Nov 112015

help-browser-2Earlier this week I received a great question from a friend, and read something like this.

Hi David,
I usually recommend people to install SQL Server on VM and I argument it by saying that it would make any future hardware migration easier.
However, I just think if company purchases new hardware and going for SQL 2014 they won’t upgrade their hardware for at least 5-6 years. At this time there will be a necessity to go to the fresh version of SQL. So, my argument does not work anymore.
Even with very low overhead, VM adds more complexity to SQL Server environment, by adding “moving” pieces which can break.
How would you justify a case of having VM when client plans to have a model “one machine – one SQL Server”?

That’s a wonderful question, and I get asked this all the time.

I can justify the desire for virtualization in the scenario you described. There are a number of reasons to consider virtualization given those constraints.

number-1-iconHardware independence is still a great reason to virtualize, especially for disaster recovery purposes. Simply having the ability to replicate the VM itself to another datacenter and be able to restart the VM without requiring the exact same hardware underneath is very beneficial. It simplifies DR to an (almost) trivial task. You can also use last generation hardware (or even a public cloud host) for your DR site infrastructure, and it will work beautifully!

number-2-iconRisk minimization for high availability is huge as well. If that physical server were to fail, you’re at the mercy of whatever support policy you have with your hardware vendor, which can take hours or even days. Even if you are using SQL Server HA, you now have a situation where you could now be presented with a single point of failure. With virtualization and the right datacenter architecture, in the event of host hardware failure, that VM is down for about four minutes, give or take, while it restarts on a remaining host. That fact alone is why I say virtualize without hesitation, even if you’re leveraging physical clustering or AGs for robust SQL Server-level high availability.

number-3-iconHardware portability still plays well. Even if you plan for 5-6y from the physical server, how fast are the database demands on the hardware growing? Will you outgrow that physical server before then? What if you need more RAM four years from now and it’s cheaper to buy a new server with more RAM than simply upgrade your current server? The same goes for CPU cores, clock speed, etc.

face-coolEven with virtualization’s low overhead, it IS another layer in the infrastructure. But, managed correctly, I claim that the benefits described above outweigh the added layer drawbacks, as long as the admins in your environment are comfortable managing large and resource intensive VMs. Virtualize everything!

 Posted by at 10:25 am
Nov 092015

PASS_2015_240x400Last week’s PASS Summit conference in Seattle, WA was incredible (as always). It’s my favorite tech event of the year, and I’ll never miss it. The SQL Server community is one of the strongest (and arguably the most tight-knit) technical community in the world, and the #sqlfamily comes together every year at this event. It’s a whirlwind of technical education and networking events.

The highlights of the week were immersing in that sense of a family reunion that we get at this event every year, plus getting the thrill of presenting the content that I love in front of a large and eager audience.

To start the week, Argenis Fernandez, Jimmy May, and myself gave an all-day preconference training session titled ‘The Complete Primer to SQL Server Virtualization‘ to a room of 90 folks. We had a blast! For those of you who did not receive my email with the attachments as promised, email me. Some emails bounced back.

Pike's Market - by Matt Slocum

Pike’s Market – by Matt Slocum

I also had a panel session called ‘Is Independent Consulting for Me?‘ on Friday morning with John Sterrett, Brian Moran, and Ben DeBow. We packed the room and had some fantastic questions from the attendees! Feel free to contact any of us for our experiences if you are seriously considering taking the plunge to go independent.

To round out the sessions on Friday, Ed Leighton-Dick and I gave a session called ‘How to Build a Virtual Home Lab‘ where we talk about the various methods you can use to build a test lab – from the smallest and least expensive local deployments to the crazy home lab that I have at my place. Let us know if you have any questions! We love to help empower people to learn in the convenience of their home at their own pace on the topics that they want to know more about (and we’re hardware geeks to boot!).

Friday night was a blast as well. To wrap up the week, we coordinated a small get together of folks for go-kart racing at K1 Speed Seattle.

K1 Speed Go Karting

K1 Speed Go Karting

Saturday a few of us also got out and explored Seattle with the Seattle Underground tour and then a trip to the Living Computer Museum. Take the time to see the sites while you’re in Seattle! It’s an amazing town!

Pike's Market Welcomes PASS

Pike’s Market Welcomes PASS

To the PASS organizers and volunteers: outstanding job! You all did another incredible job with the conference. You knocked it out of the park this year, and we look forward to seeing what you can do in 2016.

To the attendees: if you think you’re going to catch up on sleep at this conference, you’re not doing it right. the after-hours networking opportunities at this event are limitless, and the friendships will last a lifetime. Take the time to get to know folks outside of your comfort zone, because expanding your network is part of the #sqlfamily magic! Find the folks in person that you’ve been following on Twitter or reading their technical blog posts for years. Get to know them. Network with the vendors in the expo hall. Chat with random folks in the hallways. The discussions are always priceless!

Group Photo by Eve Acosta

Group Photo by Eve Acosta – Sumeet Bansal, Andy Yun, and Jon Shields

Build your own traditions while you’re here. The Tap House for end-of-day drinks seems to be a favorite of many. My favorite thing to do is to get up early on Saturday morning and go to Lowell’s in Pike’s Place Market to eat a quiet breakfast overlooking the waterfront. You get to see the city wake up, all while relaxing quietly with a cup of tea and out of the hustle of the city.

