SQL Server with Mr. Denny


October 14, 2011  6:52 PM

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a Confio umbrella

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Since I didn’t make it to the SQL PASS keynotes this morning, I figured that I’d tell you about another little event that happened late last night.  Last night there was a SQL PASS first.  There was a wedding here at the PASS summit.  Tamera Clark (blog | @tameraclark) and Terry Tyler (blog | @airbornegeek) who are both DBAs, and first time attendees decided a while back that if they both were able to come to the SQL PASS summit that they would get married at the SQL PASS summit.  This wasn’t exactly a rash decision on their part as they’ve been living together for many years. Conveniently enough I’m a registered minister and they asked me to perform the ceremony.

The wedding was very short and was held down by the water over looking Waterfront Park here in Seattle, WA just a short walk from the Washington State Convention Center and all our hotels.  Microsoft sponsored the rehearsal dinner (there was a Microsoft sponsored Tweet Up that everyone in the wedding party went to) before hand.  Confio was kind enough to provide the “bouquet” (it was a Confio umbrella that was given out to first timers, so it was new, borrowed as well as blue).  And PASS was kind enough to sponsor the wedding reception (the annual PASS party over at Game Works) which the happy couple and several of the wedding guests went to.

I’ve got to say, this was definitely a first for the SQL PASS summit and for me and I’m so glad that they offered to let me be a part of their wedding.  Pat Wright was kind enough to take some pictures before, during and after the wedding ceremony which either he or Tamara and Terry will be posting online somewhere when they get a chance.  Please join me in congratulating the happy couple either here, on their blogs somewhere or on Twitter.

Hopefully next year the SQL PASS summit can be just as awesome as this years was (really is as it isn’t over yet).  It sure as hell will be hard to beat this year.

Denny

October 13, 2011  4:50 PM

SQL PASS 2011 Keynote Day 2

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Welcome to SQL PASS Summit Keynote on Day 2.  Today was another day of announcements made by Quentin Clark who is the Corporate VP for Microsoft who is in charge of the SQL Server database engine.

Quentin started his talk about how SQL Server 2012 will improve the way that SQL Server provides many 9s of up time with the introduction of Always On.  The StreamInsight feature now also includes an HA option which will allow you to keep the SteamInsight system processing all the time.

The first demo for todays keynote was my favorite SQL Server 2012 feature, Always On.  In the demo the showed a three node cluster which hosted the production application with the cluster in two data centers.  During the demo the presenter quickly and easily setup.  After setting up a readable secondary the Availability Group was marked within the Always On routing configuration as a readable secondary and the reporting services reports were configured to automatically route their connections to the readable secondary in order to keep the reporting workload off of the production SQL Server.  (I’ll be blogging more about this feature later.)

In the second part of the keynote Quentin talk about the ColumnStore indexes and how this feature will make running reports and data analysis much, much quicker.  Quentin then talked about how PowerPivot has been enhanced, specifically when implemented along with SharePoint which will allow users to create their own reports within the IT controlled platform of SharePoint (which is great unless you don’t have / can’t afford SharePoint).

The next demo was for a set of features which are the Data Quality Services (DQS) and Master Data Services (MDS) features.  DQS is a pretty cool feature which allows you to clean up data problems like incorrect lat/long based on the address of a location by using data from the SQL Azure data market place.  During the demo there were a couple of stores which were located in the middle of the water around Seattle.  By using DQS the stores location was able to be quickly and easily moved from the middle of the water to the correct location in Seattle.

Quentin then talked about the Fast Track program which allows hardware vendors to sell pre-packaged, pre-configured systems with SQL Server on them which can make it easier for customers to purchase their SQL Server servers.  Another great program that Microsoft has is the appliance solution where you can get a server from the vendor up and running in just a couple of hours ready for data to be loaded into it.

