Sep 162014

vmwareThis past week I was fortunate enough to attend a three-day special session at VMware Corporation’s corporate campus in Palo Alto, CA, specifically designed to help educate and inform SQL Server MVPs with some of the most detailed training on the convergence of the VMware ecosystem and SQL Server. This was not a vendor wine-and-dine, dog-and-pony show. This was the deepest, most technical training session that I have ever had since I attended the SQLskills Immersion Events. It’s everything that I need out of a technical training environment, without any of the persuasion or marketing that you usually expect with vendor-sponsored training.

The criticality of the convergence between the infrastructure and the database is evident with today’s converged and hyper-converged virtual infrastructures. Businesses depend on the data that these systems are delivering, and if the system has an inefficiency or misconfiguration in any one of the layers in the stack, everyone suffers. If the issue is large enough, the business can fail. The education of this group of individuals is key, as this is the group that is in the position to share the knowledge with the SQL Server communities.


The DBAs attending this event are among the best technologists in the world, and have incredible skill and years of experience with maintaining their customers systems. However, virtualization and the infrastructure around it is usually a black box and inaccessible. What VMware is trying to do is educate the people in the SQL Server space with the nuances of the VMware ecosystem and its direction, who can then share this knowledge with the community. Education is key to removing the mystery and unknowns around the virtualization technologies, and VMware did an incredible job bringing together the right people and topics to make this event a complete success.

The attendee list for this inaugural event is simply amazing. VMware recruited a select list of folks from the SQL Server community who are hands-on and neck-deep in infrastructure technologies.

Technical Hands-On Experience

Not only was it a large number of technical deep-dive sessions with key VMware leadership and technical staff members, but we also had hands-on labs. VMware used a specialized set of packages around their HOL platform to provide us customized content targeted to this audience. No explicit directions were given for any of the labs. It was more along the lines of an end-state and a technology to explore, and we were left to our own devices to get there.

I loved it. I felt like I was back in my home lab exploring a new technology over a weekend, except their equipment was a LOT faster and we had teams to facilitate group learning.


Again, these sessions were incredible. From a candid and quite frank with VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger (and thank you for a wonderfully insightful and candid response to the blunt question that I asked that has been in my head for years) and Pure Storage CEO Scott Dietzen and VP Matt Kixmoeller, to the key internal teams responsible for some of the features that I use in all of my mission-critical virtualization initiatives, the speakers were from all over VMware’s ranks and represented the best of breed from the company.

grant fritcheyThe discussions were not only centered around educating the attendees on the technical abilities and limitations of the core vSphere features, the speakers were also actively questioning us on how their products and technologies were being used, and each and every one of them wanted feedback on the features we wish could be improved and directions for future development. They wanted to know how things were being used in the field, what our primary observations were, and the scale of the systems being virtualized. I think we shocked them with the scale of some of the systems that we work on.

We also had a few outings at the end of the first two days, such as supper on the VMware campus front lawn, and then a SF Giants baseball game. Nice touch!

att park


Now you all know by now that I am a huge proponent of complete SQL Server virtualization. I have attended and spoken at a number of SQL Saturdays, webinars, conference sessions, and post a lot of blog posts on this topic. This class has taught me even more about the inner workings of the platform and products that I have come to embrace and endorse. The fast pace of the sessions, the energy from the coordinators and other attendees, and the rush of knowing that you are helping to guide and improve one of the most important technologies on the planet, kept a smile on my face the entire week.

Thank you VMware. Your commitment to the platform and the applications that make your platform shine has never been more evident to me. I’m excited for the directions that your products are going, and am eager to continue to show the world that virtualizing mission-critical applications should just be an assumption instead of a point of contention.

Aug 202014

VMWorld-blogCan you believe that this year’s VMworld conference is just around the corner? It’s next week – August 24 – 28 – at the Moscone Center in San Francisco!

If you have never been to VMworld before, it’s an amazing event. VMware has a great guide for first-timers on their site for you to reference so you can get the most out of the conference. The schedule is intense and participating in the sessions and surrounding events will really help you immerse yourself in the VMware ecosystem and community.

