Packet Pushers Podcast released

I am thrilled to have recently recorded a podcast with our friends over at PacketPushers. The podcast, "How an IT Specialist Chooses Adjacent Competencies", talks about how adjacencies in IT, as well as deeply intertwined technologies that compete and conflict with each other, can become a great means to specialize in multiple technologies to become an increasingly valuable asset to your organization and career.

General IT practitioners are incredibly valuable, as it makes you immensely adaptable to emerging and changing technologies. Specializing in one area gives you the potential to become the master at that topic. What is better - specializing or generalizing? I find that you can do both - and quite successfully mind you - but it takes your interest in multiple topics to make it happen. Listen in to learn more!

For those of you who read my blog, you'll find that I have an intense fascination with how large database servers (notably Microsoft SQL Server) play nice - or often enough do NOT play nice - with the infrastructure underneath, regardless of on-premises or public cloud placement. I've been virtualizing these systems and doing performance tuning of these platforms for over 20 years now. I'll never say I've seen it all, but I've seen a lot of how infrastructure and database systems often do not work well together, and knowing one side well makes you stronger at the other.

Coincidentally, I recorded this podcast with Scott Lowe, who authored the book "Mastering VMware vSphere 4", the book that I used to help start my VMware certification path many years ago back in 2009. I'm amazed at how I was able to connect to contribute so many years later! Thanks Scott for your great words of wisdom!


PASS Summit 2020 Precon Announcement

I am thrilled to announce that I have been accepted to deliver a preconference boot camp called 'Amplify Your Virtual SQL Server Performance' at this year's PASS Summit conference, to be held the week of November 9th-13th. My precon is to be held on Monday, November 9th.

Description: Virtualization has been the norm in data centers for years. However, implemented incorrectly, your SQL Server performance can take a massive dive. Are you sure that your SQL Servers are running at optimal performance? This full-day boot camp covers all aspects of performance engineering for virtualized SQL Servers on all virtualized platforms, including VMware and Hyper-V.

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. New features such as SQL Server containers and hybrid cloud architectures will be demonstrated. Backups, high availability, and disaster recovery guidelines will also be reviewed. Most importantly, this seminar informs you on methods and terminology to improve your collaboration with your infrastructure team in order to streamline your critical SQL Server performance.

PASS has commited to ensuring that the conference will take place, even with the pandemic still rampant at the time of this writing. They are going to make a decision on if the event will be held in-person or online hopefully by early June. So, register today for this outstanding event! Even if you decide that my precon is not for you, the precon offerings at this year's conference are stellar! I can't wait to see you all there, either virtually or in-person!

Scene from PASS Summit 2019

Clumio’s Rapid Recovery is Amazing for SQL Server

Clumio’s Rapid Recovery is amazing, and you should know more about it.

You might not have heard of Clumio before. Clumio is an upstart SaaS-based backup solution for both cloud and on-premises environments where the storage endpoint is in the cloud instead of a storage platform in your own datacenter. I’ve been exploring their offerings, since I’m a data nerd and always intrigued by these sorts of things. I gave their Rapid Recovery architecture a solid once-over with the flagship SQL Server availability solution architecture called Availability Groups.

The physical environment that I performed the tests on consists of:

  • Two HPE DL380 Gen9 servers
  • VMware vSphere 6.7, latest update
  • Pure Storage //M20 all-flash SAN
  • 10GbE iSCSI connected storage
  • VAAI is active in the vSphere architecture

The SQL Server testbed VMs were configured as the following.

  • Four total virtual machines
  • Two SQL Server 2019 Enterprise edition and two SQL Server 2016 Enterprise edition VMs
  • vHardware compatibility level 15
  • 4 vCPUs, 16GB RAM
  • Six hard disks, spread amongst multiple VMware Paravirtual SCSI controllers, for a total of 500GB of consumed space per VM
  • Windows Server 2019 Datacenter operating system
  • A fileshare witness for the Windows Server Failover Cluster was configured on a third VM

Two SQL Server Availability Group pairs were configured, each on 2016 and 2019 respectively. The database VMs were then setup with Clumio to replicate their backups to the cloud, and my Internet provider is fast enough that I was able to replicate this up to the cloud within a day.

Now, let’s get a stream of end-user traffic to change some data. I used the HammerDB synthetic database benchmarking tool to generate a workload in a database called ‘tpcc’. I built an initial database at 400GB on each primary instance of the Availability Group with the benchmarking utility so we had some pseudo-real data to work with. Once constructed, I set up a pair of users on a standard workload on a 24-hour timer to continuously insert a stream of data changes into this database, all while Clumio was backing up the servers on a periodic basis.

After a day, I shut down the VMs, and went to the Clumio web-managed interface to restore these VMs into new VMs for database validation. I first instructed Clumio to restore the first VM in each Availability Group replica pair, then the second.

Each restore took 4.5 minutes to restore the entire virtual machine and have it running and active in VMware. Four minutes to restore a 500GB VM of active database data? That’s absolutely incredible, even for an on-premises solution. Given the fact that this is a cloud-native solution is almost unbelievable if I had not witnessed it myself. I’m floored at just how quick this performed.

But did SQL Server come up? Short answer – yes! Restoring a SQL Server Availability Group solution, especially given the Windows Server Failover Cluster (WSFC) configuration underneath, is a delicate but straightforward process.

I first restored the first of the two VMs. The presence of the file share witness allowed the WSFC to come up properly without issue. The first of the two AG replicas also turned right on successfully with no errors in the error logs. The second VM was then restored, and because the restoration point was from the same point in time as the first replica, the databases on the secondary replica were successfully able to come back online and re-synchronize with the primary replica.

