Sep 062016
 

I’m very excited to be presenting in the opening slot for this year’s 24 Hours of PASS – Summit Preview Edition – this Wednesday morning (September 7th) at 8am Eastern. I call it “The Complete Primer to SQL Server Virtualization“. The session is a one-hour preview to my all-day PASS Summit pre-conference training session to be held on Tuesday, October 25th ahead of the PASS Summit conference.

Session 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.

Register for the 24 Hours of PASS – Summit Preview Edition – here!

PASS-24HOP_SummitPreview2016_624x93b_thumb

The expanded all-day session goes into 400-level detail on the hypervisors, how they work, and how to squeeze the most performance from every layer of your virtual environment.

If you are interested in the topic, check out the preview session! If you are intrigued after listening in, please register for my pre-conference session at the PASS Summit 2016 here.

May 292016
 

SQL-GG-Side-CoverThis coming week is packed full of fun events! On Wednesday, June 1st at 2pm Eastern, I’m participating in a webinar with ActualTech Media called ‘Modern Storage Strategies for SQL Server‘ where we will talk about key concepts from the recent e-book that we released together.

Session Details: Databases are wild! How can you successfully virtualize and provide storage for SQL Server? In this case, what you don’t know CAN hurt you! This brand new webinar featuring Gorilla Guide author and SQL Server expert David Klee will help you get up to speed on the latest advancements in SQL Server performance optimization and virtualization.  Discover everything you need to know to swing effortlessly through the modern database jungle!

Register for this free webinar here!

SQLSentry03-150Next, on Thursday June 2nd at 11am Eastern I’m joining Kevin Kline and Jason Hall from SQL Sentry for a fun webinar called ‘Performance Monitoring for VMs Running SQL Server‘ where we will discuss topics around performance monitoring for SQL Servers that are running inside VMs.

Join our panel of industry experts for a deep dive into monitoring VMware and Hyper-V environments running SQL Server. The panel includes David Klee (@kleegeek), Kevin Kline (@kekline), and Jason Hall (@sqlsaurus) for a discussion covering issues like what are the important performance metrics to monitor, how to maintain peak performance, and ways that SQL Sentry Performance Advisor take all the pain out of maintaining and monitoring your VM estate for peak performance.

Register for this free webinar here!

sqlsat_maine_2016Finally, this coming Saturday, June 4th, is the next SQL Saturday in our new home, Portland Maine. I’m helping with the event, and know it’s going to be a great one! I hope anyone in the region can attend!

May 012016
 

SQL-Server-2012As Bala Narasimhan from PernixData and I discussed in a webinar last week, SQL Server 2005 hit end of it’s extended support life on April 12th of this year. Any existing SQL Server 2005 instances should be first and foremost in an IT organization’s agenda for modernization this year. If you still have 2005 instances in your environment, the organization is now at risk. If undiscovered bugs or other issues come out of nowhere and cause trouble, your only course of action is to upgrade. So, why wait? Start the process now!

If you need ammunition to help convince your organization about the need to upgrade, just look at the lack of official support. That fact alone should be enough to push the organization to upgrade. If you need additional help, take a solid look at all of the new and compelling features included in SQL Server since 2005!

As discussed in the webinar, a thorough checklist should be developed and scrutinized to help an organization through the upgrade process. Following such a checklist can help you identify and remediate any challenges that might come from the upgrade process.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s my personal high-level checklist of things to watch out for, and feel free to add to this checklist anything that matters to you and your organization.

