Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Didn't I Just Post about Slipstream making Installs Easier?

So the other day I posted, Slipstream - Makes installs simple, and this afternoon I needed to do a SQL Server 2008 Standard install to get an evaluation environment of Team Foundation Server 2010 installed.

Well, I didn't follow my own advice.  I figured I had some good reasons:

  1. My slipstream setup is on my laptop at home and is SQL Server 2008 Developer.
  2. I'm doing a one-time install so setting up the slipstream environment would take just as long as installing the RTM and then SP1.

Just call me stupid.  First, I got a Restart Required error that wouldn't go away on the RTM install.  You can find the fix to that here (thanks to Aaron Bertrand (@AaronBertrand)).  So I go the RTM installed, then I started to install SP1.  Wait! The same error!  No big deal I have the fix.  No, you can't use the /Action=Install with a service pack install.  Okay, I'll try /Action=Upgrade, nope that doesn't work either.  Finally, after 2 hours I tried /SKIPRULES=RebootRequiredCheck without the /ACTION parameter and it worked!

Lesson learned.  In less than half the time I could have built my SQL Server 2008 Standard + SP1 slipstream install and had everything up and running.  I basically lost an afternoon because I refused to do something I knew I should do.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Slipstream - Makes installs simple

I was recently working on building a test environment for myself while I was studying for the MCITP-Database Administration exams.  SQL Server 2008 supports creating a slipstream install for service packs and cumulative updates so you can install to the latest SP or cumulative update in one step.

The problem with a slipstream install is that you need to set it up first, so for a single install I'm not sure how much time you actually save, but for multiple installs or for creating media it is great.  I followed the instructions Peter Saddow's blog on msdn.  I'm not going to duplicate those instructions here, as they are easy to follow and worked. 

Once I finished setting up the slipstreamed install location, I downloaded ISO Recorder and used it to create an ISO image of the install directory.  ISO Recorder adds "Create ISO image file" to the right-click menu.  I did the ISO image as I was installing SQL Server on some virtual machines and didn't want to have to share the install location and I also wanted to be able to easily burn it to DVD.  The only issue I had was that Virtual PC would not successfully mount the created ISO image.  Fortunately I had already downloaded Virtual Clove Drive, which would allow me to mount the ISO image.  I'm not sure why Virtual PC would not allow me to mount it.  Once I got the ISO image mounted I was able to install SQL Server 2008 + SP1 without issue on a couple of VM's.  It was definitely worth the time to create the slipstream.

Anyone else have any experiences to share or issues they encountered?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Personal Story about Networking

This is not a technical or SQL Server post, but it does illustrate the power of networking.

We recently took my daughter for a checkup at the eye doctor.  Our family has a history of poor eyesight and she has had glasses for a few years now.  Having moved to Florida this was our first appointment with the optometrist and during the visit my wife noticed a flyer about Corneal Refractive Therapy (a method of orthokeratology) and asked about it.  The optometrist then mentioned that our daughter was actually a good candidate for this treatment.  The treatment is that you wear specially designed rigid gas-permeable contact lenses to bed and these lenses temporarily "flatten" your cornea which corrects your vision, thus leaving you contact lens or glasses free during the day. Because of our family history we decided that we should consider this therapy in spite of the cost (~$2000).  In the research we found that the therapy has the potential, not proven, to slow or stop the progression of myopia (near-sightedness) and this could be a great thing for our daughter. 

Now we get to the networking part.  Since it is a relatively new therapy, we wanted more information and I posted on Facebook that I was researching it.  Lo, and behold, my cousin, who happens to be friends with the head of Pediatric Ophthalmology at Boston Children's Hospital, saw my post and offered to contact him about it.  He in turn consulted one of his colleagues about it who recommended a third doctor at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary who has extensive experience in the therapy.  My cousin sent us this doctor's contact information so we could talk to her about the therapy.  My wife called and left a message at her office, and we waited.  After a day or two we honestly didn't think we'd hear from her, but she called us back, answered our questions, and is willing to continue to be a resource for us if we have any other questions.

