SQL Server Problems We Don’t Have Anymore

We have completely new problems today.

I was cleaning out a folder of presentations and I realized there are a whole slew of problems that we had to worry about ten years ago, and they just hardly ever come up today.

  • Virtual Log Files (VLFs) – it’s been years since I’ve run across a server where this was an issue. I don’t know if people are just doing a better job of taking care of this, or if the widespread adoption of tools like sp_Blitz means that people know about it earlier, and fixing it before they call me. Either way, great!
  • Partition Alignment – remember when you had to pay attention to how drives were formatted? Remember when you even knew what kind of storage you were running on? These days, between virtualization and the cloud, the underlying storage architecture could change several times over after you install the server.
  • PFS/SGAM contention – between the better newer SQL Server installers creating a few TempDB files by default, and the widespread user education about 1 data file not being enough, it’s easily been 2-3 years since I’ve solved a problem by adding TempDB data files.

Hallelujah! Here’s to those problems never coming back.

On one hand, it’s not like our jobs are getting easier, either: there’s just a whole new class of challenges to deal with, whole new layers of abstraction.

But on the other hand, it is kinda disappointing what old problems we still have, and I’m going to link to the feature feedback requests to fix ’em:

  • Cost Threshold for Parallelism – it’s still 5, which leads to problems with CXPACKET waits for tiny queries. Just last month, I was dealing with a customer’s 32-core server where they’d neglected to change this default setting. Just that one change alone dramatically cleaned up their performance problems.
  • Configure backups during installation – you, dear reader, are a trained (maybe) professional (look, I’m being generous) who takes great care (I know, it’s getting hard to suspend your disbelief) in setting up backups to match your RPO and RTO. Many shops don’t have the luxury of employing a good-looking data person like yourself, though, and they struggle setting up their backups. It’s time to make that easier.
  • Proactively look for corruption in the background. Out in the real world, far too many folks just don’t take the time to set up DBCC CHECKDB jobs, and even when they do, they don’t know when to schedule ’em because they’re afraid of taking their servers down. SQL Server knows when it’s idle, and can track the progress of CHECKDB. It needs to regularly scan for corruption just like RAID controllers do.
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