Why you need SQL Server Acceleration Services during COVID-19

So what can really help you and your business succeed during these challenging times?  Your SQL Server and infrastructure teams need to work better together and make the most of the data platform that your business depends on. Performance, availability, and system efficiency are paramount to your business operations, and making sure everyone is on the same page on these topics is critical to squeeze the most from your databases.

Microsoft SQL Server, similar to other relational databases, is a significant cost to your businesses including software licenses, maintenance, support, and the associated on-prem and/or cloud platform.  These are the expenses that companies have been trying to reduce spend for many years.  During this time where you and your company are trying to strategize how to deal with the indirect impact of Coronavirus to financial projections and lost employee productivity, Heraflux can produce results in a short amount of time at a very reasonable cost.

Our high-level approach and focus for a successful project are to deliver both a SQL Server platform review and training package in less than two weeks.  Cost savings identified after our Capacity Management review are often more than the cost of the training.  The training is accomplished throughout the interactive systems review.  Since most businesses have stopped traveling, our remote training is delivered while working on your systems.  A much better alternative to traditional classroom training even without the current world challenges.

If your company has SQL Server in the cloud, planning to move to the cloud, or running SQL Server on-prem and you don’t feel like you “right-sized” the correct resource requirements, I encourage you read more about what we can do with our SQL Server & Platform Skills Acceleration Bundle.

Let us know if these boot camp training services can help you and your organization! Contact us to learn more.


COVID-19 Thoughts

With the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, we want to take a moment to share with you the approach that we are taking to support our staff, contractors, customers, and partners during this unfolding event. Our hearts go out to those that have been personally, directly, and indirectly impacted.

Our first commitment is to the health and safety of our team. We have been largely a remote services company since we started, and maintain flexible working locations to help our team adapt to any social distancing or isolation that we feel will help reduce the community spread of this virus. We are not affected by office closures and have the tools and resources to accomplish our tasks in our home offices without interruption. While we normally have a fair amount of on-site visits with clients, for the near-term, we have cancelled all work related travel, in-person technical community events, and are now fully remote as we perform our services for our customers.

We are quite happy to remotely present technical content to various technical user groups worldwide, and feel free to contact us if you'd like to learn more!

We are closely monitoring the situation and following the guidance of the World Health Organization, and will adjust our practices as the situation continues to evolve.

We will continue to use our expertise to ensure that our customers and their needs are still moving forward and meet our expected customer experience through these challenging times. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us directly.

Sincerely,

David Klee and the rest of the Heraflux Team


VMware vExpert 2020

I'm proud to announce that I've been awarded the VMware vExpert community award for the calendar year 2020. I'm absolutely thrilled to be awarded this title for the eighth year in a row. It's an honor to be part of the team driving advanced SQL Server virtualization adoption and performance tuning on the VMware platform.

Thank you VMware!

Things are quite different today than they were eight years ago. Cloud is now a big thing, and VMware now runs natively on multiple public cloud providers, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. Without specific tuning, the core platforms (on-prem & cloud) that power my technology of choice, SQL Server, continues to hold back the raw performance of the database engine. My mission is to make sure that these platforms, VMware included, work to their best possible abilities so that the SQL Server workloads can thrive!

The VMware vExpert Program is VMware’s global evangelism and advocacy program. The vExpert award is for individuals, not companies, and last for one year. Employees of both customers and partners can receive the vExpert award. A list of all VMware vExperts is available in the vExpert Directory, including my own.

 

Presenting at Omaha Azure User Group this Wednesday

This Wednesday, February 26th, I will be presenting a new session entitled "All Things SQL in the Microsoft Cloud" for the Omaha Azure Users Group, starting at 6pm Central time. It is held at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska office at 1919 Ak-Sar-Ben Drive (that's Nebraska spelled backwards for those of you not from the area).

Session Details: Microsoft’s SQL Server database platform has been the foundation of enterprise applications for decades. The adoption of the cloud has started to change the data landscape, and you should be prepared. Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform brings many compelling reasons to move your databases to the cloud, but what do you need to know to have a successful migration? Should you pick Azure SQL Database, Managed SQL Instances, or a SQL Server running in a VM in the cloud? How do I size the new service to maximize performance while minimizing cost? What should I expect in the cloud? What about a hybrid architecture? This interactive session will discuss the similarities and differences of operating a SQL Server in the cloud and will demonstrate many tips and tricks for properly selecting and managing the databases in the cloud.

