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April 22, 2004—In this issue:
1. SQL Server Perspectives
- Waits and Queues: Performance-Tuning Gems
2. News and Views
- Vote for Your Favorite SQL Server Products!
- Results of Previous Instant Poll: Do You Subscribe?
- New Instant Poll: Index Tuning Wizard
- Register Now for Microsoft Tech Ed 2004
- Share Your Feedback About SQL Server Communities
- What's New in SQL Server Magazine: Developing CLR-Based Stored Procedures
- Hot Thread: OLAP Interface
- Tip: Collation Changes in SQL Server
5. Events Central
- SQL Web Seminar—Maximizing Application Performance with SQL Server
- SQL Web Seminar—SQL Server Backup and Recovery
6. New and Improved
- Assess Database Resource Requirements
- Analyze Data Quality
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1. SQL Server Perspectives
(contributed by Brian Moran, news editor)
Performance tuning is my favorite topic and what I spend most of my professional time doing. I have a good sense of the performance-tuning techniques available, so it's rare that I run across practical performance-tuning information that I've never seen or thought about before. However, in SQL Server Magazine's January issue, Microsoft's Tom Davidson provided performance-tuning information that was not only some of the most important performance-tuning material to come out in several years, but also brand-new to me (see "Opening Microsoft's Performance-Tuning Toolbox"). I don't usually review SQL Server Magazine articles, but I'm going to make an exception this week.
Tom is a member of the Microsoft SQL Server Development Customer Advisory Team and a program manager for the SQL Server development organization. The Customer Advisory Team works on the most interesting SQL Server problems and challenges that customers face around the world. Tom and his colleagues have developed a methodology that uses waits and queues to systematically track down and resolve customers' SQL Server performance problems. The methodology uses several SQL Server sources to analyze the aggregate effect that various waittypes and other queues have on an application's performance. (For details about what waits and queues are, please see the article.) Why is this performance-tuning method so important? Two reasons: The methodology will inevitably lead to performance improvements in various parts of your applications, and it's the first truly new SQL Server 2000 performance-tuning information that I've run across in several years.
In my opinion, any practical information about performance tuning is exciting. Although the basic ideas in Tom's article aren't new, he's pulled together a comprehensive resource that describes all the waittypes you might see in sysprocesses. He describes what the waittypes mean and, even more importantly, describes how to interpret the waittypes in a real-world performance-tuning scenario. Very cool.
Since the article came out in January, the Customer Advisory Team's methodology has been invaluable to me when analyzing dozens of performance problems. If you've already read and acted on Tom's January article, good for you. If you haven't, take the time to read and consider the information it contains. If analyzing waits and queues information can help me solve performance problems, it can help you, too.
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2. News and Views
SQL Server Magazine is hosting its first annual Readers' Choice Awards program, which lets you—the customer—vote for your favorite products and services. Via an online ballot, you can vote for outstanding hardware and software offerings and services and reward excellence in a variety of categories. At the end of the ballot, you can write in your overall favorites in five general categories: Rookie of the Year, Most Innovative Product, Best Service and Support, Best Software, and Best Hardware. Voting runs through May 14, and after the magazine editors tally your votes, we'll profile your choices for best products and services. Cast your votes now at
The voting has closed in SQL Server Magazine's Instant Poll for the question, "Do you subscribe to SQL Server Magazine?" Here are the results (+/- 1 percent) from the 199 votes:
- 61% Yes
- 10% No, but I plan to
- 10% Not personally, but I read a pass-around copy at work
- 19% No
The next Instant Poll question is "Do you find the Index Tuning Wizard reliable for finding all the best indexes for your system?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine Web site and vote for 1) yes, I trust it completely, 2) no, but it's still helpful, 3) no, I don't find it helpful at all, 4) I haven't used the wizard but plan to, or 5) I haven't used the wizard and don't plan to.
Optimize your skills at Tech Ed 2004—May 23-28, 2004, in San Diego, CA—the definitive Microsoft conference for building, deploying, securing and managing connected solutions. Explore Microsoft's latest developer technologies. Network and make lasting connections with peers. Sharpen your skills on products such as Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework. Register now.