  • Migration process
    • Side-by-side migrations are generally better than in-place upgrades.
    • In-place upgrades leave few roll-back strategies other than VM snapshots, while side-by-side migrations give you the chance to practice the migration and explore test copies of the application to look for any functionality changes.
    • Older installations of SQL Server 2005 could be 32-bit, or the Windows OS version could be 32-bit as well. Migrations help you finally get to 64-bit stacks and leave 32-bit in the dust.
    • What is your upgrade path? Backup and restore? Detach and attach? Replication? Log shipping? Determine your SLAs and select a migration strategy that fits the available migration window.
  • Target instance
    • Is the new SQL Server instance going to be out of support soon? Is it as current as either the organization, licensing, or application allows? Is it fully patched?
    • Can the target hardware (and hopefully virtualization layer) handle the features you intend to use? For example, In-Memory OLTP has higher than expected hardware recommendations, and your target hardware needs to live up to these expectations or else it might artificially hold back performance.
  • Performance expectations
    • Do you have ongoing performance baselines and benchmarks from the current SQL Servers to use for a performance comparison of the target environment?
    • Have you stress tested the target platform to determine if it can handle your workloads? Synthetic workload testing is a great place to start, but real-world testing can help you validate or rule out that the target platform will suffice.
  • Code upgrade
    • Have you performed a high level check of the code with the SQL Server Upgrade Advisor? It helps you review the code for anything that it may find that could break as part of the upgrade process that you should fix ahead of the upgrade.
    • What about SSIS packages, SSRS reports, and SSAS process?
    • Do you have any unnecessary garbage inside the database that is being migrated? For example, look for unused indexes, log or temp tables, or anything else that could be cleaned up before you migrate the database.
  • Application changes
    • Read the release notes for the target version of SQL Server. Then read them again.
    • Have you read the ‘breaking changes‘ and ‘behavioral changes‘ sections of Books Online? These documents contain great insight into any behavioral or other expected functionality in the engine that could change as part of the upgrade.
    • Is the application able to use the latest version of the connection libraries? For example, do you need to upgrade the SQL Native Client or ODBC drivers to take advantage of new SQL Server features?
    • Are any items in the new instances changing expected behavior of items such as query execution plans, ETL processes, long-running tasks, etc.? These can be identified well in advance with the test instance and validation processes.
    • Verify that the application functions as normal after updating the database compatibility level to current. Beware the 2014 cardinality estimator improvements, as occasionally I find applications that respond poorly to the changes and should be set to 2012 compatibility to maintain performance.
  • Upgrade process
    • Perform the upgrade process as normal, and validate that things appear as normal.
    • Once completed, perform the following tasks:
      • Check all logs (SQL Server error log, Agent error log, cluster log (if applicable), Windows event logs, and any virtualization logs to ensure that nothing of importance is lurking.
      • Run DBCC CHECKDB WITH DATA_PURITY to help with any database that has been migrated forward since the bronze age by checking for values that are not valid for the table column datatypes.
      • Change the database compatibility level to current (or as high as you can go).
      • Rebuild all user database indexes and statistics. You may need to even go as far as updating statistics WITH FULLSCAN.
      • Execute a DBCC UPDATEUSAGE to correct any borked page and row counts.
      • Take a backup!

In addition to the technicalities of the migration process, step back a bit and look at the entire architecture around the data. Is it time to revisit any areas of the design? Is the HA architecture overly complicated and Availability Groups can help simplify the design and reduce management overhead? Do we look at consolidating databases or instances? Is it virtualized? Is it time to check out Azure SQL DB or an Azure VM for hosting this data in the cloud? What databases exist on these instances that have not been accessed in years?

Take the time to revisit these architectural decisions as part of the upgrade process. It will usually simplify your architecture, reduce the management overhead, improve availability, and increase agility in the datacenter. The business wins and you can sleep more soundly at night!

Apr 222016
 

Next week I am participating in two exciting webinars that I want to share with you!

ScaleArc WebinarImprove App Uptime: Tips from MVP David Klee + Customer Case Study with ScaleArc
April 26 – 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM Eastern

Application availability is an “across the stack” problem – straddling the app tier, database, virtualization, and cloud infrastructure. DBAs, IT ops, and architects must do more to improve app uptime, particularly at the database tier, where failovers and maintenance cycles disrupt the app, impacting the customer experience.

Attend this webinar with Mouser Electronics’ Director of IT Operations Mark Price and me. Together, we’ll share their expertise on:

– Enhancements in clustering and Availability Groups
– Why these solutions can’t enable seamless failover
– How database-level buffering and acceleration improve app availability
– What IT can do across the stack to improve the customer experience

Get your questions answered on this live event – register here.

Next we’re going to talk about the reasons and challenges around upgrading to the latest versions of SQL Server with PernixData.

PernixLogo_smAvoiding Landmines when Upgrading to SQL Server vNext
April 27 – 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Eastern

Upgrading to SQL Server 2014 and beyond gives you new levels of performance and flexibility. This is especially true if you are still on SQL Server 2005, which will no longer be supported by Microsoft as of April 12th, 2016.

But are you aware of the landmines that come with such an upgrade? Going in blind can cost you substantial time and money, which your business cannot afford.

