SQLHA Has Given Birth

Posted by on October 30, 2014 in PASS Summit, SQLHA, SQLHA University, SQLHAU | 0 comments

Successful companies grow in different ways. Last year, we brought Max into the SQLHA fold. That allowed us to develop much broader customer outreach, work on some of the world’s biggest and most complex architectures, and at the same time, expand our network of partnerships. This past year has been one of our best to date, and we have seen lots of opportunities out there. To fill this gap in the marketplace, we are spinning off a separate, independent company named Fortified Data that Ben will be leading. Ben is really excited about this opportunity to provide a wide range of higher end consulting services using an array of different resources. SQLHA may still do some of this work, but it is Fortified Data’s complete focus.

While both Max and I will miss working with Ben day-to-day as a partner, and I’m sure we’ll do joint opportunities from time to time, we will continue with SQLHA’s core mission and are as strong as ever. We will be delivering mission critical consulting and all that it encompasses (including the usual suspects – service monitoring, availability, architecture, private cloud, virtualization, etc.). We work with some of the best companies in the world to make sure that their SQL Server environments are the best they can be, and we’ve already got a busy year shaping up for 2015. SQLHA University will also grow in 2015 (stay tuned), and I’ll even even finish that mission critical book before 2015!

While spinning off Fortified Data was not planned when Ben and I started SQLHA three years ago, I am proud of everything that we have accomplished together. The best is yet to come for SQLHA and Max and I are excited to see what Ben does with Fortified Data. I know Ben and Fortified will be a success if the past three years are any indication. If you want to reach out to Ben directly, his e-mail address is bdebow at fortifieddb dot com.

You can also drop by the “Consultant’s Corner” booth at PASS Summit next week to find out more, where SQLHA and Fortified Data will be sharing space with our friends Heraflux Technologies and Denny Cherry & Associates .


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What’s New in Windows Server vNext for SQL Server: Cloud Witness

Posted by on October 27, 2014 in availability groups, failover clustering, FCI, PASS Summit, presenting, quorum, Uncategorized, Windows vNext | 0 comments

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should have heard by now that Windows 10 was announced in late September and is due sometime in 2015. A new version of the Windows client always means another version of Windows Server. At the same time the Windows 10 Technical Preview was made available, so too was its Windows Server counterpart. If you have a MSDN subscription, it’s there. More info and where else to get it can be found here. The release will most likely not be called Windows Server 10, so we’ll have to speculate on what they will call it.

With a new version of Windows Server comes changes – usually for the better. I love what both Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 brought to the table for clustering especially with things like dynamic quorum and witness, last man standing, the tie breaker, and more. Until now, I’ve been under NDA not to talk about some topics related to vNext, but today I got the thumbs up on the one I care about the most which would impact things like AG deployments.

One problem with multi-site (or even hybrid) scenarios for AGs or FCIs is that if you need to use a witness resource, where do you put it? There’s a lot to say on that topic which I put into one of the two quorum chapters in the book, but the bottom line is that you basically have two options: have a witness at one of the sites (known as asymmetric witness) or stick it somewhere that all sites can see such as another data center or somewhere in the cloud if you have the right networking. Today’s version of putting a witness in the cloud is the traditional file share witness (FSW). In vNext, you have a new tool in the drawer: cloud witness. It is early days, so there is always a chance this feature may not make the final cut but I sure hope it stays!

This option can easily be seen in Figure 1 in the Configure Cluster Quorum Wizard. It was hiding in plain sight, but like I said, I couldn’t talk about it until today.

Cloud witness option in the quorum configuration wizard

Figure 1. Cloud witness option

This is not a FSW – let me be clear. On the next dialog shown in Figure 2, you have to enter your credentials for Azure storage. Yes, it’s Azure only – sorry Amazon or Google lovers. What this also means is that you need to have the cluster nodes connected to the Internet (not always possible), but this does NOT require the special hybrid networking you would need to normally bridge Azure to on premise deployments. That alone reduces many complexities intruduced with standard hybrid or disaster recovery solutions for SQL Server.

Figure 2. Entering the account information for the cloud witness

Figure 2. Entering the account information for the cloud witness

After the cloud witness is created, Figure 3 shows what you will see in Failover Cluster Manager (you can also see things in PowerShell, but this looks nicer in a blog post!). The cloud witness is a resource in the WSFC’s cluster group just like a disk or file share witness would be.

