Is anyone else bothered by the word “serverless” when it comes to computing – especially in the cloud? The workload you are running, website you are surfing, or bauble you are buying is being served up somewhere on a backend. That backend is comprised of servers even if they are not in your own data center. There’s no magic compute dust at work.
Having said that, infrastructure as a service, or IaaS, is largely based on you accessing servers you configure and control on a backend. If you’re using Azure, AWS, GCP, or any of the other cloud platforms, it’s a virtual machine (VM) running on a hypervisor. So if your company is running ESXi, Hyper-V, Xen, or another hypervisor on premises and you have been running VMs, what you would be using in the cloud is the same … just more abstracted from you.
The problem as we saw with on premises virtualization is sizing. When you want to start doing IaaS-y things in the cloud, you actually need to know the capacity to rightsize. Why? If you don’t, you will either overspend (costing you money), or undersize and have poor performance, which means you’ll need to spend more money to fix the problem. When you own the servers and the platform on premises, it is usually easier to correct this problem. This is not always true. Virtualization was not a panacea. Over the years, both Max and I as part of working with customers have seen virtualized SQL Server environments that were not rightsized, and it caused quite a bit of agita.
The whole premise of virtualization and IaaS in the cloud (I’ll touch on other cloud-y things in a minute) is that you can give things the resources they want. When we went through the waves of consolidation in the mid-2000s which opened the door to virtualization later, a lot more care was put into those consolidations. Early virtualization efforts were often done via physical to virtual (P2V) conversions whereby if you had a server that had P processors and M amount of memory, that’s what the VM was assigned. That’s not rightsizing; that’s lift and shift. You may have been able to sunset the physical hardware, but that’s about it.
To properly rightsize an environment, you need to baseline and benchmark your servers and applications to accurately know what resources they are using. That also allows you to understand how it is growing to plan for the future and have the capacity for that, too. Without that information, you might as well lick your finger, stick it in the air, and try to see which way the wind is blowing because you certainly won’t know what to get as you transition to the public cloud providers. Using Azure, AWS, or GCP is a much more viable option for many folks, but when you’re picking your server, as stated above, if you don’t know what size IaaS VM or storage to select, you will be met with a lot of problems like many of the early SQL Server virtualization attempts went down in many companies. We help out customers all the time with capacity management; it’s very important for long term health of your deployments.
The one thing that the cloud providers do which we often see that many on premises customers do not do is quality of service, or QoS. QoS is a very important concept. In a nutshell, QoS means you’re guaranteed something. For example, if cloud provider X says you’ll get 10,000 IOPS with said storage, you’ll get 10,000 IOPS. On premises virtualization has the same concepts, and if you’re seeing spike-y performance with your VMs, it’s definitely one place to look.
If you’re using Amazon’s RDS or Azure SQL Database, that’s not IaaS; some may call it software as a service (SaaS), but more accurately, it’s database as a service (DBaaS). Amazon and Microsoft are giving you a database that is based in the cloud. You do not manage the instance, nor do you worry about things like performance. Those immortal words “it just works” applies here. Microsoft will soon offer managed instances of SQL Server in Azure so you can have a whole instance that is yours, but without any of the things that come along with IaaS.
For all of these, you still need to measure performance, and if you’re just starting on your journey to the public cloud, you really need to know your numbers prior to making the leap or you might wind up like Icarus and get your wings clipped the hard way. Don’t be that person. One of the things we do for our customers is to help them transition to their next generation platforms and architectures, be it new versions of SQL Server or Windows, Linux, on premises (physical or virtual), hybrid solutions of on premises and the cloud, or going whole hog up into Azure, AWS, or GCP. If you want some help figuring all of this out, including things like baselining and benchmarking to designing the whole thing or anything inbetween, contact us today and we will ensure your transition to the future keeps you soaring high, not falling to the ground.
Hello, everyone. Can you believe 2017 will be here in just a few days? 2016 seemed to fly by. It’s been quite a year. I wanted to take the time in my final blog post of the year to recap some of what has happened, talk about some stuff that is coming, and update you on some stuff, too.
