In This Issue:
As the complexity of managing a database environment grows, businesses are increasingly exposed to risk because they lack the readiness to handle core data-management problems. Could such businesses benefit from a shared-DBA model?

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October 26, 2006

1. Perspectives

  • Share a DBA, Reduce Your Risk

2. SQL Server Watch

  • Improve Performance When Querying from Views
  • Make Your Mark on the IT Community!
  • This Month’s Theme: High Availability: Putting Together Your High Availability Puzzle
  • Product Watch: Idera

3. Hot Articles

  • Reader to Reader: Easily Identify the Most Accessed Tables in Your Database
  • T-SQL 2005: Query DMFs to Analyze Performance Stats
  • Puzzled by T-SQL: Solution to Catch That Bug! Random Row Per Group
  • In a Nutshell: Podcasting on SQL Server
  • Hot Threads: NEW FORUM! Tool Time with Kevin Kline

4. Events and Resources

  • TechX World: Manage Access Across OSs
  • Understand the SQL Server 2005 Permission Security Model
  • 2006 PASS Community Summit November 14–17
  • How Do You Manage Vulnerabilities?
  • Achieve Your Database High-Availability Goals

5. Featured White Paper

  • Protect Business Information Assets

6. Announcements

  • Invitation for VIP Access
  • Get $40 off SQL Server Magazine

7. Web Community


Sponsor: Microsoft
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1. Perspectives

Share a DBA, Reduce Your Risk
by Brian Moran, brian@solidqualitylearning.com

Is the SQL Server market ready for the idea of “shared DBA services?” No, I’m not talking about traditional consulting, and I’m not talking about traditional remote DBA offerings. I’m talking about a blend of several different ideas and offerings. Later in this article, I’ll add more to the definition of shared DBA services, but for now, think of it as permanent part time. Imagine a large company employing an internal “consulting DBA team” in which each DBA on the team spends 25 percent or so of his or her time working on regular, internal projects. No, the idea isn’t novel. Yes, it’s been done. But the idea isn’t commonly implemented, and I wonder whether it’s a better way for more organizations to think about DBA services?

Here’s why I’ve been thinking about shared DBA services. Lately, I’ve run across numerous customer environments in which, to be blunt, I feel the customer’s state of readiness for handling core data-platform management and development issues puts essential strategic initiatives of the business at risk. I’ve seen this problem with customers I’ve worked with, have heard about it from trusted colleagues, and have heard about it third-hand. I’ve been a consultant for 17 years, so I’m not naive. I know that consultants wouldn’t exist if all customers had the perfect ability to meet all of their needs with internal staff.

However, recently I’ve had the sense that more businesses are being exposed to greater risk because of their lack of readiness, and that the problem is getting worse, not better. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to address many aspects of this growing problem. I’ve talked about the role of the data-tier architect and the need for specialization over generalization. And I’ve pointed out that as products get more complex and powerful they help us solve more complex and difficult problems, but at the same time, managing and using the products properly becomes increasingly difficult. It’s an interesting conundrum, and I’m glad that I can just write about it rather than be responsible for solving the problem entirely.

So I find myself wondering whether shared DBA services would address part of the problem, at least for data environments, and I wonder whether similar shared services would work in other technology slices. The essence of the problem, as I see it, is that proper use of certain tools, such as SQL Server, will occasionally require a level of product mastery that’s difficult to obtain, requires constant practice to keep sharp, and, to be blunt, is rarely needed full time in a typical corporate IT environment.

I’m a good example. Most of my billable hours are for delivery of performance-tuning services. The fact is, for many companies, it wouldn’t be cost effective to have a full-time performance expert (or a super high-end DBA of any stripe, since most expert DBAs have good tuning skills). But it would be practical for many of those companies to have one “super-expensive-high-end DBA” whose services would be shared by 3 or 4 projects.

Again, I know this isn’t a brand new idea. Companies have done it in the past, and think it was actually more common a generation ago. However, the initial ease-of-use of client-server databases allowed development groups to cast aside the internal corporate DBA teams in favor of faster, more nimble development. But will the growing complexity of SQL Server, which increasingly requires specialization of skills, coupled with the growing risks associated with of “getting it wrong” make the idea of shared DBA services commonplace again?

Remote DBA services (i.e., DBA services provided under contract and delivered through a VPN or other remote mechanism) add value in certain obvious ways. But although remote database administration might be a good choice for some matters, other matters really require sitting around the table with the development team you support. Consultants add value (at least that’s what I tell my customers), but most consulting relationships are transient in nature; and sometimes permanence is helpful as you sit around the table with the developers you support. Some companies might not have enough projects to support the shared-DBA approach, so perhaps some consulting companies could offer shared DBA services that let you “buy” 25 to 50 percent of a high-end DBA under terms that are closer to long-term employment rates than consulting rates.

What do you think? Are more and more companies, being exposed to more and more risk as products get increasingly complex? Do ‘shared’ IT services make sense? Send your thoughts to me at brian@solidqualitylearning.com.


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2. SQL Server Watch

Improve Performance When Querying from Views
Have you experienced slow performance when you query data from a view in SQL Server 2000? The problem occurs when three conditions are true: the view contains a GROUP BY clause, the view contains aggregate functions, and the query uses a LIKE operator. Under these conditions, the LIKE predicate receives the results as if the query contains the HAVING clause. SQL Server 2000 must materialize the view before SQL Server 2000 trims the results, so performance is impaired. Microsoft has released a hotfix for this problem. Read the full Microsoft article “FIX: The query performance may be slow when you query data from a view in SQL Server 2000,” and download the fix at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/924662/en-us.

