Posts Tagged ‘Announcement’

GIDS 2014 – 5 Tech session Scheduled April 21st, 2014

Vinod Kumar

It has become a custom for me to talk at this premier event year-on-year and this will be my 5th year partnering with the Great Indian Developer Summit (GIDS 2014) folks. I am excited as ever because we get to meet a different set of audience and the expectations are completely different. I generally get exhausted by end of the day and this year I am super excited as I will be delivering close to 5 different sessions at different timings. If you are attending the event, you don’t want to miss my sessions for sure :) …

If you are wondering where this event happens every single year –

Event Location: J. N. Tata Auditorium
National Science Symposium Complex (NSSC)
Sir C.V.Raman Avenue, Bangalore, India

The complete schedule is published here.

GIDS .NET Day – April 22nd

This day I am doing three sessions.


Time: 10:35 – 11:35

SQL Server Management Studio – Tips and Tricks

If you are a SQL Server developer or DBA there is no way you can hide away from working with SQL Server Management Studio from your daily life. This tool which was introduced with SQL Server 2005 replacing the old Enterprise Manager has come a long way in making productivity of our developers and DBA’s to the next level. In this DEMO ONLY session we will look at this amazing tool and find out how this tool can be used effectively. There are a number of features like Object Explorer, Explorer Details, Template Explorer, Activity Monitor, Solution Explorer, Debugging, Tool bar and command enhancements that go unnoticed. We will look at each of these sections with loads of shortcut keys to play with SQL Server Management Studio. We assure you will go away with atleast 10 new things to do with the tool end of the sessions. 60+ tips in less than 60 mins.


Time: 11:45 – 12:45

Understanding Windows Better Using SysInternals

The Sysinternals utilities are vital tools for any computer professional on the Windows platform. This session focuses primarily on the utilities themselves, deep-diving into as many features as time will allow. Some of the popular utilities include Process Explorer, Process Monitor, Autoruns, VMMaps, PageDefrag, Desktops, Blue Screens and many more. It is humanly impossible to walk through each of these utilities at length with the tons of features loaded onto each one of them. We will take some of these lesser known tools to look at some common scenarios which everyone wants to use to troubleshoot in their daily life. This session will have a lot of demos and will question our very understanding of how Windows, Processes and threads work. Most of the session will dwell on the new and improved Sysinternals tool set. There is loads to learn and learning the basics can never be this much fun.


Time: 14:45 – 15:45

Architecting SQL Server HA and DR Solutions on Windows Azure

In the real life scenarios, SQL Server high-availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) solutions are not simply cloud-based, on-premises solutions, internally facing or external solutions. They are mix of a little bit everything. This session is highlighted for blending two state-of-the-art technologies with key learning’s: SQL Server AlwaysOn and Windows Azure. SQL Server AlwaysOn offers better availability, higher ROI and simplicity. With easy integration of SQL Server and Windows Azure technologies, customers can easily increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their solutions. SQL Server and Windows Azure can easily become the best HA & DR offering for customers on different segments for multiple aspects. The session highlights product capabilities, limitations, and trade-offs for various customer needs such as complex HA & DR scenarios. Cloud is the perfect solution to minimize CAPEX, why they are important to customers, how to implement them, and considerations to take. This session covers cloud, on premises and hybrid distributed geography solutions from technical perspective including lessons learned from real world deployments.


GIDS DATA Day – April 25th

This will be a marathon day sorts for me I think and the most anticipated as I will be doing a tango session with my friends.

Time: 14:05 – 14:50

Introduction to Microsoft Power BI

We use office tools in a number of ways and our day job involves in playing around with these tools. In this session we will focus on Microsoft Office Excel 2013 version and look at some of the new features introduced with Excel 2013. At the same time we will also look at some of the tips of using Excel for our daily use. Did you know the visual formatting, PowerPivot, Excel FlashFills introduced inside Excel? Did you know the tricks used for identifying invalid data using Excel as a powerful tool? Did you know the basic shortcuts to use when working with Microsoft Office Excel 2013? All these are interesting yet unexplored features of Excel. We will dwell deep into each of these features and will show how to use them effectively. It is a completely demo filled session with lot of interesting trivia in store for the attendees.


