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August 1, 2002—In this issue:
- Designing Databases for Extreme Performance
2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS
- Buffer Overrun in Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Utilities
- Multiple Vulnerabilities in Microsoft SQL Server 2000
- Results of Previous Instant Poll: SQL Server Development Environment
- New Instant Poll: DTS Expertise
- Get Kudos & a Free Trip to SQL Server Magazine LIVE! in Orlando!
- Got Digital?
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- Microsoft ASP.NET Connections
- What's New in SQL Server Magazine: .NET's Seismic Shift
- Hot Thread: Importing Tables from Informix
- Tip: Transferring Data Over a Dial-Up Connection
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Learn About Performance Optimization
- Prevent Vulnerability to SQL Snake
7. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Brian Moran, news editor, email@example.com)
"Extreme performance" is a term that a colleague and I coined 2 years ago to define the SQL Server performance-tuning approach that we take with our consulting customers. I'd like to explain the essence of our philosophy, which might help you avoid performance-tuning mistakes down the road.
Extreme performance means two things to me. First, it means that everything you do today with an application needs to anticipate the fact that someone will eventually push your code well beyond what you intended it to do. You can more easily design an efficient application than do triage on a poorly performing application after deployment. You need to test your application with reasonably sized data sets and take adequate steps to ensure that your application can expand as needed. Everyone knows that you should design systems with performance and scalability in mind.
My principles of extreme performance include another important aspect. Two basic approaches to scalability exist: scale up or scale out. To scale up, you beef up a single SMP box. To scale out, you increase horsepower by adding new boxes to the system. Scaling out is easier than scaling up because it doesn't require you to anticipate your power needs. You simply buy another box when the time comes, or at least that's the theory. It's infinitely easier to scale out your Web farm than to scale out the database layer. I'm not going to defend that position now, but it's true.
What does scalability mean when you're designing a system for extreme performance to meet unpredictable future demands? It means that sometimes you should deploy a component on the middle tier of a Web farm rather than as a stored procedure, even if the throughput is better when you deploy the component as a stored procedure. That approach might seem counterintuitive. But here's why it makes sense. You can easily add another box to your Web farm if you hit the edge of your scalability envelope. However, scaling out the database layer can be difficult and expensive, especially when you didn't design the application with scaling out in mind.
I've seen customers encounter substantial back-end database performance decreases that require substantial code rewriting--a difficult and painful process. They could have solved the problem by adding a commodity-priced Web server to the farm if they had designed certain expensive stored procedures as middle-tier components. Sure, initial throughput might be better if they had deployed the component as a procedure, but sometimes you need to sacrifice a small short-range performance gain for long-range performance and scalability requirements.
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2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS
Cesar Cerrudo discovered three new vulnerabilities in Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE) 2000. The vulnerabilities are buffer overruns with a potential for Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. Microsoft has released Security Bulletin MS02039 (Buffer Overruns in SQL Server 2000 Resolution Service Could Enable Code Execution) to address this vulnerability and recommends that affected users download and apply the appropriate patch mentioned in the bulletin.
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The voting has closed in SQL Server Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "What is your development environment for SQL Server?" Here are the results (+/1 percent) from the 436 votes:
20% Visual Studio .NET
26% Server-side tools such as T-SQL stored procedures
6% A third-party environment
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The next Instant Poll question is, "How would you describe your level of expertise with Data Transformation Services (DTS)?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine Web site and submit your vote for 1) Expert, 2) Advanced, 3) Intermediate, or 4) Novice.
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The Microsoft .NET Framework's collection of programming interfaces and tools will bring a change in how you develop applications. Russ Whitney outlines a step-by-step process for retooling your application development process to prepare for .NET in ".NET's Seismic Shift," which appears in the August issue of SQL Server Magazine and is available online at
Bob wants to import tables from Informix and wants to know what drivers he'll need. Offer your advice and read other users' suggestions on the SQL Server Magazine forums at the following URL:
(contributed by the Microsoft SQL Server development team)
Q. Our company has three servers. One server is situated at the head office, and the other two servers are 150 miles away. These servers communicate only through a dial-up connection. I want to use Data Transformation Services (DTS) to update data in one of the remote servers while the main server is in replication mode. Under these conditions, can I use DTS to enter approximately 10,000 records, one by one, by using customized software?
A. Technically, you can use DTS to update your data through a dial-up connection. However, the amount of network bandwidth available compared with the amount of data you want to transfer might limit your efforts. If you have the required bandwidth (or time to transfer the data), you can push the data in a compressed file to the remote servers by using FTP or a Copy command in a batch file. Next, you can decompress, then load the data by using BULK INSERT or DTS. If you need a more data-aware solution, and if you need to be able to make regular updates at any one of the three nodes, you should look into setting up merge replication. You would designate one of the servers as the publisher and the other two as subscribers. You could then insert rows at any one of the nodes and configure the replication to propagate the inserts to the other two nodes. Because you perform this merge replication over a dial-up connection whose bandwidth might cause a bottleneck, we advise you to test this configuration for performance and connection reliability.
Send your technical questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, email@example.com)
Realtimepublishers.com and Precise Software Solutions announced "The Definitive Guide to SQL Server Performance Optimization," an e-book by Don Jones that features real-world examples of SQL Server performance optimization tactics. Jones is writing the e-book in realtime, so you can read chapter-by-chapter as he writes. Registered readers receive an email message when a new chapter is ready or modifications are posted. Chapter topics include understanding performance components and scaling concepts and SQL Server performance audit methodology. For more information, contact Realtimepublishers.com at 707-539-5280 or Precise Software Solutions at 800-310-4777.
PentaSafe Security Technologies announced the PentaSafe Snake Bite Kit, a free downloadable tool that can identify SQL Server machines that are vulnerable to the SQL Snake virus. The Snake Bite Kit's Snake Virus Scanner can detect SQL Server instances that use mixed-mode authentication and don't have a password for the systems administrator account—two conditions that make machines more susceptible to attack. Contact PentaSafe Security Technologies at 713-523-1992.
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