SQL Server with Mr. Denny

March 16, 2010  4:19 AM

EMC and NetApp are having a little fun with each other to help cure cancer

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

I read this on the net tonight and thought it was an awesome idea.

A friend and colleague at NetApp let me know they were doing a drive for St. Baldricks – a campaign where people shave their heads to help raise funds for fighting cancer in children.   So, in the spirit of competition driving positive things and staying above the fray, we made a little wager.

If they can crack $10K before mid-day tomorrow, my NetApp brothers will shave “EMC” into their heads – as of this moment, they have raised $3,600 from EMCers.

So in the spirit of fanning the flames, I’m posting a link to it.  So it you work for EMC or NetApp (or know someone who does) hit the link and donate, donate, donate.


March 15, 2010  11:00 AM

SQL 2008 R2 is pricy, but so is that other database.

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

There’s a lot of talk about the new SQL Server 2008 R2 pricing.  To give you an idea of why people are complaining…
(Keep in mind that all prices on this page a CPU licensing.)

Version Standard Enterprise Data Center
SQL 2005/2008 $5,999 $24,999 N/A
SQL 2008 R2 $7,499 $28,479 $57,498
Difference $1,500 $3,480 N/A

Now you are getting a lot of new features in SQL 2008 R2 over what was included in SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008. However these prices are quite high, especially on the lower end when you compare them to the other database, you know, Oracle.

Standard One Standard Enterprise
Oracle 11g $4,995 $15,000 $47,500
Difference from SQL 2008 $7,501 $22,501

Now you’ll notice that I didn’t compare Oracle’s Standard Edition One to a SQL Server edition. There isn’t really a SQL Server edition that compares with this edition as it falls somewhere between the Workgroup and Standard editions. It is lower than the SQL Server Standard edition as it only supports two CPUs, but it is better that the SQL Server Workgroup edition as it supports as much RAM as the SQL Server supports.

Now when it comes to features SQL Server is going to be the clear winner. SQL Server includes things like Replication, Auditing, and so on. As best I can tell (god knows I’m not an Oracle expert) these features aren’t available as part of the non-Enterprise editions of Oracle. And if you want them on Oracle you had better be able to pay for them.

A few of the extras that you can buy for your Enterprise edition Oracle server include:
Advanced Data Compression – $10,000 per CPU
Advanced Security – $10,000 per CPU
OLAP – $20,000 per CPU

If you want to connect your Oracle database to another database platform, that’ll cost you as well. As best as I can figure this is basically Oracle’s version of linked servers. (These prices are per database server not CPU.)
SQL Server access – $15,000
Sybase access – $15,000
Informix access – $15,000
Teradata access – $95,000
Websphere MQ – $40,000

Now Oracle doesn’t have a data center edition or a Parallel Data Warehouse Edition so there’s really no way to directly compare Oracle to SQL Server Datacenter edition or Parallel Data Warehouse Editio. To get close we have to take the Oracle Enterprise Edition at $40,000, add in Partitioning at $10,000, and add in RAC (Real Application Clusters) at $20,000 for $70,000.

Now when dealing with the Oracle Enterprise edition you have to keep in mind that you aren’t paying per socket (Oracle licenses the Standard and Standard One editions per socket) but you are paying per CPU core. According with the Oracle Pricing Book if you are using SPARC multi-core processors then each core is charged at .75 CPUs for each CPU core, and if you are using x86 or x64 multi-core processors then each core is charged at .5 CPUs for each CPU cores.

So if you have a quad chip quad core server, which is a pretty standard database server these days, that’s 16 cores, so you are paying for a total of 8 CPU licenses. Assuming that you have Enterprise Edition with no optional features that is a $320,000 in license fees. SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition comes out at $229,992 which makes SQL Server 2008 R2 $90,008 less for that server.

