Thursday, September 26, 2013

Performance Tuning In LA!

Hello Dear Reader!  This year Pragmatic Works has brought our Performance Tuning Workshop to Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta.  Due to the success we've added one more stop before the end of the year, Los Angeles!

That's right Pragmatic Works is headed to the City of Angels on December 9th - 10th for two days of Deep Dives and Performance Tuning goodness.

"So Balls", you say "What will you be covering in you're Performance Tuning Workshop?"

Great question Dear Reader!  We start off our journey at the bottom talking about hardware, we discuss the details of CPU's, Memory, and Disks and how their throughput and proper configuration can prevent Hardware Bottlenecks.  We cover installing SQL Server talking about our Pre-Installation Check List and our Post Installation Checklist.

Then we tackle Data files, Round Robin and Proportional Fill, Partitioning, and Compression.  Next we dive into the Query Optimizer to discuss how the Relational Engine works and how it works with the Storage Engine, along the way we'll stop to look at Execution Plans and Plan cache.  From there we dive into the world of Indexes, covering what makes the best Clustered Index, Non-Clustered Indexes, Columnstore Indexes, Index Maintenance, Duplicate Indexes, Reverse Indexes, Unused Indexes, and Missing Indexes.

And that's just Day 1.  We've still got Locking, Blocking, Latches, Wait Stats, Baselines, Alerting, and Extended Events before we are through.

As a member of the class you will get all of our slide decks and Demo's to follow along and keep for yourself.  Lunch is also provided each day as well as coffee and donuts or bagels and muffins.

For all the details Click Here to go to the course outline.  Let's not forget that you get access to myself, and my co-Presenter for those two days.  You'll have a lot of questions, and during brakes and after the class you'll have access to us for Q & A.

Plus you'll get to network with other great folks from the SQL Community and your local SQL Server User Groups.


All this and I still haven't announced my co-Presenter for this yet!  We'll save that for another blog.

"So Balls", you say "Why are you being a tease?"

Yes, Dear Reader.  Shamelessly it is a tease, but I promise it will be worth it.

And now for one last shameless plug.  The price.  Two days of community, access to a top notch as yet to be announced speaker..... and me....., breakfast, lunch, and probably some swag all for $399.  Right now we also have an Early Bird rate until November 9th, it is only $299.


We are already actively planning our courses for next year Dear Reader.  As soon as I have the finalized schedule I will be posting it.  But right now we have NINE 2 day Workshops we are planning, FIVE 4 1/2 day virtual classes on Performance Tuning, and TWO 5 day week long Bootcamps that will be staffed by a couple SQL MVP's and an MCM.

We will be all over the US, hopefully in a city near you, and presented Virtually throughout the Globe.

Good stuff is coming and I'm very excited to be part of it!  As always Dear Reader, Thanks for stopping by.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Can You Compress a Temp Table?

 Hello Dear Reader!  We are finishing up the final day of the Performance Tuning Workshop here in Atlanta and I got an interesting question on Compression from Tim Radney (@tradney | Blog).

The question: Can you compress a temp table? Just a quick blog to get the answer out there while Gareth Swanepoel (@GarethSwan | Blog)  teaches the class about Extended Events. 

My guess was yes.  Temp Tables can have statistics, Clustered and Non-Clustered Indexes, while they only exist in the session they are created, I would be they could be compressed.  If you would actually want to compress them is a different discussion, but let’s prove this out.


Here’s a quick demo to show you can do this.  So first up we will create our Temp Table specifying with Data_Compression=ROW.

This will create our temp table #myTable1, we will then insert 15000.

if exists(select name from tempdb.sys.tables where name like '#myTable1%')
     drop table #mytable1
create table #myTable1(
              myid int identity(1,1) primary key clustered
              ,mychar1 char(500) default 'a'
              ,mychar2 char(3000) default 'b'
              ) with (data_compression=row)
declare @i int
set @i=0
     set @i=@i+1
     insert into #myTable1
     default values

Now let’s use DBCC IND to view the pages associated with our table, and DBCC Page to Validate that our data is compressed.

dbcc ind(tempdb, '#myTable1', 1)

dbcc traceon(3604)
dbcc page('tempdb', 1, 376,3)

Looking at the output of DBCC Page I can see that the CD array for my compressed data is present near the header.  Row compression is indeed on.