Time: 15:00 – 17:45

Hidden Secrets and Gems of SQL Server We Bet You Never Knew

It really amazes us every time when someone says SQL Server is an easy tool to handle and work with. Microsoft has done an amazing work in making working with complex relational database a breeze for developers and administrators alike. Though it looks like child’s play for some, the realities are far away from this notion. The basics and fundamentals though are simple and uniform across databases, the behaviour and understanding the nuts and bolts of SQL Server is something we need to master over a period of time. With a collective experience of more than 30+ years amongst the speakers on databases, we will try to take a unique tour of various aspects of SQL Server and bring to you life lessons learnt from working with SQL Server. We will share some of the trade secrets of performance, configuration, new features, tuning, behaviours, T-SQL practices, common pitfalls, productivity tips on tools and more.
This is a highly demo filled session for practical use if you are a SQL Server developer or Administrator. The speakers will be able to stump you and give you answers on almost everything inside the Relational database called SQL Server.


Apart from this my good friend Pinal is also doing a number of sessions and a must go if you are interested in some serious fun filled learning. He also wrote a detailed post on his sessions. I will be meeting a number of friends on these two days as many are coming as speakers too at this event. So if you are around at the event – dont forget to say a “Hi“ to me :).

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SQL Server 2014: New function sys.fn_hadr_is_primary_replica March 25th, 2014

Vinod Kumar

My latest explorations have been to look at what are the fine print details that got added with SQL Server 2014. Especially, I have been exploring what has fundamentally changed when it comes to SQL Server 2014 – AlwaysOn capabilities. Though at the outset this looks simple and basic, some of these enhancements are pretty cool and needs a mention. Hence you are getting these bunch of blogposts inspired by this learning.

In SQL Server 2012, we had this neat little function – sys.fn_hadr_backup_is_preferred_replica which allowed us to be used during the backup operation if the replica we are running backup against is the preferred replica as per the AlwaysOn configuration. Though it was a neat addition there was no way to figure out if the node on which the Maintenance plan was running was ever the Primary replica. To illustrate the enhancement, I am having the following configuration as shown in the figure below.

As you can see I have two servers SQLALWAYSON01 and SQLALWAYSON02 servers and the -01 server is the PRIMARY. With SQL Server 2014, there is a new function that gets introduced – sys.fn_hadr_is_primary_replica. This nifty function when passed with the database name will return 1 if it is run on the PRIMARY. Else it will return you 0, if invoked from the secondary replicas.

In my opinion this is a critical and nifty option because you might want to do certain operations ONLY on the Primary like index rebuilding, full backups or whatever. Apart from these values, if you by any chance pass a non-AG database to the function it will return you NULL as shown in the figure below. Do let me know if you will use this function and what are the scenario’s you will find this useful. It can surely be a great learning for me too to listen from you.

This post is inspired from Book content: SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Joes 2 Pros®: A Tutorial for Implementing High Availability and Disaster Recovery using AlwaysOn Availability Groups” (Paperback, Kindle).

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SQL Server AlwaysOn–SQL 2014 Readable Secondary changes March 20th, 2014

Vinod Kumar

This is in continuation to the post around SQL Server AlwaysOn-Readable Secondary Setting which I posted earlier. With every new release there are multiple enhancements and I know by the time we published our book on AlwaysOn many of these features were not quite available and we missed writing about them.

One of the main addition with SQL Server 2014 for AlwaysOn is the capability to have 8 secondary replica. This is has been discussed exclusively in the book and the number of synchronous nodes etc remain as in SQL Server 2012. Nothing much changes. It is important to understand that commits don’t wait for async replica’s hardening, so there will be not much of an impact wrt to deployments are concerned.

