Archive for February, 2009

News Letter Follow Up

Posted: February 27, 2009 in Uncategorized

Over the last couple of days on the SSWUG Newsletter there has been some great discussion on SAN Solutions and SQL Server. (If do not get the newsletter, you can at no charge by signing up here.) I have included today’s editorial, but I would recommend that you check out the discussion. In my opinion this is one of the more important topics that are being talked about over the last couple of years. Technology including hardware keeps getting better and better. But I have been in environments where companies have adopted new technology but have not invested in the training for the staff that was expected to run it. The end result is, who does this responsibility fall on? If it’s a storage device and your database is on it, you cannot just pass the buck and say it’s the SAN Admin’s fault. You have to own up and find the source. Jeremy had a great comment that I thought fit in well with mine.

I think there is a great need for more DBA’s out there to adopt the approach that Brent Ozar took. He looked at the new storage that was going to host his databases and studied it, became an expert and is now trying to get the rest of us to catch up. When I first talked to Brent I was excited to see that he was talking about the subject of Databases on SAN. I have been too many conferences and have listen to a few speakers try to capture this subject. None of them did it as well as Brent.

SAN Solutions, SQL Server and Many Misconceptions…
From our own Chris Shaw: “
I think the comments that you have received to this point are great.  There is a huge need there for SAN Administrators to understand SQL Server, or even SQL Server DBA’s to start learning SANS.  Either way in the past few years I have seen this as being a huge gap.  When I was working with a SAN not too long ago, the SAN Administrator would create a RAID and then many LUN’s on that RAID.  These LUNS would be owned by different servers.  In some cases this would not have been a big deal if the servers and solid busy times and times when there was no activity.  So you could put 2 machines on the same RAID no matter the flavor of RAID.  

This company clearly did not understand that if you have 10 spindles on a server and then you upgrade it to a SAN where it may have 12 spindles, but it has to be shared with another server that used to have 10 spindles…  Well now what was 20 spindles for 2 servers is now 12 spindles for 2 servers.  The end result was performance problems like we had never seen before.  We had the SAN Vendor come in give us the configuration recommendation and when they left all they did was move the LUNS around.  The Spindles were still shared.

Jeremy:This is a great topic.

Steven’s comment about using the word spindle has been very effective for me as well.  Also helping to educate the SAN admin’s on why I request different raid configurations for different files has been very effective.  By explaining that a raid 1+0 configuration is helpful for logs due to their contiguous writes versus having data on raid 5 due to the decreased cost (less spindles needed) and the random read / write nature of data files.

David’s comment is also very interesting.  I’ve been part of many SAN implementations over the years and I’ve only once seen the performance degrade when moving to a SAN.  This was due to the SAN administrators creating one huge raid group (5) and putting exchange, databases and file shares all together.

At the end of the day, I believe that the responsibility for this to be effective rests on the owner / manager of the database system.  Typically that’s the DBA.  If a DBA doesn’t understand the topology of storage, be it NAS, SAN, SCSI, FIBER etc… it is their job to get up to speed on all of it.  From a hardware performance standpoint it is nearly always the bottleneck, in my experience.

One quick lesson learned (the hard way).  Even the best SAN guys don’t always understand the underpinnings of the technology and metrics provided by the SAN vendor.  The experience that I’m referring to had to do with the SAN monitoring software showing performance capacity at 30 – 40 percent.  Meaning that the SAN was reporting that it was only busy that percentage of time; but from the O/S / RDBMS side, I was noticing queue lengths / waits.  It took over a week for me to convince them to give me a login to the monitoring software.  Once I had it, I was able to find a statistic that explained everything… it was busy time per disk.  On one of the raid groups; the group was reporting 40% busy, yet each disk was reporting > 80% busy.  Meaning that the disk was thrashing and killing performance.

There are many other stories out there which are similar and some new ones with NAS.  However, at the end of the day, SANS are simply awesome for databases.

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Conference Status

Posted: February 26, 2009 in Uncategorized

There is so much going on over the last couple months I am starting to wonder myself it I get any sleep. For those of us who know Denver I finally went out and got the Fast Trac or what ever they call it. So I thought I would post and catch everyone up on the conferences that are happening. There are a lot of events as well and I will try to put them up here as I hear about them. So here we go:

I got my SSWUG v-conf discount, if you use this code (SPCSHAW09) when you sign up it will give you $10.00 off. On top of that there is an early bird discount, so if you go in and sign up you will be the best rate. To give you more information about the conference it looks like there will be over 40 speakers and over 120 sessions, The really cool thing that we added this time, or I think it is cool is the SQL 100 track. So if you are just picking up SQL Server or if you want to brush up on a new feature that you have not really played with yet then its there at no additional cost. This is going to be on each of the conferences.