Now, on the lower end database server side Oracle is going to start to win on price. If you need a dual chip SQL Server you’ll probably want the Standard Edition (otherwise you are limited to 4 Gigs of RAM). SQL Standard for two CPUs will come out to $14,998 for the server, but the Oracle Standard One comes out to $9,990 making Oracle $5,008 less that SQL Server. Now if your database server needs four CPUs then Oracle Standard Edition will come in at $60,000 where the SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition will come in at $29,996 making the SQL Server license $30,004 less expensive. Apparently Oracle standard doesn’t support more than 2 CPUs based on the information put in the comments below. But with the 6 core CPUs out and the 8 core CPUs coming out soon having a 2 socket server is probably going to become a more and more popular option.

I think that if Microsoft is going to keep the Standard edition pricing where it is, they should increase, or remove the memory limit of the Workgroup edition so that it is a better competitor with the Oracle Standard Edition One product. With the memory limit removed from the Workgroup edition the Workgroup edition would be superior than the Oracle Standard Edition One as the SQL Server Workgroup edition would will on features.


P.S. All prices are based on posted list prices as announced by Microsoft as the SQL PASS summit, or from the Oracle Pricing Book. These should be considered list prices and if you pay these prices for either product you aren’t trying hard enough to get a discount.

UPDATE: I’ve corrected the Oracle pricing and commented out the information about the quad chip Standard Oracle Server as apparently a quad chip Oracle server requires Enterprise Edition.

March 11, 2010  11:00 AM

My Slide decks SQL Saturday 33 (#sqlsat33)

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

I presented three sessions at SQL Saturday 33 this last weekend.  Here are the slide decks and sample code that I used during my presentations.

Server Virtualization

Storage for the DBA

SQL Server Service Broker in the Real World

It was great presenting this weekend.


March 9, 2010  11:05 PM

Oh man, someone put my blog posts on TechNet… #tnSqlDC

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Yep, that’s right, someone over at Microsoft has gone completely crazy and syndicated not just my blog but my Tweets as well over on the technet.microsoft.com site. Continued »

March 9, 2010  8:00 PM

IO, IO, It’s Off To Disk We Go! #TSQL2sDay

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

So today is #TSQL2sDay, and this months topic is Disk IO.  Storage is something I love working in, so I figured why not, I’ll post something.

Hopefully everyone knows that your storage solution is the most critical when it comes to keeping your database up and running day after day.  If your databases are two slow, then your database will be slow and there just isn’t anything you can do about that besides adding more disks to the storage system.

However figuring out that the problem is actually slow disks can be a problem in itself, especially if you work in a large company and don’t have access to the servers themselves or the storage array that is hosting the databases.

Within SQL

Within SQL Server you have a couple of places you can look.  The easiest is to look at the sys.dm_io_pending_io_requests DMV.  If you have a lot of rows being returned that say that the IO is pending then you may have a problem as SQL may be trying to push more IO than your storage solution can handle.

Another DMV you can look at is the sys.dm_io_virtual_file_stats DMV.  This will tell you how many IO requests have been processed since the instance was started, as well as how many of those requests were stalled when writing them.  Using these numbers requires doing some math to see how your doing over the current runtime of the instance.  As the instance has been up for longer and longer these numbers can get harder and harder to make sense of.

Within Windows

Within Windows you’ll be using our good friend Performance Monitor to see what’s going on.  There’s a few counters which are really critical to looking at.  They include the Reads and Writes per second, the seconds per read and write, and the queuing counters.

The reads and writes per second will tell you how many requests are going between the server and the disks per second.  If these numbers are very high and stay there they you are pushing the disks very hard.  If this is the case, stop here, and make sure that you don’t have any indexes that need to be built, and that all your statistics are up to date.

The seconds per read and write are very critical numbers.  This tells us how fast the disks are processing each read and write request.  These numbers should be very very low, somewhere in the .00n range with the smaller the number the better.  If you are seeing numbers which are higher than .010 then you may be pushing your disks to hard.  Anything over 1 second and your SQL Server is probably dying for more disks.

The disk queuing numbers are also very important.  These will tell you how many commands are backing up while the disks are processing the other commands which were given to them.  The general number is that the queue shouldn’t ever reach n*2 the number of disks that you have which are actively serving the data.  So if you have a 10 disk RAID 10 array, the queue should go no higher than 10 as there are only 5 disks serving the data, but those same 10 disks in a RAID 5 array are OK with a disk queue of about 18 as there are 9 disks actively serving the data.