Enhanced Readable Secondary with SQL Server 2014

So what are the new scenario’s that we are talking about from a readability point of view? In SQL Server 2012, when the availability on the secondary databases was either NOT SYNCHRONIZED (Data movement SUSPENDED) or in RESOLVING state we were not able to connect to the secondary node for ReadOnly workloads.

Scenario 1: In SQL Server 2012 if we take the Availability group to Offline mode, the secondary databases get into a RESOLVING state and we get the following error:

Unable to access database ‘AdventureWorks2012’ because its replica role is RESOLVING which does not allow connections. Try the operation again later. (Microsoft SQL Server, Error: 983)

From SQL Server 2014, existing connections made to the secondary replica directly can still be served and new connections will also be allowed.

Scenario 2: In SQL Server 2012, if data movement gets suspended, the availability database gets into a NOT SYNCHRONIZED state. In such scenarios the connections are refused and we get the following error:

The target database, ‘AdventureWorks2012’, is participating in an availability group and is currently not accessible for queries. Either data movement is suspended or the availability replica is not enabled for read access. To allow read-only access to this and other databases in the availability group, enable read access to one or more secondary availability replicas in the group.

Or we might get a read access error on the secondary. Either way, with SQL Server 2014, this is no longer a problem as read directly to the secondary is possible even when the synchronization is suspended.

Note: Irrespective of the scenario mentioned above, the read operation cannot be performed using the Listener and routing list. In either of the case of RESOLVING or NOT SYNCHRONIZED state if you use the Availability Group Listener name/IP we will get the below error.

Unable to access the ‘AdventureWorks2012’ database because no online secondary replicas are enabled for read-only access. Check the availability group configuration to verify that at least one secondary replica is configured for read-only access. Wait for an enabled replica to come online, and retry your read-only operation.

Thought this is a critical hidden enhancement with AlwaysOn, it can surely come in handy for Hybrid scenarios, or when quorum is lost scenarios where we still get the ability to read from our secondary directly as a last resort and worst case operation.

This post is inspired from Book content: SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Joes 2 Pros®: A Tutorial for Implementing High Availability and Disaster Recovery using AlwaysOn Availability Groups” (Paperback, Kindle).

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SQL Server AlwaysOn-Readable Secondary Setting January 3rd, 2014

Vinod Kumar

Recently I was questioned by two different customers on the very topic and I thought it was worth writing a mini-post to start the year :). The question was simple, what is the fundamental difference of values of “Yes” and “Read-Intent only” values when we are configuring our AlwaysOn Availability Groups? Aren’t they the same?

If you check the configuration of AlwaysOn we will be presented with these three options and these can be changed even later. This blog is to simply explain what these three mean.

No: This is the easiest of the lot. It just means we will not allow any connections to this server.

Yes: This is used for legacy purposes where *any TDS client* who wants to connect to a secondary replica explicitly for reporting workload can connect.

Updated as per Robert Comments: You can still connect to a instance marked as Yes via the routing list as it is an readable copy.

Read-intent-only: In this option we explicitly need to give the connection string property of “ApplicationIntent=ReadOnly”. Read more about connection strings in my previous blog – SQL Server AlwaysOn–Connection Strings. The only difference here is that you have explicitly shown the intent that the connection is going to be read only and it removes the caveat of previous point because now the routing-list / listener takes care of routing your request to the first available readable secondary as per the configuration. Hence for all practical purposes, for new applications please use this option.

Irrespective to the option selected, if your application fires a write operation to a ReadOnly server, the application will fail on the first DML or DDL operation performed in that connection.

This post is inspired from Book content: SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Joes 2 Pros®: A Tutorial for Implementing High Availability and Disaster Recovery using AlwaysOn Availability Groups” (Paperback, Kindle).

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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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