The Elephant in the Room
There is the matter of the book. As many of you are (as well as I am) painfully aware, I officially announced in 2013. A lot has happened both personally and professionally between then and now. One thing I haven’t talked about but came to a head in late 2015 was my health. Without getting into specific details, from January of 2014 until almost the end of 2015, I was not in good shape. I hurt myself and over time, it got to the point where the pain was so bad I basically couldn’t sit, stand, or lay down without pain. I am a non-“medicate yourself” person, so I didn’t take anything for it. I tried to soldier through it. That was a huge mistake.
I can tell you that the amount of time I spend on the road speaking and going to customers didn’t help, either. There was just no time to stop and get off the road due to work commitments. Schlepping luggage, airplane seats, and everything else exacerbated what was going on. I was shattered by the time I hit hotel rooms. It didn’t help that my hand was also messed up as well which not only affected my ability to type but also my ability to play bass. Since I couldn’t stop using my dominant hand, that took about seven months to heal.
I did my best to put a brave face on things publicly, but if you saw me at PASS Summit 2015, you would have seen me at my low point in terms of how I was feeling. It was hard to miss the Leaning Tower of Allan. Right after PASS Summit, I went back to the doctor and spent the rest of the year and the first few months of 2016 in physical therapy. Luckily for the first time in nearly two years I had contiguous time I could deal with what was going on with me. Knock on proverbial wood, physical therapy took care of things and to date, I feel great. I haven’t felt this healthy in years. If you saw me at PASS Summit this year, it was clearly night and day.
What does that have to do with the book? Needless to say, as time dragged on, it became harder and harder for me to get my normal work done, let alone sit for hours on top of that writing. I’m not looking for a pity party or sympathy, nor am I absolving myself of anything book related, but anyone who has experienced excruciating pain to the point of it being debilitating knows what I am talking about. I’m not active/active, you know. All kidding aside, don’t be a martyr like me if you’re feeling bad: take care of it. I let things go to the point where I had no choice and if physical therapy did not work, surgery may have been something I needed to explore. Quality of life became a very real issue. To put a capper on 2016, I’m just getting over bronchitis which has sidelined me for a good portion of December.
So where does that leave things? I’m back on track despite the bronchitis. My spare time over the past few months (which hasn’t been much – we’ve been slammed with the day job which isn’t 9 to 5 …) has been spent working on the book and should really, truly be content complete over the next little while barring any unforeseen problems.
Before anyone asks, the book will still be covering SQL Server 2008 R2 especially because Microsoft recently announced that they are (unfortunately) now giving the super duper paid extended support option (Premium Assurance – see this and this) which gives up to 16 years of paid support on that as well as Windows Server 2008 R2. It makes what I’m doing more vital than ever since I’m crossing all the major versions of SQL Server and Windows Server. I’ve also made some other hard choices as to what will/will not be in the book:
- SQL Server 2016 and Windows Server 2016 are now in scope
- Yes, there will be public cloud-related content – not just on premises/physical stuff
- SQL Server v.Next – including SQL Server on Linux – is not in scope. This will be part of the first major update to the book, timeframe TBD since we have no release date for v.Next. If you haven’t been paying attention, the paint is barely dry on SQL Server 2016 and we already have CTPs of v.Next (as of the writing of this blog, we’re up to 1.1).
I’ll wrap up this section with this thought: I never intended for things to go this way. I not only thought I’d be done, but I’d be on the updates by now. The road of good intention wound up being full of potholes which bent my rims and threw my car out of alignment. As I have mentioned before, my 2005 book which was much smaller in scope and size, took 3 years. I’m not happy about the circumstances, but there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. They say what does not kill you makes you stronger, right? Again, I’ll reiterate – don’t let health issues build up. Take care of yourself.
Let’s Talk PASS Summit 2016
Once I took care of my health, 2016 really took a big upswing. Besides all of the customer work we did which hasn’t slowed down, some of the highlights of the year included teaching in Australia, precons at SQL Nexus in Copenhagen and SQLBits in the UK, speaking at VMworld in Las Vegas, and the capper of them all: PASS Summit 2016.
