

As the editor behind most of the SQL Server books published by Red Gate, he spends much of his time helping others express what they know about SQL Server. He is also the lead author of the book, SQL Server Transaction Log Management.

In his spare time, he enjoys running, football, contemporary fiction and real ale.

04 October 2016

Removing the Clutter from Graphs

You can quickly get an audience to see patterns and trends in data if you present that data graphically. Data visualization is often the most persuasive of mediums; and yet, it’s so easy to get it very wrong. With any of the rich variety of available data tools, it is the work of a moment … Read more
08 September 2016

JSON and the Arguments

Now that we’re getting better support for storing JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) in databases, what is it really giving us? Whatever else, the technique of “stuffing data into a JSON blob and adding an index” doesn’t always absolve us from the task of carefully designing and normalizing our database schema. There are many advantages, I’ll … Read more
30 August 2016

Why is Uninstalling SQL Server Such a Pain?

A developer friend of mine recently, upon the briefest mention of SQL Server, descended unexpectedly into a rant about the pain of getting rid of the blasted thing. I was somewhat taken aback. “Surely”, I protested, “the uninstall button is easy enough to find?” He shot me a pitying look; apparently it’s not as straightforward … Read more
11 August 2016

Software Animism

The tendency to attribute malice to inanimate objects is deeply entrenched in the human psyche. In a famous account from Ancient Greek times, a bronze statue caused the death of an angry demonstrator when it toppled onto him while he was whipping it with a flail. The statue was put on trial, found guilty of … Read more
03 June 2016


In a recent blog post, Jonathan Kehayias demonstrates a clever way to “multi-thread” maintenance tasks, when they need to run against very large (i.e. multiple terabyte) databases. The tool he used? Good old-fashioned Service Broker. Simply create some basic Service Broker objects, an activation procedure to automate Ola Hallengren’s maintenance procedures, bind the activation procedure … Read more
20 May 2016

SSMS Renaissance

For many good reasons, DBAs and database developers use SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), not SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT). It is a great relief for them, after several SQL Server releases-worth of general neglect, to see some renewed developmental vigor behind SSMS. Until the approach of SQL Server 2016, DBAs could have been forgiven … Read more
05 May 2016

9 Clickbait Simple Talk Titles You Won’t Believe Exist!

At Simple-Talk, we specialize in practical, down-to-earth technical articles, and usually choose our titles to match. There’s no mistaking what “Comparing Networking options in Azure“ might be about, for example. Nor is there much room to doubt what’s in store in “Debugging data flow in SQL Server Integration Services“. Are we wrong to be so … Read more
21 April 2016


Microsoft was slow to meet the demand to be able to store and retrieve data in JSON, the native data format of ubiquitous JavaScript-driven web sites and mobile applications. Its late entry into the market, Azure DocumentDB, still has a lot of ground to make up; in the meantime, MongoDB has managed to fill the … Read more
08 April 2016

Goodwill and hard learning at SQL Bits 15

SQL Bits XV, the official launch event for SQL Server 2016, begins in Liverpool, UK, on May 4, 2016. Simple-Talk is a strong supporter of this event, and for good reasons; it’s a fantastic training event, and also one of those that feels “right” from the moment you enter the venue. There are so many … Read more
11 March 2016

A Programmer Walks Into a Bar…

Conference season is upon us. Sessions, hands-on labs, round table debates, so many opportunities for learning! Of course what they don’t admit on the conference websites and brochures is that all the important business at a conference takes place not in the sessions, but at the many impromptu social events, usually at a local ale … Read more
25 February 2016

Push-Button Database Deployment?

Much of what we do in IT seems easy, from a distance; even the modification of a live functioning database while preserving production data. However, any DBA who isn’t gripped by a cold terror at the prospect has probably never been responsible for a live trading OLTP system, on which an organization depends. A lot … Read more
11 February 2016

Does Anyone Do This Stuff

“Does anyone actually do this stuff?” This question came from a member of the audience at one of Brent Ozar’s training classes on SQL Server Database Continuous Integration. Mercifully, plenty of people confirmed in the comments that Database CI was alive and well, which was a relief, since I’d been toiling for several days on … Read more
28 January 2016

A Database to Diagram for

I’m no database designer but I do occasionally need to build a very simple database model, no more than a small handful of tables, to test out some code for an article or presentation. The other day, I was indulging in my usual habit of slowly tapping out CREATE and ALTER TABLE statements in SQL, … Read more
14 January 2016

Real Developer Heroics

One of the strange paradoxes of team development is that effort beyond the call of duty is generally discouraged. Developers who are new to team working assume that, if they work wonders to solve apparently intractable programming problems in record time, then all around them will smile in gratitude. The instinct to solve problems is … Read more
31 December 2015

The Genuine Article

On Simple-Talk, we try to make sure that Information Technology is presented in an interesting way. We all tend to have more patience with a pedestrian article or blog that has information that solves an immediate problem, and we find the necessary energy to wade through the dull bits to get to the nectar. More … Read more
18 December 2015

Workplace Politics

The IT workplace can often be stressful when untoward things happen. Maybe, it is business managers who demand new platforms, applications, and functionality to support bold new strategic objectives. The IT team, perhaps, begins to crack under pressure of an ever-increasing backlog of work to unrealistic deadlines while somehow holding together a creaking and patched-together … Read more
03 December 2015

Squaring the NoSQL Circle

NoSQL was a bold new revolution. Many of these databases are schema-less, or rather the schema is implicitly defined by the developer, and therefore is flexible and can evolve. NoSQL databases lend themselves to very simple key-value access patterns; there is no need to design complex relations, or perform joins in ‘archaic’ languages such as … Read more
19 November 2015

Issue Tracking Systems: Good Servant, Bad Master

Over time, many bug and issue tracking systems decline into a graveyard for bug-reports, a place where problems are buried rather than resolved. I’m not a developer but even so, any mention of bug-tracking systems elicits unhappy memories. I was once one of the Business ‘stakeholders’ for a system. We performed user-acceptance tests to check … Read more
23 October 2015

The Terror of Talking Technical

I have to admit that I’m not a ‘natural’ with presentations. My colleagues have caught the occasional look of panic as I prepare my presentation for Redgate’s SQL in the City event in Seattle (Oct 26). It’s on the topic of “Uncovering SQL Server Query Problems with Execution Plans”, a topic near to my heart … Read more
14 October 2015

SQL in the City: My Imminent Execution (Plans)

Redgate’s SQL in the City events are imminent, first in London (Oct 16) and then in Seattle (Oct 26). I’m speaking at both events, on the topic of “Uncovering SQL Server Query Problems with Execution Plans”. I’ve often heard developers confess, sheepishly, that they very rarely look at execution plans. They haven’t the time for … Read more

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