So what are the lessons here:

  1. You never know who will be able to help you.  I didn't know that my cousin had these contacts, but by letting people know what I was looking into, someone was able to help.
  2. People want to help.  The doctor my wife finally spoke to doesn't know us or my family, and has no chance of actually making money from us, yet is willing to be a resource for us.

It is funny that I'm always willing to help someone out, but feel like I'm taking advantage of people when I ask them for help.  The reality is that most people want to help others when they can and when they are asked.

Monday, March 22, 2010

More Thoughts on Certification

After a great response to my last post on Certification, I need to post my thoughts on 70-450 PRO: Designing, Optimizing and Maintaining a Database Administrative Solution Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008.

I scheduled the test for exactly 2 weeks after taking and passing 70-432 TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Installation and Maintenance.  This might have been a little aggressive, but Jeremiah Peschka (@peschkaj) had a voucher for the exam if I could take it in 2 weeks, so I had nothing to lose.


With the short time frame and the fact that there is not a Prep Kit like there is for 70-432, it was a bit more difficult to prepare for the exam.  I did 3 thing to prepare:

  1. I went through the Learning Plan which really wasn’t that helpful.
  2. I printed out the skills measured and read Books On Line for the areas I was least confident in.
  3. I asked some questions on Twitter using the #sqlhelp tag.

As I said, the first one wasn’t that helpful as it really just gave an overview of new features.  If I were taking the test just after the product release it would have been more helpful.

Number 2 was very helpful, except that there is so much information that COULD be on the test and, in my limited time frame, there was no way to study ALL the areas I wanted to study.

Number 3 is always helpful especially if you know what question(s) to ask.  There are many high level SQL Server people on twitter like Paul Randal (@PaulRandal), Jonathan Kehayias (@SQLSarg), and Gail Shaw (@SQLintheWild), just to a name a few. 


As in my first certification post, I arrived about 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled test time and it took about 10 minutes to get into the test.  The format of the test was the same, but in this instance I took all but about 10 minutes of the allotted time.  There were six more questions on this test than on 70-432 and the questions definitely dealt with more enterprise-level topics than 70-432.  There were at least 3 questions that  I guessed on.  I had narrowed them down to 2 possible answers and just had to pick one based on experience and common sense.  Having said that I did pass the test and with a higher score than the easier 70-432.

Final Thoughts

This test was what I thought 70-432 would be.  There are many thoughts on what certification should be, see this SQLServerCentral thread for few opinions.  I think Microsoft, and other technology companies, are in a tough spot.  In order to show that you can really do the job, you need to be presented with some problems and then solve them.  I’m not sure how you do this, in an automated way without more resources, which will drive up the cost.  From what I understand of the MCDBA certification tests, I never took one, there was a lot of syntax and configuration setting memorization required, things that most practicing DBA’s look up.  I think Microsoft has addressed these issues by making the tests more practical and based on problem-solving than memorization.

So now I’m an MCITP: Database Administration and plan on taking the SQL developer tests sometime later this year.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Being Involved in the Community

Regular readers know that I enjoy being involved in the SQL Server community.  Over the last two and a half years I’ve progressed from being a “lurker” on the SQLServerCentral forums to one of the top posters and author, from not having attended a user group to co-President of my local user group (OPASS), from a SQLSaturday attendee who didn’t talk to hardly anyone there to a speaker, organizer, and I hope someone who makes others feel more comfortable at the event, and I’ve attended my first PASS Summit.  As you can see there has been a progression in each area.  So what’s the next step?

Well, I’ve been part of the PASS Content Committee by helping put together the blog list, submitting the Top 10 Profiler Resources list, and volunteering to help tech edit SQL Server Standard articles (have not done one yet).  I’ve also helped out on the Program Committee by providing input on the Summit Speaker’s contract.  Those have all but small roles with a minimal time commitment, but now I will be serving on the PASS Program Committee as part of the abstract selection team for the Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment track for the 2010 Summit.  I’m really looking forward to working with Jeremiah Peschka (@peschkaj), the board member in charge, Allen Kinsel (@sqlinsaneo), the Program Committee chairperson, and the rest of the team.  Hopefully, we will be able to pick the best of the best so that this will be the best Summit ever.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Thoughts on SQL Server Certification

This is probably part 1 of a series, but no guarantees.

