Jul 292016
 

vmworld_2016

This year’s involvement in VMware‘s VMworld conference is up on the content catalog! I am extremely proud to announce my participation in the inaugural SQL Server workshop at this year’s VMworld US on August 27th. If your SQL Servers are running in a VMware environment, this course is critical to your success!

The first business critical applications and databases pre-conference workshop will cover all pertinent aspects of best practices for deployments and ongoing management of MS SQL Server running in virtualized infrastructure. This deep-dive full-day workshop will be delivered by VMware technical SQL Server specialists working in concert with world renowned external SQL Server and Virtualization experts, including me! The attendee will experience a workshop rich with technical content to include subjects such as vMotion for Failover Cluster Instances, Availability groups, SQLaaS with vRealize Automation and Site Recovery Manager. The content will be focused on best practices for design, implementation and management augmented with anecdotes of successful customer implementations.

SQL Server professionals, listen up. If your infrastructure admins are attending VMworld this year, please let them know about this course. Training them in the intricacies of the VMware platform as it relates to SQL Server, and having the training come from SQL Server professionals, is going to make your virtualization experience better.

AND – It’s not just SQL Server! A terrific Oracle on VMware session is being held on the same day as well. If you are running Oracle on VMware, I highly recommend your administrators head to this session as well!

I’m also presenting on a number of sessions during the main event!

Monster VMs (Database Virtualization) Doing IT Right – VIRT8290R – with Michael Corey

Databases by their very nature are Monster VMs. If Monster VMs are not virtualized properly, they will never perform well and can negatively impact the performance of other VMs on the hosts. In this presentation, we teach you how to properly virtualize Monster VM Databases. We will discuss why you virtualize, installation issues, how to architect for performance, the storage layer, the processor, memory considerations, and the network layer. Topics include NUMA, memory reservations, and how to avoid common mistakes. Lesson learned here help you optimize any workload you are virtualizing, with special emphasis on Monster VMs.

Performance Tuning and Monitoring for Virtualized Database Servers – VIRT7511 – with Thomas LaRock

Business-critical database platforms like Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server are among the last holdouts to enterprise virtualization, and the first to exhibit symptoms of infrastructure challenges. Is your VMware environment ready to accommodate them properly? Are your DBAs ready to virtualize them? Have you virtualized these, and now the DBAs complain about performance or lack of control? Successful virtualization of these platforms requires a different approach to virtualization than for other applications. The speakers will share their years of experience in virtualizing these data platforms so that you know how to validate your VMware environment for these systems and manage the performance properly. Scalability concerns will be addressed through discussions on scaling an individual database VM upwards and outwards as you manage the lifecycle of these database VMs. Key talking points will be presented so you can not only perfect the database virtualization from a technical level, but also from an organizational and people level by knowing how to convince the DBA that database virtualization — done right — is here to stay.

Running Business Critical Applications and the Software Defined Data Center on Hyper-Converged Infrastructure at the Speed of Flash – STO9607-SPO – with Patric Chang, Jase McCarty, Jason Pederson, and Nanjunda Somayaji

Virtualization has advanced beyond the hypervisor to include software-defined storage, hyper-converged infrastructure software (such as Virtual SAN), and workload migration across data centers and cloud services. This panel session will discuss how to take full advantages of evolving SDS and HCIS capabilities with new flash-enabled architectures, including a number of reference configurations and architectures running the most demanding business applications, OLTP databases and VDI workloads. Panel speakers will provide their real-world insights on key decision criteria to include when considering a flash-enabled HCIS or SDS technology, including performance, density, manageability, and financial considerations. Extensive opportunities for audience Q&A will be included in this session as well.

SQL Server on vSphere: A Panel with Some of the World’s Most Renowned Experts – VIRT7654 – with Denny Cherry, Niran Even-Chen, Allen Hirt, and Thomas LaRock

Learn from real-life experience about virtualizing the most demanding SQL Servers from some of world’s most renowned SQL Server experts! In this panel discussion, you also have the chance to ask your own questions about SQL Server on vSphere practices and get your answers from the SQL Server gurus.

