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Posts Tagged ‘ITPro’

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 2014: Backup Informational messages March 17th, 2014

Vinod Kumar

This is in continuation to the previous observation I had with backups in SQL Server 2014. Backups are such a mundane every task for a DBA that there hardly much to talk about. Infact in a lot of sessions I ask how many can take a backup in SQL Server, I get about all of them are so confident in using the same with few clicks via SSMS.

So with something as trivial as backup what can some of the message enhancement be? Interestingly, if you have ever taken a backup in the past you will see a number of informational messages. Some of these messages like the one below were always sent to the Errorlogs of SQL Server for records.

If you ever take a backup using T-SQL commands there is another interesting message that gets displayed which is lost after you close the results tab.

With SQL Server 2014, I found the above message being sent to the errorlogs and it is quite an handy information one can have. A typical message now sent would be:

BACKUP DATABASE successfully processed 298 pages in 0.026 seconds (89.261 MB/sec).

If that was not enough, I did a normal restore of the database and Woot !!! We get a similar message on the time it took to actually restore operation.

RESTORE DATABASE successfully processed 298 pages in 0.016 seconds (145.050 MB/sec).

I have personally felt the SQL Server Error Logs are a Pandora of information of your system health. It has amazing wealth of information that sometimes when you troubleshoot ticket for your SQL Server environments our support team generally also asks you to provide the Errorlogs as part of their dumps. With so much interesting information added, these enhancements are hardly noticed by DBA sometime.

PS: Click on the images to get a hi-res readable copy.

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SQL Server 2014: Checksum with backups March 14th, 2014

Vinod Kumar

At the MTC, I have been a big time supporter of using CHECKSUM’s in your Page_Verification setting as a best practices. Some of these technology innovations that we do are hidden deep somewhere in-between the options that we don’t get to see. Inorder to get the best of your SQL Server and detect IO related potential issues, it is highly recommended to turn this setting ON.

Now, we also recommend using the CHECKSUM verification with backups. Many a times have seen customers actually have their own third party solutions to take backups and many times this option is never being used. The consequence of this is, a bad backup yields a bad corrupt restore too. So I highly recommend you read this KB article for prior to SQL 2014 deployments.

What is new with SQL 2014?

From SQL Server 2014 onwards we introduce a capability of enabling checksum at the server level by default irrespective of the backup tool that you use. This is an nifty and handy setting and I will be recommending my customers to use this by default.

The image above shows the setting available by default. So to enable the same use the following command.

sp_configure ‘backup checksum default’, 1

GO

RECONFIGURE

As I sign off this new learning, wanted to check how many of you use the CHECKSUM feature as described at the database level atleast? I am getting into this small learning experiences working with SQL Server 2014 for a while and I will keep posting them in future blogs too.

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SQL Server 2014: SELECT INTO is parallel March 7th, 2014

Vinod Kumar

Recently I was performance tuning and optimization for a customer and working on SELECT INTO statements code blocks. I saw a weird behavior and a self learning hit when I saw something interesting. In SQL Server 2014, this command seems to be running in parallel. Cool and a must from performance point of view. To reproduce this simple learning, I executed the below query on my SQL 2014 CTP2 box:

Looking at the execution plan revealed the following. Look at the Parallelism and Gather Stream to confirm the same.

Sometimes, there are these nifty tiny features that get added to the product that we stumble upon by accident. Since my TempDB is in compatibility of 120 (SQL 2014), I thought of making an interesting test. I changed my compatibility level to 100 for AdventureWorks and did the test again. To my surprise I saw the Parallelism is gone !!! Woot, that was quite a learning.

Do let me know if you get the same behavior on a pre-SQL 2014 box.

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SSMS Tips–Object Explorer Details February 5th, 2014

Vinod Kumar

Today’s blog is inspired from the use of common tools that we use day-in-day-out. For me when playing with SQL Server, it will be SQL Server Management Tool (SSMS.exe). This blog has a number of posts around SSMS Tips like – SSMS: T-SQL Debugger Shortcuts, SQL Server: SSMS Tips II, SQL Server 2012 : SSMS Tips, SQL Server 2012: Snippets and IntelliSense and few more. So do look at them too.

In this blog let me just talk about a simple addendum screen that we hardly use but has tons of valuable information hidden inside SSMS – it is Object Explorer Details. For easier understanding I am just going to use a number of pictures to illustrate what I have actually done :).

Once you are in SSMS, click on F7 shortcut or use the View –> Object Explorer Details keyboard navigation as shown in picture below.

This bring the Object Explorer Details in the usual location where we normally have the Query Window. You can navigate to any node like the Object Explorer or click on a node on Object Explorer and it will populate the related details in the Details pane as shown in the next image. Below we are at the AdventureWorksDW database and have selected the Tables node. This enumerates and lists all the tables in the given database with few interesting properties.

Some additional capability in the Details pane is the ability to search for an object using the Search box on the top and once we are at the object, we can go ahead and click the double arrow (as in figure) to synchronize the Object Explorer View. It is quite an handy feature to use.

The Columns in the Object Explorer Details are customizable and quite interesting. From the header if you right click we will be presented with a list of additional columns that we can include in our view. The list changes based on the node that you are currently on. So “right-click” every header and play to your hearts desire.

In the above options, I selected Data Space Used (KB) and Row Count for my example. We can also remove any unnecessary columns which we don’t want to see too. Now with this data it becomes interesting. In the below figure I have done two things, a) sorted the “Row Count” Column and then b) selected about 10 rows from the OED pane. Now just CTRL+C and take these values to Excel :).

I have pasted the same inside Excel and it looks like below.

Inside Excel we have the freedom to do a number of things. One of the features that I have loved using the suggested charts, formatting of Excel 2013. When the table is selected, a small icon appears on the bottom right side – click on it and I have selected the Formatting –> Data Labels.

Other shortcut to play around is ALT+F1 to get a chart quickly populated. Below is a sample output that I have shown.

I am sure you have played around with Object Explorer Details before. If you haven’t played around till date then I am sure you will do now. Do let me know if you find this interesting and we will followup with many of these tips in the future.

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