Why Certify?

I've been working with SQL Server for 10 years and for most of that time I've thought certification was unnecessary.  When I first started out my boss was not a fan of MS certifications, so I wasn't interested either.  Once I had some experience, I thought that my experience was enough.  So what changed my mind?  I moved and got to know people who, in my opinion, know a lot more about SQL Server than I do, so I was challenged to "up my game" and one way to do that is through certification.  The certification requires that I study about areas of SQL Server that I have not had the opportunity to work with or needed to know about, areas like clustering, log-shipping, online restores, to name just a few. 

Another reason is that I enjoy presenting (teaching) and I think I'd like to continue to do that and maybe make some money doing it.  So, I decided that one way to do that is to become and MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) and in order to do that you need to be an MCITP.

Finally, after having already decided to go down the certification path, I read this article in ComputerWorld, Opinion: Certifications are no longer Optional.  I don't know how accurate that might be, but I also think that certifications can't hurt me.

So What Have I Done?

I recently took (and passed) 70-432: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Implementation and Maintenance


I prepared for the test by going through Buck Woody's (@BuckWoody) blog series on his preparation for this test.  I also purchased the MCTS Self-Pace Training Kit (Exam 70-432): Microsoft SQL Server 2008-Implementation and Maintenance.  I purchased the book because it comes with practice test software which I thought would be valuable. The training kit was helpful, but a little shallow, I really expected it to be delve deeper into the subjects.  The case study presented at the end of each chapter was the most helpful part of the book as it really caused me to think about what I thought was the best way to solve the problem(s) presented.  I actually had a harder time doing the practice test(s) than I did with the real test.  I don't think I passed the real test because of this book, but it did help augment my experience and the other resources.

The Test

Having never taken a certification test before and this being about 15 years after the last test I took that actually meant anything, I was a bit concerned about being able to pass.  This concern was based on the fact that I had NOT passed a practice test.  I'll share that I have always been a good test taker, especially when the test is multiple choice, which the certification test is.  I got to the test center about 30 minutes before the test was scheduled (as recommended) and was registered and at the test station about 20 minutes later.  Now, the recommendation is to allow 2 hours and 45 minutes for the test so I expected a long test.  Well, I was leaving the test center 40 minutes after I sat down at the test station.  During that time I did the practice test, as it was my first time, did the pre-test MS survey, took the test, reviewed every question on the test, took the post-test MS survey, and the post-test Prometric survey.   You can decide how hard the test was.

Test Value

The test definitely covered all the areas it said it would cover, but I thought it should have been twice as long as there was not enough depth to the questions.  I am pretty sure I could have passed without studying.  I definitely could have passed without studying as much as I did.  Would I expect someone who passed this test to be able to sit down and set up a cluster or replication?  No.  I would expect to be able to give them a scenario and have them give me an basic solution that would be meet business requirements around availability and recovery.  So it has some value, but could be better.

What's Next?

I've scheduled 70-450: PRO: Designing, Optimizing and Maintaining a Database Server Infrastructure using Microsoft SQL Server 2008.  I'll have another post about this test when I get there.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

PASS Releases Survey Results & Summit Location – Reactions

The Impetus

So after Andy Warren’s (@SqlAndy) blog post, PASS Update #24, last week and the follow-up posts by myself (A Swing and a Miss By PASS) and Brent Ozar (@BrentO) (PASS Summit Location Voting Results), PASS released the survey results and the location of the 2011 and 2012 Summits(Seattle) in this month’s Connector newsletter and on the PASS web site.  The post includes the reason for delaying releasing the results and why they chose to stay in Seattle.  If you read the PASS post you also need to read the comments as there are those that agree the decision and reasoning and those that disagree with it.  You should also read Tom LaRock’s(@SQLRockstar) response to my post (and Brent’s I assume) which I appreciated.