Register for VMworld here!

Jul 182016
 

I’m pleased to announce that I’m launching my next round of all-day precon training session at the upcoming SQL Saturday in Louisville on Friday, August 5 called ‘The Complete Primer to SQL Server Infrastructure‘.

The focus of the course is to help those new to the enterprise server infrastructure concepts become familiar with the concept and purposes of each layer of the architecture around their databases, and how this knowledge can benefit them as data professionals. Participants will gain exposure to all layers of infrastructure and virtualization underneath SQL Server, from storage all the way through to the SQL Server instance, and will learn how to review and engineer the entire stack with a strong emphasis on SQL Server performance.

The following topics will be addressed during the course:

  • Datacenter Fundamentals
  • Infrastructure Stack Fundamentals
  • Storage and SAN Concepts and Design
  • Networking and Interconnect Topologies
  • Physical Server Technologies
  • The SQL Server Virtual Machine
  • High Availability and Disaster Recovery
  • Performance Investigation and Tuning of the Entire Stack

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 SQL Server and the infrastructure underneath in their own environments.

I am really happy to be delivering this precon, and look forward to seeing you all there! Reserve your seat at this exciting event at EventBrite here. Tickets are available at just $125!

Jul 082016
 

drive-harddisk-3Hyper-converged compute architectures, meaning clusters of physical servers with self-contained storage configured for a traditional SAN-less solution, are growing in popularity. These architectures provide a solid and simple way to deliver scale-out virtualized infrastructures with a minimum of management overhead. However, one concern of mine with SQL Server and these platforms has popped up recently, and I wanted to talk you through it.

emblem-important-redNote: I am in no way telling anyone NOT to evaluate or purchase hyper-converged compute platforms. I actually really like the concept and feel that it is a very solid architecture for many use cases in business. I’ve even worked with some of the largest hyper-converged architecture companies on their SQL Server initiatives.

The challenge that I pose is not with the use of SQL Server on these platforms. It’s with SQL Server licensing on these platforms. I’ll explain after a review of the platform design.

The storage architecture of a number of the solutions on the market today are similar. Get some physical storage in either spindle disks or SSDs and add them to each physical server. Build a scale-out file system that spans across each of these servers, and replicates data between nodes to prevent data loss if one or more physical servers were to fail. Group the servers into a VM-level compute cluster, and present this storage layer to the compute cluster as a shared storage solution.  At this point, you can start deploying virtual machines. The local SSDs keep the I/O performing quite well, and if spindle media are present, the capacity of the storage can grow quickly to scale with you.

Now, add data savings technologies into the mix. This feature is usually in the form of either compression and/or deduplication technologies in line with the storage. These processes will reduce the footprint of the data being written to disk considerably.

However, these processes are usually quite resource intensive, and often require substantial amounts of CPU power to perform these operations without creating a performance bottleneck for those I/O operations. On a traditional shared-storage SAN that’s capable of data reduction, this workload is offloaded to the CPUs on the SAN controllers, which are (hopefully) powerful enough to perform these duties with ease, and therefore not slowing the observed SAN performance without draining the servers themselves from their compute resources.

Now, look at the hyper-converged architectures. The CPUs used for I/O handling are the same as those that your VMs use to power your applications. A substantial portion of the host’s CPU power is now needed for I/O handling, and this activity comes first in the CPU scheduling queues.

This fact, by itself, is not necessarily a problem. Most virtualization host CPUs are relatively lightly utilized, and this amount of CPU needed for I/O handling is readily absorbed without causing a performance problem.

But, larger scale SQL Servers can read and write exceptionally large amounts of data around the clock. The I/O handling at the host layer can start to drain resources from the host. The additional activity scheduling time inside the hypervisor could be slowing down these SQL Servers without you knowing it.

Now, look at the SQL Server licensing models. Today’s Enterprise licensing is usually applied on the host’s CPU cores.

