This week I am at a training course put on by Paul Randal (blog | twitter) and Kimberly Tripp (blog | twitter) entitled "SQL Immersion." It is essentially a 5-day deep dive into some of the more important bowels of the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Internals book they co-wrote with Kalen Delaney, Adam Machanic and Conor Cunningham – with a lot of extra information, insight, experience and interactivity thrown in.
I am seeing a lot of benefits from this already. The additional insight around what's printed in the book or in Books Online is invaluable; and the experience Paul and Kimberly have had with real live customers yields a lot more information and things to watch out for than you'd ever get from the documentation alone. There are also several concepts that I learned in a practical sense rather than a textbook sense, and the instruction has helped reinforce my existing knowledge and fill in the gaps. I can already see how I will be looking at some architecture created several years ago and deemed "good enough" – but now, armed with new information, definitely considering them to be "sub-par."
On the flip side, work is taking a bit of a hit. This was to be expected, as I picked a week where my workload was naturally not very high in the first place (between release phases). But some issues have come up (as they inevitably will), and I'm feeling a bit behind as of this moment.
Now, I'm making up for that by doing work and checking up on things both during breaks and at night. But I'll be the first to admit that I can't be 100% focused during those shorter spurts – especially because the course can be slightly exhausting. And on top of this, I am also spending much of my free time preparing arrangements for our wedding in October, refinancing the house, dealing with 6" of water in the basement of my rental property…
Anyway, would I highly recommend an extensive training course like this, even if it is more refresher than new material? Absolutely! This has been an amazing experience, and it's barely half over. Just be sure the course aligns with a week where you can let other responsibilities slide a little – I know I'll be paying for this next week. But it's 100% worth it.