Thanks Deserved

First I want to applaud the decision by the PASS leadership to get the results out immediately and especially including the locations they chose and why.  I don’t necessarily agree, but I think that getting the information out to the community is more important than the decision on the location.  One thing I believe is that the membership/community is PASS so the policy of the board should be to share everything and only vote on what should NOT be public.  I get the feeling that the current policy is the opposite, let’s vote on what to release.  

Other Reactions

There were several blog posts responding to the release of the data. Here are the ones I know about:

  1. Grant Fritchey (@GFritchey) was first with Location of the PASS Summit
  2. Brent Ozar was next with The PASS Summit Location Survey Results
  3. Simon Sabin (@simon_sabin) chimed in with PASS Location fixed for the next 2 years – Are they listening? and then PASS Summit Location followup - result analysis
  4. K. Brian Kelley (@kbriankelley) added his thoughts with PASS Summit to Stay in Seattle

The PASS Explanation

Reason #1

“There is a disparity between wanting to have Summit on the East Coast and the desire to have access to plentiful, top-notch Microsoft resources at every PASS Summit. For all three questions pertaining to the importance of Microsoft resources, 69%- 84% of respondents maintain that having access to many, and varied, Microsoft resources is important to their Summit experience.”

“We would not be able to achieve anywhere near the same level of support from Microsoft as we do when Summit is held in Seattle. We would lose out on at least 50% and likely 75% of Microsoft presenters, developers, and SQLCAT and CSS staff – all things a majority of survey respondents listed as important or very important.”

Based on the results from these 3 questions:

  1. Hundreds of Microsoft developers available – 45% Very Important, 33% Somewhat Important
  2. Availability of CSS and SQLCAT Experts in face-to-face environment – 36% Very Important, 33% Somewhat important
  3. Access to Many and varied Microsoft Presenters – 48% Very Important, 36% Somewhat Important

I’d argue that a more important question is, how many people who attended the Summit took advantage of the hundreds of MS developers or the CSS and SQLCAT experts.  If the “hundreds” we got in Seattle was say 300 would the top 75-150 of these be enough?  How many of the “hundreds” in Seattle came from non-Washington MS locations?  The one MS session I attended the presenters were not from Redmond and at least one attendee was on a flight to Charlotte with several MS employees from Charlotte.

Then the other question about having MS presenters, well of the Top 10 Sessions for Summit 2009 there were 2 MS presenters and 5 non-MS presenters, so that tells me that there are some good speakers outside of MS.  I will say that MS presenters did dominate the most popular BI Tracks.

Reason #2

“Based on Microsoft's release cycle history (major release cycles run approximately every 3 years, with minor ones often coming in between), 2011 or 2012 will likely be a launch year. It would be disappointing for the community to lose out on the advantages of being in Seattle during a potential release year.”

I can’t argue with that.  It would be nice to have the most MS presence in a release year, but Brent makes a good point in his post:

“If major release cycles run every 3 years, and minor ones come in between, then the odds of having a release on any given year is 2/3!  Every year is a potential release year.  As far as I’m concerned, if Microsoft wants to promote a release, they can come to the community.  This is exactly their strategy in Europe – they’re coordinating with community leaders to host regional events all over Europe for the launch of SQL Server 2008 R2.  Why does the community have to come begging to Microsoft’s doorstep?  They’re the ones making money off us.”

Reason #3

“Seattle is a very cost-effective location for a conference the size and scope of Summit. We were surprised to find that most East Coast locations we considered would cost substantially more and would likely raise registration prices and negatively impact the budget available to many other PASS activities, including Chapter resources and online events. We should also point out that survey respondents listed the cost of moving Summit to the East Coast as the least important of four PASS priorities (others included: Chapter resources, events such as 24 Hours of PASS, and the PASS website).”

