Lots Of Upcoming Training and Speaking – Come See Me!

Posted by on July 23, 2015 in AlwaysOn, availability groups, Book, conference, high availability, Hyper-V, mission critical, Mission Critical SQL Server, PASS Summit, pre-conferece, presenting, speaking, SQL Server, SQL Server 2016, SQLHAU, training, virtualization | 0 comments

Happy Thursday, everyone! If you haven’t noticed, I have been pretty silent on the blog front. I am heads down writing the book (which is coming along nicely) as well as doing customer work. Fingers crossed, the book will be done before Summit. I will get back to a more normal blogging schedule when the book is done. Also, be sure to check out Max’s blog posts as he is now also regularly blogging here on the site.

It hasn’t been all book writing and customer work, though. Today I updated our Training and Events section with lots of new stuff. I am pretty excited, but it also means that I will be on the road from late September until early December. The things I do for you guys :)

First up is my 4-day Mission Critical SQL Server class in London via Technitrain from September 28 – October 1. As with all my 4-day deliveries, there are lots of hands on labs (bring your own device, though!). This has been on the books for quite some time. I love London, and my class in 2014 was a blast. I expect this delivery and the students to be the same. I may also be doing something else that week … stay tuned!

I will only be home a few days before heading down to Orlando (a place I *clearly* hate if you know me at all – Disney here I come!) for SQL Saturday 442. On Thursday, October 8, I will be doing a brand new preconference session entitled “Planning Highly Available SQL Server Deployments in a Cloudy, Virtualized World“. This is a “normal” precon, meaning there are no labs like some of my other precons. This helps to keep the price down while I get to deliver a really fun – and timely – topic. On the Saturday of the event, I will be delivering the talk What’s New for High Availability in SQL Server 2016 and Windows Server 2016 – another new one I am putting together.

The next thing on the books is the big kahuna – PASS Summit 2015. I am honored to once again be doing a preconference before Summit. This year I will be delivering “Advanced SQL Server Availability Architectures and Deployments“. I could have done the safe thing and just submitted an updated version of what I did last year. Why rest on your laurels? Don’t get me wrong – having 100 people doing labs at the same time was amazing, but been, there, done that. How could I kick it up a notch? Do something more difficult! Everyone gets their own lab environment (i.e. multiple VMs) that they connect to via a browser pm a device they bring with them. I am finalizing what the labs look like right now and will be building the VMs in the next month. I truly believe for topics like this you need to touch and feel. No hands on makes advanced topics more difficult to learn. Space is limited and I expect another sold out session, so register early. Don’t miss the PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A I did for the precon posted up at the Summit site.

During Summit, I was asked to participate in the panel discussion “Will the DBA Job of the Future Still Involve DBAs?“. That should be a lively panel. For the third year in a row, SQLHA will have a booth (this year once again with Denny Cherry & Associates) called Consultant’s Corner. Drop by to say hello to Max or myself – we’ll both be there. Unlike last year where I was juggling speaking as well as the MVP Summit over in Redmond, I will be in the booth quite a bit this year.

Finally, I am very excited to be returning to Australia for two weeks. The last time I was there was 2013. WardyIT is once again bringing me back as part of their Platinum Training series. I will be delivering my 4-day Mission Critical SQL Server Workshop in Brisbane (November 24 – 27) and Canberra (November 30 – December 3). Every time I go to Australia it is two different cities; the last time I did this combination was in 2012. The last time I was in Brisbane I also spoke at the user group, so we’ll see what happens.

As an aside, both the London and Australia deliveries of the Mission Critical SQL Server class will also be the first time that I will be rolling in some 2016 (both SQL Server and Windows Server) content formally into the curriculm where it is appropriate. My classes are always evolving.

Whew! Are you tired from looking at my schedule yet? I know I’ll be hitting at least Platinum on American with all of those miles in the air. And if all of this was not enough, there are a few other things in the works which are not quite ready to be announced yet. As soon as they are, they will be on the events page.

read more

Defending Fort SQL Server

Posted by on July 7, 2015 in consolidation, consulting, Hyper-V, Live Migration, PASS, presenting, Vmware | 1 comment

I’m seeing a common theme with a subset of our customers. It goes something like this: An enemy horde is on the horizon and the database team has banded together and barred the gates of Fort SQL Server to keep it at bay or die trying.

Unfortunately, the enemy is “change” and the DBAs have about as much chance of winning as cocker spaniel does in a fight against a pack of velociraptors. It really is just a matter of time.

The particular change du jour that some are stalwartly resisting is the encroachment of virtualization into the hallowed halls of SQL Server. This puzzles me because virtualization is a potentially beneficial change. However, conversations along those lines usually result in a “Keep that virtualization away from my SQL Server!” cry from these DBAs.

In computer history terms, virtualization is by no means a “new” technology. It’s been around for more than a decade. It has already been accepted as the foundation of the modern datacenter and the secret sauce for both public and private clouds. It is also the queen of the fully automated test environment.

Logic, logic, wherefore art thou logic? Can virtualization really be good for everything else, but not good for SQL Server?

