I won’t be going to Las Vegas, but I will be presenting to the Las Vegas SQL Server Users Group, S3OLV. The sesssion will be “Introduction to Execution Plans.” Please swing by if you’re in the area.
I’m not sure if they’ll make the LiveMeeting available to the public or if they’ll record the session. But if they do, please attend that way too.
You just have to love Red Gate tools. They find the small area that they want to cover and then they cover it extremely well. I rave regularly about SQL Prompt and SQL Compare and SQL Search (free one, btw). I’ve got SQL Data Compare and SQL Data Generator open & working on my desk regularly. I’m dabbling in their other tools fairly often as well. I just like Red Gate tools. I guess my constant & consistent praise is why I’m a “Friend of Red Gate.” I like to mention that before I start praising their tools some more, just so no one thinks I’m hiding it. Why would I hide it? I’m proud to say it. I am a Friend of Red Gate! … anyway… where was I… right, new software. I took a small part (a very small part) in the beta for their new software, SQL Source Control. I thought it was pretty cool when it wasn’t quite working right. Well, now it’s out, working very well, and it’s pretty slick.
Basically Red Gate has created a nice tight coupling between Source Control & your database. They currently support Apache Subversion and Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (TFS). It let’s you create a mechanism for keeping track of your databases in the same way that you track your code. I honestly believe this is a must for any reasonably sized development team (read, more than two). I can expound on why, but instead I’ll just talk some more about SQL Source Control.
First thing you need to know is that it’s hooked into Management Studio. After you do the install, you get some extra windows in SSMS that look something like this:
I’ve scratched out my own server & database names, but you get the idea. The description summarizes it very well. Lots of people can work on the database, save the scripts into source control, and then they can pull that common set of scripts back out to do more work, just like working with code. It really is the best way to develop.
You just have to connect up the database following the directions and you’ll see something like this:
If you can see that, that’s a database (name hidden) that’s been hooked up to source control. Actually, that and the change to the set-up screen are about your only indications that this tool is running. I love the lack of intrusion.
Better still, each time you reconnect the database, as it goes and checks to see if there are updates in source control, you get a little spinning… looks like a yin/yang symbol.
Enough about pretty graphics. How does it work? Extremely well. I started adding new database objects, editing existing objects, and all it ever did was put one of it’s little symbols on the object that I had created or edited, marking it as a change. When I was ready to move the changes to source control, I just clicked on the Commit Changes tab. All the changes are listed and you see scripts showing before & after between the code in the database and the code in source control.
It just works. Same thing going the other way. A database already connected can just pull changes out and apply them. Nothing I did in all my testing hit a snag (granted, I was just working on pretty traditional tables, procedures, indexes, etc.).
The one thing I’ve found that I don’t like is that there doesn’t seem to be a facility for deploying the databases automatically. Instead, I had to create a blank database, hook that to the existing database in TFS and then pull down all the “missing” objects. Hopefully they’ll go to work on a way to automate that soon.
Just to reiterate, the point of the exercise is to get your code (and while you’re developing, a database is as much code as anything written in C#) into source control. Once you’re in source control, you manage your databases just like code, label, version, branch, whatever you need to do to maintain a tight coupling with the rest of the code for the app. SQL Source Control acts as a very fast and simple tool to enable that coupling for you.
I’m lazy. And frankly, I’m not ashamed to admit it. When a software comes along that can do the work for me, even work I can do just fine on my own, I’m interested. When that software is inexpensive, even better. When it’s free…
I just got word that Confio is putting together a free version of Ignite, their performance monitoring software. It’s basically going to be the current view of performance and not have all the historical tracking and nifty trend reports. Yeah, it’s a tease, but it’s a tease on a product that focuses on monitoring wait states, something you should be doing. Just remember, reference above, I’m lazy.
The thing is, they need some people to help them beta test. Here’s the word I received:
If you would like to participate in the beta test, you can download and get the full copy at www.ignitefree.com .
As a measure of our appreciation, we will send you a $5 Starbucks card once you install and provide feedback at our IgniteFree forum www.ignitefree.com/forum
IgniteFree will be the only free response time based performance tool. It uses the same agentless, low load monitoring technique as Ignite 8. The difference is that IgniteFree is focused on real-time monitoring, showing only the last hour of response time, server resources, query and session statistics. Longer history and advanced features are not included in the freeware.
Do some beta testing on a slick piece of software, help make it better, and get a cup of coffee (I’m assuming that’s all that $5 at Starbucks will get you). What’s not to like?
One of the national sponsors for SQL Satuday is Confio Software. Just because they sponsor SQL Saturday, it’s worth checking out their product, but they also host the speaker’s dinner at these events. So, having eaten off their dime, I felt obligated to take a look. I’m glad I did.
Confio Ignite is a monitoring software that keeps real-time and historical track of the performance of your SQL Server (and Oracle and DB2) database servers. It’s focus is on wait states and queues, a very common method for troubleshooting performance.
You can get a trial download from their web site to run for a couple of weeks yourself. Everyone’s first impression of a software, after the web site of course, is when go to do the install. The install routine for Ignite was very easy. It’s also a bit of a shock. It actually uses web pages for configuration. This makes sense when you consider that the software originally comes from Oracle and Unix systems. Anyway, despite the bit of weirdness of using a web page for configuring software, it’s a very easy install. Once the install is complete, it’s also really simple to add servers for the software to monitor.
I put it to work on a number of development servers to start (I’m not plugging some unknown software into Production without a shake-down. I may be stupid, but I’m not crazy). It’s agentless and it began running queries against the systems immediately. It’s storing the data to my local desktop. That data is available in real-time, a historical view, or a trending view, showing how performance is changing over time. It’s all through a web site, not dissimilar to Quest’s Foglight. You can see a list of servers, their immediate state, action choices and some other general info.
Clicking a server, after it’s had time to gather data, put’s you into the Trend screen. It’s laid out very nicely. You get to break down performance by SQL, Waits, Programs, Databases, Machines, or Users. Then it shows information by Total Wait, Average Wait or Typical Day. The chart gives you a visual representation of queries running against the system, by default numbered and assigned by an internal hashing system that Ignite uses (no, I don’t know what the internals look like, I’m inferring that from the information presented). Down at the bottom of the screen you can see Top Query Problems, which shows you queries that are running slow or using too many resources according configurable settings, or Resources, your standard breakdown of CPU, Memory Paging, Disk Queue and the rest, or SQL Text, literally the queries that have been running on your system.
Almost everything has a drill down that takes you to a lot more information, and there are pop-ups that show you bits of detail.
I’ve only been running it for a few days, but I can already see how it could be very useful. I’m very happy with the focus on waits and on queries. So often when you’re looking at these tools queries are either an after thought or ignored completely. You frequently have to spend time monitoring your queries on your own, while that very expensive monitoring software is tracking page life expectancy and buffer cache hit ratio, both useful measures, but you still need to know which query is causing the problems. Ignite will get to that information right away and still collect the other as well.
So far, I’m pretty pleased with the software. I’m going to switch this over to a production system in the next few days and see what I can see with Ignite running against a real system. More to come.