Think about it.

If you are under an Enterprise licensing agreement where you license the physical server cores, you could be paying for SQL Server Enterprise licensing on cores that are not available for use by the SQL Server VMs.

emblem-noticeAs a result, the SQL Server licensing model should be reviewed. Review the SQL Server VM density on the physical server, and the number of vCPUs allocated to those VMs. Do the math and run the numbers to see if you can reduce the licensed core count if you license the VM cores individually, versus the entire set of physical cores. You might find that the math swings in your favor if you license in this manner!

Jul 012016
 

microsoft mvp wide - 140I’m extremely honored to be named Microsoft Data Platform MVP for the third year in a row! I thank the technical community that allows me to speak on topics that I am truly passionate about. A community award like this is never an expectation or an entitlement, and is never an assumption in my book. I’m humbled to say the least. As always, I’m going to continue to do what I do – spread knowledge around the convergence of infrastructure and SQL Server to help people make their data more available and perform better – and hope that I’m making a difference!

Thank you Microsoft!

Jun 282016
 

pass_2016_websiteI’m very honored to be speaking at the PASS Global Summit again this year in Seattle during the week of October 24th. I cannot convey just how much this means to me, as speaking at any event is a gift and a thrill, especially a conference like the PASS Summit!

I’m presenting two sessions on my favorite topic – the convergence of infrastructure and data.

The first is an all-day preconference training session on Tuesday, October 25th, entitled “The Complete Primer to SQL Server Virtualization“.

Abstract: Your SQL Servers are probably virtualized at this point, but do you feel you have lost that control over the infrastructure that you used to have when they were physical servers? Do the virtual SQL Servers “feel” slower after they were virtualized? When architected and managed with SQL Server in mind, this added layer will help improve the SQL Server’s availability and ability to change with the business, but only when executed properly.

The second general session is a rapid-fire deep-dive on the virtualization topic for those that cannot make the precon session, entitled “Virtual SQL Servers. Actual Performance.

Abstract: Virtualizing your business-critical SQL Servers should not imply that they will run slower than if they were physical. When properly architected and managed, virtual SQL Servers should be equally as fast as their physical counterparts, if not faster. However, if not properly constructed, silent and seemingly random performance killers can strike and significantly hurt your database performance.

This session is packed with many tips and tricks gained from years of experience for getting the most performance from your virtual SQL Servers. The major roadblocks to performance will be discussed and the knowledge gained will help you work with your infrastructure engineers so you can optimize the system stack for performance. Tools, techniques, and processes will be demonstrated to help you measure and validate the system performance of the key components underneath your data.

I really hope each and every one of you can make it to this conference. I’ve said it before, and I will undoubtedly say it again, that this conference is the best SQL Server conference of the year, and speaker or not, I will always make time to attend this event. The speaker lineup is amazing, and the education is world class. I cannot wait until then!

Jun 092016
 

pass_logo_smIt’s a wonderfully busy speaking month! I’m going to be remotely speaking for the Edmonton SQL Server User Group at 5:00pm on June 16th! I plan to start the session with my constantly evolving session – Virtual SQL Servers. Actual Performance. – and moving into more of a round-table format, where all of your questions and concerns about performance, availability, management, whatever, will get answered!

Session abstract: Virtualizing your business-critical SQL Servers should not imply that they will run slower than if they were physical. When properly architected and managed, virtual SQL Servers should be equally as fast as their physical counterparts, if not faster. However, if not properly constructed, silent and seemingly random performance killers can strike and significantly hurt your database performance. This session is packed with many tips and tricks gained from years of experience for getting the most performance from your virtual SQL Servers. The major roadblocks to performance will be discussed and the knowledge gained will help you work with your infrastructure engineers so you can optimize the system stack for performance. Tools, techniques, and processes will be demonstrated to help you measure and validate the system performance of the key components underneath your data.

RSVP at EventBrite here!

 Posted by at 10:13 am