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September 25, 2003—In this issue:
- Grid Computing: The Next Big Thing
2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS
- Microsoft Answers SQL Server 2000 Setup Questions
- Results of Previous Instant Poll: Patching the RPCSS Vulnerability
- New Instant Poll: Tallying Processors
- PDC 2003: The Buzz Is On
- Attend and Win a Harley-Davidson
- What's New in SQL Server Magazine: High Availability Solutions
- Hot Thread: Linking a Server to an Indexing Service
- Tip: Passing Command-Line Variables
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- San Diego = Sun. TDWI = High-Quality Education.
- Check Out the Database Performance Portal Today!
- Get a Free SQL Server Magazine Hat!
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Back Up SQL Server
- Create a Data Dictionary
7. CONTACT US
See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Brian Moran, news editor, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Is grid computing the future? Currently, Microsoft doesn't have a grid-computing story to tell in the SQL Server space. But Oracle has been talking nonstop about the grid-computing capabilities of its new flagship database, Oracle 10g, scheduled for release next year. The potential performance and usability benefits of grid computing are hard to ignore.
What is grid computing? According to www.gridcomputing.com "computational grids enable the sharing, selection, and aggregation of a wide variety of geographically distributed computational resources (such as supercomputers, computer clusters, storage systems, data sources) and presents them as a single, unified resource for solving large-scale computer and data intensive computing applications (e.g., molecular modeling for drug design, brain activity analysis, and high-energy physics)." Picture an electric power network: multiple generators produce the power, but users access electric power without worrying where it comes from.
Theoretically, grid computing can bundle a series of inexpensive dual-processor servers into a powerful 8- or 16-CPU grid. Today, buying eight dual-processor servers is less expensive than buying one 16-CPU server. Is your 4-CPU database server running out of power? No problem—just add a new box. The grid will distribute the power and manage resources for you. This method of scaling out is in contrast to the scale-up idea (i.e., single-server SMP scalability), which entails adding processors to the existing box.
According to Oracle's Web site, "grid computing reduces the cost of IT by clustering servers together to act as a single large computer, dynamically shifting server resources between applications on demand." Oracle asserts that grid computing gives you high performance and reliability at a low cost. However, hardware and software limitations give grid computing more sizzle than meat for now.
When SQL Server 2000 first shipped, Microsoft hyped scale-out solutions as the answer to all high-end scalability questions. They backed away from scale-out solutions (in favor of single-node scale up) when they realized that reliable scale-out solutions might be more difficult to achieve than they'd originally anticipated. Database grids are more complex to create than grids for other types of applications because locking, transaction control, and state management are hard to manage efficiently across a grid of database nodes. Even so, I still believe that scale out will become the norm in computing and database processing.
In the meantime, I've seen a number of analyst quotes suggest that Oracle 10g's grid capabilities will be more "marketure" than architecture in the initial release. True grid computing for database users is still some time off. However, perception is often more important than reality when it comes to selling technology solutions, and Oracle will be aiming for the market-leader position—whether grid computing technology is ready for the real world or not. Because the problems that remain aren't trivial, I suspect that Oracle 10g's release won't set the world on fire. In any case, SQL Server users will be faced with hard choices if Oracle delivers a commodity grid-computing solution years ahead of Microsoft.
For more information about grid computing, visit the Global Grid Forum (GGF) at www.gridforum.org . The GGF is a community-initiated forum of individual researchers and practitioners working on promoting and supporting the development, deployment, and implementation of grid technologies. This site includes several interesting links and articles.
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2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS
Microsoft answers DBA questions in the article "INF: Frequently Asked Questions - SQL Server 2000 - Setup." The article provides a collection of answers to questions about such varied topics as SQL Server 2000 OS requirements, the number of SQL Server 2000 instances you can install on a computer, how to install Analysis Services, how to install Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) without installing SQL Server 2000, how to perform a remote installation, and how to rebuild the master database. The article also provides answers to troubleshooting questions and links to newsgroups and further information. You can read the entire article at
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The voting has closed in SQL Server Magazine's Instant Poll for the question, "Has your organization patched its systems against the most recent Windows bug—a vulnerability in the RPCSS service?" Here are the results (+/- 1 percent) from the 239 votes (deviations from 100 percent are due to a rounding error):
- 77% Yes, our IT group applied the patch immediately
- 11% No, IT hasn't patched our systems yet but plans to
- 2% No, IT probably won't patch our systems
- 10% I haven't heard about the latest vulnerability
The next Instant Poll question is "What's the main type of SQL Server system you have deployed?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine Web site and vote for 1) 8-way, 2) 4-way, 3) Dual-processor, or 4) Single-processor.
