Archive for December, 2013

Year End roundup with pinch of Inspiration December 31st, 2013

Vinod Kumar

I had a number of friends comment me over my previous post “Rejuvenate and feel better instantly” and one of the points was to view some inspirational posts. A comment from that post got me into writing this particular post as the year 2013 comes to an end. What are some of the inspirational videos that I look at and what inspires me? Well, there are a number of them to mention and another thousands that I would love to share. But here are my Top 5 as a teaser. Hope you get inspired by some and will plan for a wonderful year 2014 ahead.

Trust your instincts and Follow your heart – Steve Jobs

This speech by Steve Jobs at the Stanford in 2005 is short yet with a powerful message. Hats off.

The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

I also have the book from Randy Pauch, “The Last Lecture”. This lecture of his at his University almost a year before he passed away is something I have watched a number of times. Take time and surely take a look. Worth every minute of your time.

It is not about falling, but failing to get up matters – Nick Vujicic

I am sure most of you would have seen this video before, but is worth a mention again here.

They might take our lives, but they can never take our freedom

Atleast I have seen this picture and this epic scene from Braveheart a hundred times when I was growing up. It was inspiring then and is even now :).

Greed is a poison – Charlie Chaplin

Did you ever know that Charlie Chaplin composed many of his film music? Behind the person who made us smile a million times is a serious person behind the mask who went through poverty and hardship to achieve what he did. I just loved this speech of his and thought it was worth sharing.

As the new year dawns, let me take this opportunity to thank you all for supporting me till date, encouraging me to write more, giving me candid feedbacks and loving me to what ever I threw at you as thoughts.

I will surely try to keep my writing pen active and busy in the coming year too. THANK YOU AGAIN ALL !!!

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Rejuvenate and feel better instantly December 24th, 2013

Vinod Kumar

Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them – Henry Ford

In this era of fast food and easy-merry-go-life we want to do things instantly. And I am sure after a dull boring day we want instant energy back into our system to do things we would cherish doing – playing a game with our kids, taking your wife for a movie or taking parents to dinner. Some of these are great needs, but sometimes in middle of a busy day we need to be high on energy as we switch between meetings. How can we achieve this never deteriorating stream of energy every single day? So here are some of my best and easy steps I thought to pen down. Let me know if you used any of these methods in your life anytime.

The energy of the mind is the essence of life – Aristotle

  1. Stretch out: This is the simplest of the lot. Snap away from what you are doing, watch some greenery and stretch and bend your back.
  2. Step out for a walk: Just like above, this is one of the easiest and most used mechanism by many. Get outside your cubicle and get some fresh air and it helps clear your mind.
  3. Calling a friend: Sometime we get energy by symbiotic ways. Just calling one of your close friend and listening to their cheerful voice can get us all the energy we need to go for rest of the day.
  4. Dress for the occasion: If you are at home and not getting all the energy, just by dressing formally can get you in that mindset and you will be able to run the extra mile.
  5. Listen to music: Cutting yourself of the clutter and listening to some melody from your favorite composer can get you an extra ounce of energy increasing your concentration to do the next task in hand.
  6. Laugh your way out: There is no substitute to happy mind. Watching some funny videos (on youtube) that can bring a smile can surely rejuvenate the rest of the day.
  7. Read motivational stuff: This is something I do quite a bit. I keep reading lots of books and it brings back so much motivation that it keep me running.
  8. Control your breath cycles: If you are into Yoga then a few deep breaths of mini-pranayams can get some new positive energy flowing into your system.
  9. Snap and help someone in need: They say life comes in circles, so if you create a positive vibes in someone else’s life, you are going to get positive energy flowing into your life too.
  10. Do yourself a favor: The best way to revitalize is to do something meaningful to you. If you do something you have been wanting to do for a long time, it brings back so much of satisfaction and energy back in the system. This can be as simple as taking your Guitar and playing a few strings.
  11. Savor your success: The best way to boost yourself is to think about your recent successes for not more than 30 seconds. It can bring goosebumps yet reminds you that if you have done things in the past, it is quite possible in future too.

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.

Understand that everything that happens in life is never good or bad, it is just our perception that makes them good or bad. I am sure you have found your own way to emotionally boost yourself when you get stuck in situation to give yourself that extra bit of energy. Do let me know – “what do you do to make yourself feel better when life puts a U turn and puts you down?”. Let me know.

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Life teaches us when we get on wrong direction December 20th, 2013

Vinod Kumar

Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will – Jawaharlal Nehru

I am sure all of you have gone through a feeling where you always said – “Life is not fair”, “I shouldn’t be getting into this”, “This shouldn’t have happened to me” etc. Now these are human instincts and our mind plays games with us. There is nothing wrong in these feelings and all of us sail in the same boat. Having said that, how can we avoid such feelings in the future? Life gives us enough hints and we ignore to get out of our comfort zone to acknowledge and take corrective steps. This is not simple and clear as it seems. Let me take a shot at this concept and what is currently running in my mind.

