SQL Server with Mr. Denny

May 26, 2008  12:00 PM

SoCal Code Camp is coming up

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

The SoCal Code Camp is coming up shortly (June 28th and 29th).  I’ve just finished posting my abstracts on the site for all to see.  I’ve tagged them all with SQL Server to make them easier to find.  I’ve currently got about 6 sessions on there. 

I’m crazy I know.

If you aren’t in Southern California this might be a great way to get the boss to pay for a weekend in San Diego, California.

There’s also a free dinner which is called the Geek Dinner.

I hope to see you all there.


May 26, 2008  11:00 AM

A very strange Service Broker and TempDB problem

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

So, a little while ago I was having a major problem at work that I’d like to share in the hopes that someone else finds this information useful. (When I was having this problem, Google wasn’t able to find anything for me.)

The symptoms that we were having in a nut shell was that the tempdb was taking all the drive space which was allocated to it.  On this system, tempdb is sitting on it’s own 50 Gig drive, so SQL can take the entire thing if it needs to.  The problem was that sp_spaceused was showing that the entire database was empty, but we were getting out of space errors when running queries which needed to use tempdb.  First thing we did was create another tempdb file off on another drive which is a 200 Gig drive.  This gave us space to work with while we tried to figure the entire mess out.

The first thought that we had (well OK, not the first) was that we were having the problem described in MSKB 947204.  The solution to this KB Article was to apply SQL 2005 SP 2 Update 6.  So we did this, but to no avail.

Now, I need to take a little break and give you some additional background before we continue.

About 2 months ago we made a hardware swap on the SQL Server.  The old server wouldn’t take a memory upgrade, so we got a new server with the correct amount of RAM (old server had 8 Gigs, new server had 16) and did a fork lift migration to the new server.  The migration went fine, totally as expected.

Now another piece of information that you’ll need is that we are using the service broker heavily within our database.

What we didn’t notice, and what was eventually found to be the root cause of the problem, was that the service broker wasn’t working correctly.  The reason we didn’t notice it was that there were never any error messages.  Messages were being sent, but they never actually got delivered.

There were no errors being logged in the errorlog, on in SQL Profiler (when monitored using either the Errors and Alerts or Broker monitors).  The error could only be seen by querying the sys.transmission_queue.  In the transmission_status column was some sort of error along the lines of “An error occurred during decryption”.  It also gave some sort of error about the database master key.

 Working off of the database master key error I did an ALTER MASTER KEY and reset the master key, but that didn’t help.  I then decided to reset the connection between the master key and the service key by using the ALTER MASTER KEY ADD ENCRYPTION BY SERVICE MASTER KEY command.  This took forever to execute, which I assumed was a good thing since I didn’t see any blocking.  Once it was finished the CPUs on the SQL Server started running very hot, and the disk IO went up very high.  All the CPU was being taken by SPIDs 16 and 20-24 (or so) with a command of BRKR TASK (Broker Task).  So the service broker was now chewing on all the messages in the system (we had no idea how many there were, we estimated it at millions).  After a while of watching the system process messages which were no longer relevant we decided that we needed to kill all the messages in the service broker as quickly as possible. Fortunitly the few messages which we would need to be able to keep we would be able to easily recreate.

I wrote a nice little script which queried the top 100 conversation IDs from the sys.transmission_queue DMV and did an END CONVERSATION WITH CLEANUP on them to get rid of them.  This was then wrapped in a loop so that it would kill messages in-mass.  Because of the massive load on the database after 2 days of running only about 350,000 conversations had been closed.  During this two day window the SQL service had to be restarted twice because tempdb had grown to over 200 Gigs with 198 Gigs of that showing free space, but the system still reporting out of space messages.

 We decided that a more drastic approach was needed.  We thought about deleting the queues, but that wouldn’t help.  Service broker would simply hold the messages until the queues were back then start processing the messages again.  I thought about deleting the Service Broker Service, and tried it but the process hung waiting for the disk, as I assume it was removing all the messages which went with that service.  I didn’t want that sort of blocking and load on the system, so I killed that.

