One of the most valuable SQL Server resources on the face of the planet was launched a few weeks ago; alas not many folks seem to know about it yet. The Microsoft SQL Server Customer Advisory Team blog at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=19E6C:285886 is a resource you need to bookmark and browse often.

Have you ever heard of the SQL Server Customer Advisory Team (SQLCAT)? Probably not, although you might recognize some of the team members' names as you browse through the list of current team members at the end of this commentary. The SQLCAT's mission is to travel the world to support highly advanced SQL Server projects and make them successful. To accomplish this mission, team members interact with the development and product support teams at Microsoft to share knowledge and best practices gleaned from the good, the bad, and the ugly they observe in the real world.

Not surprisingly, fixing the world's toughest SQL Server projects requires some of the world's smartest SQL Server people. The SQLCAT has some of the best available any where in the world, and I don't say that lightly. Many people in the SQL Server community look to MVPs, speakers, and writers for answers and guidance. The smartest of those experts look to people on the SQLCAT for answers and guidance.

Until now, it was hard for the average DBA to get access to SQLCAT members. No, they probably didn't visit your customer site, and no you probably didn't have their direct email addresses. Instead regular folks relied on the experts who did have access to the SQLCAT to disseminate the knowledge and best practices that the team acquired. But now, you can get regular, useful tips yourself by reading the team's blog.

I won't spend any time this week diving into any of the cool items I've already found on the SQLCAT blog. But trust me, it's top notch stuff. Most important, it should turn out to be a key resource for learning about new SQL Server 2005 best practices as they're uncovered live in the field rather than waiting for the information to filter out months later in Microsoft white papers.

SQL Server Customer Advisory Team Members:

Mark Souza--More than 23 years working on RDBMS technology with more than 12 years on Microsoft SQL Server. He manages the team.
Tom Davidson--More than 25 years working with database technology with more than 10 years on SQL Server. He specializes in performance and tuning.
Prem Mehra--More than 35 years in the database industry specializing in IO technologies and high availability.
Bren Newman--More than 12 years working with SQL Server and a former member of the replication development team.
Stuart Ozer--More than 25 years of database experience. He has built more TB+ data warehouses than I can count.
Prakash Sundaresan--More than 7 years on the SQL Server Engine development team. Knows the Query Processor inside and out.
Kevin Cox--New to the SQLCAT unit, he brings 25 years of industry experience and strong SSIS and OLTP skills.
Howard Yin--Another newbie SQLCAT guy, he comes from Oracle originally, but we let him join us anyway. All-around great skills with the product.
Lubor Kollar--More than 17 years of database-engine development and more than 9 years with SQL Server. Currently a member of SQLCAT with ongoing background responsibility as Group Program Manager on the SQL Server Engine development team.
Gert Drapers--Has recently moved to the Visual Studio team to create cool database development tools but is allowed lifelong membership to SQLCAT. Also the best SQL Server developer in the world.