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May 19, 2005
2. News & Views
3. Events and Resources
4. Featured White Paper
5. Peer to Peer
7. New & Improved
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by Brian Moran, firstname.lastname@example.org
Extreme performance is a term that a colleague and I coined 5 years ago to define the SQL Server performance-tuning approach that we recommended to our consulting customers. Understanding and implementing the extreme-performance philosophy might help you avoid performance-tuning mistakes down the road. One area in particular that our philosophy is helpful is in planning for scalability. Planning with scalability in mind lets you improve performance now and will help you take advantage of emerging technology, such as the Common Language Runtime (CLR) integration in SQL Server 2005.
First, be aware that everything you do with an application today needs to anticipate someone pushing your code beyond what you intended it to do in the future. It's easier to 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. We all need to design systems with performance and scalability in mind.
There are two basic approaches to scalability: 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 future power needs; you simply buy another box when the time comes. And scaling out your Web farm is easier than scaling out the database layer. So how do you think about scalability when you're designing a system for extreme performance to meet unpredictable future demands? 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. Scaling out the database layer can be difficult and expensive, especially when you didn't design the application with scaling out in mind.
Thinking about designing for scalability brings to mind a common dilemma. I've seen customers encounter significant back-end database performance decreases that require substantial code rewriting--a difficult and painful process--when they could have solved the problem by adding a commodity-priced Web server to the farm if they'd designed certain expensive stored procedures as middle-tier components. Sure, initial throughput might be better if they'd 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. Enter the CLR...
What if you didn't have to sacrifice short-term response time for long-term scalability? What if you could cram as much processing onto the database tier as possible, then easily re-deploy certain processes to a mid-tier application server when your database began to run out of CPU steam? What if the tradeoffs between scalability and response time became a runtime deployment issue rather than a fixed-in-stone design issue? That would be cool! Theoretically, the CLR gives us that option. We could deploy .NET-based code in the CLR to reduce round trips and keep data-oriented code near the data. But, if the code was carefully architected we might later be able to re-deploy the code on the application tier if the database server starts to become resource constrained. Yes, response time for transactions might go up a bit if that happens, but presumably we could achieve greater concurrency and throughput. The CLR also makes it easy for us to overburden our database server by pushing logic to SQL Server to cut down on round trips (or whatever reason you might come up with). But don't forget: scaling the Web tier is easy, whereas scaling the database often requires throwing your existing box away in favor of a new box. Indiscriminate deployment of code to the CLR is a recipe for an overburdened SQL Server and disaster. Carefully architected solutions that let us deploy in the CLR but readily re-deploy in a CLR hosted somewhere else might provide the ability to focus on response time in the short term and scalable throughput in the long term.
Undoubtedly, it will take some time to work out the best practices and architectural recommendations that let customers design systems in this way, but the benefits could be huge. I love when I get to have my cake and eat it, too!
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2. News & Views
"When do you plan to see Star Wars: Episode 3--Revenge of the Sith?" Here are the results from the 170 votes (deviations from 100 are due to a rounding error):
"Have you deployed SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 4 (SP4)?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine home page ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=3D1:2621E7 ) and submit your vote for
3. Events and Resources
View this on-demand Web seminar and receive a complimentary 30-day software evaluation and industry white paper! Join industry expert David Chernicoff and learn how leading organizations are incorporating fax technologies to empower users and enhance existing investments in infrastructure and applications while providing substantial ROI. Register now!
In this free Web seminar, explore the new features associated with Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services. You'll discover how to offer the "single version of truth" in your enterprise-reporting environment with the integration of Reporting Services 2005 and the Analysis Service 2005 Unified Dimensional Model (UDM). Plus, you'll discover "Report Builder," and more. Sign up today!
In this free Web seminar, get an in-depth understanding of the many new features and capabilities Microsoft has introduced in SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services. You'll learn about data source views, user-defined hierarchies, measure groups, KPIs and more! Plus--get all you need to know about integration with Integration Services and Reporting Services and the new deployment and synchronization capabilities in SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services.
Get the facts about migrating to SQL Server 2005. SQL Server experts will present real-world information about administration, development, and business intelligence to help you implement a best-practices migration to SQL Server 2005 and improve your database-computing environment. Receive a 1-year membership to PASS and 1-year subscription to SQL Server Magazine. Register now! http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=A5DB:2621E7
See the complete Windows IT Pro Network guide to Web and live events. http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=5778:2621E7
4. Featured White Paper
In this free white paper, learn how your small or midsized business can optimize disk-based backup. Discover how combining disk-based backups with automated backup technology can deliver easy-to-manage backups, fast restores, and simplified creation and tracking of tape for offsite media rotation. Download this free white paper today!