Last weekend I did the Rocky Mountain Tri-Fecta that was pretty awesome event, this event was hosted by a number of user groups in the Colorado area. It was really neat that in my session that I delivered I met a gentleman that attended the SSWUG V-Conf and he talked about how much he liked it. Its not often that speakers get a lot of good feed back on how they did, so it was great talking to someone who attended and enjoyed the sessions that he went to.

In 2 weeks I think I will be heading down to Tucson AZ so that I can film a few web casts and an ITUPLink session or 2. If you have not had a chance to check out IT Uplink you may want to head over there. It’s a great way to see topics on a professional set just like the vConf that SSWUG does.

Speaking about SSWUG I have an article that I just finished up and is being edited now. This article I think is one of my favorites. I talk about a problem I had once with a CFO and how he ended up stealing the data. I believe that will be coming out on SSWUG March 3rd.

Then the last trip I have for the Spring, well the last one planned so far is to head over to SQL Connections in Sunny Florida, I always have fun at connections and I am sure that this year will be no different. This event starts March 22nd.

Well my final note before I sign off is right before I head off to Tucson My wife and I will be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary We have been together I think 11 years now. I know what your thinking, how did she put up with me for this long, I can tell you the only other person in my life that many years was my Mother.

When You Don’t Get Paid Update

Posted: February 23, 2009 in Uncategorized

Well, I am not doing so well on keeping up this last week. So I figured I would put a few updates into one post.

Note 1 – Last Saturday I was up in Denver for the Rocky Mountain Tri-Fecta. This was a combined event with people from the local .NET, SQL Server and Windows User Groups. From my understanding there were over 600 people that signed up. What a great turn out. I am floored when some many people in the local areas come out to an event like that. I gave a presentation on SQL Server 2008 the new features that are in there and if people should upgrade to it. If you missed it I think it will be up on IT Uplink before too long if it’s not already there.

Note 2 – For about the last month I have been chatting back and forth with the current leadership of the Colorado Springs SQL Server User Group. Some of the discussions were about me getting back involved with the group. I stopped a couple of years ago because of my work schedule, but now part of my job is staying active in the User Groups. At this point it looks like I may be taking the position of VP of Marketing. It will be my job to help out at meetings and promote the group. I am looking forward to getting back with old friends and making new ones.

Note 3 – Well a month or so ago I had a post on a client that was not paying me. Well about 2 weeks ago I called them again; they claimed that they mailed the check to me on Jan 9th or somewhere around there. Since it was well past the 9th I asked them to cancel that check and to re-issue them. I was going to give them my shipping number to have them over night it to me. The declined the offer and then mentioned they had some service via UPS. I received the check 2 days later, dated Jan 9th. I guess someone forgot to put them in the mail. Remember this is for work that was done in November, I am just glad that we were paid.

Well I hope to have some more for you tomorrow. I know I have an article coming out soon on SSWUG about Using BCP starting from the basics. I know I find it hard to believe that DBA’s have forgot about this nice little tool that is still in SQL Server.

Things You Know Now

Posted: February 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

Michelle Ufford (aka SQLFool) tagged me in her blog post, Things You Know Now…, and asked, “It doesn’t have to be DBA skills, but what do you wish you knew when you were starting?”

As a side note I love these threads, if that is what you want to call them. I think there is a lot to be said with the Social Networking the way that it is now that we look back, I started one a few months ago about the biggest mistakes, and talk about great response. It was awesome to see that I was not alone in some of the mistakes that I made, and to top it off to see that many people that I have looked up to have made mistakes. This thread is very similar but with a different question, I think it’s the whole if I could go back 10 years or 20 years what would I change…. Well here we go:

Education – The more that I learn the more I realize I need to learn more. I know it sounds weird, but SQL Server is such a big product that it’s almost impossible to get your arms around the whole thing. Many times I will run into something that I was not aware of, and that leads me down a path where I see I need to learn a lot more about that area of SQL Server. Even as a speaker at events I find that the attendees can bring with them some great areas of knowledge, their experiences are not mine. Along the same lines the best way to learn a subject or an area is to teach that to someone else.