Microsoft introduced the HP Enterprise Database Consolidation Appliance.  This system is basically a private cloud appliance which is a rack of servers with 192 cores, 400 disk drives (supporting up to 60k SQL Server IOs) and 2 TB of RAM.  This can be purchased as a half rack or a full rack appliance.  As I understand this appliance this is effectively a Windows Hyper-V cluster where you can fire up VMs within the system quickly and easily.  Where the system really saves you is the ability to deploy as a single unit quickly and easily without having to manually test all the components as HP will be testing and certifying that the hardware is working correctly before shipping the unit.  From the support side of things you get a single phone number to call in order to get support for both the hardware as well as the software.

The next announcement for today was a traditional ODBC driver for the Linux platform in order applications running on non-Microsoft platforms that can connect to a SQL Server database without any real change to the application.  Quentin also announced that Change Data Capture was now supported for SSIS as well as Oracle (not really sure what this means or how this works).

Semantic search was the next feature which was demoed.  Semantic Search is used along with the new file table feature which can load files into the database through the file system, then Semantic Search can be used to read the files and not just make the values searchable but it can understand the data within the files so that you can find files based on specific searches but you can then find related documents to what you just found by using not just specific search terms but by using the original document to find the matches.

Another name change for this week is that project Juneau is now called SQL Server Data Tools.

You can now from within SQL Server Management Studio right click on a database and migrate the database directly to SQL Azure.  This is done by creating a  DACPAC (v2.0) and pushing it to the Azure with just a few clicks.  Another Azure feature which is now supported is the ability to backup local or Azure database to Azure file storage by creating what is called a bacpac which is then copied to the Azure file storage.  So for we haven’t seen a way to do this through T/SQL.  You can also use this technology to backup your Azure database to the Azure file storage then use SSMS to connect to the file storage and restore the database to a local SQL Server instance for dev and testing.

SQL Server Azure is now supporting federations on the database side of the Azure platform in order to dynamically scale the database platform quickly and easily through the management portal without any application changes.  With the next year end release of SQL Azure larger databases up to 150 Gigs will be supported as well as the ability to use a different collation (this is using contained databases).

Available today in CTP Microsoft has introduced the SQL Azure Reporting CTP as well as the SQL Azure Data Sync CTP.  The reporting CTP allows you run SSRS reports from the SQL Azure cloud.  The Data Sync CTP (which is the final CTP) allows you to easily sync data between a local instance and an Azure instance or from an Azure instance to a SQL instance at another cloud provider.

Hopefully you are as excited about some of these new features as I am, as some of this stuff just looks really, really cool.

Denny


October 12, 2011  5:02 PM

SQL PASS Keynote notes

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Today was Day 1 of the SQL PASS summit.  Today there were a few announcements during the keynotes which if you didn’t see on the live streaming site you probably want to hear about.

During the PASS portion of the keynote we also heard about the massive amount of training the the SQL PASS organization provides to the community.  PASS has counted over 430,000 hours of training which has been delivered to PASS members.  That number will sky rocket over the next three days as people go through the SQL PASS summit sessions.

There was a great shout out during the keynote for the SQL MVP Deep Dives book which was officially released at the PASS Summit.  This book, which if you aren’t aware of was written by 55 different SQL Server MVPs with all the profits going to Operation Smile.

The first and probably most important announcement was the official name of the SQL Server “Denali” product which is officially named SQL Server 2012 and will be released in the first half of the year 2012.  These announcements as well as the rest of the keynote was given by Ted Kummert the Senior VP for Business Platform Tools (aka. Bus Plat) of the SQL Server product at Microsoft.

There was a lot of talk from Ted about the Azure cloud which is a big change from the on premise installations of SQL Server that Microsoft has been selling for the last 20 years.  The reason for the big push is that a lot of customers are moving some data up to Azure.  Now don’t worry this doesn’t mean that on site installs are going away.  Microsoft is working hard on great new features which will be coming out in the future releases of the SQL Server product that we know and love.  Azure simply gives you a additional choice besides building and running systems on site so that you can be more flexible and so that you don’t need to worry about things like hardware and patching which is all taken care of for you in the Azure cloud.

If you are a used of “Project Crescent” this has been officially named “Power View” (I’ve been asked to tell you that there is a space in the name).  It was also hinted during the keynote that more BI tools will be introduced to SQL Azure in 2012.  What flavor this comes in is any ones guess, but it’ll be an interesting thing to see for sure.