Cost more for who?  Aaron Nelson made a point on Twitter that his hotel in Charlotte (one of the PASS investigated locations) for SQLSaturday was $59/night vs. the $200/night most hotels near the convention center in Seattle were.  Grant also mentions cost in his post:

“For example, doing a quick search on Travelocity, no details, accepting defaults, meeting half-way, in Dallas, would cost $216 instead of $399. That’s almost $200 in savings. Even if Rushabh is right and we’d have to increase the cost, let’s say $150/attendee, that’s still offset by the flight.”

My Conclusion on the Data

Despite all of these thing in the data nearly 60% of respondents said that the PASS Summit should be held OUTSIDE of Seattle EVERY OTHER YEAR vs. only 19% thinking that the Summit should ALWAYS be in Seattle.  Maybe I’m spinning the data to agree with my opinion, let’s move the Summit around, but I still think those are very strong numbers.  For the record I did not vote for moving every year, I voted for every 4 years. 

A Mini-Summit on the East Coast?

The final line of the editorial is:

“We are listening to all of you who desire more PASS presence on the East Coast, and are currently looking into holding a smaller conference there in the near future. We’ll share more information as it becomes available”

I don't want to sound ungrateful, but why would you do 2 events?  So now instead of the PASS Summit being THE SQL Server event, it is one of the SQL Server events.  Also, how does this mesh with all the reasons the board gave for keeping THE Summit in Seattle?  It’ll still cost more than a similar event in Seattle.  You still won’t get the MS presence that is so important, or if you do, why wouldn’t you get that presence if you held THE Summit on the East coast?  Is there a strategic reason for doing this or is it being done to pacify the “voters”?  I hope that there is a strategic reason for it and if there isn’t I hope that resources aren’t used for it.

I understand that the board believes it is making the best decision for PASS, but I disagree.  I want to see how this decision meets the goals of PASS: Connect, Share, Learn.   

I’m interested in what you think.  I know there are people who strongly agree with the decision to stay in Seattle, so let me know why.  Comment on this post or post on your blog and link to it in the comments.  I think anything that gets the community involved will turn out to be a good thing for PASS.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March OPASS Meeting Recap

We had a great turnout of 25 people for last night’s OPASS Meeting sponsored by Quest Software.

We started the meeting with the PASS Chapter Deck which has lots of information on it.  I did get one comment later that there was too much on the deck to process.


After announcements, Andy Warren (@sqlandy) led a networking exercise that worked on remembering names.  The exercise started at check-in when we didn’t have name tags.  Then we were all given a number tag, a pen, and a piece of paper.  Andy then had each person, in random order, stand up and say their name twice.  After everyone had said their name we then went in numerical order and wrote down each person’s name, if we remembered it.  I did well only missing 2 and one was because that person did not stand up when we got their number.  The other I missed because I couldn’t hear the name very well.  There were a couple of conclusions:

  1. The more clearly and loudly the person said their name the easier it was to remember.
  2. If there was something extra added when the person said their name it was easier to remember.  For example, one person said, “My name is Bob, and now I’ll say it backwards, Bob”.  Everyone remembered him.

Featured Presentation

David Pless, Senior Premier Field Engineer with Microsoft, presented on Performance Tuning and Optimization in SQL Server 2005/2008.  He did a good job talking about different server and database configuration options, gotchas, and how to use DMV’s to find issues.  David had a lot of good information, and wasn’t able to get through his complete presentation in just over an hour.  The consensus was that we need to have him back for a part 2.  David had 2 things that he stresses that I’ll share:

  1. Autogrow is fine, but set it to a fixed amount, not a percent.
  2. Update Statistics.  Stale statistics are a common cuase of performance issues.

The featured presentation was recorded and is available at: https://www323.livemeeting.com/cc/usergroups/view?id=QFG3GW

We finished up the evening with a Raffle with many items from Quest, plus some from User Group Support Services.

After Meeting

As usual there were good discussions after the meeting as well.  David had brought his 16 year-old daughter with him so I spent some time talking with her.  I also spoke with Mike Antonovich about some contacts he had given me at the last meeting.  Then Andy, Kendal Van Dyke (@SQLDBA) and I, spent some time talking about community, SQLSaturday, and PASS.  Always an interesting discussion as we each have our own ideas and it’s fun to see where they mesh and where we disagree.

