Microsoft announced a new SQL Server quality assurance program last year called the SQL Server Playback Program, which I wrote about in my SQL Server Magazine UPDATE article "Participate in the SQL Server Playback Program!" (which is available online at the URL at the end of this paragraph). Microsoft is always looking for customers with interesting application workloads that fit the program criteria, and the company is now actively seeking a new round of SQL Server Playback customers to get ready for the Yukon rollout in 2003. So, I'd like to revisit the unique opportunity this program presents for the right SQL Server customers.

http://www.sqlmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=21372

What will the SQL Server Playback Program do for you? Participation in the program:

  • might give you access to key Microsoft development resources
  • will extend your virtual testing or quality assurance team to include the Microsoft SQL Server development team testers
  • will ensure your code works with the next release of SQL Server
  • might help you spot previously undetected performance bottlenecks
  • will make you eligible to win cool prizes

Interested? If so, keep reading!

You've probably used SQL Server Profiler to examine the commands your SQL Server is processing. However, you might not realize that Profiler also provides a foundation for "playing back" a trace file later. Profiler lets you create repeatable workloads that you can run again and again, tweaking certain configuration parameters or indexes as you go. Microsoft uses this capability to create robust test suites based on live customer applications. SQL Server 2000 is very reliable, but the SQL Server test team is always looking for ways to push SQL Server to the next level, and the best way to do that is to benchmark the performance and behavior of real applications.

Microsoft needs your help to find the busiest servers, the largest databases, and the most complex queries the team can use to stress SQL Server to the limit. In the Microsoft labs, the team will replay these workloads on future versions of SQL Server to stress the server while applying concurrent workloads. The team will look for reliability and performance problems. If Microsoft accepts your workload for testing, you'll have extra assurance that your database code will work and perform marvelously with the next SQL Server release.

Microsoft will require a few commitments from you if you participate in the Playback Program. You must provide a backup and Profiler trace of your production database and workload. Microsoft will provide nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) to secure your data for use only in this program. The engineers who manage this program have told me that the biggest hurdle some customers have to cross before deciding to join the program is allaying their own concerns about how well Microsoft will guard their data and application code. Speaking about security practices in the SQL Server Playback Program, a Microsoft representative said, "Security is naturally of utmost importance. Rest assured that customer databases will be used only by the SQL \[Server\] team for testing purposes and will not be distributed to anyone else whatsoever, for any purpose. All playbacks are held on a secure storage server where only the SQL \[Server\] team has access. Furthermore, all media (tapes, CDs, etc.) are stored in a locked cabinet room. We can also provide two-way signed nondisclosure agreements upon request, if it eases your concern."

What types of workloads will Microsoft select? All Playback Program submissions must be from SQL Server 2000 on production servers. The team is looking for Profiler traces that include some of the following characteristics (but your application doesn't have to include all these items):

  • databases larger than 50GB
  • databases containing localized data
  • databases containing Unicode data
  • single SQL Server systems supporting more than 10 active databases
  • systems supporting more than 200 concurrent users
  • applications that use a SQL Server feature in a unique way
  • applications that contain complex stored procedures, triggers, cursors, or any other development factors that challenge the server

If you want to participate in the SQL Server Playback Program, email your company name, company contact, email address, and phone number to sqlplay@microsoft.com. Microsoft will review your application and respond if you qualify. Also include

  • a brief description of the applications SQL Server supports
  • the SQL Server version (including service packs and Quick Fix Engineering—QFE—updates that the application runs on
  • the number of databases your server supports
  • the number of applications your server supports
  • the approximate disk size to support all of your databases
  • the SQL Server features the application uses
  • any SQL Server 2000-specific features the application leverages
  • the approximate maximum number of concurrent users the application supports
  • the approximate number of total users the application supports
  • if you use a localized SQL Server version, the language you use
  • whether you store localized data or Unicode data
  • any problem you're having with SQL Server, the nature of the problem, and whether you're working with someone at Microsoft to resolve the problem

Microsoft will accept submissions for the current round of SQL Server Playback testing until August 31. In addition to the technical benefits you'll get if you participate, you'll receive a cool SQL Server polo shirt, and a Microsoft representative told me that workloads that "help us find issues" will earn "a little something as a reward."