I look forward to seeing you all there! Bring your questions, and make sure to RSVP at the Meetup group today!


Tell Us About Your Worst Database Code Offenders

For years, I've done consulting around helping organizations tune their database platforms, both from within the database and underneath, to help boost performance and availability. Some database design or code is capable of being tuned, since the organization owns it, but they might lack the time or ability to tune beyond a lab environment. Other times, third-party software vendors ship some pretty troubling code that eats an extraordinary amount of CPU time or storage demand on the database servers. Throwing hardware at the problem only pushes the pain further out into the future but doesn't solve the problem.

We've made some significant improvements lately with our ability to work with ISVs to help them tune their code so that their customers benefit. Their willingness to help shows me that some software vendors do listen and care about their customer complaints. Given the gains we've made for some large ISVs, I'd love to hear your thoughts on specific applications and vendors that ship sub-optimal code. We want to use the list to approach these vendors directly to see if we can convince them to let us help tune their code, and in turn, make their software perform better and get happier customers. If you have a moment, please fill out the SurveyMonkey survey here and let me know your top offenders that you'd like to see corrected! I really appreciate your feedback!


Omaha SQL Server Users Group Presentation - Dec 4

I'm proud to announce that I'll be presenting an updated session entitled "Level Up Your Cloud Infrastructure Skills" for the Omaha SQL Server Users Group tomorrow on December 4th at 6pm.

Abstract: Think infrastructure in the cloud is still just for sysadmins? Think again! As your organization moves into the cloud, infrastructure skills are more important than ever for DBAs to master. Expert knowledge of cloud-related infrastructure will help you maintain performance and availability for databases in the cloud. For example, know what an IOP is? How many does your database consume during a given day? Properly sizing a cloud database depends on your knowledge of this metric. Failure to properly configure storage performance at the time of deployment will slow down your SQL Server considerably. Come learn many of the key cloud infrastructure points that you should master as the DBA role continues to evolve!

RSVP for this free event here, and I look forward to seeing you all there!


PASS HA/DR Open Q&A Extravaganza Dec 10

As leader of the PASS High Availability and Disaster Recovery virtual chapter, I invite you to bring your questions for a mega open Q&A session on Tuesday, December 10th, at 1pm Eastern time. We have assembled one of the largest lineups of SQL Server HA/DR experts in our history, and any question goes! Not in any order, the speakers are:

This open-ended Q&A session will help you answer any questions that you have wondered about or currently fight with on SQL Server and Microsoft data platform high availability and/or disaster recovery. Bring your questions and we have the answers! RSVP today for this free webinar!


SQL Server Tuning Results in Cloud Licensing Reduction

We have a Client that recently expressed interest to make their SQL Servers more efficient so that they can establish a standardized scale-out model for their hosted software platform. The objective was to allow a certain number of 'normal' sized customers to coexist on the same SQL Server instance in a VM in the cloud. The  challenging situation for this Client is that the licensing cost of a cloud-based SQL Server deployment was beginning to become cost prohibitive. The SQL Server usage patterns were pretty standard for an in-house developed software package, where the developers are great at what they do, but are not trained in SQL Server internals.

We did a tremendous amount of sampling with Windows Perfmon to get a baseline of resource consumption across what the Client would consider a business cycle. Check out the CPU consumption patterns by CPU core.

That's a moderately active machine, and the concern was that if it became much more active, especially during the morning, they were not going to achieve the customer density per instance that they were looking  for.

We went in and reviewed the infrastructure stack top to bottom, from the VM disk type and disk presentation all the way up to the SQL Server table and index structures, and the way that the application was querying for the data. Many of the items were fantastic and well managed, but a number of items (mostly platform default settings) were getting in the way of scalability. We accessed the system  and tuned the following items without modifying anything that would require significant regression testing of the application.

