linux | Convergence of Data and Infrastructure - Part 2

May 112017

As you all have heard, Microsoft is supporting Linux as a supported operating system for the next version of SQL Server (recently announced to be version 2017).

What?? Why??

Didn’t Steve Ballmer call Linux a “cancer” a while back?

Times change. Companies change. Technologies change. It’s how I named my company.

(People rarely change, but that’s a different story…)

Today’s Microsoft is a new Microsoft. Ballmer is not in charge. Satya Nadella is now CEO of Microsoft, and he’s letting the technology drive the company. And drive it is. They are listening to the world with an openness to non-Microsoft technologies in a way that I’ve never imagined.

It is helping me bring back some of my system administration roots. I was such a geek in grade school that I was compiling Slackware Linux kernels when I was in middle school. It wasn’t until high school that I started exploring Windows server administration. This announcement is bringing back some great memories while exploring the possibilities of this new platform for my DMBS of choice.

Microsoft has listened to the technical communities around the world, and the world wants cross-platform. The world wants choice.

And they’re making it happen.

First and foremost (IMHO), Microsoft wants to appeal to developers. They want their development stack to run anywhere there are developers. Notably, Microsoft just released Visual Studio 2017 for Mac on May 10th! Many developers out there run on non-Microsoft workstations, notably Apple computers. Apple’s OSX operating system is originally derived from the FreeBSD operating system. FreeBSD and other *BSD operating systems share much in common with Linux. So, if you can make SQL Server work on the Apple, you’ve probably made it work on Linux. Arguably, covering these two platforms nails just about every widely adopted development platform out there.

Microsoft also wants to appeal to a broader customer base, which means exploring the other environments that software runs on. An exceptionally high number of the world’s servers are powered by Linux. It’s lean, mean, stable, and powerful. Lots of shops refuse to run a Windows-based server because of a number of reasons, including that their in-house IT staff only have Linux knowledge. These same shops are most likely pressured to run a SQL Server for various applications. I know a number of third-party vended application that require a SQL Server, and previously if an organization dictated no Windows-based servers, that meant that this application would never be adopted in the organization, no matter how well it would function.

By appealing to these customer bases, they can now facilitate greater opportunities to migrate other DBMS workloads to SQL Server, and largely Oracle. Organizations can now migrate from these DBMS systems to SQL Server but keep the operating system the same (or at least similar). It’s another jab at Oracle. You can run Oracle on Windows. Now you can run SQL Server on Linux!

Another bonus benefit of having native Linux support is that it can now run in a container. Containers are in some ways the next generation of virtualization. Containers allow you to package an application and all its dependencies into a bundle that can be easily transported. You no longer have to worry about the operating system itself, and it makes your application a lot smaller and even more portable.

Finally, Linux is a fantastic cloud platform. The footprint of the Linux kernel and it’s runtime dependencies is absolutely tiny compared to other operating systems. The performance overhead is minimal, and the space consumed is small. For hosting environments or larger scale-out SQL Server farms, the resource consumption savings could be significant.

This list is in no way exhaustive, and I could ramble on with more ways that fit this list, but I don’t want to bore anyone.

The target audiences are quite diverse as well.

Software developers are a no-brainer with this. Small businesses trying to keep their software licensing costs to a minimum are sure to be attracted to this offering. New startup software businesses with Linux-oriented development platforms can leverage SQL Server. Enterprises and hosting providers can save on Microsoft Windows licensing.

Microsoft is so committed to this strategy that they are now a Platinum member of the Linux Foundation. Microsoft has released the open source .NET Core. Ubuntu now runs on Windows. HDInsight was recently released with Linux support. R Server can run on Linux. PowerShell is open sourced and on Linux!

As you can tell, I’m excited. You might not be running out to replace your servers today, but what this new release provides is monumental.

It provides choice.

I cannot possibly convey here how elated I am at this complete shift in Microsoft’s direction. I think (I hope!) this is not the last time we’ll see this platform expansion for other Microsoft products.

Stay tuned for more SQL Server on Linux topics, such as how they did it, operating system selection, supportability, command line basics, OS similarities and differences, SQL Server installation, and then moving on to more advanced topics such as how to configure multiple disks to spread out your SQL Server storage workload footprint and back up to the usual network share. Meanwhile you can also check out this review of SiteGround by Bit Pak.

 Posted by at 1:52 pm  Tagged with:
May 082017

Starting this week, I’m introducing a new series of blog posts for the SQL Server DBA on how to properly set up and administer a production SQL Server on the Linux operating system.

