The Multifunctioning DBA

November 6, 2012  10:00 AM

PowerShell Plus is now FREE

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

That is right, PowerShell Plus from Idera is now available for free. This is the IDE that I use everyday and that I would give out during my PowerShell presentations. Idera is now just giving this awesome tool away. Now I will have to try and find some other cool thing to give away during my presentations to bribe you all to stay. But I digress. This really is a great tool and I am excited that everyone can now use this tool at no cost. So go to Idera’s site and download this now and start using it. If you are an experience PowerSheller, or brand new to PowerShell, this tool is for you.

Check it out here:

Also check out all of Ideras products, they offer some good ones at no cost.

November 5, 2012  2:28 PM

Demo Domain Build

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

As I talked about last time I am building a domain in order to do some testing with Delphix. Last night I completed the following.

  1. Installed Server 2012 GUI edition.
  2. Installed Server 2012 Core edition.
  3. Configured a machine to be my Delphix server.
  4. Set up Domain Controller on GUI edition.
  5. Installed DNS on GUI edition.
  6. Added Core edition to domain.
  7. Made default shell in core edition PowerShell.

More to come as I now work on SQL installs and Delphix.

November 5, 2012  2:39 AM

Building Delphix Test and Demo rig

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

I am hoping to be able to do some presentations about delphix in the near future. I am currently building a test rig in order to accomplish this. I do not have the best laptop in the world but I think I will be able to make this work. Here is what I am doing.

I will use VirtualBox to spin up a few VMs.

1. Server 2012 Domain Controller / SQL Server

2. Server 2012 Core SQL Server

3. Delphix Server

This will allow me to do a few things.

1. Play with Server 2012 and Server 2012 Core.

2. Play with SQL Server running on Server 2012 Core

3. Push Delphix to the limit as they do not currently support Server 2012 or SQL Server 2012 and certainly not SQL Server running on Server 2012 Core.

4. Play with powershell 3.0 to interface with Delphix via JSon.

If I can get the domain set up and get the Core server put on the domain, SQL Server installed and working, and Delphix up and running, and if it all works and plays nice together, then I will try to present on SQL Server Database Virtualization using Delphix. I hope to be able to present at local user group, SQL Saturday (wherever I can make it), and Virtual Chapters. Then if that all goes well, perhaps I can get into a con. I think this technology is going to be a game changer for many companies, it will save money and time. this will make the job of the DBA much easier to manage.  I will let you know how it goes throughout my build and I hope that I will be able to present this to you sometime. Perhaps, if anyone is interested, we can set up a google hangout or something for me to show this off.

October 31, 2012  10:00 PM

Have a happy and safe Halloween

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

Today is Halloween and I just want to say I hope you have fun and be safe. This is the first Halloween for my kid and I can not wait to see him all dressed up in his Sock Monkey costume. I think that I will just stay at home this year and hand out candy with my wife and my boy. He is only 10 months old so I do not think he needs to go trick or Treating just yet. But it will be fun to see how he reacts to all the other kids being dressed up. So again, have a good and safe Halloween and tomorrow we will get back to Database talk.

October 31, 2012  8:49 PM

Pay TV

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

For a few years I went without paying for cable or satellite television. It cost me some money up front, but I was able to save about 2500 dollars after all my expenses based on a 100 dollar per month cable bill and the amount of time that I was not paying. Recently, I have connected again. Managing all of the content over the air, using Windows Media Center with two tuner cards worked great, as long as I was getting a good signal to the antenna. That was not always the case for me. The other way to get content is online. That was a bit more difficult to manage. Different networks and shows have different policies on how long they keep content online, and when the post the content, if you are like me and are not willing to pay for the content.

So finally I decided to take the plunge back into the world of paying for television service. This was partly due to my antenna just not getting a good signal consistently and I just did not have time to deal with all of the issues all the time now that I have a baby.  So I had Dish network in the past, so I gave them a call and got signed up again. Now I am paying a lot of money for content but I do not have to worry about it not working any more. Also I really do love the whole home DVR setup, the Hopper, that Dish offers. I wish it was a bit more configurable but perhaps that will come in time. I also opted to get the Sling adapter and I am glad that I did. It was only another 50 bucks up front and no additional charge monthly. I did this because I already had a Sling Box that I use to watch my TV over the internet at a house my parents own that we spend some time at now and then. This makes it so I only have to have internet at that house. Also, in my opinion, the new Sling adapter is much better then the Sling HD that I was using.

The only issue with the new Sling adapter is that Dish will sell it to you and take your money, but they can not tell you how to get it to work. It will work in your network just fine, but with the ports that they tell you to open it is useless. I have been complaining for months about this and they still have no idea how to fix it. So I did some testing and figured it out for them. I put my Hopper IP into a DMZ so that all ports were open to it from the outside and of course that made it work just fine. This verified that it was a port issue and nothing more. So here is a list of the ports that you can open on your firewall that will make it work.