Our customers that embrace virtualization and allow us to help them tend to find that it:

  • Adds almost no overhead (1-2% in most cases)
  • Provides some nice options for building (and rebuilding in DR scenarios) standardized servers from templates
  • Gives the only type of failover (either vMotion of Live Migration depending on your invading virtualization horde of choice) that keeps SQL Server’s hard earned self-tuning knowledge
  • Increases the available options for server consolidation which usually improves both hardware utilization and HA/DR options

That is not to say that the pathway to virtualization is a cakewalk which doesn’t have its challenges. Typically, there is new knowledge to be gained and new skills to master. Service monitoring becomes a must have to thwart the “noisy neighbor” scenario and other resource conflicts. At many companies, the DBAs become more reliant on the IT operations staff for certain tasks they previously owned – up to and including some types of failover. However, none of these is by any means terrifying to IT professionals. This is partially because no other field progresses as fast as computing, and over time we’ve gotten used to the pace of our changing technologies.

My business partner Allan has also seen quite a few of these SQL-under-siege situations. It is one of the main reasons that we are teaming up for a talk about virtualizing SQL coming up on Wednesday July 8 at noon EDT for the PASS Virtualization virtual chapter ( If you are interested, please join us there. Click here to register.

Our goal is to help you understand what long-term benefits Hyper-V brings to the table so you will be leading the team doing the planning and deployment. In the end, a great Hyper-V implementation the best defense of all.

read more

Features Should Not Dictate Mission Critical System Designs

Posted by on June 11, 2015 in availability groups, failover clustering, high availability, mission critical, Mission Critical SQL Server, PASS, presenting, speaking | 2 comments

I was working up a new presentation for the upcoming 24 Hours of PASS on mission critical system design (a bit more on that later) when one of those puzzles of life we all have cooking away on the back burners of the mind suddenly snapped into focus. The story of that puzzle goes a little something like this…

The development team ships a great feature called ladders for changing those light bulbs in high ceilings. They also have a fashionable feature called yellow polka dot cloth, which is just perfect for those retro 70s swimming trunks and bikinis that are all the rage. And they put in a cleverly-engineered tricycle feature loved by our active 4 year olds. Nothing at all wrong here.

Yet many times I arrive onsite to help a new customer with their mission critical system only to find that they’ve currently got a three wheeled, yellow polka dot, monster truck jacked up on stilts. I always used to wonder just how on earth they ever got to this point.

Now, thanks to last week’s epiphany, I finally understand. There is a natural tendency of humans to map what they need to what they have – regardless of any actual correlation between the two. There’s probably a law of needs way down the list about this already, and if not there should be because it really is true.

I guess this was correct in most natural situations. If a caveman needed a weapon to fight off a sabertooth tiger, picking one that was close at hand would be a critical survival skill. Clearly this is no time to start with a blank page and work through exactly what the best weapon would be to kill a huge, hungry cat that is looking at you like you are the answer to all his culinary dreams.

But therein lies the real moral of the story, and it’s just as true for DBAs.

Under pressure you’ll have to take the existing features which are, after all, designed to implement high availability and disaster recovery. The funny thing is that this is relative cheap and fast, but just always seems to fit like that sweater your aunt knitted you for Christmas – one sleeve too short, one too long, a bit tight around the neck, and never draping just right.

The features that ship in the product are great. However, chances are that if you sat down and wrote out real wants and needs for your particular applications and environment you would find that those existing features can get you only part of the way to success. Suddenly the gaps that you never saw when you just implemented HA/DR features become all too noticeable. The plan becomes a bit more complex and you wind up using a feature for this, part of a feature for that, writing some scripts over here, and adding a bit of custom hardware over there. It starts to be, well, work. But now the solution fits. It just feels right and does what it should when it should.


Of course, some knowledge always helps, and I mentioned that I was working on a new session for 24 Hours of PASS called “The Art and the Science of Designing a Mission Critical SQL Server Solution”. If you’ve ever thought about taking out that blank page and starting from scratch, I believe you’ll find it gives you some fresh new ideas and a nice starting point.

I hope some of you will join me there on Wednesday, June 24th at 8PM Pacific/11PM Eastern. Alternatively, feel free to try to fend off that big cat with a convenient tree branch – but we both know down deep that it’s probably going to end with one very happy feline.

If I’ve achieved nothing else, I hope you take away that what you really need is rarely what you have conveniently at hand and that you must actively resist human nature to see that this is the case.

read more

Need a User Interface for Windows Server Technical Preview 2? It’s Not On By Default

Posted by on May 5, 2015 in MinShell, Server Core, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server Technical Preview 2 | 1 comment

If you’re used to a graphical interface in Windows Server, wait until you install Windows Server Technical Preview 2.

read more

Application Vendors and SQL Server – A Cautionary Tale

Posted by on February 19, 2015 in annoyed, AppAssure, backups, Dell, SQL Server, vendor | 0 comments

Earlier today I tweeted this: “Dear Third Party V […]

read more

CONTEST – Win a Seat In Allan’s Mission Critical SQL Server Class in Dallas

Posted by on January 5, 2015 in SQLHA University, SQLHAU, training | 0 comments

Would you like to attend Allan’s Mission Critical SQL Server class for free in Dallas? Here’s how …

read more

Mission Critical SQL Server Class Sale Now Through December 5th

Posted by on November 23, 2014 in Mission Critical SQL Server, SQLHA University, SQLHAU, training | 0 comments

Take advantage of these great discounts on the Mission Critical SQL Server class before they are gone.

read more