Apr 022017
 

If you are attending this year’s SQL Nexus conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, from May 1st to 3rd this year, I urge you to attend my preconference training session – “The Complete Primer to SQL Server Virtualization“. The architecture of the infrastructure underneath your mission-critical SQL Servers is vital to the well-being of your databases, and if any little component underneath is not running at its peak potential, your SQL Servers are artificially bottlenecked and your performance suffers.

Session Details
Microsoft MVP and VMware vExpert David Klee leads this full-day introduction to enabling and managing a virtualized SQL Server environment. The focus of the course is to help those new to virtualization and/or infrastructure concepts to become familiar with the concept and purposes of virtualization and how it can benefit them as data professionals. Participants will gain exposure to all layers of virtualization underneath SQL Server, from storage to hypervisor to the SQL Server instance, and will learn how to construct the entire stack with a strong emphasis on SQL Server performance.

Intended Audience. The intended audience of this course is information workers (both business and IT-centric) involved with architecting a virtualization strategy for SQL Server, or managing business-critical SQL Servers that have already been virtualized.

Course Topics
The following topics will be addressed during the course:

  • The Physical Infrastructure Underneath the VM
  • Virtualization and Infrastructure Fundamentals
  • The SQL Server Virtual Machine
  • Networking, Support, and Licensing
  • Performance Investigation and Tuning of the Entire Stack
  • Similarities and Differences with Cloud versus On-Prem

Course Objectives
Upon completion of this course, attendees will be able to:

  • Understand key virtualization and cloud concepts
  • Determine the optimal infrastructure configuration for best performance
  • Construct a SQL Server virtual machine template with best practices for agility and performance
  • Understand how and what stack metrics to benchmark and baseline to ensure proper objective performance measurement
  • Identify and remediate common virtualized SQL Server performance killers
  • Understand proper virtualized capacity management techniques for long term management

Prerequisites
Attendees with the following experiences will benefit the most from this course:

  • Basic familiarity with the core components of a server
  • SQL Server installation and configuration
  • Exposure to SQL Server performance metric measurement and identification

A working set of the screens and configuration settings referenced in the session, together with the reference slides and documentation, will be provided to attendees, for strategic reference in working with virtualized SQL Server in your own environments.

I look forward to seeing you all there! Register today, as seats are limited!

Mar 292017
 

Watch your memory configuration! You can’t just throw RAM in a physical server and expect it to work right. Depending on your DIMM configuration, you might have accidentally slowed down your memory speed, which will surely slow down your application servers. This speed decrease is virtually undetectable from the OS. Anything that leverages lots of RAM to function, including a database server, can take a substantial performance hit on performance.

An example of this is if you wish to configure 384GB of RAM on a new server. The server has 24 memory slots. You could populate each of the memory slots with 16GB sticks of memory to get to the 384GB total. Or, you could spend a bit more money to buy 32GB sticks of memory and only fill up half of the memory slots. Your outcome is the same amount of RAM. Your price tag on the memory is slightly higher than the relatively cheaper smaller sticks.

In this configuration, your 16GB DIMM configuration runs the memory 22% slower than if you buy the higher density sticks. Check out page 63 of the server build guide for an HPE Proliant DL380 Gen9 server. The fully populated 16GB stick configuration runs the memory at 1866 MHz. If you only fill in the 32GB sticks on half the slots, the memory runs at 2400 MHz.

Database servers, both physical and virtual, use memory as an I/O cache, improving the performance of the database engine by reducing the dependency on slower storage and leveraging the speed of RAM to boost performance. If the memory is slower, your databases will perform worse. Validate your memory speed on your servers, both now and for upcoming hardware purchases. Ensure that your memory configuration yields the fastest possible performance. Your applications will thank you!

Mar 232017
 

I am proud to announce that we contributed to the latest revision of the Microsoft SQL Server on VMware best practices guide, freely available at this address. This document outlines some of the common VM-level tweaks and adjustments that are made when running enterprise SQL Server VMs on VMware platforms. This guide is considered a must-read if you manage these sorts of SQL Servers, which cannot be treated as general purpose virtual machines.

This guide was recently updated for vSphere 6.5, and we consider it an absolute must for your enterprise management library!