There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception – Aldous Huxley

Most of us are engulfed in too many distractions around us that we forget and miss out these signals that is right in front of us.

Make your OWN decisions

This is the simple of the lot. If you always take decisions which are recommended by others you are leading a life filled with defaults which are never governed by you. These are dangerous and don’t try to be one of them. Live your life in your own terms – define it, build your sculpture and enjoy every moment.

Don’t take the path of least resistance

Who said life is going to be easy. Life is filled with challenges and do expect it to be this way. It adds spice to our lives and pushes us every single time. Even water flows in the least resistance path, but over a period of time it even cuts through stones and engulfs the anything in its path.

Don’t let your fears conquer you from doing what is right. Step out of your comfort zone and from time to time take some riskiest choices that will mold you as a better person. Understand that you never know how long you need to run while chasing your dreams – it can last a lifetime too.

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream – Edgar Allan Poe

Differentiate Obstacles Vs Opportunities

This is in continuation to precious point, but the fundamental difference between obstacles and opportunities is the way we see both. In this world there is no limit to the problems around us, just in pursuit to solving them is a ton loads of opportunities in front of us. So my request is to look past the negatives and look at the goodness life is filled with.

You work hard going nowhere

To achieve success in life we need to be focusing the right things with the right attitude and driving all your way in the right direction. Working hard is not enough and we have heard this in tons of management books out there. All jobs are created with different complexity. So don’t get caught up with the random odd jobs. Doing a random urgent job is not of any consequence if it was not of any importance.

Also the other thing about people is they start and don’t have the extra energy to finish. Understand that we are judged by the work that we finish not what all we started in life. This applies to professional life and personal life. Passion helps you take off, it is determination that helps you finish the job in hand.

Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision – Peter Drucker

As I finish this post, let me sign off saying nothing in life is permanent, our today steers the decisions we take and guides us through to what we do. Do everything with a positive mind because what you do today is what guarantees you to where you will be.

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Virtualization Journey with SQL Server–Windows Server 2012 December 17th, 2013

Vinod Kumar

This is in continuation to the previous post Virtualization Journey with SQL Server where we were trying to understand the WHY part. In this post, let me walk through some of the hardware innovations that one needs to be aware when working with Windows Server 2012 and Virtualization in specific. These are the same conversation I have with customers day-in-day-out when they come to MTC for sessions.

Windows Server 2012 provides a number of compelling capabilities to help organizations gain greater scalability and build reliable virtualized infrastructure for their mission-critical workloads like SQL Server 2012. Don’t worry, this whole integration of specific version of hardware with various versions of software is like a jigsaw puzzle and I will try to bring parts of them together for you from an easily understandable format. I don’t consider myself a virtualization expert but I am surely learning quite a lot of this concepts which I plan to share with you all.

Hardware Innovations and considerations

The hardware requirements of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V help to ensure that it is installed correctly and makes optimum use of virtualization technology. Hyper-V requires a 64-bit processor that includes hardware-assisted virtualization and hardware-enforced Data Execution Prevention (DEP). Let me take a quick stab at what these actually are:

Hardware-assisted virtualization: This is available in processors that include a virtualization option to enable the full virtualization of host machines. The Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V role supports hardware assisted virtualization processers from the Intel VT and AMD-V processor families. Using this feature, Hyper-V puts a layer between the processors enabled with hardware-assisted virtualization and the host operating system. This facilitates interaction between guest operating systems and the underlying hardware via the host or main operating system for better performance and control over hardware resources.

Hardware-enforced Data Execution Prevention must be available and enabled. Specifically, you must enable Intel XD bit (execute disable bit) or AMD NX bit (no execute bit). More details on specifics can be read from Wikipedia. To use this feature you need to enable knobs from the BIOS and this will vary from the chip manufacturer as mentioned above.

Windows Server 2012 provides different deployment options, including Server with a GUI and Server Core Installation. The Server with a GUI option is the Windows Server 2012 equivalent of the full installation option available in Windows Server 2008 R2. The Server Core Installation option reduces the space required on disk, the potential attack surface, and especially the requirements for servicing and restarting the server.

What I recommend folks are, use the Server Core Installation option for setting up a SQL Server virtualization environment. This helps to reduce the space required on disk and the potential attack surface. It also helps to better separate management and deployment activities, reduce the overhead of updating patches, and minimize the requirements for servicing and restarting the server.

Note: I highly recommend checking the Windows Server Catalog lists for thousands of hardware and software items compatible with Windows Server 2012.

