Gotcha for Installing SQL Server 2016 and SSMS on Windows Server 2012 R2

By: on September 28, 2016 in SQL Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016 | No Comments

If you’ve tried to install SQL Server 2016 on Windows Server 2012 R2, you may have run into an issue – KB2919355 may not be installed. Without this particular Windows update which is applicable to both Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, that means if you are trying to install SQL Server 2016 on a desktop running 8.1, you’d encounter this, too. The error in SQL Server Setup can be seen in Figure 1.

Figure 1. SQL Server 2016 cannot install with KB2919355 missing

Figure 1. SQL Server 2016 cannot install with KB2919355 missing

The new standalone SQL Server Management Studio installation has the same issue – it cannot be installed without KB2919355 installed as seen in Figure 2.

Figure 2. SSMS also needs KB2919355

Figure 2. SSMS also needs KB2919355

In my case, I created a new VM with a fresh installation of Windows Server 2012 R2. I also ran Windows Update to ensure it had everything Windows Server thought it required. Figure 3 reflects this status.

Figure 3. Windows is up to date

Figure 3. Windows is up to date

As you can see in Figure 4, KB2919355 is not listed as one of the ones WU installed, so it has to be an optional update.

Figure 4. Installed updates

Figure 4. Installed updates

Looking at the list of optional updates in Windows Update in Figure 5, 2919355 is not shown. This means you need to download and install it manually.

Figure 5. Optional updates available through WU

Figure 5. Optional updates available through WU

I went to the KB article page for 2919355 (link is below) and clicked on the link for the Windows Server 2012 R2 files and downloaded all of them. I did not look at the installation instructions (note: don’t ever do this … updates are fussy and why I am writing this blog post) and plowed head installing the executable associated with KB2919355. Cue the sad trombone sound as seen in Figure 6.

Figure 6. Cannot install KB2919355

Figure 6. Cannot install KB2919355

Going back and looking at the instructions, buried in the last step is what I lovingly call an “oh by the way” – you have to install KB2919442 (also not shown as an optional update in WU) first. Once you do that, things are smooth sailing.

So to install SQL Server 2016 on Windows Server 2012 R2, here is the installation order for these fixes:

  1. Download and install the update in KB2919442. This does not require a reboot.
  2. Download and install the update in KB2919355. Note that this has 7 files that you can download. To get SQL Server and SSMS installed, you really only need to install Windows8.1-KB2919355.exe. The others you may not need, and you only need clearcompressionflag.exe before running the 2913955 install if you have an issue.
  3. Reboot the server, as KB2919355 will require one once it is done installing. That means if you are going to do an in place upgrade or install an instance side by side, it will cause an outage to any existing SQL Server installation.
  4. Install SQL Server 2016 and/or SSMS.

If you are still having issues, you’ve got other problems going on that you will need to investigate. Hope this saves some of you some time.

Note that if you are using Windows Server 2016, you will not encounter this issue. Everything just works. If you want to take advantage of Windows Server 2016 with SQL Server 2016, contact us – we can help get you up and running with features such as Storage Spaces Direct which I blogged about a few days ago and SQL Server just officially announced support for at Ignite.

New SQL Server Benchmark – New Windows Server Feature

By: on September 23, 2016 in RDMA, S2D, SOFS, SQL Server 2016, Windows Server 2016 | No Comments

It hasn’t been widely publicized yet in SQL Server circles, but Intel just published a brand new benchmark with physical SQL Server 2016 instances and Windows Server 2016. There are a lot of good numbers in there, but the one that should raise an eyebrow (in a good way) is 28,223 transactions per second.

How did they do this? They used  new feature of Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition called Storage Spaces Direct (S2D). S2D is a new way to deploy a WSFC using “shared storage”, and it can be used either with Hyper-V VMs or SQL Server FCIs directly running on physical hardware. While in some ways it can be compared to VMware’s VSAN or something like Nutanix, the reality is that S2D is a different beast and can be accessed by more than just virtual machines (hence bare metal SQL Server 2016). I’ve demoed S2D in the past with older builds of the Windows Server 2016 Technical Previews, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the RTM bits soon.