The full content catalog is live here. Below are some of the sessions that I think you should check out if you are interested in or work with the convergence of databases and virtualization technologies.

BCO1296 – A Blueprint for Disaster Recovery of Business Critical Applications (SAP, Oracle, SQL & Exchange)

VAPP2979 – Advanced SQL Server on vSphere Techniques and Best Practices

STO3008-SPO – Decoupled Storage: Practical Examples of Leveraging Server Flash in a Virtualized Datacenter

BCO3028-SPO – Designing Virtual Environments for Efficient Recovery and DR

INF1420 – Extreme Performance Series: Understanding Virtualized Memory Management Performance

INF1469 – Extreme Performance Series: Monster VM Performance

INF2427 – DRS : Advanced Concepts, Best Practices and Future Directions

VAPP2305 – Extreme Performance Series – Understanding Applications that Require Extra TLC for Better Performance on vSphere – Deep Dive

INF1972 – Managing Database Size Growth for vCenter Server

VAPP2389 – Use Storage Virtualization to Protect Business Critical Functionality with vSphere and Oracle Extended Distance Clusters

I’ll be floating about the conference all over the place, and feel free to contact me if you want to meet up! No matter what, not only enjoy the conference but enjoy the festivities around it tooI hope to see you there!

Oct 242012

This week I completed a six-part blog series (more like five plus one) on the path to virtualizing your business-critical SQL Servers at the blog series at my former employer. Every day I fight the fight in my day job for database virtualization in the enterprise. I frequently present a session on ‘Virtualizing Your Business Critical SQL Servers’ at SQL Saturdays across the country, and wanted to better verbalize the topic in a series of posts to continue to educate you all, those who care about absolute datacenter perfection.

Part 1: Myths and Misconceptions

Throughout this series we will be dispelling the various myths and misconceptions around this topic. We will also present specific details around our best practices for a business critical SQL Server virtual machine, operating system, and instance. We will also talk through the process of how to prove that in an apples-to-apples comparison of a physical and virtual SQL Server, the performance is at least equivalent.

Part 2: Understanding the Physical Workload

This installment continues our discussion, detailing how to understand the actual workload of the physical server. To properly virtualize a server, the performance of the physical server must be understood so that you know how to objectively demonstrate the raw performance of the virtualized equivalent. This means that a proper performance benchmarking methodology should be created, and system baselines be maintained. These benchmarks are then repeated periodically and turned into baselines. When virtualizing your business critical SQL Servers, the virtualized proof-of-concept (POC) server is benchmarked and compared against the baselines of the physical server to objectively demonstrate equivalent performance.

Part 3: Designing the Virtual Environment

This post continues our discussion with details around how to architect the VMware infrastructure and the new virtual machine so that it meets or exceeds the physical server specifications. These best practices are a direct result of years of virtualizing SQL Server, and include all of our lessons learned on infrastructure and configuration.

Part 4: Installing and Configuration of SQL Server

This installment continues our discussion detailing how to configure a new SQL Server instance on VMware to get the most performance out of the infrastructure you have just constructed.

Part 5: High Availability and Comparing the Performance

I discuss high availability with SQL Server on VMware, and this included SQL Server clustering and SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn.

Part 6: Disaster Recovery and Comparing the Performance

I discuss Disaster Recovery of your SQL Servers while running on VMware. I wrap up the post with a discussion of techniques used to help demonstrate the power of virtualization and discuss the benefits to those individuals that might continue to fear (or not understand) virtualization.

The overall goal of this series of blog posts is to educate the public on why they should at least NOT fear virtualization. It is the future. Educate yourself and learn to embrace it rather than backing away from it.

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Aug 242012

At my day job, I have posted part two in a five-part series of virtualizing your business critical SQL Servers. This part in the series is on benchmarking and baselining your physical servers so you have a solid understanding of the workload parameters so you have objective measurements to compare against when you run your virtualization tests. Check it out here!

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