Don’t take it personal – DBA’s are not on the lets give them an award list. We have one of those jobs where if we are doing it right people are not going to nominate you for an award. Think about it this way, when was the last time you called your telephone company and thanked them for keeping the telephone lines up and running for you? If we are doing our job we are not in the spotlight. When we are in the spot light and are there for a good reason its short lived. So the next time they are handing out the best employee award or the best customer service award and if you don’t get it, maybe that means that you are doing your job right.

Mistakes – Well there are many ads’ out there now that give us the impressions that we are not human, remember you are. And you will make mistakes. The problem with mistakes as a DBA is that many of them have potential to be big mistakes; a great DBA has the ability to pay attention to details. Learn from your mistakes, wear them like a badge of honor, and don’t let them get to far away from you because you can say I learned something that I will try to never do again. Mistakes are one of those things that you know you will do it’s a matter of time. Those who try to hide them may end up with bigger mistakes.

 

So that is it. If I were to go back 20 years, this is what I wish I knew then that I know now. I am sure there are other things that I could list if I sat here a while and kept on it, but these are the first that come to mind.

Tag! You’re It.

I’m calling these guys out to post their own responses to Mike’s question:

Backup Question

Posted: February 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Well this may be sort a cheating here but I posted a blog on backups about in August. John to a look at it near the start of February and had a question. I liked the question and thought that I will post it as a blog entry.

 

Question

“Do you have any idea how common this is for a SQL backup to not be valid? Our company installs software at hospitals that includes a SQL Server DB. The DB gets backed up every day. That would be a bummer if the hard drive crashed and then the backups were corrupted, so that all data was lost. Is this something that we should be checking for at all of our sites, or is it very rare?”

My Answer:

“John, A lot is going to depend on the version of SQL Server. Versions that are older then 2000, I would be checking often if we had a good backup. I have been working with 2000 for some time now over a number of servers. I think I have run into only one backup that was not good. So if you are newer then 2000 I think the chance is not very high.

But by the way… there may be more pieces to the puzzle then just the SQL Server backup. You are going to want to run tests on a regular basis no matter what, I just talked to someone not to long ago, I believe Brent Ozar or Kevin Kline who said he knows a couple of shops that don’t even take the backs up to tape ever, now its a SLA from my understanding, but something to think about.

No matter what the final destination is of the backup, lets say it’s an off site storage facility and its on tape you are going to want to make sure that those backups remain good. Backups now are a many step process and I believe each step should be tested for the ability to recover, how long it takes, and the number of people that it takes to recover.”

When I talk to people on Disaster Recovery I try to make it a point that it may not only be SQL Server that you need to validate or keep an eye on. For example, I worked at a location where the databases were being backed up to tape but the exchange servers were being backed up to tape as well. There would be times that we could not be 100% sure that all our backups made it to tape before the disk copy was removed. At this same location they would not spend the money for years to upgrade their backup system on their main production system. I found this to be a rather sore spot with me because of a few things. One it was a public company, two it was my job to make sure we could restore the data but the left me in a place where I could only guarantee that it made it to disk.

As for my blog, you should start seeing me post a couple times a week now, I am back from vacation and I am ready for some sleep and to get back to work.

I love Feedback

Posted: February 9, 2009 in Uncategorized

Well this week I am on the road, and trying to get things wrapped up for vacation. This week I will be hooting and hollering at a STYX concert, touring Disneyland and having a grand old time. As I was going getting some items cleaned up, I received an e-mail from Donna Shaver. Donna attended the fall vConference that I spoke at in November and will be speaking at during the spring about a month after I am done at DevConnections.

It’s not often as a DBA that you get e-mails that make you feel good, I tell people that ask me about what I do, that If I work at your company and you don’t know who I am that is a good thing. Well Donna was kind enough to send me a review of the vConference. I am not much for tooting my own horn but I figured I would share some parts of what Donna had to say:

 

I still feel that real conferences are extremely important.  But this virtual conference is a brilliant idea!  I believe neither will replace the other.  Instead, they actually compliment each other nicely.”