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The Microsoft Professional Developers Conference will be in Los Angeles October 26-30, 2003. With PDC 2003 less than two months away and more content being added daily, developers everywhere are talking about what's in store. Register today and enter to win a Smartphone. Visit:
SQL Server Magazine Connections runs concurrently with Microsoft ASP.NET Connections, Visual Studio Connections, and Microsoft Office System Connections. Register now and receive four conferences for the price of one, plus a chance to win a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Don't miss your opportunity to participate in this valuable event! Click here now:
High availability depends on more than just technology. In his article "High Availability Solutions," Michael Hotek explains how people and process work together with technology to make your system truly available. Read this October SQL Server Magazine article at
Dermjs is trying use Enterprise Manager to link a server to an indexing service on a different server. Although another forum participant referred her to MSDN for a description of how to set up a linked server, dermjs wonders whether the fact that the indexing service is on a different server will be a problem. See what other DBAs have said, and offer your opinion, on SQL Server Magazine's Data Access forum.
(contributed by Brian Moran, email@example.com)
Q. I want to pass two variables, @dept and @site, into a T-SQL script that I can run from the command line by using OSQL. How do I write the OSQL script to pass the desired variables?
A. You can't directly pass parameters as part of the OSQL command-line utility, but you have several alternatives for solving your problem. For example, suppose you want to run the following T-SQL command:
SELECT * FROM orders WHERE orderid = 10248
But you want to specify the OrderId value on the command line instead of in the script. One option is a pure SQL Server approach to the problem. OSQL won't let you pass in parameters, but you can use the sp_executesql stored procedure, which can process parameterized SQL. (For detailed information about sp_executesql, see SQL Server Books Online—BOL.) The following example lets you pass parameters into a T-SQL command but doesn't completely address how to pass a parameter as part of an OSQL command-line session (remember that you must issue the OSQL command from a command prompt):
orders WHERE OrderId = @OrderId' ,N'@OrderId int' ,@OrderId = 10248"
Another solution relies on the power of Windows to handle the parameterization for you. For DBAs who aren't familiar with Windows-level command-file processing, a batch file is a text file that has a .bat extension. Windows treats batch files as executables that run in the Command Prompt environment. You can think of batch files as mini programs that Windows runs.
You can simply create a file called SQLVariableBatch.bat, and put the following text in it:
FROM northwind..orders WHERE OrderId = %1"
From the directory where you saved the .bat file, issue the following command from a command prompt window:
When running this command, Windows will replace the %1 in the SQLVariableBatch.bat file with what comes after the batch file's name in the command line—in this case, 10248. This is a simple example of batch processing in Windows; to learn more about batch files, see the Windows Help files.
You can also use Windows Scripting Host (WSH) to manage the parameterization. Using WSH for scripting and batch processing is much more flexible and powerful than using simple Windows batch files. I'm not a WSH expert, so I don't include an example of this solution, but I wanted to note that the option exists. For information about using WSH, see the MSDN Web site for Windows Script at
Send technical questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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6. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, email@example.com)
Sonasoft announced SonaSafe, a Plug-and-Play (PnP) appliance that provides disk-to-disk backup and recovery. You can manage multiple target databases through one console and apply single-click recovery commands. The appliance automatically finds and lists all SQL Server databases in the instance and sets up a default plan to back up the entire instance. The self-configuring system needs to know only the server name and the SQL instance name. SonaSafe supports SQL Server 2000 and 7.0. Sonasoft also provides a Standby system, which bridges the gap between clustered and mirrored systems and native SQL Server backups. For pricing, contact Sonasoft at 408-927-6200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lucky Dog Systems announced SQL Data Dictionary, a tool for developers and database administrators (DBAs) to define a data dictionary for table and field elements. The utility makes it easier for developers and DBAs to share database metadata information with the appropriate personnel in their organization. Rather than maintain a separate document that details descriptions of database objects, SQL Data Dictionary uses SQL Server 2000 to store information in the database. Pricing is $39 for a single license. Contact Lucky Dog Systems at email@example.com
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