SQL Server with Mr. Denny


April 25, 2011  2:00 PM

We get many warnings in our SQL error log about I/O requests taking longer than 15 seconds to complete. What do we do in such scenario?

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

There are a few things which you will want to look at.  First make sure that you have enough RAM for the database to use.  Without enough RAM in the SQL Server you’ll begin putting extra load on the disks because the same data is being pulled into the buffer cache from the disk over and over.

The second thing to check is that you don’t need to add any additional indexes.  If your queries are doing scan’s which they shouldn’t be then this will put extra load on the disks.

If everything else looks good it’s time to get the boss to open their checkbook and buy more disks, or faster disks.

Denny

April 21, 2011  11:00 AM

Is there a best practice to advise a storage admin how to set a SAN up best for SQL Server OLTP & OLAP? or is this entirely company dependent?

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

There are some general best practices such as separate data and log LUNs, separate TempDB from everything else.  For data warehouses make sure that the data is spread over as many disks as possible.  Anything more specific however is very company specific and would require a good understanding of what the databases look like as well as what the storage array looks like.

Denny


April 18, 2011  2:00 PM

For SQL, best practice is to have data on one array, logs on another array and tempdb on another array. how does this work in san world? SAN people don’t really give all these options when assigning storage for database server.

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Even when using a storage array it is typically best practice to have the data on one LUN, logs on another LUN, and tempdb on another LUN.  Especially if you have the option to putting each LUN on different physical disks.  If you I talked a little more about this a couple of weeks ago, so check there more some more detail.

Denny


April 14, 2011  2:00 PM

So you’ve changed the text display settings, and SSMS still won’t show more than 256 characters.

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

By default SQL Server Management Studio will only show you 256 characters per column.  The fix for this is pretty easy.  You click on Tools > Options to being up the options menu.  From there navigate to Query Results > SQL Server > Results To Text.  Change the “Maximum number of characters displayed in each column” value from 256 to what ever number you want up to 8192.  After you click OK the setting will be saved.

Here’s where the trick comes in.  The setting doesn’t actually take effect until you restart SQL Server Management Studio.  There is no prompt to restart, but a restart is required because apparently SQL Server Management Studio only reads this setting on start up.

Thanks Manageability Team.

Denny


April 13, 2011  1:19 AM

Some job descriptions just have to be shared

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

So I’m going along doing my work thing, shrinking databases rebooting servers at random, etc. and I get an email some of which I’ve included below asking if I’d be interested in this job opening.  I’ve cut out the names, etc. to protect the stupid.

Below is the response that I sent back.

Industry Confidential
Location Palo Alto, CA
Job Title SQL Server DBA
Duration 03 month(s)(Possible Extension)
Profile/ Job description
  • The SQL Database Administrator is part of a data center team providing application and infrastructure support for a large healthcare engagement. The SQL Database Administrator is responsible for managing and monitoring database platforms which support multiple OLTP and OLAP applications. THE SQL Database Administrator will also be responsible for installing and configuring a high availability, and disaster recovery environments and planning upgrades and patches as required to maintain each environment.

Specific responsibilities will include:

  • Working experience with SLA’s
  • Monitor software database license process
  • Monitor performance activity
  • Familiar with Clustered environment and load balancing when required
  • Hands on experience with Mirroring, replication and recovery models
  • Hands on experience on performance monitoring and database counters
  • Manage technical action reports to resolve bugs/issues with DBMS software
  • Support capacity planning
  • Participate in implementing database strategies and solutions
  • Provide database maintenance activities
  • Monitor database logs for potential problems
  • Participate in planning software upgrades and patches
  • Provide outage resolution support and perform analysis to resolve recurring database issues
  • Install and configure DBMS
  • Provide database support for software development/application projects
  • Verify database backups have completed successfully
Basic Qualification:
  • 2+ years Database Administrator experience
  • 2+ years SQL 2000, 2005, 2010
  • 2+ years MCITP – Microsoft SQL 2008 Database Administrator
  • 2+ years MCDBA 2003/2005
  • Adaptive Server Enterprise Administrator professional certification
  • MCITP: SQL Server 2008 Database Administrator
  • MCDBA 2003/2005 Certification
Professional Skill Requirements
  • Operations Management
  • Project Management
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA) Management
  • Problem Solving and Escalation Management
  • Service Performance Management and Metrics
  • Estimation and Planning
Travel/Shift Hours/OT Requirements Minimal travel.