S2D allows you to configure very fast local storage such as NVMe-based flash/SSD in each of the WSFC nodes and have those nodes then utilize it (no really … local storage for things like FCIs, and not just TempDB). Note in the picture underneath the specs the hardware is using RDMA NICs. In the immortal words of Jeffrey Snover “don’t waste your money buying servers that don’t have RDMA NICs”. This is true in the Windows Server world on physical hardware. VMware does not support RDMA or Infiniband as of now, but they recently added support for 25 or 50 Gb networks in ESXi 6.0 Update 2. It’d be great if VMware supported RDMA since it would really help with vMotion traffic. Time will tell!

UPDATE: It does look like VMware is edging towards RDMA see here and here for public evidence.

So what is RDMA? RDMA stands for Remote Direct Memory Access, which is a very (VERY) fast way to do networking. You can bingoogle to find more information, such as there are different flavors (RoCE and iWARP), and some say Infiniband and RDMA are one in the same. RDMA connectivity can revolutionize your storage connectivity and is great for things like Live Migration (and in the future, hopefully vMotion) networks. Its massive bandwidth enables things like converged/hyperconverged solutions because there is an insane amount of bandwidth and speed. Hyperconverged is the latest marketing buzzword bingo that every company uses a bit differently, so you’ll want to understand how each one is using it. Here’s the bottom line, though: fast networking is going to be the key to most things going forward including storage access. If you’re still on 1Gb or even just doing 10Gb, you should really consider looking at faster things.

I’ve been talking about RDMA and Scale Out File Server (SOFS) with SQL Server for years. SOFS, when implemented right, uses RDMA. SQL Server natively supports RDMA and SOFS – there’s nothing that needs to be done other than using SMB 3.0 (well, SMB Multichannel and SMB Direct) to store your databases and use something like SOFS to serve it up. In fact, a few years back, I designed and helped to implement a hybrid Hyper-V/physical FCI solution for a customer using RDMA and SOFS.  I remember the meeting where I proposed the RDMA aspect of the architecture – people looked at me like I had two heads because it is a left field concept in the SQL Server world. Six months later when we got into a lab, none of us had seen such speed and most of the concerns and doubts faded away. Having seen and played with S2D for over a year now, I’ve seen the potential for how it can be used with SQL Server, and Intel’s new benchmark confirms it. If you care about pure performance with SQL Server, this is going to be an awesome architecture (SQL Server + S2D).

Ignite is just around the corner with the official Windows Server 2016 launch. S2D is here. If you want to take advantage of the speed and power of Windows Server (including 2016), RDMA, S2D, SOFS, Hyper-V, or vSphere (especially when RDMA is released) for SQL Server, contact us. It’s a brave new world, and SQLHA can guide you through it.

New Lab Machine/Portable VM Box Version 3

By: on September 6, 2016 in Advice, Hardware, Lab | No Comments

Back in 2013, I decided that no matter what laptop I had, in some ways it would be better to have a small, light, portable machine that I could take with me to be more of an uber-VM box. That way, my laptop could always be small/light or I could have VMs running in both. I mean, I can be running 10 – 15 VMs at any given time.

It would also allow me to do things like, say, run VMware Workstation on my laptop but Hyper-V on the small machine. Since I started doing this, others have picked up and run with this idea as well. It’s not uncommon for people to use these kinds of setups now, whereas when I started, I was basically the only one. My setup has recently changed, so I figured I’d discuss what I’m doing now and give a bit of history of how much things have changed in a relatively short time.

Version 1

When I decided to do this, the initial Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) machines were a bit underpowered for my liking. I initially ordered the DC3217IYE NUC, but it’s i3 was not up to the task – it was more the design than the i3 as I have run VMs on equivalent processors. For Version One of my small but portable VM box, I settled on the Foxconn NanoPC AT-7700. It had:

  • i7-3517U CPU
  • 16GB of memory
  • 1 2.5″ SSD

This worked fairly well. For the barebones machine with no memory or SSD, I paid just under $500 US (since I get readers from all over the world). Being a U processor, it wasn’t always the snappiest configuration nor the coolest (yay fans), but it was a good foray into this type of setup.  At that time, 16GB of memory cost me $100.

