Joe Sack has started a new team blog for the Microsoft SQL Server Premier Field Engineers. If you don’t know who they are, you should. The first post is just introductory, but this blog is likely to become a great resource. These are the guys that MS zip lines into tough situations with the expectations that they’ll improve them. I’d strongly suspect these are fellows worth listening to.
I’ve posted several times about how useful I find Microsoft Connect. I’ve seen issues introduced there get resolved through hot fixes and service packs. I sincerely believe it’s a very important tool in your arsenal to get the kind of service you need from Microsoft. Here’s a post on Connect that’s trying to make Connect itself easier to use. I’d strongly recommend you swing by and vote positively for this.
And for those who are unclear, click on the stars to submit your vote.
I received this list of links from my Microsoft rep. It was really an impressive list. So I asked if I could post it to the blog. Figures, it was already out there. Buck Woody had compiled it. It’s worth a look through. There really is a lot of information that focuses on you and your career available from Microsoft. Who knew that a big company like that could be so helpful. Also, how great was it that Buck Woody pulled it all together for convenience.
Raise your hand if you think this is a real pain in the bottom method for editing user permissions? Yeah, me too. Visual Studio Team System Database Edition is far to fine a tool to make us edit XML to set database user permissions. A co-worker has posted a change request on MS Connect. Connect works really well as long as people vote for what you report. I’ve seen several things change in SQL Server or get fixed primarily because of the reports in Connect. So if doing this:
<Object Name=”dbo” Type=”SCHEMA”/>
Makes you crazy and you would rather type this:
GRANT EXECUTE ON SCHEMA :: dbo TO UserRole ;
Then click on the link and get the word in front out to Microsoft.
During my recent visit to the Microsoft Technology Center in Waltham, Rich Crane gave me a tour of the facility. It included a room, I think he called the Concept Center. It was a little theatre type of arrangement around a series of work areas or work styles. Microsoft uses the room for demo’s that go WAY beyond some silly PowerPoint slide show. Here are a few pictures I took while I was there.
First, you recieve a very explicit set of pre-requisites. You need to install the SQL Server Upgrade Assistant, a tool that Microsoft licensed Scalability Experts to create for them. You have to run this against a small database, >25gb. The tool backups up all the databases from the server (so you need to put it on to a test box, rather than try to move an entire production system worth of databases). It then starts a trace that captures all the calls made to the database. I spent two days working with one of my application teams to get a server set up, the app connected, and a good set of tests run on the server to capture about an hour’s worth of trace data. It was at no point hard to meet the requirements, it just took time to get everything set up just right. They recommend you single thread the trace, meaning, just have one user run all the tests. This is because, when run without any extra work, Profiler, which replays traces, is single threaded. This can lead to unrealistic errors, especially blocking and deadlocks.
Once I had everything, I went to Waltham (a two-hour commute… the less said the better) to run the tests. The lab set up was impressive. They had a seperate room for each of the four companies that sent someone to the testing facility. We had a solid workstation (running Windows 7 by the way, fun stuff) and a set of servers on a seperate lan inside each room. The servers were running on HyperV, Microsoft’s virtual server software. Unfortunately, we did run into a snag here. Each server was supposed to have 100gb of space to accomodate the copy of the database as well as a restore of it and some more room besides. The virtual machines were configured to run on a system that only had 140gb of storage to start with. I filled that with my database during the initial set up (I ran the processes on three servers simultaneously). That put us out of commission while the MS techs went about fixing everything (which they did, quickly). It was just the pain of being first.
The documentation on the labs was very complete. Few steps were left to the imagination. Any where that had ambiguity, a second set of documentation cleared up nicely. With one exception. They did want to you to restore the System db’s. It made sense to do it, but I checked both sets of documentation and it wasn’t there, so I thought, hey, what I do know, MS is on top of this… Wrong. Had to restart, again.
Once all the initial configuration issues were done, it was simply a matter of walking through the lab. The first step was to establish a baseline, so I played back the trace on a 2000 server. Then I did an in place upgrade to 2008 and ran the trace and an upgrade to a new install using a restore and ran the trace there. All the results could then be compared.
Over all, it was a good session. Rich Crane, Rob Walters and Sumi Dua from Microsoft were very helpful. I picked up a few tips on doing upgrade testing and got to do it away from managers and developers, making quite a few mistakes along the way. Now maybe I can do it in front of them with fewer mistakes. I liked the Upgrade Assistant tool since I’m pretty lazy, but it didn’t do anything earth shattering that you couldn’t do on your own.
One tip worth repeating, if you’re using the Upgrade Assistant to capture a trace, it doesn’t put filtering in place. You can open the trace file, filter out the databases, by ID, that you don’t need, and then save a new copy of the trace file, just for the database you’re interested in. Thanks for that one Rich.
Gentlemen, you did a nice job. I appreciate your time and your help. Sumi, nice to meet you. Rob, good to see you again. Rich, thanks again for everything, great chatting and good to see you again as well. Rich and I used to work at a dot com “back in the day.”
Tonight we have Rob Walters of Microsoft speaking on Visual Studio 2008 Reporting Services. This should be a good one. Rob also recently published a book, Accelerated SQL Server 2008. I’m going to a party at the MS building in Waltham next week to celebrate the release of Rob’s book. Hopefully that means I can finagle a copy too.