  • Multiple disk controllers and virtual disks, and better distributed the SQL Server objects to more appropriately load balance the OS-layer I/O queues
  • Enabled Windows Receive Side Scaling for the network adapter to reduce the CPU concentration for network traffic handling
  • Introduced SQL Server Read Committed Snapshot Isolation so that we can achieve better concurrency for read workloads within their databases
  • Tuned the SQL Server parallelism settings (Cost Threshold of Parallelism and Max Degree of Parallelism) to better align the application demand with the CPU architecture
  • Significant amounts of missing and unused index tuning within the customer databases, and created a standard tuning model to be used across all customers

After tuning for just one week and two maintenance windows, look at the next business cycle CPU activity pattern.

The difference is stark. The CPU consumption across all instances is much lower than before, and so low that based on the projections, they can handle double the customer load per instance on a cloud-based SQL Server instance size half of what they anticipated. Plus, performance dramatically improved for each click of the user in their web application.

The results are clear. The customer is able to improve their customer experience while chopping their deployed SQL Server virtual machine costs by over 75%. Immediately!

I’ll repeat that! The customer just needs to schedule a maintenance window for us to reconfigure the virtual machine. We can apply the indexes and other changes with only a brief interruption in service. Monitor the resource consumption until we see how the machine settles in. One more short interruption in service to change the resource assignments to the VM is all we need to start saving on the cloud deployment costs.

We can do this for your SQL Server databases and help you save on your associated cloud costs . Contact us to learn more!


David Klee Renewed as Microsoft MVP for 2019-2020

I am thrilled to announce that I have been renewed for the sixth time as a Microsoft Data Platform MVP for the calendar year of July 2019 to June 2020. The MVP award remains incredibly special to me, and I feel very lucky to be part of this program.

Congratulations to all new and renewed MVPs! Thanks Microsoft for awarding me this designation again this year. I'm thrilled to be a part of this community, and will continue to contribute to the technical communities around the world that I so dearly enjoy. I'm eager to contribute back to Microsoft to help make the data platform products stronger than ever and help people get the most out of them!


David Klee presenting at PASS Summit 2019

Heraflux is proud to announce that the founder David Klee is presenting at this year's PASS Summit conference, to be held in Seattle WA from November 5th to 8th at the Washington State Convention Center.

David is presenting a full-day preconference training session called "Advanced Virtual SQL Server Performance" as part of the Architecture stream.

Session Abstract: Virtualization is the new norm in datacenters. Even the ubiquitous “cloud” is nothing more than virtualized servers in someone else’s datacenter with advanced automation on top of it. However, just because it’s everywhere doesn’t mean it is implemented and managed correctly. Done incorrectly, your SQL Server performance can take a massive dive. Are your SQL Servers running at their best possible performance?

This full-day boot camp covers all aspects of performance engineering for virtualized SQL Servers. We will review critical topics such as virtualization layers, VM construction, NUMA, resource scheduling, query parallelization and physical server alignment, “right-sizing,” and storage performance-oriented presentation. Availability and disaster recovery guidelines will also be reviewed. Most importantly, this seminar informs you on methods and terminology to help you work better with your infrastructure team to streamline your critical SQL Server performance. You will understand how to review your critical SQL Servers for both their performance and availability as they relate to the virtualization and physical compute layers underneath, and work with your infrastructure team to implement and streamline any of your findings.

In addition to the preconference training day, David is presenting an abridged technical fire hose session on key topics in a session called "Virtual SQL Server Performance Deep Dive".  This session is designed to ramp up attendees on critical (and silent) performance killers in both cloud and on-premises virtual SQL Servers.

Session Abstract: Your business-critical SQL Servers should not suffer from virtualization-related bottlenecks. When properly architected and managed, the principal bottleneck of performance of these SQL Servers should be only limited by code. However, if not properly constructed, silent and seemingly random performance killers can strike and significantly hurt your database performance. Items such as CPU scheduling, storage queueing, and memory overcommitment can all penalize database performance, and are tough to identify.

This session is packed with many live examples of tips and tricks gained from years of experience in getting the most performance from your virtual SQL Servers. The major roadblocks to performance will be discussed, and tools, techniques, and processes will be demonstrated to help you measure and validate the system performance of the key components underneath your data.

If you've never attended the PASS Summit before, we urge you to go. This conference is the best Microsoft data-platform-centric conference there is, and the information you will gain is second to none. The people you meet networking lasts a lifetime. The content is guaranteed to improve your data platform operations. We won't miss it, and we hope to see you there!