Ted also spoke specifically about Big Data and some of the directions that people will be going with big data.  Companies today simply don’t throw any data away, and some times that data is unstructured and that’s really the best way of using the data.  Microsoft will be getting into this market more with the distributed compute platform which means that Microsoft will be supporting Hadoop as a part of the data platform.  This means that you’ll be able to run Hadoop on Microsoft Windows as well as on the Azure platform.

As of last week you can get the Apache Hadoop connector for SQL Server and the PDW platform so that you can connect SQL Server to Hadoop.  Future releases include the Hadoop based distribution that I spoke about above, as well as an ODBC driver and add-in for Excel and office to make it easier for people to get Hadoop data into the office platforms.  I think that this is really a big game changer as this allows for a very different data storage platform than they are used to with traditional databases platforms.  Microsoft will have a CTP version of their Hadoop platform available on SQL Azure before the end of the 2011 year.

Microsoft announced “Data Explorer” which allows users to do self service BI without realizing that they are doing self service BI.  This allows users to easily see and read the data, most importantly taking the data and turning it into information that they can use to drive the company quickly and easily.  I’m not going to bore you with anything about this demo as it sucked.  They pretty much lost the audience within a couple of minutes.

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow as there will be more great announcements from Microsoft during tomorrow’s keynote.

Denny



October 11, 2011  11:11 PM

SQL PASS Summit Before the Conference Starts

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

The SQL PASS Summit is getting ready to begin.  If you are attending the SQL PASS summit I hope that you have already arrived in Seattle so that you can have some fun tonight at the events before getting started at the conference tomorrow.

Things you can look forward to tonight at the PASS summit include the welcome reception in the convention center at 6:30pm in 6ABC (also called the Dell Ballroom).  If you are a first timer there is the first timers session tonight before the welcome reception at 5:30 or 6pm.

If you weren’t able to make it to the SQL PASS summit this year, don’t forget to check out the great keynotes each morning at 8:15am pacific time which are being streamed live on the web.

Denny


October 10, 2011  2:00 PM

SSRS runs some crappy queries against the ReportServer Database

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

While doing some research for my Half Day SQL PASS Session with Stacia Misner (blog | @staciamisner) I discovered that some of the queries which the SSRS engine runs against the ReportServer database are less than perfect total crap.  My specific problem is that there are key lookups on the bulk of the queries.

Granted most of the queries results are pretty small, but these queries run every 10 seconds, and crap running every 10 seconds adds up to a whole lot of crap.

Below are some indexes you can create to resolve these problems.  Keep in mind that adding this will probably make Microsoft not help you if you call, so be sure to delete the indexes if you call CSS for support.

These indexes will minimize the index scans and key lookups.  I can’t remove all of them because of the way that the queries and the schema are designed and I’m not about to go around changing the schema of the tables or hacking the inline code of the SSRS UI.  So while these indexes won’t fix every problem, some is better then none.

CREATE NONCLUSTERED INDEX [mrdenny_IX_Notifications3] ON [dbo].[Notifications]
(
[NotificationEntered] ASC,
ProcessStart,
ProcessAfter
)
include (NotificationID)
GO
CREATE INDEX mrdenny_PK_Catalog on dbo.Catalog
(ItemID)
include (Path, Type, PolicyId)
GO
CREATE INDEX mrdenny_IX_Event_TimeEntered on dbo.Event
(ProcessStart, TimeEntered)
include (EventID)
GO
CREATE INDEX mrdenny_IX_BatchID on dbo.Event
(BatchID, TimeEntered)
include (EventID, EventType, EventData)
with (drop_existing=on)
GO
CREATE INDEX mrdenny_IX_UpgradeID on dbo.ServerUpgradeHistory
(UpgradeID DESC)
include (ServerVersion)
GO


October 6, 2011  2:00 PM

SQLFun a great way to meet people and make friends

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

The SQL PASS summit is quickly approaching, and with the excitement of large conferences comes the worry of what to do during the week.  How am I going to meet people, what am I going to do after hours or during the day when there is a session that I don’t want to attend?