Make Your Mark on the IT Community!
Nominate yourself or a peer to become an "IT Pro of the Month." Winners will receive over $600 in IT resources and be featured in Windows IT Pro magazine and the TechNet Flash email newsletter. Windows IT Pro is accepting December nominations for a limited time! It's easy to enter—submit your nomination today: http://www.windowsitpro.com/go/itpromonth.

This Month’s Theme: High Availability: Putting Together Your High Availability Puzzle
In SQL Server 2005, Microsoft not only added database mirroring to achieve higher availability but also substantially improved existing availability features. Read this article today and post your comments at: http://www.sqlmag.com/Articles/ArticleID/49037/49037.html.

Product Watch
by Blake Eno, products@sqlmag.com

SQL Server Query and OS Performance Monitoring
Idera announced updates to its performance-monitoring and diagnostic solution, SQL diagnostic manager 4.5. The product, which is designed to meet enterprise-scale SQL Server implementations, provides performance monitoring, alerting, and diagnostics for SQL Server environments. In addition to the product's existing "Worst Performing Queries" analysis, diagnostic manager provides continuous monitoring and identification of your most frequently executed queries on a server. Diagnostic manager also monitors and alerts on a range of OS performance metrics including CPU and memory usage, average disk queue length, disk time, and paging. For more information, contact Idera at 713-523-4433 or 877-464-3372, or visit http://www.idera.com.


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3. Hot Articles

Reader to Reader: Easily Identify the Most Accessed Tables in Your Database
Share your SQL Server code, comments, discoveries, and solutions at r2r@sqlmag.com.

By combining the schema views of sys.tables and sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats in SQL Server 2005, you can find out which tables users access the most. Read this great tip today at http://www.sqlmag.com/Articles/ArticleID/53878/53878.html.

Editorial: BI Drives SQL Server Growth
In his October Editorial, “BI Drives SQL Server Growth,” Michael Otey discusses howw the release of SQL Server 2005, with its advanced BI functionality, increased SQL Server's market share compared to top competitors, ensuring future support of the product. Read this article today and post your comments at http://www.sqlmag.com/Articles/ArticleID/93317/93317.html.

T-SQL 2005: Query DMFs to Analyze Performance Stats
Learn how to combine new T-SQL querying elements with DMFs to analyze performance statistics and aid in database tuning. Read this article today and post your comments at http://www.sqlmag.com/Articles/ArticleID/93327/93327.html.

Puzzled by T-SQL: Solution to Catch That Bug! Random Row Per Group
This week, Itzik Ben-Gan gives the solution to last week’s puzzle. As some of you figured, the reason that the query returns varying numbers of rows in different invocations is because the subquery is reevaluated once per order (can be observed in the execution plan), while you want the subquery to reevaluate once per employee. Read the full solution and post your comments today at: http://www.sqlmag.com/article/articleid/93966/sql_server_blog_93966.html.

In a Nutshell: Podcasting on SQL Server
This week, Kevin Kline shares some links to SQL Server-related podcasts. Share your own links and tell him how you use podcasts today at http://www.sqlmag.com/blog/index.cfm?action=blogindex&DepartmentID=965.

Hot Threads:
NEW FORUM! Tool Time with Kevin Kline

Read about SQL Server tools and post your favorites and comments on this new forum. Check out these posts:


4. Events and Resources

In an environment where there is no one true OS, users must access a variety of applications across several platforms. Get the tools you need to analyze and improve how you manage access across Windows Terminal Services, UNIX and Linux X, Windows, legacy telnet, and even SSH. TechX World events start October 24—register today!

Migrating to SQL Server 2005 and want to find out more about your database security?
Need to understand how the new permission security model works in SQL Server 2005? Make sure that only authorized users have access to your SQL Servers and that the integrity of your database is not compromised. Live Web Seminar: Thursday, November 9

2006 PASS Community Summit November 14—17
Join the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) as it hosts the premier event of 2006 dedicated exclusively to Microsoft SQL Server education and networking! Come experience first-hand more than 100 technical sessions presented by more than 80 user-experts, MVPs, and members of the Microsoft development team. http://www.sqlpass.org/events/summit06/index.cfm

How do you manage vulnerabilities?
If you depend on vulnerability assessments to determine the state of your IT security systems, you can't miss this Web seminar. Special research from Gartner indicates that deeper penetration is needed to augment your vulnerability management processes. Learn more today!

Achieve your database high-availability goals.
Learn how Microsoft's Clustering Services can be used to improve SQL Server availability, and get guidelines for how clusters can assist with your disaster recovery strategy. Also learn to upgrade and manage your existing clusters. Register today for this free Web seminar, now available On-demand!

See the complete Windows IT Pro Network guide to Web and live events.


5. Featured White Paper

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How many SQL Servers are you managing? Is your database inventory out of control? Are costs difficult to manage? You’re not alone. Download this special report today to find out how SQL Server sprawl affects your organization, and learn best practices for preventing it.


6. Announcements

Invitation for VIP Access
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7. Web Community

 


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