SQL Server with Mr. Denny

March 15, 2012  2:00 PM

My First Day with Windows 8

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

So I’ve taken the plunge and installed Windows 8 Client Preview on one of my laptops.  The install process was pretty simple and straight forward.  The installer found my WiFi card so I was able to get everything up and running right out of the box.  The next thing to do was to install SQL 2012 and Office.  I started with SQL 2012 and it installed without issue.  Office 2010 installed without issue as well.

Thankfully Windows Live Mesh also installed without a problem and was able to sync up the My Documents folder to my desktop and other laptop so everything showed up on the laptop just as I expected it to be.

The lack of the classic start menu is a little annoying.  You can however hit <Windows>+W to get something pretty similar up on the screen.  I’ve only had an hour or so to play with Windows 8 so far, so I haven’t done a whole lot with it yet.  Task manager is pretty cool looking with a lot of additional information being included.

Now so far I pretty much hate the “Start Menu”.  Everything is sitting there with no folders.  Needless to say this isn’t exactly efficient with a bunch of applications installed.

I like the changes to the Windows explorer with the ribbon.  I think I actually like it better than the old drop down menus.    One great new feature is that Windows 8 can, without any 3rd party software, mount ISO images to make it easier to install downloaded software.  Is makes life much easier when installing all the various Microsoft software that one uses to work, as Microsoft distributes most everything on MSDN and TechNet as ISO files these days.

So by default (if Windows found a network when installing) the Windows accounts are tied to your Windows live account (if you don’t have a live account it’ll either prompt you for one or make the accounts local accounts like they used to be).  This allows you to sync your settings between your Windows 8 computers.  Once I’ve got several Windows 8 machines this will probably be handy.  Until then this feature doesn’t really do anything for me.

As I use it more I’ll post another update.


March 15, 2012  3:40 AM

Windows 8 does have a Start Menu, sort of

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Everyone says that Windows 8 doesn’t have a start menu, and it’s true there’s no Start Button on the task bar like in the last several versions of Windows.  However if you press <Windows>+W you’ll get a sort of start menu.

There’s an Apps button on that menu, which when pressed will give you the pretty classic looking Start Menu.

I’m sure that I’ll be using this feature pretty often as most apps don’t have a Metro icon.


March 12, 2012  6:16 PM

SQL Saturday 120 Storage and Virtualization Pre-Con

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Interested in my SQL Bits pre-con, but you just can’t make it out to London for SQL Bits?  Have I got a deal for you.  It has just been announced that I will be giving my Storage and Virtualization pre-con at SQL Saturday 120 on March 23rd, 2012.

SQL Saturday is bringing you this pre-con for just $99.  All this is available without leaving the good old USA.  Sign up now at http://sqlsat120precon.eventbrite.com to reserve your seat and I’ll see you there.

If you can’t make it to the pre-con don’t forget to register for the full day of training at SQL Saturday 120.  We’ve got some great local speakers as well as a ton of speakers from around the US who are flying in just to see your smiling face in their sessions.  So don’t stand them up.  Some of the out of town speakers include Kendra Little, Jeremiah Peschka, Randy Knight, Grant Fritchey, Aaron Nelson and Audry Hammonds.


March 12, 2012  2:00 PM

AlwaysOn and Error 41006 (and error 41158)

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

When setting up AlwaysOn Availability Groups you may receive Error 41158 which references error 41006 when you attempt to join the the replica to the Availability Group.  What these errors in a nut shell mean is that it ain’t going to work with your current configuration.

Assuming that you ran through your SQL Server installation and went next, next, next through the install this result is to be expected.  The reason for this is that your SQL services are all running under local accounts which don’t have the ability to log into each other.  There’s two solutions to this problem at this point.  1 is supported, the second isn’t.

Option #1 – aka. The Supported Option

Reconfigure the SQL Services which will be hosting the Availability Group Replicas to run under a single domain account.  Restart the services.  Give the SQL Account that the services are running under sysadmin rights.  The replicas should sync up automatically at this point.  If they don’t you can use the ALTER AVAILABILITY GROUP command to join the AG.