Microsoft's SQL Server team has launched a new survey to help it and its community partners better understand your needs and help to improve your experience with SQL Server. Take time to let Microsoft know how satisfied you are with the availability of SQL Server information and peer support in the SQL Server communities. Click here:
Common Language Runtime (CLR)-based stored procedures aren't for every situation, but they can be powerful when used appropriately. In William Vaughn's May feature, "Developing CLR-Based Stored Procedures," see how CLR stored procedures work and how they fit into the larger scheme of a high-performance database system by walking through a CLR assembly project that captures and encrypts credit card information. Read this article today at
Mimadon needs to create and maintain 200 cubes—plus more related dimensions—to offer a well-tailored OLAP experience to 200 different organizational units. Mimadon wants to know if a programmatic interface that can be used to create and define dimensions, cubes, and other OLAP objects exists. SQL Server Books Online (BOL) describes only Analysis Services Manager GUI interface approaches to cube and dimension design and creation. Do you know where Mimadon can find a non-GUI, programmatic interface to OLAP administration? Are you looking for a similar tool? Offer your advice and see what other people have said on SQL Server Magazine's OLAP and Data Warehousing forum at
by Brian Moran
Q. I'm running SQL Server 7.0 on Windows Server 2000, and I'd like to change the SQL Server code page (collation) to 950. Is that possible?
A. Unfortunately, SQL Server 7.0 doesn't provide a mechanism for changing collations on the fly. To change the collation of an existing database, you need to rebuild the master database or reinstall SQL Server. You can find information about the rebuild process in SQL Server Books Online (BOL) in "How to rebuild the master database (Rebuild Master utility)." Remember, rebuilding the master database means recreating all logins. And in SQL Server 7.0, you can't reattach a database that has a different collation than the server. You'll need to use another mechanism, such as Data Transformation Services (DTS) or bulk copy program (BCP), to bring the data back in. The process isn't much different than starting from scratch with a complete reinstall.
Keep in mind that SQL Server 2000 has more flexibility for managing collations. You can change the default collation of a database after it's been installed and change or set collations at the column level for existing tables. If you've been thinking about upgrading to SQL Server 2000, collation flexibility might be the final reason to take the plunge. Note that changing the default collation of a database in SQL Server 2000 defines the collation of newly created objects but doesn't automatically change the collations of existing objects. You need to use the ALTER TABLE command to change the collation of an existing column. You can't change the collation of an entire table with one command, but you can change the collation for all columns within the table.
5. Events Central
For a complete guide to Web and live events, see
Over the past 18 months, Microsoft and VERITAS Software have collected and analyzed the most common performance-related SQL Server problems that customers encounter. Attend a free, interactive Web seminar on April 27, which will articulate these performance problems, describe their impact, and demonstrate how they can be solved. Register today!
Andy18 has a user with a Web site developed in Arabic and English. The search tool on his Web site uses approximated keywords for Arabic letters in nvarchar and ntext fields. The search tool works fine in the English version but not in the Arabic version. The user mentioned that the SQL collation on his local SQL Server is Arabic, though the SQL collation for Andy18's database is SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS. Will changing the collation solve the problem? Or will changing the collation corrupt the data in the database? Offer your advice and see what other people have said on SQL Server Magazine's Development forum at
Data availability is crucial for business service, so it's important to have the processes and technology in place to reduce the risk of data outages and make for a quick recovery. Attend a free, 1-hour Web seminar on April 29 and learn best practices for database backup and recovery. Register today and get a free SQL-BackTrack License:
6. New and Improved
(contributed by Dawn Cyr, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Unisys announced the Database Solution Generator, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that lets you assess your current and future database resource requirements. The free Web-based tool helps you examine and understand planning options for 32-bit and 64-bit SQL Server database solutions. The tool guides you through five steps to establish sizing requirements for server, storage, and tape backup and address problems related to platform, availability, and recovery services. You can modify the technological and business specifications that you enter into the Solution Generator to see how changes will affect your operations. After you complete your entries, the tool provides recommendations for how to configure your database platform infrastructure to achieve an efficient and effective database environment. You can download the tool. For more information, contact Unisys through the company's Web site.
FirstLogic announced a new version of IQ Insight, a data profiling and analysis solution that lets you inspect data and identify quality problems. The software lets you monitor, analyze, and report on the quality of information in your system, whether the data is in a relational database, flat-file system, open system, or mainframe environment. The latest release can simultaneously view multiple heterogeneous databases and works with various systems, including SQL Server, Oracle, and IBM DB2. New features include generic pattern detection, duplicate column analysis, and pattern recognition of personal names. With IQ Insight, you can develop reusable data-profiling projects that include business rules, analysis, measurements, history, and reports about a particular data source. You can then use the projects to improve data quality and measure the improvements over time. For pricing and more information, contact FirstLogic at 888-215-6442 or email@example.com.
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