Now this doesn’t mean that you should always have a disk queue.  Disks work best when data is sent to or read from them is bursts, not in a constant massive stream.  This means that you want to aim for an average queue length of 0, with occasional spikes up.

On the array

If you are working with your basic local disk array, then there isn’t much you’ll be able to look at past the server unless your RAID card has metrics which it can expose to you through the diagnostic tools which come with it.

However if you are working in with a SAN solution your SAN will have some diagnostics available to your SAN admin.  These diagnostic numbers will give you the full story as you’ll be able to see what Windows sees from the Server, as well as what the array is seeing.

When looking at the array itself you can now see not only what the performance on the LUN which is presented to Windows, but what the performance of each specific disk which is under the LUN is doing.  This will allow you to for example see if a specific spindle under the LUN is causing the slow down, perhaps because it is failing.

Getting the full picture is very important when it comes to looking at storage performance issues.  This means looking at the performance numbers from all sides so that you can get a full understanding on exactly where the performance problem may be coming from.


I forgot to put in the link to Mike’s post about T-SQL Tuesday, so here it is.

March 8, 2010  11:00 AM

How do I deal with a rollback which is stuck at 0% remaining?

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Every once and a while you have to kill a SPID in SQL Server.  And on a rare occasion the SPID will rollback, but won’t actually rollback and go away.  While this is annoying there isn’t actually anything bad going on.  The SQL Server is running just fine, however you won’t be able to kill this SPID without restarting the SQL instance.

Typically when I’ve seen this the client application has been disconnected from the SQL Server.  From what I understand is happening is:

  1. The SPID is killed
  2. The SQL Server rolls back the transaction
  3. The client is informed of the rollback
  4. The client acknowledges that the rollback is complete
  5. SQL terminates the SPID

Every time that I’ve seen this on my servers the client has already disconnected, do to a reboot, network drop, client crash, etc which stops the SQL Server from telling the client that the rollback is complete.  This breaks something within step 3 and 4 leaving the process sitting there.

The upside to this problem is that the rollback is complete and the transaction has been completely rolled back and closed so it isn’t holding any locks.  The downside is that you’ll need restart the SQL Instance in order get rid of the process.  Killing the process won’t do anything for you as it will only tell you that there are 0 seconds remaining and that the rollback is at 0%.

If you have one of these processes show up on you and you have to leave it for a day or two until you can restart the instance there shouldn’t be any harm in this as the process is idle. It is using up a small amount of memory, but once the rollback has completed it isn’t using any CPU or memory.  Upon restart of the instance it won’t add any time to the instance restart as the transaction has been rolled back so it’ll come back online quickly.


March 3, 2010  6:23 PM

Getting set up for multi-server management with SQL Server 2008 R2

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

I’ve just published a new article up on SearchSQLServer.com where I’m talking about how to setup the new Multi-Server Management feature of SQL Server 2008 R2 complete with some screen shots in case you haven’t had a chance to look at it yet.



March 1, 2010  11:00 AM

Somehow I missed a milestone…

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

I logged into my WordPress admin site and saw something that I never thought that I’d see.  Somehow I’ve managed to publish just over 400 blog posts.

I’m really not sure how that happened, but I’d just like to thank everyone who reads my ramblings either so that you can get some new info, or for some sort of entertainment value, or whatever.  Just thanks for reading and I hope that you’ll keep reading my blog.

I know that the title of my blog if “SQL Server with MrDenny” and that I don’t always post about SQL Server, but there is so much more to my job than SQL Server so I pretty much have been writing about everything that comes up.

Again, thanks for reading.



February 25, 2010  11:00 AM

Made2Mentor’s MacGyver Moment Meme

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

David Stein (@Made2Mentor) started a neat new post My McGuyver Moment and tagged Brent Ozar (@BrentO) who tagged me.  In David and Brent’s post they talked about building something from nothing that the company ended up needing for several years.