As usual I encourage you to make it to meetings whenever you can, where ever you are.  Online meetings and events are fine, but there is nothing quite like being there in person and having discussions with your peers.

Monday, March 8, 2010

OPASS March Meeting with David Pless

March 9 6-8:30pm

This month's meeting sponsored by Quest Software

Live Meeting: https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/usergroups/join?id=QFG3GW&role=attend

Speaker: David Pless

David has been a Senior Premier Field Engineer with Microsoft for three years.  As a PFE he performs health checks, conducts chalk talks, and full training workshops.  He also works on reactive and proactive engagements on SQL Server 2005 and 2008.  He mainly supports the Southeast focusing on Florida, but can be anywhere in the world.

Core areas are performance tuning and optimization, mirroring, Reporting Services (SSRS), and Integration Services (SSIS) and other areas suchas consolidation, table partitioning, resource governor, performance data warehouse, SQL Server auditing and more.

Prior to working for Miscrosoft David was a freelance consultant and also worked for Intellinet as an MCS Partner Consultant starting the SQL Server practice at the Atlanta based consulting form.  PRior to Intellinet David was a DBA for CheckFree Corpportation in Norcross, Georgia for over 6 years.  David has worked with SQL Server since version 6.5 and has been an active member of the SQL Server community for years.

Topic: SQL Server 2005/2008 Performance Tuning and Optimization Techniques

This discussion will cover how to troubleshoot performance issues on SQL Server 2005 and 2008.  It will cover performance impact analysis using DMVs, Set Options in SQL Server, and Profiler and perfmon anlaysis.  It also includes SQLNexus, PAL (Performance Analysis of Logs), RML Utilities, SQLDiag, and other tools.  Finally we will discuss reading graphical query plans and what you can learn from reading the XML plans.

If time permits we will also cover Performance Data Warehousei n SQL Server 2008, new features in 2008 regarding missing indexes, viewing query plans, and Extended Events.


  1. Build a repeatable performance base to verify I/O's, identify missing indexes, identify out of date statistics, and more.
  2. Become aware of new SQL Server tools that help the DBA better analyze and attack performance issues such as SQL Nexus, PAL, RML Utilities, XML Notepad to read XML Plans, and more.
  3. As tim epermits to be aware of new features in SQL Server 2008 to get a handle on perfomance such as Perfomance Datawarehouse, changes to SQL Server Management Studio, Resource Governor, and Extended Events

Please email webmaster@opass.org to RSVP.

For directions visit the OPASS web site.

Hope to see you there, either in person or virtually.

A Swing and a Miss by PASS

On Saturday my son had his second baseball game.  When it was his turn to hit I reminded him to keep his eye on the ball because in his first game he had a struck out on a swing and a miss because he didn’t keep his eye on the ball.  I think that the PASS board has taken their eye off the ball resulting in a swing and a miss by not publishing the results of the January survey about where members would like to see the Summit held.  Last Friday (3/72010), Andy Warren (@sqlandy) shared that the board had gone over the results of the recent survey and voted on where to hold the next few Summits in his PASS Update #24 blog post. The interesting part of the blog post is this:

I’ve asked for the data to be posted on sqlpass.org, so far we haven’t managed that, hopefully soon. I also requested that we release the full detail records scrubbed of identifying data, but it was determined that doing so was too complicated!

I’m  not the first one to comment on this as Brent Ozar (@BrentO) quickly responded in his blog post, PASS Summit Location Voting Results.  I have to say that I agree with what he has to say,  I don’t care how complicated it is to publish the results, you have to do it.  Not publishing those results leaves open the possibility that, no matter what the board has decided to do for future Summits (apparently we can’t know where future Summits will be until the current Summit), it isn’t what the survey showed.  I want to make it clear that I’m not criticizing the board for whatever decision that they made regarding the location of upcoming Summit’s, the criticism is that they should release the results of the survey.  We, the members, are PASS and have the right to know those results. 