As you know, Microsoft is shipping SQL Server 2017 (currently at CTP 2.0) with support for the Linux operating system. You might not think you’ll ever use this in your organization, but you might be quite surprised at the adoption rate I’m already experiencing in the wild. You should prepare yourself as a SQL Server administrator for some key similarities and differences with this new platform for tasks such as server build and construction, operating system basics, installation and patching, backups and recovery, availability, etc.

This blog post series is designed to help ramp you up on these tasks and answer common questions for scenarios that SQL Server DBAs will encounter while running SQL Server on Linux. Stay tuned!

 Posted by at 3:12 pm  Tagged with:

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 Posted by at 6:06 pm
Jul 242017

I’ll be speaking at two New England area SQL Server user groups in the next few days! First, tonight I’ll be at the Portsmouth, NH, SQL Server Users Group speaking on the newly announced SQL Server on Linux. It’s going to be a blast showing folks that SQL Server on Linux is a viable alternative for businesses out there.

Next, tomorrow night I’ll be at the downtown Boston SQL Server Users Group tomorrow night for a session on Performance Tuning for SQL Server VMs. This session gets a little free-form, as I encourage all attendees to bring your specific questions, challenges, (mis)conceptions, opinions, etc. to the table and let it all out.

RSVP for these events if you’re in the area, and if not, ping me and let me know if your user group would like a presentation on these topics!

 Posted by at 9:11 am
Jun 262017

VM snapshots are one of the best virtualization features ever. But…have you ever had a VMware vSphere or Hyper-V snapshot grow out of control and fill the datastore the VM resides on? You know what happens… even the best VM admins out there seem to get burned once when they create a snapshot for some routine maintenance and just forget about it afterwards. All VMs on that LUN crash and go into a suspended state until free space is added to the datastore.

Sometimes this task is harder than it sounds. If your SAN is out of space, or the SAN management tools are out of your control, you could be stuck.

But… follow a simple trick to give yourself that last little bit of wiggle room in the event that a snapshot fills a datastore.

Add a large text file to the root of the datastore that you can delete if you need headroom! I know it sounds too simple… but it’s simple and effective.

These directions are updated for VMware 6.5 environments, and work all the way back through vSphere 5.5, but the same concept applies to any hypervisor out there today.

If you’re on a SAN that performs some sort of data savings, through either compression and/or deduplication, this trick also consumes next to no space on the SAN.

How do you do this?

It’s easy.

Enable the SSH server, and remote into one of the ESXi hosts. This example is from a vSphere 5.5 ESXi server from my home lab.

Change directories into the root of the datastore that you want to create the file in.


Use the Linux command ‘dd’ to write a 10GB file (or whatever size of your choosing). Basically, we’re creating a file full of zeroes with a 1MB block size and ten thousand blocks. Simple, eh?

dd if=/dev/zero of=snapshotfailsafe.txt count=10000 obs=1M ibs=1M


It will take a few minutes to create the file. You can see the file creation process with another terminal, and can see the activity in the hosts’ disk performance view in the vSphere Client.


Once done, you’ll see it in the terminal and in the datastore view screen.



If you have a VMware or Hyper-V snapshot that has filled the drive, just hit the datastore browser and delete the failsafe file! You just gained time to better manage the snapshot or move data around to accommodate the growth.

I know this seems unnecessary, but every VMware admin seems to get burned with a rogue snapshot once. Occasionally, it’s more than once.

How can I prevent actually needing this?

That part is pretty simple, too. Just set up a vCenter alert to warn you if you have a snapshot that is growing out of control! The directions for how to do this are located in this VMware KB article. (Just remember to set up the email server so you actually receive the emails!)

This post is reposted from an older post but was updated for vSphere 6.5.

May 052017

This past week, I presented a preconference session and regular session at this year’s SQL Nexus conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. I highly recommend this conference!

The preconference session called “The Complete Primer to SQL Server Virtualization was well received! The attendees were well prepared for deep discussions on SQL Server virtualization, infrastructure, and cloud XaaS topics, and the questions were wonderful.

The SQL Server on Linux session was also solid and well attended, as we discussed common administration tasks around tasks that are necessary when making the transition to SQL Server on Linux, such as backing up databases and logs to a file share, and how to configure and mount additional disks for objects such as tempdb, database data, and database log files.

The slides for the SQL Server on Linux session are available for you to download here.

SQL Nexus, thank you for a great time! We really enjoyed our discussions and deep-dives with attendees and other speakers, and would be very happy to return next year to this conference!


(@sqlreeves getting into American food in Europe)

More @sqlreeves just chillin’ with the ‘Hoff

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