5. Peer to Peer
Hot Tip: Performance Metrics in SQL Server Stop Working When You Stop SQL Server by Brian Moran, email@example.com
I was diagnosing performance problems for a customer when several performance-related counters suddenly stopped working. The affected information included all SQL Server Performance Monitor counters, wait-type information from sysprocesses, and all I/O-related activity from the fn_virtualfilestats() function. I was confused until I ran across the Microsoft article "FIX: 'Performance monitor shared memory setup failed: -1' error message when you start SQL Server" at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=A5DD:2621E7 . The article discusses a bug in SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3 (SP3) that causes you to lose Performance Monitor counters if System Monitor is running when you stop SQL Server.
Read the full tip today at
Microsoft has announced four editions and pricing plans for SQL Server 2005. The company will offer three license plans for SQL Server 2005: processor licenses, server plus device Client Access Licenses (CALs), and server plus user CALs. Processor licenses require a separate license for each processor running SQL Server. You'll pay for a fixed server license plus additional CAL licenses for each device or user that connects to SQL Server under the server plus device CAL and server plus user CAL, respectively. In his May SELECT TOP(X) column "SQL Server 2005 Editions," Michael Otey covers the four editions that Microsoft will release for SQL Server 2005. Note that all higher editions include the same functionality as the editions below it. Read this article today at
Just in case you missed the news, SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 4 (SP4) shipped May 5. You can download SP4 at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=9C4C:2621E7 . There's also a caveat from Microsoft: "Microsoft has found an issue with the final build of SP4 that impacts customers who run SQL Server with AWE support enabled. This issue only impacts machines with more than 2GB of memory where AWE has been explicitly enabled. Customers with this configuration should not install SP4. Microsoft is currently working on the problem and will issue an update soon." As I've tried to educate myself more about SQL Server 2005, one area that seems more gray than black and white is XQuery. From what I've gathered, XQuery is a sort of XML/SQL hybrid. There's a cool interview with Michael Rys at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=A5DF:2621E7 . Rys is the program manager for Microsoft's SQL Server Engine team and has final say on all things XML, XQuery, etc. You can also read Rys's blog at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=A5E0:2621E7 . It has lots of juicy tidbits as well. Let Kevin know what you think today at
Hot Threads: Check out the following hot threads, and see other discussions in our 30 SQL Server forums.
Administration: Any Problems With SP4?
T-SQL: Weird String Concatenation
Performance: Large Static Table With No PK or Clustered Index
Security: Can't Create Instance of DTS Package
Development: Passing Text Parameter to Stored Procedure
DTS: Package Fails With Oracle Transfer
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7. New & Improved
by Dawn Cyr, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Heroix announced Longitude, a new agentless, multiplatform OS and application monitoring and reporting product. The product is designed to provide the best features of products that are made for small to midsized businesses and products made for enterprise organizations. Because it's agentless, the product deploys immediately and is easy to learn and easy to use, and the Web-based UI provides comprehensive monitoring and detailed, graphical reporting for your OS and applications. The product is self-maintaining and self-updating and supports multiple platforms, including Windows, Oracle, and Linux. Longitude provides more than 250 operational metrics, including role-based security, customizable views, and email notification. The reporting function provides more than 125 performance reports and graphs that you access through the dashboard. Equally suitable for management and technical users, the reports let you drill down to uncover essential information through HTML links. Heroix designed this new offering completely from scratch, producing a 100-percent Java-based product based on industry standards for SQL, XML, TCP-IP, HTML,JDBC, and JMX. Pricing for Longitude starts at $599 per monitored system for a base OS plus layered application monitoring. Support services and subscription pricing are also available. For more information, contact Heroix at 800-229-6500, 617-527-1550, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Panorama Software announced general availability of Panorama 4.5, a comprehensive, high-performance business intelligence (BI) solution that supports SQL Server 2005 and 2000. New features in the latest release include an enhanced dashboard that's customizable and provides live updates so that decision makers can access near realtime dynamic data; an exception ticker, which notifies users of problems or exceptions inside a scrolling ticker bar; expanded report-authoring capabilities that support building production reports as well as multi-level grouping and sorting for ad hoc queries; and support for large dimensions, which lets users navigate, search, and select relevant information from large data sets. Companies that are investigating SQL Server 2005 can take advantage of the improvements in the new SQL Server release by leveraging Panorama's new features to access data that already exists inside the organization. For pricing and other information, contact Panorama Software at 877-709-5848, 416-545-0990, or email@example.com.
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