Join this interactive video webinar where PernixData’s Bala Narasimhan and I will discuss how you can navigate the top challenges of a SQL Server upgrade, specifically:

– How to optimize storage to avoid database performance hits
– How to minimize SQL server licensing costs during (and after) an upgrade
– How to go virtual without sacrificing SQL Server performance
– Low cost options for in-memory computing

The webcast will feature a live Q&A. Register now or request an on-demand recording.

For more information, click here.

PASS_VC_VirtualizationAlso, on May 11th I’m presenting a new session called ‘Virtual SQL Servers, Actual Performance‘ to the PASS Virtualization virtual chapter.

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 for this webinar today, and be sure to bring your questions!

Aug 132014
 

vbrownbag

Next Wednesday, August 20th, at 7:30pm Central I will be presenting a webinar for the Professional VMware #vBrownBag entitled “SQL Server Virtualization for VM Admins“. The #vBrownBag webinar series covers a number of VMware-related topics, and I am very pleased to be able to present my session to the group.

This webinar goes into great detail on how virtualization professionals can stop fearing the resource consuming SQL Server platform and virtualize them as painlessly as possible. Performance data collection, host validation, proper VM design, and SQL Server configuration best practices, tips, and tricks are to be presented. Best yet, a solid approach on how to discuss virtualization with your DBAs will be presented, so that you can talk with your DBAs and get them excited about virtualizing their mission-critical database systems!

To register for this free webinar, simply click here. I look forward to seeing you on this webinar!

May 082014
 

These last few weeks have been quite a blur of projects, travel, and end-user training, and I’m enjoying every bit of it! Here’s a recap of what I’ve been up to, with links to the educational materials for you to download and review.

On April 25, I presented a SQL Saturday Chicago preconference training session called “Virtualization for SQL Server DBAs” to a packed house in Addision, IL. We had a great time and all learned a lot, and I thank each and every one of my wonderful attendees for their enthusiasm, open dialogue, and great questions.

The following day was SQL Saturday Chicago. I presented two sessions – SQL Server Virtualization 101 and  Virtualized SQL Server Performance to standing room only classes. Thanks to all of the great attendees in these sessions! The slides for these two sessions (Virtualization 101 / Performance) are available now for you to download and review.

Heraflux-Logo-Color-SMAlso, this was the first event that my company, Heraflux Technologies, has sponsored. We co-sponsored the event with a new partner organization of ours, Yucca Group. We were very happy to raffle away two SQL Server books and a copy of VMware Workstation as part of the end-of-day give-a-ways.

yucca_groupHeraflux is known for our world-class SQL Server virtualization services, and Yucca Group is known for Oracle virtualization services. It’s a fantastic match, and look for more co-sponsoring opportunities and joint community education seminars from the two of us in the future!

Teglie-Logo-Blue-Transparent-smallNext, on Thursday May 1 I presented a webinar on Easy SQL Server Benchmarking, hosted by Tegile Systems. The topics covered how to use SQLIO, DVDStore, and HammerDB. We ended up with a problem with the webinar software, and some registrants were not get into the webinar. The webinar recording is now live and available for you to watch at your convenience here.

On Saturday May 3, I was fortunate enough to be selected to speak at the SQL Saturday Atlanta event. I spoke on my Virtualized SQL Server Performance  session again, and due to popular demand and exceeding room capacity, had the opportunity to re-present the session later in the day to those who missed out that morning. As always, the slides are now available for you all to download.

Thank you to all of the coordinators, volunteers, sponsors, attendees, and other speakers for all of these fantastic events. We appreciate each and every one of  you and your contributions to these world class events.

sql saturdayComing up, I’m speaking at SQL Saturdays in Detroit, Iowa City, Rochester NY, and Portland ME. I’m also giving my Virtualization for SQL Server DBAs preconference training day the Friday before the SQL Saturday in Iowa City, Rochester, and Portland. Register soon for these SQL Saturdays, and if you are interested, one of the precons for the events. It’s the best education that you can get on key topics, and the price you pay is just a fraction of the amount that it is worth. I’d enjoy having you in my class!

PASS_VC_VirtualizationI am also presenting the second in a four part webinar series for the SQL PASS Virtualization Virtual Chapter entitled ‘Virtualization for SQL Server DBAs 201‘ on May 14th. If you were not able to catch the previous 101 session, it is available for you to watch before the upcoming 201 session. RSVP for this free event today!

It’s an exciting time! I can’t wait to see you at these events!