Now let’s rebuild this using page compression on a rebuild operation using sp_spaceused to measure the size of the table.

And it is now Page Compressed.  Thanks for the question Tim!  And as always Dear Reader Thank you for stopping by.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SQL 2014 SSMS is Killing my C:

I could hear SQL saying to my C: Drive "Why You Little...."
 Hello Dear Reader! 

The Blog about SQL Saturday 232 coming shortly, but first I needed to blog about an error that I’m getting.  I presented this weekend on SQL 2014 a First Look at What’s New.  One of the demo’s I did was using Buffer Pool Extensions. 

To confirm with what I’m seeing I tested this on 2 VM’s and one physical Instance.

I created VM1 on my SSD.  I allocated 4 processors and 8 GB of RAM for my VM.  I created 3 drives for data files M: , log files L: , backup files W:, Buffer Pool Extensions S: .  I then Installed CTP1 using Oracle’s Virtual Box.  Max Memory set to 4096 MB.

I also confirmed these results by creating a Hyper-V VM on our Host server in the Pragmatic Works Lab.  The guest has 4 processors and 8 GB of RAM.  Max Memory set to 4096 MB.  No BPE was used on this VM.

Physical Instance
I also tested this on my laptop on a SQL 2012 SP1 CU2 instance.  I have 4 cores and 16 GB of RAM.  Max Memory set to 6144 MB. 

I then used WinDirStat to confirm the results.  During my SQL Saturday presentation my VM unexpectedly ran out of space on the C drive.  This was a little confusing as I had specifically set up my SQL instance to not be installed on the C drive.

“So Balls”, you say, “What was taking up all that space on the C drive?”

Great Question Dear Reader!  That’s want I wanted to know as well.


This is the VM.  As you can see I didn’t go with a huge C drive, only 25 GB.  The only drive I didn’t mention above was my T drive that I used to store a database that I put a Clustered Columnstore Index on.

I’ve got a script that I need to blog on called MakeAdventureWorksDW_big, but I don’t have that typed up just yet.  I use that script to make my FactInternetSales_big table.  I used my friend and cohort Robert Cain’s (@ArcaneCode | Blog) script Make Adventure Works Modern for Today to make my AdventureWorks2013 Database.

My table has 42.9 Million rows in it and is a little over 8 GB.  My test for PBE was pretty simple.  I created a 15 GB BPE.  The instance has 8 GB.  My max memory for the instance was set to 4 GB.  Then I raised the max memory to 19 GB.  I ran sys.dm_os_buffer_descriptors using the is_in_bpool_extension to find the data pages as they were allocated.

SELECT DB_NAME(database_id) AS [Database Name]
, case is_in_bpool_extension
     when 1 then 'Stored in BPE'
     when 0 then 'Stored in non-BPE cache'
  end as BufferLocation
,COUNT(*) * 8/1024.0 AS [Cached Size (MB)]
FROM sys.dm_os_buffer_descriptors
WHERE database_id > 4
AND database_id <> 32767
GROUP BY DB_NAME(database_id), is_in_bpool_extension

I then ran the following query to load up as much data as possible.

Use AdventureWorksDW2013
set transaction isolation level read uncommitted
set nocount on
select * from [dbo].[FactInternetSales_big]

It is just a simple select statement.  Rerunning my buffers query I could see things were loading up nicely.

My plan was to leave this query running so I could load all the data I needed to into my BPE.  That is when the C: ran out of space and the VM froze on me.  

In order to catch this bug I then ran WinDirStat.  Looking under my C:\Users\SQLBALLS.PW\AppData\Local\Temp\1 folder I found this.

Hmmm…. right now not that bad still plenty of free space, but here’s this temp file.  Let’s fast forward to 3 minutes in.  We’re now at 2 GB.