  • Work location is Palo Alto and candidates must live within a 100 mile radius of client site locations. Will require shift work and on-call duty and off-hours and weekend work as needed, as this project is a 24 x 7 support team.
Preferred Skills:
  • Detail Oriented
  • Quality and Process Improvement
  • Microsoft Office Proficient

If you would like to pursue this position, please reply to this e-mail and provide us details in following areas. Also, please attach a copy of your updated resume, in word format, elaborating your projects in tune with the client’s requirement. This will assist us in placing you with one of our clients.

Here’s what I sent back.

You should probably work with your client to get some actual requirements.

If you are going to list the Industry as “Confidential” you probably shouldn’t mention it in the job description.

There is no such thing as SQL 2010.
There is no certification as the MCDBA 2003.
There is no certification as the MCDBA 2005.

You want someone with way more than 2 years’ experience installing high availability and disaster recovery servers.

People with 2 years’ experience won’t have experience with mirroring or replication.  They probably won’t have much experience with server monitoring or looking at performance monitor counters (there is no such thing as database counters).  Someone with 2 years’ experience will have no idea how to open tickets with Microsoft, or how to work the Microsoft CSS support team to get the problems resolved.  The odds of someone with 2 years’ experience being able to correctly identify a new bug in the database engine is next to 0 (if not lower than 0).

It is barely possible for people to have the SQL Server 2008 certifications for two years.  They were only released a little over two years ago.  If someone only has two years’ experience with SQL Server, they probably aren’t ready to take the certification exams, much less the MCITP.

You are asking for a Sybase (Adaptive Server Enterprise) certification, yet you never mention Sybase anywhere in the job description.

Please learn at least something about the position you send out so that you don’t look like a total moron. Based on this job description I would NEVER allow you to represent me on any job posting. Open job positions are not high priority. Production servers being offline, that’s a high priority email. The government closing, that’s a high priority email. Family member is sick and in the hospital, that’s a high priority email. This is not.

And yes, this email was sent as a high priority email.

Denny


April 11, 2011  2:00 PM

Join me at “SQL in the City” presented by Red Gate Software

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

The fine folks at Red Gate Software have made the critical mistake of asking me to be a presenter at the Los Angeles “SQL in the City” event at the Skirball Center on October 28th, 2011.

I’ll be joined by a few familiar faces including Steve Jones (blog | twitter), Brad McGehee (blog | twitter) and Grant Fritchey (blog | twitter).  This is a free event including what I’m sure will be a great lunch provided by Red Gate.  So be sure to register today before all the seats are taken.

The session that I’ll be presenting will be on data security, and data encryption.  Knowing Steve, Brad and Grant I’m sure that they all have some excellent sessions lined up for the day as well.

Denny


April 7, 2011  2:00 PM

Slide decks for Desert Code Camp (#dcc11)

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

I presented three sessions at Desert Code Camp 2011.1, and I had a great time doing so.  In case you wanted to grab a copy of the slide decks, here they are.

Getting SQL Service Broker Up and Running

SQL Server Indexing for the .NET Developer

Where should I be encrypting my data

Thanks,
Denny


April 4, 2011  2:00 PM

Can tempdb data and log put on on RAID 1 one physical disk, or keep it separate physical disk?

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

It really depends on the amount of load that you put on the tempdb database.  Everything which is done within the tempdb database is going to be logged in the transaction log just like any other database so if the tempdb database has a very high IO then it may make sense to put the tempdb log on a separate disk.  If however the tempdb database isn’t used very much by your databases then putting the log on the same disk as the tempdb data file should be fine.

If you present multiple disks to the tempdb data files with a subset of the tempdb data files on each disk, then present a separate disk for the tempdb log file just to ensure that the log isn’t causing uneven IO load on the disk.  Remember that creating multiple log files won’t do anything for you like it does when you have multiple data files as the log files are filled sequentially not in a round robin where the data files are done via a round robin.