This is a question that myself and two good friends Andy Warren (blog | @sqlandy) and Steve Jones (blog | @way0utwest) were kicking around last night (it’s amazing what you can do over email when everyone is in a different time zone) and we’ve come up with a solution that will hopefully work for everyone, and the best part is that using it is free.  If you’d like to go somewhere for dinner, post it up on eventbrite.com as a free event for people to attend with a limited number of attendees (if your event is free, then Event Bright doesn’t charge).  Then to get yourself a little free publicity post the info up on the passsummitevents.info website.  Once the event is approved (which I’ll try and do as quickly as humanly possible) it’ll be up on the site and it’ll be blasted out to the world under the #sqlfun hash tag by the SQL_Fun twitter account.  (At the moment the links aren’t working on mobile browsers, I’m working with the developer of the site to get that fixed before the summit.)

The Event Brite info is great because it gives you a way to easily limit the attendee list, because as Andy points out in his blog post (which is much more professionally written than this one) “It’s a lot easier to get a table for four than a restaurant for 150.”

There are lots of big events that happen at the PASS summit such as the Welcome Reception, GameWorks party, SQL Photo Walk, SQL Karaoke (most of these are posted up passummitevents.info already) and the various vendor parties (if you are lucky enough to get an invite to those).  What we are talking about with this setup is more informal smaller get togethers.  If you want to go down to Pikes Place Market for Breakfast on Tuesday (which I highly recommend you do at least once while you are in Seattle) this would be a great thing to get out.  You’ll find some great people to talk to and have some company for breakfast.

Andy has started everyone off with Donuts & Coffee with SQLAndy/Tuesday Morning, so if you are interested go and check it out.  And if not then think about throwing something up there and I’m pretty sure that you’ll find some people who are interested in joining you.

So go and put a dinner or a morning walk around town up on the site, and see who responds.  Personally I would love it to see 100+ items up there before the summit starts next week.

Now if this is your first time at the PASS summit, or your first time in Seattle at all then be sure to check out the first timers video that I recorded a few weeks ago.  In it I’ve got some ideas for things to do around town that don’t require driving, drinking, or thinking about SQL Server.

See you in Seattle,

Denny


October 4, 2011  7:58 PM

New SQL 2008 R2 SP1 trace flag adjusts autostats threshold

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

I recently learned about a new trace flag which has been introduced in SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 (and SQL Server “Denali”).  This trace flag, number 2371, changes the way that the SQL Server figures out when auto-stats should kick in.

Up until now auto-stats was fixed to kick in every time that the column (or table in the older versions) had 20% + 500 rows change.  With the new flag turned on auto stats now stats static at the old value up until the row has 25,000 rows in it.  At this point the percentage of rows that need to change before auto-stats kicks in gets smaller and smaller as the table grows.Click To Enlarge As you can see from the included graph as the number of rows in the table gets higher the percentage of rows that needs to changes gets very small with tables in the 100M row range needing only 0.31% of the rows to change (310,000 rows).  Because of this the odds of a large table having auto stats kick in is much greater than before, in the range of 20 to 60 times greater according to the SAP on SQL Server blog (the same place I stole the graph from).  As Microsoft points out in their blog post by updating stats this much more frequently new stats could be generated in just a couple of days instead of waiting for weeks or months for new stats to be generated.

Like everything in SQL Server, nothing is free.  Keep in mind that when auto-stats kicks in for a column or table all the execution plans for that table or column will be invalidated and new plans will be generated.  If auto-stats were to kick in, in the middle of the day this could cause performance problems while the new plans are being generated which would be seen as slow query run times and increased CPU load on the SQL Server as well as increased IO load when you aren’t expecting it as update stats goes through reading the data in the table.

This trace flag was specifically designed for the “stupid large” databases in the world that are running OLTP workloads such as when running SAP on SQL Server which can generate some insanely large OLTP tables.

Microsoft currently doesn’t have an recommendations on when to turn on this trace flag, as finding companies with “stupid large” databases to test stuff on is tricky at best.