I’ve served on church board’s (not as big as PASS, but similar) before and I understand that sometimes a board needs to di what they believe is in the best interests of the organization, even if it is not popular with members.  I call that leadership, but please share the results and also the reasons why you made the decision you made.  The membership was asked what we thought, so we need to know the corporate results.  We also should know the decision that was made regarding future Summit locations.  We were asked for our input, so we need to know what it is and what was done with it.  This could be an issue that influences decisions to run for the PASS board and decisions on who to vote for and the election is BEFORE the Summit.

To go along with that last sentence, I am now considering applying for the PASS board.  I don’t know that I have all the right qualifications, but I think I’ll being doing it for the right reason, I’m passionate about PASS and the SQL Server Community and want to see it grow.  I’ve also been quick to speak out and offer criticism’s of decisions, and I believe that if you are going to be critical you need to be willing to take a leadership role.  There are a lot of great people in PASS (including ALL the board members), but we, those not already on the board, all have reasons for not running.  I’ve decided that I’ll always be able to find reasons NOT to do it, so now I’m looking for reasons TO do it. 

If you are passionate about PASS, I encourage YOU to do the same.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Timing Matters

A few weeks ago I got an email from my backup administrator with a message like this:

Set type               : Backup
Set status             : Completed
Set description        : Weekday Backup

Resource name          : \\Server\Backups
Logon account          : System Logon Account
Encryption used        : None

Agent used                     : Yes
Advanced Open File Option used : No

Byte count             : n bytes
Rate                   : n MB/Min

Files                  : n
Directories            : n
Skipped files          : 1
Corrupt files          : 0
Files in use           : 0

Start time             : DOW, Month DD, YYYY 12:25:48 AM
End time               : DOW, Month DD, YYYY 12:29:26 AM

Media used             : media name
File is in use         : \\Server\Backups\BackupFolder\database_name_tlog_YYYYMMDDHHMM.BAK

So I checked the job schedule because when the transaction log backup job runs, it also deletes old backups.  The Log backup job was scheduled to run on the 1/2 hour and according to this report, the BackupExec job finished BEFORE 12:30 AM.  I sent this information to the backup administrator mentioning that it seemed like there must be a time difference between the BackupExec server and the SQL Server.  It turns out that the the SQL Server was 62 seconds ahead of the BackupExec server. 

Apparently BackupExec grabs a list of files to be backed up and then iterates over the list backing up each file, but when it got to this file the SQL Server Agent job had deleted the file.  Thus, BackupExec couldn’t backup the file.

I find this interesting because wouldn’t this also mean that BackupExec would miss any files created during the backup process?  I’m not a expert on backups, beyond knowing how to do SQL Server backups and the fact that I’ve changed tapes and started BackupExec jobs a couple of times, so maybe this is expected and accepted behavior.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Speaker Evaluations for SQLSaturday #32 – Tampa

I recently received my Speaker Evaluations for my session, Why I Use Stored Procedures, from Pam Shaw (@pamshaw) and as is my custom I thought I’d share them here.  My event recap is available here.  THe basic layout of the evaluation is to rate if the session met, did not meet, or exceeded your expecations and then a 1-5 rating of the speakers presentation skills (1 being the worst).  Here are my results:
Presentation Expectations:
Did Not Meet
0 11 4
This basically means that I did what I said I’d do in the session description.  I gave my reasons why I use stored procedures and, I think, some good examples as to why.
Speaker Rating:
0 0 0 7 8 4.5
I’d say that I’m happy with all 4’s and 5’s and a 4.5 average.  I take this to mean that I didn’t put anyone to sleep and that I at least sounded like I knew what I was talking about.
I had 2 comments.  Very Clear and Nice Demo.  Not a whole lot to glean from that other than I apparently made the point(s) I wanted to make and stayed on topic.
I really enjoy speaking and would do more if time and finances permit it.  If you run a user group and need speakers fell free to contact me and I’ll see what I can do.