It. Just. Worked.

If the second VM had been restored from a different point in time, the database synchronization inherent to the AG could have caused a database transaction log pointer mismatch, and would have meant that the secondary AG database copies would have needed to be re-synchronized. Nothing in this process of re-synchronization is any different than if the database servers had been restored in a more traditional backup and restore process, and is quite normal for DBAs to need to re-sync as needed for these sorts of scenarios.

The process was repeated both on the SQL Server 2019 and 2016 servers, and worked as advertised each time.

During the initial backup streams, there were never any issues while taking database transaction log backups, including dropped transactions or application-level errors.

The speed of restoration process exceeded anything that I could have envisioned. The magic performed in the Rapid Recovery process made this restoration process quick without the need for additional fast storage in your own datacenter. I’m thrilled to have explored this, and am quite eager to continue to work more with the technology!


Webinar - SQL Server Business Continuity - Know Your Options

I’m proud to announce a new webinar that I’ll be presenting at 1pm Eastern on Thursday, May 21st, in conjunction with MSSQLTips and SIOS called “SQL Server Business Continuity – Know Your Options“.

SQL Server database business continuity, including high availability and disaster recovery, is not an easy topic to engineer for. The business must work with the IT teams to define service-level agreements, statistically significant scenarios to plan for, and then decide on a budget.

What are the questions you should ask before starting to build servers? Are the questions different if you are running SQL Server in the cloud vs on-premises? What haven’t you thought of that will threaten to disrupt your strategy during a real disaster? This conversational webinar will discuss all of the scenarios and topics that you should consider for enterprise business continuity planning and strategy before, during, and after building your SQL Servers. Be better prepared for the possibility of disruption to help save your business with the strategies discussed!

I look forward to seeing you there! RSVP for this free webinar here.


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.


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!


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!


SQL Saturday Atlanta Precon May 17

I am very proud to announce that I have been selected to present an exciting preconference training session at this year’s SQL Saturday Atlanta on May 17th, 2019, called “Level Up Your Data Platform Cloud Infrastructure“. If you are in the cloud or even remotely considering it, I urge you to attend this session!

We also have a discount code for those interested. It's PAPERJAM, and enter it at the EventBrite checkout page.

Designed to help people that are starting to consider cloud for their data platforms ramp up quickly on all of the items that they need to hit the ground running and make the best choices while selecting and using the platform.

Session Abstract: While your on-premises infrastructure is likely maintained by another team, in the cloud this responsibility falls on you. Whether your organization is just planning for the cloud, all-in, or leveraging a hybrid architecture, this course is designed to ramp you up on maximizing your investment in the cloud components that you utilize.

Infrastructure skills are essential when managing your environment in the cloud. Knowledge is power; key items such as firewalls and connectivity, storage presentation and performance, baselining, and even platform selection are all necessary areas of concern. Capacity management is also crucial, as the old ways of “throwing hardware” at a performance problem will translate into a larger bill each month.

Attend this session to learn how to efficiently manage cloud resources, set yourself apart from your peers, improve the performance of your mission-critical workloads, and potentially save your employer money!

Register for this exciting preconference training session today! If you’re even remotely interested in the cloud, this session is for you!


Heraflux awarded VMware vExpert for 2019

Heraflux is proud to announce that David Klee has been awarded the VMware vExpert community award for this calendar year. The VMware vExpert program is VMware's global evangelism and advocacy program. The vExpert award is for individuals, not companies, and last one year in duration.

To see the full list of this year's vExperts, click here.

Thanks VMware! We really appreciate it!


PASS Summit 2018

What a whirlwind year this has been! I’m thrilled to invite you to my sessions at this year’s PASS Summit, happening this week in Seattle WA.

Tuesday 11:30am to 1:00pm I’m part of the cloud availability panel over lunch at the SentryOne Data Day precon at the Summit. I hope you already registered for this exciting opportunity to learn more about performance and availability-related topics in this whole-day discussion.

Next, for those of you that still have your mission-critical workloads in your on-premises datacenter (or even for those who have them in the cloud, because almost all of the topics directly apply!), come to my session Wednesday morning at 10:45am entitled “On-Prem SQL Servers, Interstellar Performance“. This deep-dive on virtual SQL Server performance will help you squeeze the most performance from your virtualized SQL Servers, and will help you communicate with your infrastructure team on things that matter the most to performance-oriented SQL Servers. You’ll be sure to have quite a bit of real-world tips and tricks to take back to the office as soon as you return from the conference.

Thursday morning I’m part of the SIOS PASS the Bacon breakfast panel, where we’ll get a good chuckle while we discuss a number of topics pertinent to today’s DBA, such as availability both on-prem and in the cloud, disaster mitigation and preparation, and other availability topics. Come register here, get a great breakfast on the house, and learn while you laugh!

Next, Bob Pusateri and I have a session Thursday afternoon called “SELECT STARS: A SQL DBA’s Introduction to Azure Cosmos DB”, where we discuss and present Microsoft’s new Cosmos DB offering on the Azure platform. This platform is a completely different model of databases than what most SQL Server professionals are accustomed to, and we’ll give you the details you need to expand your horizons and learn about this exciting platform. This session is more of the ‘what’ session to get you amped to learn more about the platform on Friday.

Friday my final session of the conference is entitled “Cosmos DB for SQL Server Pros”, designed to give you more of the ‘how’ when continuing your exploration of Cosmos DB. Bob Pusateri and I will share more of the use cases, scalability details, and live code demos of how to access and alter data in a Cosmos DB database.

I hope to see you at the show! If you want to sync up and talk geek, make sure to ping me to set up some time over your favorite form of caffeine.