This is when I remembered that all messages being sent or received are done to a specific service broker GUID, not to a specific database name.  This gave me an idea.  If I change the GUID, the messages which the service broker is chewing on will become invalid and SQL will remove them as bogus messages.  So I stopped the SQL Service, and restarted it in single user mode with a minimal config (not actually needed, but I needed to get all the users out of the database, and with 30,000 people hitting the system 24x7x365 this was just the easiest way to do it).  I then did an ALTER DATABASE MyDatabase WITH NEW_BROKER.  This changed the GUID of my database to a new GUID which stopped SQL from processing the messages.  I restarted the service normally and brought the system back online.  The tempdb is sitting at 30 Gigs.

Some of the queries which will come in handy to see if you are having this same kind of issue are:

The first one is pretty self explanatory.
exec sp_spaceused;

If there are records in the sys.transmission_queue with an error about the master key, or decryption.
FROM sys.transmission_queue

The second value is the important one here. The internal_obj_kb is the amount of space taken in the tempdb by internal objects like table variables, stored procedure input parameter definitions, etc.
SUM (user_object_reserved_page_count)*8 as usr_obj_kb, SUM (internal_object_reserved_page_count)*8 as internal_obj_kb, SUM (version_store_reserved_page_count)*8 as version_store_kb, SUM (unallocated_extent_page_count)*8 as freespace_kb, SUM (mixed_extent_page_count)*8 as mixedextent_kb FROM sys.dm_db_file_space_usage

This query shows the number of pages and the number of Megs that the internal objects where using.
SELECT SUM(internal_object_reserved_page_count) AS [internal object pages used],
(SUM(internal_object_reserved_page_count)*1.0/128) AS [internal object space in MB]
FROM sys.dm_db_file_space_usage;

By using these queries we were able to find out that we had Gigs of space assigned as reserved for internal objects, even those sp_spaceused was showing us that all the space in the database was available because there wasn’t actually any data written to it from a physical object. We normally have between 7 and 15 Megs of internal object space, but until the root cause of the issue was resolved we were running about 100 Gigs of internal object space.

So if you have moved from one server to another, and you use SQL Service Broker, and you aren’t getting messages processed because of a master key or decryption error, and your tempdb is filling up like crazy, this might be your problem.

I hope that no one ever has this problem, but if you do and you have run across this posting, I hope that you find it useful in fixing your problem.

May 25, 2008  6:25 AM

EMC Posts EMC World Videos on Youtube

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

EMC has posted a bunch of video’s from EMC World online for all to see.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/n_SSvKXsgKw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

You can see all of EMC's video's here.


May 23, 2008  4:00 PM

EMC World 2008 is over :(

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

EMC World was a blast this year.  I’ve posted some highlights of the event through out the week.  I’ll continue to post as much of the info as I can through out the next few weeks.


May 22, 2008  3:37 PM

EMC World 2008 Day 3

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Wednesday at EMC World was a session packed day to be sure.

I started my morning with CLARiiON Rebuild Settings and Data which was an in depth look at how exactly the CLARiiON systems handle rebuilds, and how long various rebuilds take.  In addition we went into detail as to how the CLARiiON will not see that a disk is going to fail, and instead of waiting for it to fail and then having to rebuild it will actually copy the data from the disk ahead of time to a hot-spare then mark the disk as failed so that it can be replaced before the disk actually fails there by providing you with no point in time where your data is unprotected.

 Another session went through the changes to the EMC PowerPath product and all the new features they are building into PowerPath such as the encryption of data when it leaves the server on its way to the disk.

Another session went through some tuning tips an tricks for getting the best performance from the EMC CLARiiON product.  These include the strip size, cache settings at both the LUN and SP level. 

The night ended with the Billy Crystal performance.  I figured that the show would be funny.  I was wrong, it was hilarious.  Like everyone else I’ve seen Billy Crystal on TV and in Movies and thought he was funny, but in person he was probably the best comedy performance that I had ever seen.


May 21, 2008  5:04 PM

EMC World 2008 Day 2

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Yesterday was an very busy day.  I didn’t have time to think, much less put together a post about it.  I hit every session which I was looking for including the always hard to get into Navisphere Manager Hands-on workshop.