Microsoft announced a new SQL Server quality assurance program last year called the SQL Server Playback Program, which I wrote about in my SQL Server Magazine UPDATE article "Participate in the SQL Server Playback Program!" (which is available online at the URL at the end of this paragraph). Microsoft is always looking for customers with interesting application workloads that fit the program criteria, and the company is now actively seeking a new round of SQL Server Playback customers to get ready for the Yukon rollout in 2003. So, I'd like to revisit the unique opportunity this program presents for the right SQL Server customers.

http://www.sqlmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=21372

What will the SQL Server Playback Program do for you? Participation in the program:

  • might give you access to key Microsoft development resources
  • will extend your virtual testing or quality assurance team to include the Microsoft SQL Server development team testers
  • will ensure your code works with the next release of SQL Server
  • might help you spot previously undetected performance bottlenecks
  • will make you eligible to win cool prizes

Interested? If so, keep reading!

You've probably used SQL Server Profiler to examine the commands your SQL Server is processing. However, you might not realize that Profiler also provides a foundation for "playing back" a trace file later. Profiler lets you create repeatable workloads that you can run again and again, tweaking certain configuration parameters or indexes as you go. Microsoft uses this capability to create robust test suites based on live customer applications. SQL Server 2000 is very reliable, but the SQL Server test team is always looking for ways to push SQL Server to the next level, and the best way to do that is to benchmark the performance and behavior of real applications.

Microsoft needs your help to find the busiest servers, the largest databases, and the most complex queries the team can use to stress SQL Server to the limit. In the Microsoft labs, the team will replay these workloads on future versions of SQL Server to stress the server while applying concurrent workloads. The team will look for reliability and performance problems. If Microsoft accepts your workload for testing, you'll have extra assurance that your database code will work and perform marvelously with the next SQL Server release.

Microsoft will require a few commitments from you if you participate in the Playback Program. You must provide a backup and Profiler trace of your production database and workload. Microsoft will provide nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) to secure your data for use only in this program. The engineers who manage this program have told me that the biggest hurdle some customers have to cross before deciding to join the program is allaying their own concerns about how well Microsoft will guard their data and application code. Speaking about security practices in the SQL Server Playback Program, a Microsoft representative said, "Security is naturally of utmost importance. Rest assured that customer databases will be used only by the SQL \[Server\] team for testing purposes and will not be distributed to anyone else whatsoever, for any purpose. All playbacks are held on a secure storage server where only the SQL \[Server\] team has access. Furthermore, all media (tapes, CDs, etc.) are stored in a locked cabinet room. We can also provide two-way signed nondisclosure agreements upon request, if it eases your concern."

What types of workloads will Microsoft select? All Playback Program submissions must be from SQL Server 2000 on production servers. The team is looking for Profiler traces that include some of the following characteristics (but your application doesn't have to include all these items):

  • databases larger than 50GB
  • databases containing localized data
  • databases containing Unicode data
  • single SQL Server systems supporting more than 10 active databases
  • systems supporting more than 200 concurrent users
  • applications that use a SQL Server feature in a unique way
  • applications that contain complex stored procedures, triggers, cursors, or any other development factors that challenge the server

If you want to participate in the SQL Server Playback Program, email your company name, company contact, email address, and phone number to sqlplay@microsoft.com. Microsoft will review your application and respond if you qualify. Also include

  • a brief description of the applications SQL Server supports
  • the SQL Server version (including service packs and Quick Fix Engineering—QFE—updates that the application runs on
  • the number of databases your server supports
  • the number of applications your server supports
  • the approximate disk size to support all of your databases
  • the SQL Server features the application uses
  • any SQL Server 2000-specific features the application leverages
  • the approximate maximum number of concurrent users the application supports
  • the approximate number of total users the application supports
  • if you use a localized SQL Server version, the language you use
  • whether you store localized data or Unicode data
  • any problem you're having with SQL Server, the nature of the problem, and whether you're working with someone at Microsoft to resolve the problem

Microsoft will accept submissions for the current round of SQL Server Playback testing until August 31. In addition to the technical benefits you'll get if you participate, you'll receive a cool SQL Server polo shirt, and a Microsoft representative told me that workloads that "help us find issues" will earn "a little something as a reward."