I’m very fortunate that I have presented at PASS Summit most years and have had a preconference session for quite a few of the ones in recent memory. I was the first to introduce live labs three years ago and try to push the envelope each time my abstracts are accepted. I am glad PASS took a chance on me then – we had no idea how it would play out – and three years later, it keeps getting bigger and better. By now, we have a lot of the logistics stuff down pat since I keep getting selected. Let me be clear – I don’t assume I’ll get a precon because there are no guarantees. I know I’m lucky.
As with the previous years, we talked about capping the number who could sign up at around 100. There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which is making sure that I have enough proctors (i.e. things are manageable) and the convention center can handle the bandwidth needed. Much to my surprise, at one point when I checked in they had sold over 100 seats – PASS forgot to cap it. We then decided to cap it around 110. People still wanted to sign up, so we upped it to 120. Finally we said the heck with it, and filled the room (capacity: 136).
An additional 36 people does not sound like a lot of people, but from a backend and management perspective, it is. I’ve never done anything that big with labs. I had to talk to the folks hosting the VMs since everyone gets their own set (i.e. hundreds of VMs – not a small backend to have to account for), we conferred with the convention center, and on it went. I had so many people come up to me before and during PASS Summit telling me they wish they could have gotten in – as far as I know, I think I was the only sold out one on Monday (can’t speak for Tuesday). No pressure, right? I remember one encounter going down the elevator at the Hyatt heading over the morning of the precon. One of the conference attendees saw my badge and made the association. He mentioned how he wanted to get in but couldn’t. I mean, what can you say? I’m flattered and humbled by that demand. I never take any of this for granted, and would give the same energy if one person showed up or that sold out room of 136.
Things went off with only minor issues (power, which we took care of in a break; same issue as last year), and it was awesome to see that many people doing labs at once. I snapped this picture during the day.
I also had a half day session on what was new for availability in both SQL Server 2016 and Windows Server 2016. It was an expanded version of a talk I had been doing for over a year, aided by the fact that Windows Server 2016 had just been released so I could demo things I couldn’t before. I had no idea what room I was in, and thought there may be some interest, but there were many good sessions at the same time. Much to my surprise – on the last day of PASS Summit no less – I was in a huge room (400+), and nearly every seat was filled for most of it. Below is a picture of one side as the room was starting to fill. I’d have to look at years past, but it may have been one of the biggest rooms I’ve talked in, and definitely one of the most full. Again, no pressure – just hundreds of people who can skewer you if you suck. Luckily that didn’t happen. I had my best scores ever for a PASS Summit for both the half day and the precon. No complaints, and I can’t say enough how good of an event PASS Summit was – and not just for me.
In addition to contributing to and reviewing this whitepaper from VMware, I wrote one entitled “Planning Highly Available, Mission Critical SQL Server Deployments with VMware vSphere” that was published in November. I didn’t blog about it, and some of you may have missed it. It was my first real return to writing released publicly in a long time. It’s not marketing fluff, and hope you find it useful.
Dual Microsoft MVP
One of the things I am very proud of is that back in July, I was not only re-awarded as a Data Center & Cloud Management (aka Windows Server nee Cluster) MVP, but I was also awarded as a Data Platform (aka SQL Server) MVP. There are other Dual Microsoft MVPs, but it’s nice to be recognized for the two things I do day in and day out.
Selected 2016 Numbers
0 – The number of laptops purchased by me in 2016. Yes, I’m still using the Vaio Z Canvas I got from Japan in June of 2015. More than 18 months is uncharted territory!
3 – The number of noise cancelling headphones employed by me this year. I got two new pair of headphones for travel at the end of the year. We’ll see which one stays. The old pair I used has already not made it back. One of these days I’ll do a blog post on what to consider for noise cancelling headphones.
4 – The number of bottles of Goober Grape I polished off this year.
5 – The number of countries I visited. Besides the USA, I was in these countries: Australia, Bulgaria, China, Denmark, and the UK.