Option #2 – aka. Totally Unsupported, but works great for a demo

Add the domain computer account for each of the nodes of the cluster to each others SQL instance so that they can log in.  For example the four computers which I use for my demo are called ALWAYSON1, ALWAYSON2, ALWAYSON3, and ALWAYSON4.  So on machine ALWAYSON1 I added the domain accounts BACON\ALWAYSON2$, BACON\ALWAYSON3$, and BACON\ALWAYSON4$ as members of the sysadmin fixed server role (again this is for my demo lab so I’m going for working not secure).  On machine ALWAYSON2 I add BACON\ALWAYSON1$, BACON\ALWAYSON3$, and BACON\ALWAYSON4$ and so on for machines 3 and 4.  Once that was done the replication should being syncing up automatically.  If they don’t either use ALTER AVAILABILITY GROUP or use the UI to force retrying.


March 9, 2012  8:00 PM

Still time left to sign up for SQL 2012 training

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Some seats are still available for my SQL Server 2012 class which kicks off March 19th, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA.  If you are planning on deploying SQL Server 2012 in the near future this training class is for you.  But don’t wait to get signed up.  The sooner you get signed up the better off you’ll be.

This training class is 4 days long and will be focusing on 4 key areas of SQL Server 2012.

  1. Planning and Installation
  2. Mission Critical Deployments (aka High Availability, programming and migrations)
  3. Breakthrough Insights (aka BI)
  4. Manageability and Security

This full four day class includes not only lecture, but lots of hands on labs which are only available through this class.  All this is available for just $1200 which covers all four days.

So get signed up today!

March 8, 2012  2:00 PM

Less SQL Saturday’s for me this year

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

I’m sad to say that I’m going to have to cut back on the number of SQL Saturday’s that I’m going to be able to attend this year.  It’s not because I don’t love PASS, or SQL Saturday, or the attendees as much as I did before, because it’s not.  I’m just so busy that I’ve been royally screwing up the whole work live balance thing so far this year so far.  In the first two months of the year I’ve been home for something like 10 days, and 4 of those I was sick with the flu (by the end of March I’ll be home for 2-3 weeks total depending on if a trip happens or is canceled).

Between work and the conferences like Tech Ed, SQL Days 2012, etc. that I’ll be at I just need to make sure that I’ll be at home at least a little bit so that Kris doesn’t kill me.

I’ll be at my local Code Camps and SQL Saturday’s (I’ve even got to leave SQL Saturday Huntington Beach early for my flight to SQL Bits) for sure, I’ll be in Atlanta for sure.  If there’s one the weekend before or after PASS I’ll try and hit that one.  Other than that I’m afraid that I’ll probably have to keep it pretty light.  Hopefully next year I can cut back all this other travel and get back on the SQL Saturday circuit a bit more.

Hopefully I’ll see you at one of the few SQL Saturday events that I’m able to attend, or one of the bigger conferences.  SQL Saturday 120 is next followed by SQL Bits.


March 5, 2012  2:00 PM

SQL Saturday 109 Presentation

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of presenting to the great folks at SQL Saturday 109.  I’m pretty sure this was my largest SQL Saturday to date to attend with over 400 people attending the session.  Because of the massive number of great speakers, including MVPs, Microsoft Employees and local speakers I only got to present one session.  But my session went really well, and I think everyone who attended got something out of it.

Several people asked for my slide deck, which you can download here.

Hopefully everyone had as much fun attending the session as I did presenting the session.



March 1, 2012  2:00 PM

Init Replication From Backup

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

One of the great features with SQL Replication is the ability to initialize a subscription from backup instead of from a snapshot.  The official use for this is to take a database backup and restore it to a subscriber then replicate any additional changes to the backup.

However this technique can be used to get replication back up and running after moving the publisher to another SQL Server.  Simply setup the publication just like normal, then backup the database and add the subscription using the “initialize with backup” value for the @sync_type parameter as shown in the sample code below.

If you were going to actually initialize a new subscription using a backup like the feature was written to be used, then after the backup has happened restore the database to the subscriber under the correct database name.

BACKUP DATABASE YourDatabase TO DISK='E:\Backup\YourDatabase.bak' WITH FORMAT, STATS=10
USE YourDatabase
EXEC sp_addsubscription @publication = N'YourDatabase Publication', @subscriber=N'ReportServer', @destination_db = N'ReportingDatabase', @article='all',
@sync_type='initialize with backup', @backupdevicetype='disk', @backupdevicename='e:\Backup\YourDatabase.bak'

This technique should work on all versions of SQL Server from SQL Server 2000 up through SQL Server 2012 without issue.


February 27, 2012  2:00 PM

Building a new CoLo – Part 1 of n

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

So if you follow me on twitter you might have seen this tweet a little while back.

