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June 5, 2003--In this issue:
- Faster Processors or More of Them?
2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS
- Microsoft Accepting Nominations for Reporting Services Beta
- Results of Previous Instant Poll: Performance Testing
- New Instant Poll: Moonlighting
- SQL Server Magazine University E-Learning Center
- SQL Server Worldwide User's Group Help Center
- What's New in SQL Server Magazine: Install Those Service Packs!
- Hot Thread: Making Sense of @@version Number
- Tip: Sending Mail from SQL Server
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- Get High-Speed Access to Article Archives
- You Don't Have to Miss What's Already Happened!
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Collect Configuration Data
- Localize Windows and .NET
7. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Brian Moran, news editor, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Last week, I encouraged you to identify and address the root causes of performance problems instead of addressing superficial symptoms. I used this question, found on the SQL Server newsgroups, to set the stage for advice on targeting problems rather than symptoms:
"Which should give better SQL Server performance: a server with a single-processor 1.6GHz Pentium 4 processor with 1GB of RAM or a server with dual 700MHz Pentium III processors with 2GB of memory?"
Many readers responded that they loved the advice on solving problems instead of symptoms but that they'd still like to know which server would be faster—the server with two processors or the server with a single processor running at a higher clock speed.
These questions made me realize that I hadn't fully addressed a major caveat to performance tuning: The answer to almost any performance-tuning question is, "It depends."
The original question didn't provide many specifics about the workload that the server would be running, but the answer to a question like this always depends on what the server's application workload will be and a host of other variables. As I pointed out last week, treating the underlying problem requires a solid understanding of the database workload that your application generates.
I'm too crafty to say definitively which server would be faster, because someone could quickly point to a case where the advice would be wrong. But here are some guidelines to help you evaluate which server would be best for a typical workload.
First, note that the cost difference between a dual-processor machine and a single-processor machine isn't that significant. You'd be surprised how many times clients have paid as much for a detailed performance study to help them decide which server they need as they would have spent by simply upgrading to the faster server in the first place. Don't get caught in a trap like that. The pressure to justify a purchasing decision can be tremendous, but keep the cost of research in mind.
Now, let's look at two extremes and see which server would be faster in each scenario. Application A is an online transaction processing (OLTP) application that takes an average of 50ms to run each transaction and needs to support hundreds of concurrent users. In this case, a dual-processor server would be much faster. Clock speed is almost meaningless for transactions that are this fast to begin with, but the ability to service multiple requests at the same time provides higher levels of concurrency and throughput.
In contrast, Application B, a data-warehousing application, usually supports only a few users, but those users run very complex queries. In this case, the extra throughput that two processors provide isn't needed. You might be better off with a faster processor that can execute the complex queries more quickly. Unfortunately, life is never this simple. Even if you had only one query running at any time, SQL Server might be able to create a parallel query plan that allows the query to be executed across two processors at the same time.
There's no getting around the hard work of understanding your application and its workload, then testing your hypotheses. Anyone who tells you otherwise has oversimplified the situation.
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2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS
Microsoft is now accepting nominations for the public beta of SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services, scheduled for release August 2003. The company officially announced the product at TechEd in Dallas this week, saying that Reporting Services will be available by the end of the year.
"SQL Server Reporting Services extends Microsoft's business intelligence platform by making more real-time information available to more employees in an organization," says Brian Biglin, product manager for SQL Server Business Intelligence. "Employees can subscribe to personalized reports that help them get the information they need to make fast, more accurate decisions. With this technology, Microsoft is helping organizations be more agile and responsive."
Reporting Services is a comprehensive, server-based platform for creating, managing, and delivering reports to employees throughout the enterprise. To apply for the Reporting Services beta program, go to
The voting has closed in SQL Server Magazine's Instant Poll for the question, "What tool do you use most for performance-testing your SQL Server system?" Here are the results (+/- 1 percent) from the 296 votes:
- 2% SQL Server Magazine's Database Performance Portal
- 8% A third-party performance-testing tool
- 22% Performance Monitor
- 15% We don't performance-test our system
The next Instant Poll question is "Have you generated extra income by doing IT-related work on the side?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine Web site and vote for 1) Yes, 2) No, but I'd like to, or 3) No, and I don't plan to.