 

“And talk about convenient!  Well, I don’t have to tell you how the virtual conference is soooooo much cheaper and fits into about any schedule and any budget.  Plus, you can interact with the presenter through chat live while the recorded presentation is rolling.  And if you’re watching an on-demand video, then of course you can Rewind and Pause anytime!  Yes, there are many advantages of a virtual conference.  And I definitely think they are here to stay.”

 

“I worked from home today and didn’t get to join the conference until 5:20pm.  Lucky for me, a presentation began at 5:30pm.  Jason Strate presented
“What’s New in SQL Server 2008 SSIS”.  This sounds great, so I enter Session Room B, and the presentation begins right on time at exactly 5:30pm.  His presentation
was good, and the PPT slides he showed were very clear”

 

“I then watched “SQL Server Forensics” by Sarah Barela (as mentioned above).  She spoke about the basics of logging, tracing, and auditing.  It was great!  It’s the basics that I enjoy most!” 

 

“I then watched an on-demand video by Chris Shaw on “Why Do We Make This Hard?”  Chris shared some of his tried and true experiences.  He said to know the baseline performance of your servers… the typical load on your servers at a few key points in time during an average day… such as the number of connected users, their CPU usage, and their memory usage.”

 

“Something came up at the office and I had to work from home all day and couldn’t join the conference. That would have been a huge loss had I been at a real conference. But, because it was a virtual conference I knew I could watch the videos later.”

 

“Now it is true that you can just go online and watch videos anytime.  Microsoft has some good ones for free and I recommend watching those for sure.  But in general (and there are definite exceptions), you’ll have to pay for good videos.  So you may as well pay one price and also get your boss to schedule you some time at home to attend the conference.  Plus you have the presenters available in the chat and there is a sense of community in the chat because you’re all watching the same presentation at the same time.  All that for only $100!”

After all the nice things that she said about the SSWUG vConference she concluded “I wish I could have attended all the sessions, but ya just can’t. I still felt a bit lost and behind during the event, but the virtual conference definitely helped to better prepare me for the in person Conferences”

Well I hope to get at least one more Blog done before I head off for the week. But if I don’t I will be back the 3rd week of February.

 

 

 

 

 

Taken

Posted: February 1, 2009 in Uncategorized

–MOVIE REVIEW a couple little spoilers—

I don’t have a daughter, but I am married, I do have a son. I can tell you that if anyone were to kidnap my son and try to do what these people in the Taken did I assure you that I would lose my mind. That is one thing that I could never understand, you see this in movies like one off the top of my head Ransom with Mel Gibson. Don’t get me wrong, but he did not pop a cork like I think I would do, if it had happened to me in real life. It’s never happened to me so maybe I am just not seeing life though their eyes. To top if off I am not some kick butt retired spy that could just whip out my cell phone recording device and speaker set within seconds of a phone call. Either way I don’t have the ninja skills that would be needed to pull this one off…

Now where to start, OK I leaned over to my wife and said, I don’t ever remember Lian Neesom in some kick but action movie, my wife mentioned Darkman but I don’t remember seeing that one. I mean when he started to whip out that stewed up 56 year old can a whoop ass, it took time for me to pick up my jaw. I look though the movies that he as done and I see there are some action parts in there. I just don’t remember these. I can tell you that I am impressed. They picked the right actor for that roll. This guy was awesome. And the best part was there was very little that was unbelievable. So the man can act, and whoop some tail.

I think another thing that has really got me liking this movie was the weird way that it was predictable yet still surprised me at points. Yes he gets his daughter, yes he whips the bad guys but man some of the things he did just made you go wow, if that happened to me I could see me freaking out like that. Another thing that I really liked about the movie, I don’t recall a curse word. Now I am not offended by them, but I do feel like some actors or scripts have them in there to add a little to the scene. This movie did not need it. In my eyes this is one of the best action flicks in a long time.

Now does it rate better them 007 or Jason Bourne no not quite. But it was a great change of pace from seeing the same faces in the same cookie cutter films just change a little around. Is it the movie of they year, well maybe we will just have to wait to see what comes out. I thought at first that it was just me that thought this was a great movie, but as I walked out people were talking about how much they liked it. So what the heck, I say go see it watch it in the theater and I am going to buy it as soon as it comes out.

Movies that I am keeping my eye out for… Friday the 13th, this one actually looks like a good one, Mall Cop has some great funny parts in the trailer, I just hope that there is more then those in the move. In the next day or so, I will post one on Step Brothers (This will only be on my movie review blog).