If you have one of these “stupidly large” databases and you find yourself having to manually update stats (probably via a scheduled job unless you really hate yourself) and you have SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 installed then you might want to check out this trace flag and see if it helps you out.  Personally I’ve got a system I’d love to try this out on, and I’ll be getting that system upgraded to SP1 shortly so I can give it a try.

I wouldn’t expect this trace flag to be back ported down to SQL Server 2008 or SQL Server 2005.

Denny


October 4, 2011  7:36 PM

Let have lunch and talk storage

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

This year at the SQL PASS summit I’m once again taking a lunch table for the Birds of a Feather lunch on Friday.  And even better than last year I don’t have a session that I’m presenting right before lunch so I’ll actually be there on time (last year I was like 30 minutes late because of Q&A in my session).

The topic of the Birds of a Feather lunch is storage (officially it’s “Storage with mrdenny”).  If you’d like to chat about storage and SQL Server come on by and have some lunch (you’ve got to eat anyway right) and lets talk over some storage problems that you may be having in your shop, or just answer some questions that you have.

Denny


October 3, 2011  8:22 PM

Going to the PASS Summit? Better bring those silly little pieces of paper with you.

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

No I’m not talking about something to take notes on during the sessions (you’ll want that as well, either paper or digital).  But you’ll want to bring some business cards.  Even if you aren’t a consultant, business cards are a great way to give someone your contact info so that you can get in touch later to talk about what ever it is that needs following up on.

You may have a technical question that you want to give someone more info about, or a business idea, or maybe you ran into someone who works in the same area of the world as you and you want to get together for lunch and chat somewhere slightly less crazy than the summit.  Being able to hand out cards is a much better idea than having everyone write your info down on their hand like back in high school.  One spilled drink and all that contact info would be lost.

Now personally I’ve gone a step further and made it even easier to get my contact info from my card into your phone or computer.  When you look at the back of my cards you’ll see a Microsoft Tag that will automatically put my contact info into your phone when you use the Microsoft Tag viewer to take a picture of it.  These tags are great, and free because personally I hate entering a few dozen new contacts into Outlook (I’ve got an app on my phone call CamCard that will do most of the work these days).  And the logo that the Microsoft Tag uses is all colorful adding a little extra splash of color.  If you don’t want to use a Microsoft tag, you can also use a QR Code to do the same kind of thing.

Now it’s probably to late to order cards in time for the PASS summit without paying a fortune for shipping, but if you don’t have any you can hit up Office Max or the Fed Ex stores (the ones that used to be Kinko’s) as they both have same day printing options that look OK (the paper stock they use isn’t the best) and won’t kill you on price.  If you are really desperate you can grab the print at home kits.  I’ve tried these and wasn’t all that thrilled with the results, but I was printing on a ink-jet printer.  If you have access to a nice color laser printer at the office you might be better results.

If you run into someone that you’d like to get in touch with later, give them your card and get one back from them.  We pay for these things for a reason, lets use them to make some new friends.

Denny


October 3, 2011  2:00 PM

It’s MVP Award time again

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Well this weekend was a very stressful weekend for about 764 of the Microsoft MVPs world wide, including myself.  You see this weekend was October 1st which is a Microsoft MVP award day.  This means that these 764 Microsoft MVPs woke up this morning and frantically checked there email looking for a notice from Microsoft saying that they had been awarded the Microsoft MVP award again.  There were 143 MVPs who received the award for the first time.

Apparently someone at Microsoft enjoys my writing and speaking as well as getting yelled at by me.  Because when I got up on the 1st I found a nice email in my mailbox from Microsoft telling me that I had been awarded the Microsoft MVP award again.

Congrats to all the other October MVP award winners both new and re-awarded MVPs.

May thanks to my wife Kris for letting me spend all on my free time working on various stuff for the community.  And thanks to everyone in the community to buying books, coming to my webcasts and to come see me speak at the various events.  The SQL Server MVP award wouldn’t exist without the great community that we have here in the SQL Server community.

Denny


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