The session I probably got the most out of was the session on what’s new in the FLARE version 26 which was released a few months ago.

FLARE 26 now supports Active/Active presentation of the LUNs.  What this means is that in the event of a fibre cut on either the front end or the back end the host machine (Server) will no longer need to trespass the LUN to the other SP.  The LUN can simply send the IO request to the other SP.  The non-preferred SP will then forward the request to the preferred SP automatically for completion.  Upon the preferred SPs connectivity coming back online the requests will then be sent to the preferred SP.  The newest version of PowerPath is required for this to work, or the native multipathing driver such as the Windows 2008 driver must support ALVA.

The support for supporting a broken connection between the host and the storage is from ALVA.  The support for handling the request when the connection is broken between the SP and the DAE is an EMC only extension of ALVA.

FLARE 26 also includes RAID 6 support.  When comparing RAID 6 with RAID 5 on the same system read performance will typically be better as the data is spread across all the drives in the RAID 6 array.  Unlike a lot of other systems the EMC CLARiiON array spreads the parity sectors of (RAID 5 and) RAID 6 across all the drives in the RAID Group.  So because there is an extra drive in the array a 4+2 RAID 6 RAID Group will give better read performance that a 4+1 RAID 5 RAID Group.  When doing a full strip write the write speed between a RAID 5 and RAID 6 array will be basically the same.  When doing smaller writes a RAID 5 array will have a faster write time than a RAID 6 array because RAID 6 has the extra parity to account for.  The rebuild times for rebuilding after a failed drive will be about the same between a RAID 5 and RAID 6 array which have suffered a single drive failure.  If the RAID 6 array has to recover from a dual drive failure it will take longer to recover than the single drive failure as the data must be recalculated from the two parity bits rather than from a single parity bit.  However the odds of a dual disk failure are slim. 

Just like with RAID 5 within the CLARiiON the RAID 6 supports the proactive hot spare.  This is where when the system sees that a drive is going to fail it will automatically copy the data from the failing disk to a hot spare and mark the disk as bad.  As the data does not have to be rebuilt this is a very quick operation.

FLARE 26 now supports a Security Administrator role.  Members of this role have no access to the storage settings it self.  They can only create accounts within the Array.

A very important change is that the SPs can now be setup to sync thier system time to a networked NTP time server.  This will force the time on the SPs to be the same.  Until now the times could end up getting a little off which could make tracking down event information very hard to do as the log entries would have different times on each SPs log file.

FLARE 26 now supports replication over the built-in iSCSI ports on the new CX3 line of systems.  This is a great change as before you had to use the iSCSI ports on a FC-IP switch to do this replication.  This includes SAN Copy, MirrorView, etc.

MirrorView /S should only be used for connections within ~100 miles as beyond that you start to get to much latency between the arrays.

Starting later this year (Q3 or so) there will be an extension to MirrorView /S called MirrorView /SE (Cluster Enabler) for Microsoft Cluster Service.  This will give you the ability to use CLARiiON to setup a geographically disbursed cluster.  In other words you can have servers in two different cities setup in a Windows Cluster.

May 20, 2008  12:26 AM

EMC World 2008 Day 1 (Last post of the day)

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

I find myself with a little extra time between my last session of the day, which was a SQL 2008 Session, and the Grant Opening Reception, so I figured that a blog post was in order.

 The SQL 2008 session was a what’s coming in SQL 2008. Most of the information was stuff that I already knew and have covered here in some form or another: FILESTREAM, new data types, etc.  There was a new piece feature which was presented.  The new feature it called the Remote Blob Storage Architecture.  It’s not actually part of the SQL Server but the SQL Native Client (the SQL 2008 SQL Server driver).  the RBSA is an API which lets the application write the file directly to the file system within the context of a SQL Server transaction.  This way if the transaction is rolled back the file is deleted automatically as part of the client transaction rollback.

 This is the first that I have heard of it, so I’ll have to find out more about and post about it.  The only thing that Google can find is an MSDN forum thread from March 2008.  There was some very ruff VB.NET code presented as an example.  I’ll try and get my hands on that, clean it up a bit and see what I can figure out.  As soon as I do I’ll get it posted.