At 5 minutes we are at 3 GB.

Looking at my C Drive, I’ve now dropped from 10 GB of free space to a little over 7 GB.

The result set is large enough that this will continue until my C drive runs out of space.  If I try to delete the file I get a nice error letting me know that the file is locked by SQL Server Management Studio.

15 minutes in my C drive is looking pretty scary.  We are now in the red.  I kill the query so I can keep looking at my VM.  The C drive doesn’t free up.  I know from experience I could now delete the temp file because it is no longer in use.

I asked the question on twitter and Jason Kyle(@JasonNKyle) replied with a suggestion that maybe I was looking at a Swap file. 

As I understand them a swap file allows an operating system to use hard disk space to simulate extra memory when the system runs low on memory.  The way this behaves is that the OS swaps a section of RAM that an idle program is using onto the hard disk to free up memory for the program you are using.  Then when you switch back to the other program the OS trades out the memory for bytes on the HD.

I don’t think this is a swap file though.  I could be wrong. 

When I open one of the smaller temp files in notepad, the query results from my my query re-run so it is a much smaller result set.  This is what I see.

Not really useful, except that I realized the first data that I highlighted happened to be my sales order number from my query.

As I continue to mine through this I see that this is truly my query result set.

If I run this same query on my laptop.  16 GB of RAM, 6 GB Max Memory, after a restart with only around 1 GB in the buffers, I get the exact same results.  At first I thought this was an issue with Buffer Pool Extensions.  Now it looks like this is just the way queries return on SSMS.

Granted you normally don’t run million row transactions in SSMS.  Your application runs them.  So more digging to go, but I wanted to get the blog out to attract comments and help show what I was seeing.

As always Dear Reader, Thanks for stopping by.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

T-SQL Tuesday #46 Rube Goldberg Machine aka Automating Deleting Older Certificates

Hello Dear Reader!  This is the second Tuesday of the month and you know what that means, T-SQL Tuesday the largest blog party on the Intrawebs.  T-SQL Tuesday is the brain child of SQL Community member extraordinaire Adam Machanic(@AdamMachanic | Blog), also the inventor of the word “Twote”  as in “To misquote a Tweet”, when used in a sentence it sounds like “He Twoted me wrong”.  This month our host is Rick Krueger(@DataOger | Blog).  So Rick what’s our topic?

My first exposure to Rube Goldberg Machines was playing the game Mouse Trap as a child. I work almost exclusively on the SQL development side of the house, where we sometimes build crazy creative solutions to solve business problems. We generally know the ‘right’ way to do things, but pesky issue like budgets, personnel, and deadlines get in the way. So, we channel our inner MacGyver, grab a handful paper clips and some duct tape, and then do things with SQL Server that we know shouldn’t be done (in an ideal world). And we hope nobody ever finds out how we bent the rules, because we know they will judge us (as we would judge them) and call our work a <gasp>HACK</gasp>.
So, if you would please, dust off one of those skeletons and tell us how you got really creative with SQL Server, instead of doing it ‘the right way’. In other words, tell us about your ugly SQL baby. If you’re worried about saving face, feel free to describe how you would have implemented the solution if you lived in that ideal world.”
I love mouse trap and MacGyver!  Over the years as a DBA sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got.  Other times your boss says do A, you say the best way to achieve A is by doing B & C and they say do A.   I’ve got two of these that I can think of off the top of my head.  One we used Change Data Capture in lieu of Auditing (don’t ask me why, because that version of SQL also had Auditing.  Oh Hello A…..).  The other may actually prove useful.  Which one to choose from?
“So Balls”, you say, “What’s the useful one?”
Good call Dear Reader, we’ll go with the useful one!


When you are using Transparent Data Encryption one of the most important things is the certificate.  Once you enable it on a production database that certificate is just as important as your database backup.  Why?  Because in case of a catastrophic failure that backup is dependent on the certificate.  If you cannot restore the certificate to a new instance your backup is useless.  *There are some work arounds to this using backups of the Master DB, but we’ll save that for another day.*

When you look at setting up maintenance plans for your server you should create a job to back up your certificate daily.  A certificate is only 1 KB in size.  Very tiny file.  If you use a private key to encrypt your certificate it is only 1 KB in size as well.  So if you leave a year of them on your hard drive you haven’t taken up 1 MB.