Denny


March 31, 2011  2:00 PM

Answering forum questions can now get you cold hard Amazon Gift cards

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Tech Target has upped the perks of posting on their IT Knowledge Exchange forum (the same site that hosts my blog).  Tech Target recently announced that by posting on their site, and earning badges by gaining points, and getting sent Amazon Gift cards for earning the badges.  Not a bad deal if you ask me.

The prizes which they announced are:

  • Bronze Member Badge: Sticker and ITKnowledgeExchange t-shirt
  • Silver Member Badge: $25 Amazon.com Gift Card
  • Gold Member Badge: $50 Amazon.com Gift Card
  • Platinum Member Badge: $100 Amazon.com Gift Card

Not surprisingly there are some rules which are also posted.

  • Must be active within the past six months to qualify for initial prize.
  • For prizes that must be shipped, allow 2 to 4 weeks for delivery. Shipping only permitted to United States, Canada, and Europe.
  • For further TechTarget contest rules, please see the official contest rules.

But that’s a pretty slim set of rules, for the chance to get some pretty major cash in Amazon gift cards.  (Don’t forget that you can use these Amazon gift cards to pick up a copy of my book “Securing SQL Server“.)


March 28, 2011  2:00 PM

MySpace’s failures had next to if not nothing to do with the Microsoft stack or being in LA

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

If you were on twitter in the last couple of days you may have seen some links to a blog post titled “MySpace’s death spiral: insiders say it’s due to bets on Los Angeles and Microsoft” in which the author tries show that because MySpace used the Microsoft stack (ASP.NET, IIS, Windows, and SQL Server) that this was a major cause of MySpace’s demise.

The Technology

As someone who used to work for MySpace’s infrastructure team (specifically I was one of the Senior level Database Administrators) that worked there, I can say that it was not the Microsoft technology stack which was MySpace’s problem.  What caused MySpace’s demise was a piss poor UI (User Interface) and because of this poor UI design the slow page load times.  It really didn’t matter what platform that the site was built on, crap code is crap code.

No before you assume that I’m a Microsoft Fan Boy, I’m not.  You should flip through my blog and you’ll see that I’m actually quite critical of Microsoft and specifically the SQL Server product for which I’m a Microsoft MVP.  I have a reputation within the Microsoft SQL Server product group of telling them the truth about their products, both the good and the bad.

The Los Angeles Area

The author also claims that they failed because there weren’t enough .NET programmers in the Los Angeles area which could work in the .NET startup mode.  This is just crap.  I’ve spent most of my career working at startup shops, all of which were .NET shops and there were always enough .NET programmers who could work at startup speed.  What MySpace needed was a management team that understood that programming new features requires more than a few hours to do it correctly, and requires a solid scalable test environment to test in.  The developers at MySpace weren’t given either one of these to work in.  While the production database environment (for example) had several hundred database servers, the testing environment had only a single database server.  Rolling changes wasn’t really tested before they went into production, and there was NO load testing that I saw at all.  The basic excuse was that they couldn’t generate a production work load, so they didn’t load test it.

The Management

A major failure of the MySpace management was that they couldn’t retain the talent which they had.  They didn’t appear to value the employees which they had.  They were constantly hiring .NET developers and they were losing .NET developers just as fast if not faster than they could hire them.  In the 6 or 7 months that I worked there I was the 3rd or 4th DBA that left the company.  I’ve never seen DBAs come and go as frequently as they did there.  During my tenure at MySpace I personally never felt like anything other than another cog in the wheel, with the exception of my last few days when they begged me to stay on board.

One of the points in the article which is valid (sort of) is that Los Angeles is a large area, so commuting to the office can suck (it would take me at least an hour to get to work, longer if I took mass transit).  There is an easy way around this, allow your employees to work from home, and this problem goes away.  However MySpace (more specifically the parent company Fox Interactive Media) has a strict no working from home policy.  Killing this one policy would have made working there a lot easier as the employees could have lived anywhere in the area, only coming to the office when it was absolutely needed.

In Conclusion

Were there problems at MySpace? yes.

Was the problem Microsoft? No

Was the problem being in Los Angeles? No

Was the problem the management at MySpace? Yes

Could these have been overcome? Yes

Will they be, allowing MySpace to make an amazing comeback? My guess would be probably not. At least not without a major house cleaning.

Denny


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