Seattle Waterfront

Seattle Waterfront

Just remember – there are no goodbye’s. I’ll see you all at the PASS Summit next year (or hopefully sooner)!

FYI – Don’t fly home Friday afternoon next year! Stick around for the afternoon sessions. They are worth it! Plus, for next year’s PASS Summit, I’m planning a new special event for Friday night for the group, so stay tuned!

Oct 212015

PernixLogo_smI recently recorded an interview with PernixData where he discusses some of the largest challenges with virtualized databases, and talks about how we leverage PernixData’s FVP product to bring the in-memory data discussion to a layer below the database to boost performance while simplifying the entire environment. Check it out!

Oct 192015

PernixLogo_smJoin PernixData and me tomorrow at 1PM Pacific for a webinar discussing an exciting technology from PernixData!

In-memory computing is gaining widespread acceptance as a way to speed database performance by moving hot data into main memory. But, in-memory solutions tend to be limited in functionality, lack scalability without major application changes, are cumbersome to deploy and configure, and are extremely expensive.

PernixData FVP solves these challenges by turning in-memory computing into an infrastructure layer solution that benefits all virtualized applications.

If you have virtual SQL Servers and storage performance matters to you, check out this webinar! RSVP here today for this free webinar!

Oct 162015

PASS_2015_240x400I am proud to be offering several training opportunities at the upcoming PASS Summit in Seattle, WA during the week of October 26th. PASS Summit is the world’s largest and most attended conference for Microsoft SQL Server and BI professionals. This conference is fantastic, and if you are attending, check out my upcoming sessions!

The Complete Primer to SQL Server Virtualization – Preconference Training Session – 10/26 – with Jimmy May and Argenis Fernandez

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

This all-day, interactive, and hypervisor-agnostic pre-conference session is designed to help data professionals learn more about virtualization and infrastructure. Discover how this new layer can be used to improve the management, availability, and performance of your databases. You will be exposed to all layers of virtualization underneath the SQL Server, from storage to hypervisor. Discover many useful tips and tricks to tuning the database layer to boost performance and availability.

How to Build a Virtual Test Lab for SQL Server – with Ed Leighton-Dick – 10/30

You’ve learned a lot of new techniques and concepts at the conference, and you’re excited to go home and try them out. Now what? Most of us don’t have spare servers lying around or test labs in the office that we can use to try new ideas safely, without disrupting others’ work. Virtualization provides a practical solution to this problem–and it doesn’t need to cost a lot. In this session, learn how to find the tools you need to create your own virtual test environment for SQL Server on hardware you have lying around, and discover that larger test labs for your office do not need to break the bank.

Is Independent Consulting for Me? Panel session – 10/30

Have you had dreams of striking it out on your own being an independent consultant? Have you wondered what it takes to make your dream a reality and what are common mistakes made along the way?

In this panel discussion, you hear about lessons learned, common mistakes, and challenges discovered during the panel’s transition from corporate America to independent consulting.

I can’t wait for this conference to arrive! IMHO it’s the best SQL Server conference of the year, and I’ll never miss it. I’ll see you all there!

Sep 102015

ITnDevConnections_logo_TylerOptimized_236x59Next week is the wonderful IT/Dev Connections conference in Las Vegas, and I’m proud to announce that I’m presenting two sessions! The conference is being held at the ARIA Resort and Casino from September 14-17.

The first session is Benchmarking Your SQL Server Environment, located in Bluethorn 4 on September 15 from 11a-12:15p. I’m co-presenting this session with Ben DeBow from Fortified Data.

What do you do when a user reports that “the database is slow again”? Do you run the user’s queries to see how the database is working? How do you try to track down the issues your users report? Wouldn’t you like to quickly whip out some performance numbers and review the platform to see if anything is amiss? This informative session will show you how to eliminate the subjectivity in the performance of your mission-critical SQL Server systems and replace it with objective performance metrics. Benchmarks and baselines can help you quickly find any performance anomalies in the environment, plus help you project performance and capacity into the future. Tools, techniques, and scripts will be shared and demonstrated.

The second session is called Handle with Care: Virtual SQL Servers, and is located in Bluethorn 5 and 6 on September 16th from 1:15-2:30p.

Maintaining the performance of a mission-critical SQL Server system during the virtualization process is different from less resource-intensive applications. Practices and processes that have worked for years for less-complex applications can detract from the performance of a large database server; but why? This hypervisor-agnostic session will explore the reasons why SQL Server is so hard to successfully virtualize and give you many strategies for working through each challenge to get the most performance out of your virtualized SQL Server systems. We’ll present tips and tricks for solving performance problems at each layer: storage, interconnects, hypervisor, VM, OS, and SQL Server. If you manage at least one virtualized SQL Server system in your environment, this session is for you!

I hope to see all of you at the conference, and if you have a SQL Server virtualization, performance tuning, or infrastructure question that you want to talk one-on-one with at the conference to discuss any challenges you’re experiencing, drop me a line and let’s meet up!