45 – The number of flights I was on and how old I turned this fall.
100,000 – The approximate number of miles I spent in the air this year.
Too many – the number of (in)famous and influential people (not just entertainment folks) who died.
Training, Events, and Public Speaking in 2017
2017 is already shaping up to be a busy year. I’ll be back in the UK for two weeks at the end of March and early April teaching my 4-day Mission Critical SQL Server class in London via Technitrain and then it’s SQLBits 2017, where I’ll also be delivering a Training Day on April 6th. I will also most likely be speaking at the London SQL Server User Group again the week I’m teaching my class. Register early – both the class and the Training Day are likely to be sold out!
I’ve submitted for a few SQL Saturdays (I usually do about a half dozen a year, give or take), and as those are confirmed, those will be added to the schedule. A few User Groups have approached me, so I’m trying to slot those in as well. Get your requests in early! I’m hope to speak again at VMworld (fingers crossed), and will of course, submit to PASS Summit again.
I’m still working on additional public dates (besides London) for my classes, and should have them nailed down in the next few weeks. Once that’s done, they’ll be posted and we’ll run a special. Stay tuned! In the meantime, if you need some training and would prefer us to come onsite, don’t hesitate to reach out. Get on our schedule early before it’s filled up.
A Note of Thanks
Whether you attended one of my classes or preconference sessions, saw me speak in person or online, read some of my writings, or more sometime this year – including reaching out to me asking where the book is even if you’re annoyed at me – thank you. I do not take anyone for granted and without you, none of what I do is really possible.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special thanks to my longtime friend and business partner, Max Myrick. 2016 was SQLHA’s best year yet.
I only covered some of what happened. 2016 was a quite the year personally and professionally, and 2017 is looking better. I hope to see many of you next year, be it in person or online. Happy New Year!
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.
This week, Intel formally announced its Haswell processors. In the mobile world, this is a big deal because unlike the previous generation of processors (Ivy Bridge), this new one promises things like better battery life and better graphics. I’m all for better battery life. Part of that is they had to redesign the ultra low voltage (ULV) chips that go in many computers. They have a lower power consumption than Ivy Bridge. By the numbers I’ve seen in preliminary tests, Intel really did improve battery life.
My excitement, however, is short lived. As usual, I’m enticed by new and shiny laptops – most notably the upcoming Vaio Pro 11 or Vaio Pro 13. The Pro 11 reminds me of a cross between my old Vaio G, the older Vaio T (not the new cheapie one), and maybe a bit of the X505 thrown in for good measure. Why is my enthusiasm dampered? Virtualization.
Here’s why: one of the things I love being able to do is run Hyper-V (and sometimes ESX) under VMware Workstation. I use Hyper-V for most of my demos, but it’s easier to show some things Hyper-V related under VMware since I can virtualize the hypervisor and have nested virtual machines. Besides the standard virtualization (VT-x in the Intel world), what allows you to run a hypervisor and nested 64-bit guests is the Intel VT-x with Extended Page Tables (EPT) feature of the processor. EPT = second level address translation (SLAT) for you geeky types. This requirement is documented by VMware here.
Cue the sad trombone. According to Intel’s whiz-bang Virtualization Technology web page, with the new Haswell chips, only some of the desktop processors got SLAT support; no mobile processor did. Don’t believe me? Click here.
This is a real setback for those of us who do complex demos from time to time like nested VMs. Remoting back home is not always an option. I’m going to have to seriously consider getting another backup Ivy Bridge machine (even if it’s a small form backup like the NUC) because outside of video, I won’t easily be able to demo some things anymore starting with Haswell.
I’m also bemoaning the fate of things like ethernet ports and VGA, but those can be solved with adapters. You can’t add a feature to a processor.
My woes here really fall into 1% of the user base for a mobile processor. I realize this. But if you’re like me, this is a pause before you get all giddy over Haswell.
EDIT: See my follow up post http://www.sqlha.com/2013/06/13/haswell-and-ept-update/. Intel posted the wrong info initially.