As a DBA sometimes you can be anal retentive a neat freak.  I don’t keep a year’s worth of backups on hand, why would I keep a year’s worth of certificates on hand?  I’d like a process to automatically delete them and only keep the last two weeks on hand, or month on hand whatever matches up with my backup retention policy.

The problem is the automated cleanup task doesn’t work.  Sure you can go in the maintenance plan wizard, make one that looks in a directory for a .CER file, but the true problem lies in the data storage.  You have to custom script out the certificates.  If you didn’t think to add a line to the backup set history table with the extension of .cer and .key and the path to your Private Key or Certificate backups then the job won’t work.

Inserting records into the MSDB tables could work, but as a DBA new to TDE that thought hadn’t crossed my mind.  I wanted a way to back up my certificates and delete my old ones.  So I built one.


This is a demo I do in my TDE presentation.  It’s up on my Resource Page and has been for some time.  Today I realized I’d never blogged about it.  My scripts heavily use XP Command Shell.  I had an audit setting in my environment that wouldn’t allow that to be on my servers.  So in this script I turn it on in the beginning and off at the end.  The nice thing about the script is I unit tested it and even if there is an error in the script the sp_configure settings are server level commands that occur outside of transactions, so they run no matter what.  The script runs quick, but it will make logged entries in the SQL Server Error log stating that XP_Command shell was turned on and off.  My audit team could live with this so I was able to implement it.
I also like to use a private key and a password for my TDE Encryption.  I don’t want the password sitting around in plain text in the job either.  So I make a database called TDE.  In it I have one table called tdeKeys.  I put two columns in there one is the name of my certificate that a private key will be created for the other is the password to use for that private key.  In secure environments you could set up column level encryption to ensure the password is not in plain text even in the table field.  The demo scripts I’m going to give you doesn’t use column level encryption.  It contains a function that retrieves the Password for the Certificate Name.
Next we will create the dynamic script to back up the certificate.  Note that I backup the Master Key as well.  If you are using column level encryption you’ll want a copy of the Master Key.  You’ll need to specify the path that you want to back up the certificates.  Also you will need to specify the certificate name.
Finally we will create the script that will use xp_cmdshell to transverse directories to manually delete our backups.  You will need to edit the file path in this script and insert the Master Key and certificate names in line 74.  Finally on line 103 you will need to alter the DATEADD function.  Right now it would only keep 4 days of certificates on hand, you’ll need to edit the DATEADD to match up your backup retention policy.

Want to see the whole presentation live?  I’ve done this for Pragmatic Works Training on the T’s, click Here to watch.  You’ve got to sign up for a Pragmatic Works account if you don’t already have one, and you’ll get free info on all the free training we do monthly!


“So Balls”, you say, “Is this over kill?”
Well Dear Reader it depends on your environment.  You must consider Level of Effort and Level of Response, LOE and LOR.
LOE is one part you one part the hacker.  The more secure you make something the less likely that a hacker will keep going for it, or how far they will bother to go.  On your part it is how far you are willing to go to do your job.  We can also get dissuaded from going the extra mile sometimes.  Your LOE should be governed by your organizations LOR.
LOR is the response that your organization will have to the event.  One thing I like to tell folks is that if you are ever in the position that your security has been breached, and you are then talking to your boss, his/her boss, the CIO, a high ranking officer in the military, or a/multiple high ranking government official(s).  Trust me when I say that you want to be able to say you took every last step possible to protect the data under your care.  The more detail you can provide the better.  So overkill?  Maybe.  CYA.  Absolutely. Thankful that no fault on your part was found and you still have a job? Yep.
Having been in this position trust me take the extra couple steps, if you ever need it you’ll be glad you did.
Thanks to Rick for hosting this today, and as always Thank You Dear Reader for stopping by!