Open those up on your router to your Hopper IP and you will be in business.

So I do recommend dish network as I think they have good programming options for a decent price as well as some good hardware in the Hopper system and Joeys, and I  do love the Sling Adapter now that I have it working. I notified Dish of all these ports and that it is working for me and they even gave me 100 bucks off for doing the work to figure this out. I do not think that the first level of customer support is very good but if you escalate then it does get better. So if you are looking for new Television service, leave me a comment and I will send you a link that will contain a voucher good for 50 bucks off service when you sign up.

October 31, 2012  8:30 PM

Another Delphix Bug

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

To use Delphix for SQL Server, you must use ISCSI disk. This is not really an issue, but Delphix does not automatically set ISCSI up to automount as I think that it should. So the other day, I had to reboot my PPT server, that is the one with the databases in a recovering state and always applying the tlog backups from the source. well when it came back up, none of my databases were able to apply the logs. The issue ended up being that the disk where the database files were stored did not mount. Once I mounted the disk everything started to work. So just remember to set it up to automount. Also, if this happens then your sources will be disabled, and that means that the tlog backups are not being applied. You must enable them. you will be able to do this in the GUI eventually, but for now you will have to log into the CLI and enable it. This option is in Source — select source database — enable — commit. Then give it a bit of time, and if you have all the logs since it stopped, then it will start applying the logs. Just give it some time to catch up. If you have removed any of the tlog backup files from the share, then you have broken the recovery chain and you will need to sync the datasource, and that re-creates it, in order to back up and running.

October 29, 2012  5:00 PM

Use Cases for Delphix

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

The other day I talked about Delphix. I think this is a great product and I have talked about how it can save you, the DBA time and money.  You want to save time and make your life easier, as well as save the company money while you do that. It looks good for you to do that and it makes your job so much better. So now I wanted to talk about some use cases, and again I am just hitting the tip of the ice berg. I am sure that you all can think of so many other cases to use this product.

Develpement efforts. How often do your developers want the data refreshed to look like production, or better yet, they want multiple copies of a database to work in. Well with Delphix, you can make all that happen and it is so quick and easy. No matter the size of your source database, after the initial DSource creation, VDB provisioning will take about 5 to 10 minutes. That is so much faster then most refreshes take. You can have multiple copies of the same database for different developers and this costs you almost no disk.

Offloading DBA tasks. If you have a very large SQL Server Database, You know how hard it can be to get maintenance in all the time. Well why not spin up a VDB every night and do DBCC on that copy? No more DBCC running on your production database. When you are done with DBCC you drop it, then you provision again when you need to run it again.

Upgrade testing. I know that I have some 2005 and 2008 databases that I would love to test out in 2012. So why not just spin up a VDB in a 2012 instance and do you testing and have the application teams and users do testing against that VDB.

Emergency production troubleshooting. Many times I get requests to grant developers access into production so that they can troubleshoot an issue that they can not duplicat in DEV or QA for whatever reason. Well I really hate doing that but in some cases I have no choice. Well now I do. I can spin up a VDB from production and say here you go. I do not care if you break it worse and when you have the fix and it is tested, we can move it into prod.

So those are just a few use cases. I am sure that there are many many more. Let me know if you can think of anything you would use this for.

October 29, 2012  3:37 PM

Flexible Job

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

Since I am getting old, lat night I was thinking back to my youth and how I thought that working at McDonalds was great. Or any place really. I just thought that having a job to go to every day was great, and do not get me wrong, it is. Any job is a good job and I do not put myself above doign anything. I have a family and I will do anything to make sure that I am taking care of them.  What I mean is this, I started thinking about how great it is to have a job that is flexible. I try very hard to make sure that I do not take advantage of this but it is very nice when you need it. I do not have a set time to come in or to leave the office. I make sure I put in my fair amount of time and I get all of my work done and then some usually. But when I was young, I did not have this luxury in my job.  I never thought about it then but I sure do now.

I have a Nephew, and he is a really good and smart kid. He has a good job but it is an hourly punch the clock without much flexibility job. Not that that is a bad thing and I know he is happy, but I think he can do better. I think most people know someone like this. But the question is, how to you show them and convince them that life can be better and you can have a better work life balance and that many many companies stress this balance. Until you experience this, I think it is hard to understand. I think he should go back to school and find a way to do something he really loves. I think everyone should do that. But I am just not sure how to convince him that all the hard work to get there is worth it. Especially when he has a good job that he likes. I just know it is not something he loves and I do not think it will be something he is happy with over the long run. I could be wrong and if he sticks to this job I hope that I am.