I to have had my share of shoestring budget projects that I’ve had to deal with putting together.  The one that I’m probably the most proud of was when I worked at EarthLink.  We had a rather large call center, at the time it was a single office, but over time it grew to 7 offices and 3 outsourced call centers, but I’m skipping ahead here.

On the things which our call center supervisors were supposed to do was grab the call center queue stats every 4 hours and email them to management’s pagers.  Needless to say this seemed like a rather big waste of time to actually have a person sum up these numbers in Excel and then send out an email.

So I built a quick VB app which would log into the PBX, gather the required numbers and send out the email.  This was cool and all, and took about a day to put together.  After this I decided to put the data out on a web server so that everyone else that didn’t have access to the rather expensive Lucent PBX software could see the data.  So once everyone thought that was awesome, we look it to the next logical step and started exporting all the call center data and created web pages which would allow anyone to see the data.

Now these weren’t fancy dynamic pages.  They were just static HTML files that refreshed themselves every few seconds and were rewritten by the app I wrote every few seconds.  Now on the server side of things the PBX server that I had to connect to was a closed system meaning that my only option to connect to it was via the management tool.  At the time there was no scripting support in the app, so I had to write an app which would send keystrokes to the client app and export the data to flat files, then process the files into the needed html files.

This lasted for a couple of weeks until we started adding more groups into this mix.  It would end up taking several minutes to process everything.  I then started loading the data into an Access database and using classic ASP to allow the users to select the data that they wanted to see.  After a couple of weeks of loading data into Access every few seconds Access blew up so we upgraded to SQL Server.

After some time we added more and more call centers to the company we added more and more computers doing processing.  Now when all this started we were running on old P2 400Mhz workstations all running like 128 Megs of RAM for each machine.  By the time we were done with this we had a view computers all these crappy workstation class machines except for one rack mount server (see the picture of my desk below).

By the time I left EarthLink (more specifically I was tossed out kicking and screaming as all our jobs were off-shored) we had equipment in 5 offices in additional to all the machines running under my desk.  There were somewhere around 4000 internal users accessing the web app and we were actually feeding hold time information to the customer facing website so that customers could see what the wait time would be in real time.  By the time everything was said and done we had saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in Lucent/Avaya licensing fees as each new Lucent PBX we brought only the server and only needed the default 5-10 licenses that came with the PBX system.

Needless to say this was probably the biggest spit and chewing gum project that I’ve ever worked on.  The total cost to the company was only a few thousand dollars (the rack mount server).  Our SQL License was covered under our Enterprise Agreement, and all the workstations were older machines which weren’t in use any more by Tech Support (they liked it when we stole the old machines, it gave them an excuse to order new ones).

Now, as for the people that I’m going to tag I’m going to go with some people that don’t always get pulled into these.

Jessica Moss (@jessicammoss)

Geoff Hiten (@SQLCraftsman)

Tom LaRock (@SQLRockStar)

Jessica and Goeff haven’t been going a lot of blogging recently.  Hopefully this will help them start writing more often.  Tom blogs like crazy, and one more just isn’t going to hurt him.  I picked these three because I’m curious to see what these folks have had to band-aid together with duct-tape over their careers.


February 22, 2010  10:14 PM

I must have had a great time at the MVP summit, I’m sick as hell

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

I’m not that kind of sick, any hangover would be long gone by now.  But the lack of sleep has caught up with me.  I’ve got exactly 5 days to get over it before my next trip, which will hopefully be much more tame.

So last week was the MVP Summit (#mvp10 for those of you on Twitter).  While I can’t really go into what was covered at the sessions because it is all covered under NDA.

What I can tell you is that we had some great sessions (and some not so great sessions) and gave the product groups some great feedback (hopefully they think that the feedback was great as well).

We also partied, and did we ever party.  Over the four days the highest number of parties that I heard one person attending is 12.  Now I don’t care who you are, that’s a lot of events to make it to in one week, especially when you remember that we were in session from 9-6 each day, and you have to sleep at some point. Continued »

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