If anyone has any additional information about the RBSA please feel free to post it.  I’m sure that I’m not the only one who would like to see more information about it.

I’ve got 5 or 6 sessions tomorrow, but they are more focused on VMware and the EMC CLARiiON product line.  So be sure to check out tomorrow if you are interested in those.


May 19, 2008  5:54 PM

EMC World 2008 Day 1 (Keynotes)

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Here are some of the key points from the keynotes from EMC world.

Gartner says that by 2011 there will be 1337 Exabytes.

 179 Exabytes of information has been created so far this year.

In the next two years we will see a trend moving further away from using Tape for backup and recovery.  It will still be used for long term archiving, but day to day restores will come from disk.

During the raw data into useful information is becoming more and more of a challenge for IT departments and business units. 

What I’m gathering from the keynotes is that the amount of data is exploding.  I see this as a great thing for us DBAs as, the bulk of data that companies have is going to be stored within the database.  I know that the company which I work for (Awareness Technologies) creates about 110 Gigs of information per day.  Now with our products policy we keep this data for 14 days (unless the customer pays us to keep the data longer).  This means that we have about 1.5 Terabytes of information within our data center that our customers are looking at on a daily basis.  This much data, with such a high data change rate is just a crazy amount of data change.

Sites with high data change rates have specific challenges some of which I will be talking about (specifically how they relate to Microsoft SQL Server) on 6/11/2008 at 12:00 PM PST when I present a geekspeak session “geekSpeak: Spatial Data in SQL Server 2008 with Denny Cherry”.  I’ll post the link to this webcast when I get it.

Since my laptop battery is dieing I’ll have to wrap this up for now.  Check back later for more.


May 19, 2008  4:53 PM

EMC World 2008 Day 1 (The first post)

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

While waiting for the first keynote to start I figured that this would be as good a time as any to write a quick post.

 I just got out of the first session of the morning.  I decided to catch the VMware VI3 session which went over the new features of ESX 3.5.

 It was a very good session packed with great info about the new features of VMware ESX 3.5 which came out a few months ago.

3.5 introduces the Storage Vmotion.  It’s similar to the regular Vmotion which moves VMs from one host to another, but it’s designed to move a VMs storage from one disk (LUN, array, etc) to another disk within the same host without taking the VM down.  In prior versions of VMware to move a VM from on disk to another you would need to power the machine down and then move the machine.  It can now be done as a live operation.  It does temporally double the memory and CPU requirements of the guest OS, and it is a CPU and disk intensive operation and should be done off hours, but it’s a great way to move from a full disk to an empty one.

 Another great technology which I was introduced to is the VDM or Virtual Desktop Manager.  As I understand this technology it allows you to take a single Windows XP guest OS, and allow many people to connect to it.  The VDM places a connect pool in front of the Windows XP guest OS and as people connect to it, it takes a snap of the guest OS, and lets the new user use the snap.  This allows many people to use a single Virtual Machine without increasing the amount of disk space required, and reducing the IO requirement of your Windows XP (or Vista) guests on the host.

As the Keynotes proceed I’ll try and go over what they are talking about.


May 19, 2008  8:03 AM

EMC World 2008 Day 0

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Today is the check-in and welcome party for EMC World.  EMC and Brocade had the Goo Goo Dolls perform at the welcome party.  The party and show were fantastic.

Funniest comment of the concert would have to be “This is the first all you can eat buffet rock show I’ve ever been to.”

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/er3xnXS_9vs" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

The video was taken by my wife (who also had a great time, thanks for coming with me).  What you don’t see (but you can here) is John Rzeznik talking to one of the people serving the food about 2 feet from the front of the stage.  If anyone has better shots or video please post them and links to them.

Here are some stills which my wife took. She takes all the photos. I can’t take a picture to save my life.  (Click the image to see the bigger version.)
img_0115.jpg img_0137.jpg img_0139.jpg

img_0169.jpg  img_0179.jpg  img_0201.jpg

img_0219.jpg  img_0235.jpg  img_0250.jpg

img_0293.jpg  img_0340.jpg  img_0381.jpg


I’ll continue to post from the conference as best I can.



I’ve added another picture so the group.

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