Figure 3. Cloud witness and how it looks in Failover Cluster manager

Figure 3. Cloud witness and how it looks in Failover Cluster manager

Finally, on the backend in Azure, it creates a GUID associated with the WSFC similar to that of a FSW. Figure 4 shows what this would appear like.

Figure 4. What the cloud witness looks like in Azure

Figure 4. What the cloud witness looks like in Azure

Want to know more about quorum and witness? It’ll be in the book, but if you’ll be at PASS Summit next week, come see my session “Did You Vote Today? A DBA’s Guide to Cluster Quorum” (DBA-311) on Friday, November 7, at 8:15 AM in room 6E. It is a 75 minute session. “Did You Vote Today?” was also selected to be broadcast on PASStv, so even if you’re not at Summit, you can watch it live on the Web. No pressure, right? I may take questions live from Twitter – that has yet to be determined.

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CONTEST – Win a Seat In Next Week’s Mission Critical SQL Server Class in Boston

Posted by on October 14, 2014 in SQLHA University, SQLHAU, training | 0 comments

I know this is last minute, but we’ve decided to give away a seat for next week’s Mission Critical SQL Server class in Boston just like we did for Chicago last year. This time the rules are going to be slighlty different. I really do believe in giving back to the community, and I think this is a perfect way of paying my good fortune forward.

Good luck!

The Rules
Send us an e-mail to sales at sqlha dot com with the subject Boston Rocks as to why you think you deserve the seat and how it would impact you. I really would prefer the seat go to someone who truly needs this, such as learning new skills, switching jobs, etc. You are not bound by that, but you really have to demonstrate that you truly would benefit from attending.

I am not asking for a 1000 word essay, but don’t send a one line e-mail either. The grammar police won’t hold it against you if it’s not up to snuff; I would prefer heartfelt over perfect. Having said that, see The Fine Print. There is one exception.

Entries must be in by Thursday, October 16, at 5PM Eastern. A winner will be chosen and notified on Friday, October 17.

Do not make or send a video; that will disqualify you.

The Fine Print

  1. One entry per person per class. Entry is only good for the class submitted. You must submit individual entries for different classes.
  2. Winners will not be eligible for a free seat in a future class and are ineligible for winning any other free SQLHA giveaway for 12 months after winning the seat in the class (excluding any giveaways in the class). If you cannot attend the class where you are chosen as a winner, you forfeit the prize.
  3. Do not enter if you cannot attend; it is not fair to those who can and a waste of everyone’s time.
  4. You (or your company) are responsible for all travel and expenses including, but not limited to: airfare, taxis, food, hotel, and so on. If you cannot meet this obligation for the class you are thinking of entering, please save it for one you can.
  5. Entries without the proper subject will be disqualified. Sorry.
  6. While we do not have delicate sensibilities, keep your entries clean.
  7. You are responsible for any taxes you may need to pay as a result of winning this contest.
  8. You must be eligible to win. For example, some who work in certain jobs or roles (such as some government agencies) would be ineligible. Know if you can before you enter. I apologize in advance if what you do rules you out, but we don’t want to waste anyone’s time or cause issues for you OR us.
  9. All entries must be in English.
  10. While we understand that writing is not everyone’s forte, anyone who uses text speak such as ur will be disqualified as well.
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Happy Anniversary (To Me), Training and Book Updates, and Other Thoughts

Posted by on August 12, 2014 in advice, PASS Summit, speaking, SQLbits, SQLHA | 1 comment

Can you believe it’s been seven years? I can’t.

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The TSA Ruined My Demos … Sorta

Posted by on July 7, 2014 in demos, development, presenting, SQLbits | 0 comments

When flying rules affect demos …

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Farewell, Sony Vaio

Posted by on February 6, 2014 in hardware, Sony, Vaio | 1 comment

The Vaio is dead.

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Wherefore Art Thou Mission Critical SQL Server Book?

Posted by on December 29, 2013 in Book | 4 comments

So where is that book, Allan?

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Announcing SQLHA University

Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Recent News, SQLHA, SQLHA University, SQLHAU | 0 comments

SQLHA University opens its doors to the public

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