Happy Fourth Birthday to Us, 40% Off Presents for You

Four years ago this month, we turned this blog into a consulting company.

We’ve had so much fun over the last few years, and we’re really proud of what we’ve built:

  • Over 500 SQL Critical Care® patients
  • Thousands of training video customers
  • Thousands of in-person training attendees at dozens of classes and pre-cons
  • Hundreds of free YouTube videos watched by over a million people
  • Almost 50,000 email subscribers
  • Several million web site viewers
  • A handful of awesome full time employees

Let’s celebrate. Between now and Tuesday 4/28, discount code Our4thBirthday gets you 40% off online sales of our training videos. Enjoy!

How to Evaluate NoSQL Case Studies [Video]

Every now and then, one of our clients considers adopting an alternative database platform – sometimes NoSQL, sometimes a brand new relational database. They’ll ask for our help in evaluating the vendor’s solution.

One of the best ways to do it is ask the database vendor to set us up on a WebEx or GoToMeeting with one of their happy customers. I want to hear from the technical folks, not management.

I run the call with six PowerPoint slides – here’s how:

“Breaking” News: Don’t Install SQL Server 2014 SP1

Yesterday, Microsoft announced availability of Service Pack 1, saying:

As part of our continued commitment to software excellence for our customers, this upgrade is available to all customers with existing SQL Server 2014 deployments via the download links below.

Yeah, about that commitment to software excellence.

This morning, the download is gone:

Notice: The SQL SSIS team has found an issue with SP1 installation if SSIS catalog is present in the SQL Server instance.They are currently investigating this issue including possible workarounds and fixes.

Oof – the term “possible workarounds and fixes” doesn’t sound good for those who jumped in and applied the patch. A commenter on the MS Data Platform Insider blog reported that it hosed the master database broke the instance in a way suspiciously similar to a similar bug in SQL Server 2012 SP2.

(And jeez, what is it with service packs lately? Remember the SQL 2012 SP1 100% CPU issue? I’m starting to think you’re safer with cumulative updates than with service packs.)

Remember, kids, don’t rush into patching. If your servers are mission critical, test in your staging environment first – staging is the DBA’s development. (No, your development environment isn’t staging – because your developers make their living in the dev environment, and if you broke that with SP1 yesterday, you’ll be slaving away today to get your dev instance back up and running.)

Update: the fix is in. If you applied SP1, follow the instructions in this StackExchange post.

The @DBAreactions Guide to In-Memory OLTP (Hekaton)

At SQLbits last month, I presented a new session: Cool Story, Bro – The DBAreactions Guide to SQL Server 2014. I wanted to have some fun while educating folks about the surprise gotchas of the newest features.

Here’s the In-Memory OLTP (Hekaton) section of the session:

Our sp_Blitz® has long warned you if Hekaton is in use, and its Hekaton detail page shows some of the limitations.

Updated sp_Blitz®, sp_AskBrent® Tutorial Videos [Video]

Every month, tens of thousands of people get our First Responder Kit – a free SQL Server download pack with scripts, e-books, worksheets, and posters. They usually get started by watching our tutorial videos, so we figured it’s time to update ‘em.

Here’s how to use sp_Blitz®:

And here’s how to use sp_AskBrent®:

To get ‘em, get our First Responder Kit now. Enjoy!

Defragmentation Proven to Completely Fix Performance Issues

SPRINGFIELD – Local systems administrator Jackie Toole was carried through city streets today on the backs of ecstatic Acme Tooling employees.

For months, Acme’s accounting department had complained of slow performance in their payroll application. “Saving a new hire took minutes, and we had no idea what was going on. Jackie did something, and next thing you know, everything was just blazing fast. It was incredible!”

Fellow admin Marianne O’Reilly took a moment out of the parade to say, “We’d been throwing hardware at it left and right, from a terabyte of memory to a huge new solid state storage device. We just couldn’t crack the problem. Jackie just nailed it right away with that defrag. Even the worst database queries just fly now!”

In related news, local training schools have suffered a dramatic decrease in enrollment as word continues to spread that programming quality just doesn’t matter.

Microsoft Partners with Taco Bell for Naming Rights

REDMOND, WA – Microsoft announced today that SQL Server vNext’s editions will be named by their new marketing partner, Taco Bell.