Special thanks go to Niran Even-chen for his efforts in making this guide continuously current, plus Allan Hirt and Deji Akomolafe for their incredible contributions as well.

Mar 202017
 

On Thursday, March 23rd, at 2pm Eastern, I will be hosting a webinar with Argenis Fernandez from Pure Storage where we will talk about infrastructure challenges as organizations start to adopt SQL Server’s in-memory features, such as In-Memory OLTP and Columnstore Indexes.

Details: The in-memory features that accompany modern versions of SQL Server, such as In-Memory OLTP and columnstore indexes, are some of the most ground-breaking and exciting enhancements to SQL Server in recent memory. However, have you explored these features and found that the performance boosts are not quite as great as advertised? The dependencies on a blazing fast infrastructure underneath SQL Server have never been higher. While these features are lightning fast when used appropriately, the speed of the infrastructure underneath, mostly CPU, memory, and storage, can hold back the performance of these features. Join David Klee, Heraflux Technologies, and Argenis Fernandez, Pure Storage, to learn how to leverage these features to boost your database performance, detect and diagnose any infrastructure performance issues that might exist, and learn about possible long-term improvements to your infrastructure that can safeguard your performance for years!

Register for this exciting webinar here! I look forward to seeing you all there!

Mar 152017
 

I hope you all can join me for an upcoming webinar as part of the Datacenter Madness webinar series, presented by ActualTech Media, Nutanix, and Intel. The Madness is moving from the basketball court to the cloud. It’s time for the ultimate data center showdown where opponents will go head-to-head debating the hottest methods IT pros are relying on to eliminate IT complexity and build the Enterprise Cloud of the future.

I’m dueling in Round #2 on March 28th at 2pm Eastern to discuss traditional RDBMS versus NoSQL databases and separate virtualization stacks versus integrated hypervisors. It’s sure to be a blast!

In the second round of March DC Madness, we’re all about applications. How will applications evolve in the age of cloud? How will they be run? Watch the referee for this one—it’ll be a heated match-up!

RDBMS vs. NoSQL:

How will enterprise applications evolve and what type of databases will hold the PBs of data generated in the coming years? Will RDBMS continue to rule the DC, or will the challenger NoSQL be the new king?

Virtualization Throwdown:

Now that the market has embraced virtualization as the norm for practically all workloads in the datacenter, does it make sense for applications and VMs to run on a separately deployed virtualization stack? Or has the hypervisor become another integrated feature?

Register for this exciting series of webinars today!

Mar 062017
 

VMware’s VMTools package has some options for synchronizing the in-guest clock with the time of the ESXi host. By default, these are set to disabled, and under most circumstances, the hypervisor follows these settings and everything is fine. However, several situations exist where the hypervisor will reset the in-guest time, even though the VMTools setting is explicitly set to not allow this to happen.

  • A virtual machine is resumed from a suspended state
  • A vMotion occurs
  • A snapshot is taken
  • A snapshot is restored from
  • A virtual disk is shrunk
  • The VMware Tools service is restarted, which includes a guest reboot

Of these tasks, vMotions for load balancing and snapshots for VM-level backups are very common routine operations for VMs.

These time sync actions can move a guest’s time backwards as well as forwards. More details about this conflict of settings are found in VMware KB1189. If the host time is out of sync, such as when a BIOS battery fails, bad things can happen. This action is extremely detrimental to the state of SQL Server high availability features, such as Availability Groups and Failover Cluster Instances, which depend on the in-guest time closely aligning with the Active Directory synchronized time. This action must be explicitly disabled to ensure that these maintenance items do not trigger an unexpected failover of the SQL Server HA solution. To disable this action, perform the following tasks.

To correct this action, first shut down the virtual machine. Then, edit the virtual machine’s advanced configuration parameters under VM Options, and add the following keys and values.

Key Name Value
tools.syncTime 0
time.synchronize.continue 0
time.synchronize.restore 0
time.synchronize.resume.disk 0
time.synchronize.shrink 0
time.synchronize.tools.startup 0
time.synchronize.tools.enable 0
time.synchronize.resume.host 0

Save the configuration. Power back on the VM.