So anyone out there know what I am talking about and have any suggestions on how to show him. He knows that more money can be made, but I want to show him that

1. Money is not everything. Work Life Balance really does matter.

2. When you work for a company that cares about that balance, and you are doing something you truly love to do, that the Money will come.

October 26, 2012  8:25 PM

What is Delphix for SQL Server?

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

Delphix, simply put is a database virtualization tool. That is what it does and you may ask why is that meaningful and why would I ever want to use something like this. I have many answers to that question and I am sure that others have many more that I have not thought of. So let me go over the core of what delphix does, at a very high level, and share with you some use cases where I see this being a very beneficial technology.

At a very high level, Delphix lets you create what they call a DSource. This is the master copy of the source database. For instance, I create a DSource of a production database. I do this based off of production because, production should be your master data for that database. It is what the business is using everyday. So I create the DSource and that basically means that I take a full backup of the database and I restore that database to what Delphix calls the PPT server. This is just a SQL Server that is always restoring your DSources. These databases are always in a recovering state and are not accessible at all. These have to be in a restoring state, becuase Delphix is continually restoring your transaction log backups to the databases on the PPT server. This keeps your DSource in sync with your production database, well at least as in sync as it can be based on how often you take transaction log backups. This is a great way to sync things up as it adds no additional overhead to your production database, I mean, you are already doing transaction log backups in production anyway right? Anyway, now that we have that source, we can provision a virtual database or VDB to another target server, or even the PPT server if you really wanted. That is the very high overview of what Delphix does. Now lets look at what that gets you the DBA.

First lets talk storage. I currently have a 550Gig database that I decided to put into Delphix. Delphix took a full copy only backup and restored that backup to the PPT Server. What is cool about Delphix though, is that PPT copy of the database is only 120Gigs. Delphix is able to do compression in order to save you disk. Now when I provision my VDB from that source, Delphix is able to do that to the target server and my VDB will be a couple of Megs. So now I have one full copy of my production database and I have only used a bit over 120Gigs of storage. Now lets say another developer comes up and says, I have a project that I am working on as well and I would like a copy of that database as well, but I can not really share it with the other dev for whatever reason. OK I provision a second VDB and now both developers have a copy to work in, and you guessed it, this only took a few more Megs of storage. Oh and on top of that, to provision the VDB, it only takes me about 5 minutes per VDB. How useful is that? To me that is a good benefit. Think about moving all of your DEV and QA databases into VDBs. You can provision multiple databases, that are each fully functional, it takes minutes, you can provision to different points in time, and it takes latterly Megs of disk space.

So what happens when developers start to make changes in the VDB? Well that is also very cool. Delphix tracks all the change blocks only. So the VDB will grow but it will always be very small compared to having a full physical copy of the database. So depending on your situation, this could save you Millions of dollars in storage alone. Another great thing is that you can create a snap of the VDB. Then you can provision another VDB off of that VDB at any point in time that you have a snap for. Developers love this. And as a DBA so do I, because it makes it so easy for me to get them what they need and I can do it fast.

Now lets talk about time savings. For the database that I used as an example at 550 Gigs it would take about 6 to 8 hours to refresh a DEV or QA environment. This is time when developers and QA testers and possibly others that are part of the project team are dead in the water. So say the project requires that database to be refreshed two times a week. Well that is roughly two days that all those people are wasting and I am spending all this time babysitting the process as well. Now imagine that you can do that in minutes. Now everything about the project speeds up and you are saving the company a ton of money in labor on that project.

What I have mentioned are just a few of the benefits and ways to help you justify the cost of a product such as this. Right now Delphix does support SQL Server but the GUI is very limited, but since I have learned how it works and built some wrapper scripts around it, I find it very functional and I am looking forward to the product being fully baked. So if all this sounds good to you, I have given you two ways that you can justify the cost. More to come on this.

October 24, 2012  9:45 PM

Database Virtualization

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

Now that the vendor of the software that I have been Beta testing has gone public for SQL Server support, I do not feel that I have to hide who they are. Delphix is the vendor of the virtualization platform. Go check them out. They are doing some really cool things and it is very very useful. I use it for Oracle and have been very involved with the SQL Server Beta. I love the software and I cannot wait for them to finish the SQL Server version. I am still finding some bugs but overall it is fantastic. They do not yet have a functioning GUI for SQL Server so I have written a powershell script that interfaces with the Delphix CLI so you do not have to. I and my team, have found this script very useful when working in Delphix for SQL Server. It does not do everything but you can add a Source Host, Link a Dsource, Provision A VDB, delete a VDB, and Delete a Dsource. I am still working on some more functionality, but if you are interested and you are using Delphix for SQL Server, just let me know. I will be happy to share it with you.

Well go check them out and let me know what you think. They make DB Refreshes fast and easy, as well as saving you a ton of storage. It really is good stuff with a real ROI.

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