“We’re excited that SQL Server Supreme Edition is now our top-of-the-line product, replacing Enterprise Edition. When you hunger for warm, satisfying In-Memory OLTP wrapped in the power of unlimited memory, only SQL Server Supreme Edition satisfies,” said product manager Mark “Tex” Souza of Microsoft’s Data Platform Group.

The database icon, laid sideways and covered in cheese

The database icon, laid sideways and covered in cheese

Souza continued, “Like the Sriracha Quesarito, which is the best of a quesadilla and a burrito rolled into one, Windows Azure SQL Database offers a great hybrid of the SQL Server you know and love, plus the tasty goodness of Microsoft-managed cloud services. Therefore, we’re renaming it as the Microsoft Databasarito.”

At press time, we’re still trying to confirm that Express Edition has been added to the Taco Bell Dollar Cravings menu, and track down the rumor of a new product code named Fourthdatabase.

Why You Shouldn’t Upgrade SQL Server

Stop. Before you think about upgrading your existing SQL Server to the latest version, think it through.

In retrospect, putting a Prius engine in the Gran Prix wasn't my best idea.

In retrospect, putting a new Prius engine in the Gran Prix wasn’t my best idea.

Your hardware is old. Even if it’s just a couple of years old, the latest advances in processors, memory, and storage mean it’s practically an antique.

Your Windows is old, too. Over the years, you installed a bunch of crap that you probably shouldn’t have put on the production box. You could uninstall it, but even that will leave leftovers all over the place.

You’ve learned a lot since the first time. When you first installed it, you didn’t know that you shouldn’t install extra services you don’t need, or that you should use 4 TempDB data files, or that you should format the drives with 64K NTFS allocation units. Now that you know about really good setup checklists, you wish you could do it all over again – and now is your chance.

Patching takes forever. You need to bring both Windows and SQL Server completely up to date, but it can take minutes or hours of downtime to get all the right patches applied. And then there’s the BIOS and firmware, too. Instead of guessing how long the old box will take to shore up, just build a new one and get it perfect.

You need to test the new Cardinality Estimator. For several versions, your query plans haven’t changed when you upgraded, but those days are over. SQL Server 2014 brings dramatic changes to the Cardinality Estimator, and you need to check your queries against it to prevent a 100%-CPU-surprise on go-live day.

You need a plan B. Patching and upgrading has a serious potential for failure. In theory, you could restore the OS backups and try again, but have you ever tested that? What happens if it fails, and you have to try it all on the fly? What’s your recovery time objective?

Kendra says: It’s funny, in-place upgrades always worked fine for me, unless it was on a production server.

Watch Brent Tune Queries [Video]

Ever wonder how somebody else does it? Watch over my shoulder for this beautifully recorded one-hour session at SQLRally Nordic in Copenhagen from a couple weeks ago:

The resources, scripts, and my Be Creepy process are all free too. Enjoy, and check out all of the session recordings for even more free learnin’.

Ten Ways to Tell if Your SQL Server is a Clown Car

Commuting to work.

Commuting to work.

Sometimes we pile just a few too many duties onto our servers. They start to become a clown car – the classic joke where dozens of clowns come pouring out of an impossibly small car. (The physics behind it are actually really interesting.)

So how can you tell if your SQL Server has crossed the line into clown car territory? It’s easy:

10. You have both production and development databases in it.

9. Everyone runs SSMS and Visual Studio by remote desktopping into the server.

8. You’ve enabled remote desktop services for more people to log in simultaneously.

7. It has the engine, SSRS, SSAS, SSIS all installed and running, but less than 32GB RAM.

6. It has multiple instances of each of those services running. (Bonus points for different versions.)

5. Application servers point to a file share hosted by this database server.

4. You’re monitoring it, and the monitoring software’s repository also lives on the same server you’re monitoring.

3. You built a spreadsheet to track your affinity masking, Resource Governor, and max memory settings.

2. When you say “the server,” you don’t have to clarify because everyone knows it’s your only one.

1. You’re reading this blog on the server right now.

Kendra says: If you care about performance, you’ve got to start pulling clowns out of that tiny car.