Since there aren’t many people out there that get the chance to buy and build a brand new data center from scratch, I figured that I’d go over the process with you.  This is the first of who knows how many blog posts on the topic.

The first step in buying colo space and moving into it involves getting completely fed up with your current hosting company.  Currently we are with a large managed hosting provider named RackSpace I probably shouldn’t name them, and have become totally fed up with them.  The costs are to high and we get almost nothing from their support team but grief.  They have actually unplugged a firewall’s power cable in the middle of the day by accident.  We actually have to have paper signs taped to the racks with the equipment which says to not touch anything in these racks between 6am eastern and midnight eastern without manager approval (or something to that effect) because it has happened so many times.

The first step to moving into your own CoLo (this process has taken about a year at this point) is to figure out how much processing power and storage you need to purchase.  This doesn’t need to be an exact figure, but a rough estimate.  This will eliminate some hardware options for you.

You also need to know what features you are looking for.  Here are some questions that can help you figure these things out.

  • Are you going to virtualizing servers?
    • A few large VM hosts?
    • Lots of little VM hosts?
  • Will you need storage level replication to another data center later on for DR?
  • If you will be virtualizing servers, will you need to be able to setup a Windows cluster as a VM?
  • How long do you need to keep backups for?
    • Onsite?
    • Offsite?
  • How much data growth is expected?
    • Over one year?
    • Over two years?
    • Over three years?
  • How IO rates need to be supported?
  • How much IO throughput needs to be supported?

So lets break these questions down a little bit.

Are you going to virtualizing servers?

This one is pretty much a give in.  Most every company should be virtualizing at least some of their servers.  If nothing else things like domain controllers, and other infrastructure servers should be virtualized.  It just doesn’t pay to have physical servers sitting around using 1% of the CPU all day.  Other servers like web servers and app servers are also usually a no brainer when it comes to virtualizing them.  The big questions come down to your mission critical servers, SQL Server, Oracle, Exchange (yeah I know, it’s not mission critical but just wait for Exchange or mail to go down them tell me it isn’t mission critical), SAP, etc.  These machines may or may not be able to be virtualized.

It’s OK to have some machines by virtual and others to be physical.  In the case of this project everything is virtual except for the SQL Server cluster (to large to be a VM) the vCenter management server (cause I’m old school and want it physical), monitoring (it’ll run on the vCenter server for the most part), and some appliances which are physical appliances which have to be racked.  All the web, file, and infrastructure servers will be VMs.

In our case we are going with a few larger hosts instead of a bunch of smaller hosts.  As we got through the hardware review process we landed on Cisco UCS blades and servers.  For the VMware hosts we are running on several of the dual socket, 8 core per socket blades with something like 96 or 128 Gigs (might be even more at this point) of RAM per blade.

For the SQL Server cluster we are also using blades as they ended up being less expensive than their physical counter parts.  The SQL Server blades are quad socket, 8 core per socket blades with 256 Gigs of RAM per blade.  We didn’t pick these blades for the VMware hosts because it was actually cheaper to have the dual socket blades over the quad socket blades, and nothing that will be a VM will be getting more than 4 or 6 vCPUs so having the smaller blades isn’t an issue.

Will you need storage level replication to another data center later on for DR?

If you are planning on building a DR site at some point in the future this is important to know now.  It would really suck to buy a storage solution that doesn’t support this when you will need it in the future.  Just because you will need it doesn’t mean you need to buy the replication software now, or setup the second DR site now.  But you need to plan ahead correctly for the project to ensure that everything that you want to do with the hardware is supported.  Nothing sucks more than having to go to management in the middle of the DR build and tell them that all that storage that you’ve purchased will be useless and needs to be replaced, not only at the DR site but also at the primary site.  Issues like this can delay DR build out projects for months or years as you now have to pause the DR build out (probably while still paying for the DR site and equiptment), buy and install new storage, migrate to that storage, then restart the DR project and start up the replication.

In the case of this project management said that yes we will want to spin up a DR site probably within a couple of years so this limited our search for equipment to storage platforms which fully supported storage level replication.  This includes having consistency groups so that sets of LUNs are kept in sync together (kind of important for databases, Exchange, etc), integration with Windows VSS provider, supporting of snapshots, etc.