Scalability by numbers with Windows Server 2012 

Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V provides significant scalability improvements over Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V. These below features help to ensure that the virtualization infrastructure is compatible with the largest scale-up servers and can support the configuration of large, high-performance virtual machines to handle workloads that might need to scale up significantly.

System  Resource  Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V  Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V 
Host  Logical Processors  64 320
Physical Memory  1 TB  4 TB 
Virtual CPUs per Host  512 2048
VM  Virtual CPUs per VM  4 64
Memory per VM  64 GB  1 TB 
Active VMs per Host  384 1024
Guest NUMA  No  Yes 
Cluster  Maximum Nodes  16 64
Maximum VMs  1000 8000

Significant improvements also have been made within Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V to support increased cluster size and a higher number of active virtual machines per host. Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V supports up to 8,000 virtual machines on a 64-node failover cluster. In addition, more advanced performance features such as in-guest NUMA are supported by Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V virtual machines.

I think this is lot of information to digest in a single day and do research, the next blog on this series will be around Virtualization and understanding computation (Logical Processors, Virtual Processors, NUMA, host reserve etc). Stay tuned.

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Virtualization Journey with SQL Server December 16th, 2013

Vinod Kumar

With the proliferation of applications in everyday use, enterprises have an increasing need for more instances of databases such as SQL Server. Most applications have their own set of database requirements, leading to the use of multiple versions of databases and to significant costs related to the databases and related hardware resources. More importantly, the hardware deployed for databases is not fully utilized or there is a demand to scale up hardware resources to meet peak utilization on certain databases. Therefore, it has become important to control the cost of databases  and related hardware resources, and to optimize and scale the use of hardware resources in different scenarios to provide better flexibility and maintain service level agreements (SLAs). An ideal solution to this problem is virtualization.

Virtualization is fairly common now. Many organizations worldwide have moved beyond the nascent stage into being more advanced users of server virtualization, specifically. These organizations have gained benefits in the areas of costs, efficiency, operations, availability, agility, and resiliency.

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 provide a host of new features that can be used to effectively virtualize demanding database workloads that previously were not considered for virtualization. Let me take baby steps in this understanding of Virtualization and what one needs to know in this topic area – this is most likely to be multiple part post, let me start on some basics.

Note: This is an important topic because close to 50% enterprises I get to talk with have already deployed their Tier-2 application already in an virtualized environments and close to 25% or more are planning to deploy in the immediate near future too. So these discussions I have with folks are always around the best practices.

Why Virtualize?

Organizations today want the ability to consistently and coherently develop, deploy, and manage their services and applications across on-premises and cloud environments. New and enhanced capabilities in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V can help customers reduce costs, while at the same time providing increased agility and flexibility.

Performance and Scalability: Because SQL Server can use an operating system’s maximum processor and memory capacity, Windows Server 2012 provides support for up to 640 logical processors (cores) over 64 sockets and up to 4 TB of memory (RAM).

The NIC Teaming feature in Windows Server 2012 helps improve the reliability of the networking system and ensures high availability of the network. It also improves the network throughput for SQL Server data. (These days, I recommend this feature to all my customers with this).

Windows Server 2012 features improvements in Server Message Block (SMB), including the ability to store SQL Server database files on remote file shares, it also offers multiple deployment options for database server storage. More about storage in future blogs.

Availability: Windows Server 2012 supports running SQL Server 2012 on Windows Server Core. This helps to reduce the surface area for attack and reduces the need to apply patches at the operating system level.

With the Cluster Aware Update feature of Windows Server 2012, maintenance of SQL Server cluster nodes can be automated, reducing downtime and improving reliability. With dynamic quorum management and the SQL Server AlwaysOn features, SQL Server clusters can achieve extremely high availability.

By combining Windows Server 2012 with System Center 2012, administrators can comprehensively manage demanding applications (such as SQL Server 2012 workloads) as well as the infrastructure – including physical and virtual resources—in an integrated and unified manner. Some of the benefits I talk with customers are:

  1. Higher capacity vCPUs (up to 64), Memory (up to 1  TB), and virtual machine density (up to 8,000 per cluster).
  2. Hyper-V support on Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) and Fibre Channel.
  3. Faster and simultaneous live migration and dynamic quorum support in SQL
    Server AlwaysOn cluster.
  4. Same management tool (System Center) for SQL Server virtual machines in both private and public clouds.

Now that I have put the fundamental building blocks or reasons to virtualize, I will blog in future posts around:

  1. Hardware innovations
  2. Compute considerations
  3. Storage considerations
  4. Networking considerations
  5. SQL Configurations etc

As this is an important topic, let me know if you want me to write on specific topic around Virtualization and SQL Server. And also let me also know if your organizations are running SQL Server inside a virtualized environments? Are there problems that you wished were explained anywhere? Let me know and I will cover them in future posts.

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