Version 2

Fast forward to July 2014, and the “you must power your device on” rule  which is still in effect when flying internationally.For what it’s worth, it’s real. I was selected for a random check at London Heathrow prior to a flight back last year. This was post-security right down by the entrance to the plane.  Why is this date/event significant? Just prior to that, I purchased the Gigabyte Brix GB-BXi7-4770R I was going to take over to use while speaking. That didn’t happen, but I did use the Brix at home. So in a year I went from a U processor to:

  • i7-4770R CPU – a full CPU, not a U
  • Still 16GB of memory (204-pin 16GB DIMMs were not quite out yet)
  • 1 x mSATA and 1 x 2.5″ drive (woot! more internal storage)

I think I paid $600 – $650 for it. The Brix is a hefty little thing, and while powerful, has its share of issues in my opinion. The fan is nearly always on (granted, I push these boxes), and running a server OS is no picnic. To be perfectly honest, the general problem with these setups is this: if you want to run a server OS such as Windows Server 2012 R2, driver support is non-existent or trial-by-error to get certain things to work. The last time I was using the Brix a graphics update nearly broke it. Ultimately, it’s not the best choice – especially today.

What all this meant was I needed to maintain a 16GB-based laptop which I was fine with as my main portable. Since I couldn’t take these with me, they became extra home virtualization/lab boxes. The Vaio Z Canvas I got in June of 2015 (which has the i7-4770HQ) is the best portable box/laptop I’ve ever had, and I’m hoping they do an update.

Version 3

Fast forward to now. As I inevitably do, I push limits and 16GB is becoming less tenable for a configuration for testing and demoing. Again, I love my Z Canvas – it never gets hot nor do I ever hear the fan (except when updating Windows …). I also have more and more of a need to have a dual Hyper-V/VMware setup for various reasons. Running Hyper-V under VMware is possible, but not the best configuration. This configuration would never be my main portable VM box, but due to some customer work and what I need to finish the book over the next little bit, I needed something. Its first public debut will be for tomorrow’s 24 Hours of PASS – Summit Preview Edition where I will be doing the session “A Closer Look at Distributed Availability Groups” at 17:00 GMT (1PM Eastern/10 AM Pacific).

Enter the new Intel NUC – the NUC6i7KYK. Instead of just shipping less powered NUCs, Intel decided to ship a full blown one. First and foremost, it supports Windows Server 2012 R2 with its drivers, which is a huge selling point if you want to have a home lab and want to run something like Hyper-V not in the desktop OS. you can do things like Shared VHDX which simplifies FCI configurations (but also complicates and can cause other issues that are fixed in Windows Server 2016). A few weeks back, I picked one up. It’s configured with:

  • i7-6770HQ (basically the newer version of the processor of what is in my Z Canvas)
  • 32GB of memory (I paid $114 at MicroCenter; it’s usually about $120 on Amazon)
  • It only has M.2 slots for drives, but it has two of them. More on that in a minute.

I wanted instant gratification, so I got mine at my local MicroCenter for $599. As of today, it’s $569.99 on Amazon. Talk about how far we’ve come! The new NUC is very light without the AC adapter/power brick. It ships with the skull cover which is not exactly my taste, and they include a plain one and a tool to change it, so I did. As you can see in Figure 1, it’s just slightly longer than a DVD and not much thicker than it.

Figure 1. New NUC vs. DVD case

Figure 1. New NUC vs. DVD case

Most people may be used to either more standard 2.5″ drives (SSD or HDD) or mSATA. This NUC only takes SSDs which have the M.2 form factor. An M.2 SSD looks similar to a stick of gum. Figure 2 shows what one looks like. For this build, I decided to go all out. I got what is the top of the line right now. These are not your normal M.2 drives. Sure, I could have “cheaped out” and purchased something like two Samsung Evo 850 1TB which are only about $350, and it would have been fine..

Figure 2. M.2 form factor SSD

Figure 2. M.2 form factor SSD

Everyone who knows me I tend to do “go big or go home”, so I got what is arguably the best as of today – two 1TB NVMe M.2 2280 drives. The first is the hard-to-find OEM only Samsung SM961 1TB drives which is rated at 3200 MB/s for sequential reads and 1800 MB/s for sequential writes, and 450K IOPS for both 4K random reads and writes. It’s a smokin’ drive! The second one is the new OCZ (nee Toshiba) RD400 series (the RVD400-M22280-1TB) which is nice, but not as fast as the SM961. You can see its specs here.