Now if your storage doesn’t support replication, or you want to have a nice expensive storage array at the primary site and a much less expensive storage solution at the DR site, you can look into EMC’s Recover Point appliance.  It supports replication between two storage array’s and doesn’t even require that they be the same brand of array.  It isn’t a cheap solution, but if you’ve got a million dollar solution in one site and a $100k solution in another site Recovery Point might be a good fit.

If you will be virtualizing servers, will you need to be able to setup a Windows cluster as a VM?

The reason that this question needs to be asked is to ensure that the storage array supports iSCSI.  The only way to build a Windows cluster as a VM is to use iSCSI to attach the VMs to the storage directly.  Most every storage array supports iSCSI these days, but there are some that don’t so this is important to know.

How long do you need to keep backups for?

As much as we all hate dealing with backups, backups are extremely important.  And keeping backups for a period of time will save you some headaches in the event that a backup becomes corrupt.  Also there might be regulations on how long backups are kept around for.  Your SOX auditor might have a requirement, as might you HIPAA auditor and your PCI auditor.  You just never know what these guys might through at you.

Then there’s the question of off site backups.  Having backups is great, but you need to get those backups off site in case something happens to the building that the backup system is in.  You’ve got a couple of different options here.

  1. Go old school and have iron mountain or someone pull the tapes and store them somewhere.
  2. Get a virtual tape library (VTL) and backup to that.  Then get a second VTL and put it in an office or another CoLo and replicate between the two.
  3. Put your backups on a LUN and replicate that LUN to another facility
  4. Out source the backups to the CoLo

Option 1 is the way that it’s always been done.  It’s reliable, slow and can be pretty costly.  Option 2 is a pretty new concept, probably just a few years old now.  It can work, if your backups are small enough and if you’ve got enough bandwidth.  Storing a monthly worth of backups can take a LOT of space.  Option 3 probably isn’t the greatest unless the only backups to worry about are the SQL Server backups as SQL can handle the purging of backups it self.  Option 4 is worth looking at.  Depending on the amount of space needed and what your CoLo charges it might be worth it to have the CoLo handle this for you.

In the case of this project we went with a combination of options #1 and #2.  We have a VLT to backup to so that the backups run very fast (a VTL is basically just a separate storage array that is only used by the tape backup software and includes compression and deduplication to reduce the size of the backups).  So we will backup to the VTL then copy the backups to tape.  Then iron mountain will take the tapes off site for us.  The VTL will hold about 2 weeks worth of backups on site, which we’ll have a second copy of on tape.  Once we have the DR site we’ll get another VTL and replicate that, probably increasing it’s storage to 4-6 weeks and dump the need for the tape and offsite backups as everything will be backed up in two different CoLo’s in two different cities.

How much data growth is expected?

Knowing how much space you need today is important.  Knowing how much space you need in 3 years is more important.  Just because a storage array supports your data size today doesn’t mean that it will support it in 3 years.  We use three years for a couple of reasons.  First that’s typically how long the maintenance contract on the hardware is.  Second that’s typically how long the financing term is for these kinds of purchases.

If you have 20 TB of space needed today, but in 3 years you’ll need 80 TB of space that’ll drastically change the kind of equipment that you can purchase.

How IO rates need to be supported?

How much IO throughput needs to be supported?

The next two questions go right along with the prior one.  How much IO needs to be supported and high much throughput needs to be supported.  These numbers will tell you if you need an array which supports flash drives, and how many drives need to be supported.  Without these metrics you are totally shooting in the dark about what you actually need.

Once you’ve gotten all these questions answered you’d think that it’s time to start looking at hardware, and you’d be wrong.  It’s time to go to management and get this thing approved to move forward.  Join me next time as we look at that process.


P.S. This series will be at least half a dozen posts long.  I’ll be tagging all of them with the tag “Building a new CoLo” to make it easier to follow just these posts via RSS if you aren’t interested in the rest of my stuff.

February 21, 2012  12:56 AM

Still time to sign up for my SQL 2012 Class

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

My SQL 2012 class is just a few short weeks away, but there are still seats available for the class. Take the time and get signed up now for this great four day class where we will be diving into SQL Server 2012 with loads of hands on labs to really get you ready to deploy SQL Server 2012 as soon as it is released.

As this class is all about the hands on part of the class, we won’t just be going through four days of lecture but we will instead be doing a great combination of lecture and lab so that you know not just the theory from slides but will have actual hands on experience of using the product to work through real life like scenarios.

Hopefully you’ll get signed up today and I’ll see you at the class next month.


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