SPONSOR: SQL SERVER MAGAZINE CONNECTIONS: FALL DATES
Jump-start your fall 2003 training plans and secure your seat for SQL Server Magazine Connections. Back by popular request, the event will again be running concurrently with Microsoft ASP.NET Connections and Visual Studio Connections. Over 140 sessions to choose from. Learn from the Microsoft architects who build these technologies plus world-renowned third-party gurus who will share their real-world tips and techniques from the field. The conference will run October 13-15 in Palm Springs, CA. Register now to receive the lowest possible registration fee plus access to all three conferences for one low price. Call 800-438-6720 or 203-268-3204 for more information.
(brought to you by SQL Server Magazine and its partners)
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Applying service packs used to be one of those tedious administrative tasks that you could relegate to the back burner or even skip if your organization didn't need the new functionality. Now, prompt installation of service packs could be the very thing that stops virus writers in their tracks. In his June editorial, "Install Those Service Packs!" Michael Otey explores the possibility that many of the problems that the SQL Slammer worm caused earlier this year could have been avoided by faster installation of service packs. Read this article online at
MAAS2000 wants to know how to convert the number in @@version to something meaningful, such as version and service-pack number. See what other DBAs have said, and offer your advice, on SQL Server Magazine's Administration forum at the following URL:
(contributed by Brian Moran, email@example.com)
Q. Can I use xp_sendmail to send email from SQL Server without installing Microsoft Outlook?
A. You don't have to install Outlook on a SQL Server that uses SQL Mail. SQL Mail only requires that you load a Messaging API (MAPI)-compliant mail client on the server, and for better or worse, Outlook is the easiest client to use for SQL Mail. However, you can use any MAPI client.
I rarely discuss third-party tools in this column, but I'm making an exception this time. If you want an alternative to Outlook, check out XPSMTP, a shareware tool available at http://www.sqldev.net . Gert Drapers, a Microsoft architect and former group program manager on the SQL Server tools team, wrote this tool and runs SQLDev.Net as a private, Microsoft-independent site. XPSMTP is similar to the built-in xp_sendmail utility, but as the name suggests, XPSMPT requires only SMTP connectivity. The tool doesn't support any of the mail read or processing capabilities that the built-in SQL Mail tools do, but in my experience, few customers use SQL Mail for anything other than sending mail. XPSMTP might be a cost-effective way for you to send mail from SQL Server. It's hard to beat free!
Send your technical questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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6. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, email@example.com)
Ecora Software announced a Citrix module for its Enterprise Auditor 3.0 suite, a component of Ecora's Total Configuration Management (TCM) solution. The Citrix module lets users collect configuration data from Citrix MetaFrame servers across the enterprise. The Enterprise Auditor Suite collects configuration data from applications and OSs, including Windows, UNIX, Linux, Novell NetWare, SQL Server, Exchange, IIS, and Active Directory (AD) to create a repository for auditing, reporting, disaster recovery, change identification, and tracking. The Citrix module lets you run reports on Citrix service-pack levels. The Citrix module for Enterprise Auditor 3.0 starts at $390 per server. Contact Ecora Software at 603-436-1616 or 877-923-2672.
SDL Desktop Products announced SDLinsight 2003, software for localizing Windows and .NET by using either a source-file or binary-based localization process. The software features SQL Server support, full VBScript support for process automation and integration, a Binary Chop feature that automates the process of locating strings that have localization problems, and .NET localization support. SDLinsight uses the Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE) as its default database for storing and reusing translations and localized data. The software also uses SQL Server's database-administration capabilities for backup and recovery. SDLinsight 2003 is available in a Professional Edition for $1495 or a Translator Edition for $295.
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