SQL Server 2008 Management and Administration

February 3, 2009 at 8:50 am (SQL Server 2008) (, , , )

I just got a book in the mail from a friend, Todd Robinson, who was the technical editor. The name of the book is Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Management and Administration. The book was written by Ross Mistry and Hilary Cotter. I don’t know Ross Mistry and I think I met Hilary Cotter once, although I know who he is. However, since Todd was involved, I’m pretty sure this is going to be a high-end, must read. I just started and the initial chapter’s discussion on using Windows Server 2008 sparked a few questions for my local admin team. I’m looking forward to more.

Thanks Todd.

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SQL Server 2008 Upgrade Lab at Microsoft

January 14, 2009 at 9:11 am (SQL Server 2008, Tools) (, , , , , )

I got an invite to take part in a lab at the Microsoft Technology Center in Waltham. I took advantage of it. I’ll use this post to describe the experience so that anyone else with the opportunity will know what to expect. 
 They knew I was coming

They knew I was coming

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.

MS provided nice work stations

MS provided nice work stations

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.”

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SQL Server 2008 Install, cont.

August 15, 2008 at 1:30 pm (SQL Server 2008, Tools) (, , )

OK. Hopefully you’re all reading this stuff BEFORE trying to do the install and certainly BEFORE uninstalling everything in sight. The latest version of SQL Prompt, version 3.9, is 2008 compatible AND doesn’t cause this problem with the install.

So, I’ve got to reinstall the software. Time to track down my license. I hope I kept that email.

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SQL Server 2008 Install, cont.

August 15, 2008 at 1:20 pm (SQL Server 2008, Tools) (, , )

OK. I found some information. The first suggests uninstalling SQL Prompt. I tried it and that did the trick. The second suggest was to do a brute-force removal of the registry key: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\90. I didn’t get there.  Install is running on the desktop now.

That seems a bit mean of Microsoft, requiring me to uninstall Red Gate’s SQL Prompt, especially since it’s such a great little tool. I wonder if I can install it on top of 2008? Time for some more research.

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SQL Server 2008 Install

August 15, 2008 at 1:14 pm (SQL Server 2008) (, , )

I just finished the install of SQL Server 2008 RTM on my laptop. No real issues except that it wanted SP1 of Visual Studio installed before it would complete. Once I had that done, everything was up and running. The new install routines are nicer than the old ones if a bit more detailed.

My desktop is another matter. SQL Server 2008 objected to a SQL Server 2005 Express install. I removed that. It still thinks Express is installed. I’m removing all of SQL Server 2005 to see what happens.  The error reported was pretty non-helpful.

This is a bit odd since the laptop also has a copy of Express installed.

Well, uninstalling all things SQL Server didn’t work. Sql2005SsmsExpressFacet is failing. It simply states: “The SQL Server 2005 Express Tools are installed. To continue, remove the SQL SErver 2005 Express Tools.” Time for a bit of research.

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