I know there are some of you out there (including Max who is my business partner) who prefer to build PCs and pick things like power supply, case, etc. I am not that guy. I’ve done it, but I don’t geek out on that stuff. With this NUC, you unscrew the bottom, pop in the memory and drives, and away you go. Figure 3 shows what the NUC looks like with everything installed. I can’t say enough about how easy it is to get up and running with this.

Figure 3. Inside the NUC6i7KYK

Figure 3. Inside the NUC6i7KYK

I’ve set this up with one drive running Windows 10 with VMware Workstation 12, and the other running Windows Server 2012 R2. Again, thanks to Intel for supporting Windows Server 2012 R2 with drivers for the NUC. I did try to use Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5, but had driver issues (even when I tried to upgrade from Windows Server 2012), so I will wait until it is fully supported by Intel. This has been MUCH easier than the Brix and I’ve had no stability issues. Intel’s BIOS utility is also well thought out. You will want to make sure that the CPU power saving setting is disabled (it is on by default) if you want the best performance. Like my Z Canvas, Intel did a wonderful job with system design. I rarely hear the fan and it stays very cool even when running quite a few VMs.

So if you’re building a new lab or even want a new home PC (even if it’s just for music or watching video), I think you can’t beat the new Intel NUC6i7KYK. You don’t have to load yours up like I did with top-of-the-line SSDs and 32GB of memory, but for about $1000, you will have something very powerful and for equivalent money, we’ve come a long way since 2013 and Version 1. Because I can travel with it in the US, it may come with me to PASS Summit but we’ll see … it’s too soon to tell.

I’m an MVP Again – Twice Over!

By: on July 1, 2016 in MVP | 2 Comments

July 1st is always an F5 kind of day for me since it’s when I find out if I’ve been renewed as a Cluster … er, Cloud and Datacenter Management – High Availability MVP. I just got the word, and I’m honored that this marks eight years of being a Microsoft MVP. However, this year is a bit sweeter. I was awarded MVP in another category – Data Platform. So now I can officially say I’m both a High Availability and a SQL Server (nee Data Platform) MVP since everyone thought I was a SQL Server MVP anyway.

Now I can relax and finish up this customer documentation I’m working on.

Have a good July 4th weekend, everyone.

Supporting WIT – Win a Seat in the Upcoming Mission Critical SQL Server Class in Chicago

By: on June 24, 2016 in Mission Critical SQL Server, SQLHAU, WIT | 6 Comments

Happy Friday, everyone. It’s been a bit busy in SQLHAland, and I’m getting caught up on a lot of stuff. One thing I do over the years is to give back when and where I can. Max and I were talking about this recently, and we thought the upcoming Mission Critical SQL Server class in Chicago was a great way to do something we have in the past – give a seat to someone deserving in one of our classes (similar to Chicago in 2013 and Boston in 2014).

However, this time we decided instead of opening it up to everyone, it’s not gone unnoticed that Max and I do not see a lot of women on the infrastructure side of the house when we work with customers. This time around, the seat we will give away is to support WIT.

Good luck if you enter!

The Rules

  1. No males. Sorry guys!
  2. Send an e-mail to sales at sqlha dot com with the subject WIT Rocks and tell us why you think you deserve the seat in Mission Critical SQL Server and how it would impact you. You really have to demonstrate that you truly would benefit from attending. You do not have to send a tome, but one or two lines won’t cut it either. The grammar police won’t hold it against you if your e-mail is not up to snuff; we prefer heartfelt over perfect. Having said that, see #10 of The Fine Print. There is one exception.
  3. Entries must be in by Friday, July 15, at 5PM Eastern. A winner will be chosen and notified on Monday, July 18.
  4. Do not make or send a video, write a Word document, etc.; that will disqualify you. This should be e-mail only.

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 LLC 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.

Special WIT Discount

Everyone who enters will also get a special discount code so if you don’t get the free seat, you will get a great price if you want to attend. If you are a woman and don’t want to enter the contest but would like to attend, contact us and we’ll get you that WIT only discount code.