Always Waiting, Waiting Waiting

Categories: News, Professional
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Published on: December 23, 2013

What’s all the Wait about…

I have been meaning to publish this post for a long long time.  I have no idea what I have been waiting on.  As a DBA, that isn’t necessarily a good thing.  As a DBA, we would generally like to know what is causing the delay or what the wait is being caused by etc etc etc.

It’s even a bit of coincidence because the topic today would have also worked very well for the TSQL Tuesday topic this month.  Robert Davis invited all to participate by writing about waits in SQL Server in some fashion or another.  You can read a bit about that from his roundup, with all of the necessary links, here.

Today, I only hope to be able to do a minor justice to the topic.

Monitoring

Since DBAs really do not like to be caught off-guard, it is very common practice to monitor the waits on the server(s) under his/her domain.  If the waits are not monitored, then the DBA at least should know how to check the waits and determine what may be helping cause the delays and/or procrastination in SQL Server.

I want to share a tool that I have been impressed with for several years.  The tool should be pretty popular by now.  Not only do I want to share a bit about that tool, but I will show how to become a bit more efficient through the use of the tool and trying to have the tool help you before you have to turn to the tool to start hunting.

Let’s just say this is a small gift from me to you for this Holiday Season.

What is it?

I was introduced to this tool 6+ years ago.  I was happy with it then and started to use it where I could at my employer.  After moving on, I have made a consistent recommendation with regards to it.  That said, I like the tool for the very precise design of monitoring and inspecting waits on the server.  That tool of course is – Ignite for SQL Server by Confio.  I will be writing about Ignite 8 and not as much about Ignite Central.

Before getting too far into, I want to say that like many worthwhile tools, Ignite gets better with each release.  For me, that speaks to the company and their willingness to listen to their constituents.  Take the feedback – make the tool better.  Know what you do, what you do well and continue to make it better.  I think Confio does a fine job at that.

waits

What you see now is a quick screenshot with a stacked bar chart showing some information that Ignite might present to you.  In this case, I have a monthly trend report for a specific server showing the top x waits and how each of those waits stacks up in the grand scheme of things.

Now, at a glance, this is great information.  It is enough to get you started.  You can see a trend, or maybe the absence of a trend.  You can identify at a glance which waits are reportedly problematic in your server.  From here you can even drill in and get more information.  You would do that by clicking a section of one of the stacked bars to determine what might be related to that wait type on the day related to the stacked bar you clicked.

That is all great.  It’s even better when in the middle of troubleshooting (you just have to remember to use the tool).

But what if you are off-site and can’t get to the server housing the reports?  What if you are a Consultant and don’t necessarily need/want to login to the client server each day just to check this information?  The simple solution is to have the report emailed, right?

Well, with Ignite, that is a possibility too.  Confio has created several canned reports that are (rare species here) useful out of the box.  To help make it easier for all of us, a link has been created in the application on the Home Page.  It is real easy to get to the reporting module and to see all of the possible reports that can be viewed.

With that, we are starting to get somewhere.  If you click the Reports link on the home page, you will be presented with two list boxes from which you can pick some reports.

report_list

I can run any of those reports from that prompt.  That’s good news.  But that is not quite yet our final destination.  We want to have these reports run auto-magically and be emailed to us.  If you look around a bit more on the Reports screen, you will find a “Report Schedules” button.  Once the new page loads, you will find there is a Create Schedule Button.  By clicking this button, you will permit yourself the opportunity to create a schedule to email a report or group of reports automatically to a group of people or to just yourself – your choice.  Following the prompts is very straight forward and worth the five minutes or so to create the schedule.

Here’s a bit of a caveat.  You must execute and save the report before you can add it to a schedule.  Once you have done these few simple steps, you can have access to the reports from your favorite tablet or mobile device.  Better yet, should you see something out of line, you could take an action on it (call somebody and have them fix it, or remote in and fix it for those taking vacation 😉 ).

This was a bit of a short and sweet introduction into just one feature of a really good tool.  As a DBA, I like to automate what I can.  I also like to monitor what I can.  Then there is an aspect of automation and monitoring called reporting and free time.  If I can automate and implement a solution with minimal time that provides information that I need – I am usually in favor of that.  DBAs need reports on how SQL Server is performing.  Without those, you are just waiting to fight fires rather than be proactive.  So I hope this simple gift of automated reporting from a great SQL tool can give you more time in the future to be a better DBA.

Lessons from Out of the Blue

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
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Published on: July 6, 2011

This past Fourth of July weekend I had the opportunity to do a few different things and thought I would share some experiences.  None of these experiences were job related but the lessons from these experiences could be applied to SQL and databases.  I will explain that a little bit later.

Hanging Drywall

Putting up drywall is not too terribly difficult.  It is time consuming and can be a little demanding physically.  When working in a team (for the non-professional) this is a relatively easy task.  That said, the process can be easier and the team requirement can be reduced.  We have found a few tricks over the years to making this process easier.  These tricks involve the following items:  chalk-line, roto-zip, joint compound, and a dry-wall jack.

Each of these tools has it’s purpose and can make the job a lot easier and faster.  We use the chalk-line when needing a straight line to be marked on a piece of sheetrock that is longer than four feet.  Just measure each end to desired length and then run the chalk-line and snap the string.  Roto-zip and joint compound actually work well together.  Most uses of joint compound come after hanging the drywall.  We use it to also mark pieces that need to be cutout for junction boxes and outlets.  Just put some joint compound on the box edges, press the drywall up against it (in the desired position), pull the board away and you can easily cut out that section using a roto-zip.  The last tool I think is pretty straight forward.  Save your back and arms – leave the heavy lifting to a machine.

These simple tips can reduce the fatigue and increase productivity.  It’s like using the right tool for the job.  More on that in a bit.

Inflatable Fun

As a part of our festivities this weekend, we rented an inflatable water slide for the children.  By children, I mean anybody with two legs and the desire to get wet.

Pictured is a two lane inflatable slip n slide.  Huge bonus that it was inflatable.  It’s like a slip n slide on a pillow.  Big children can hit the slide at full speed and not worry about hitting the hard ground and getting bruised.  We played on this thing for a good hard six hours.

That was a lot of fun.

Apply to SQL

In the first experience, I shared the use of tools to make the job easier.  This correlates very easily to SQL.  Use the right tool for the job.  With experience, you begin to learn better tools for the job and how to become more efficient.  This comes through practice and effort.  Get to know the tools available such as DMVs and the DBCC commands.  Find better tools that have been made available through the community and don’t be afraid to ask around and try a few new things.  It could be a huge time saver!

In the second experience, we had a blast.  We were diving head first into this big cushy pillow of air.  What we did not expect was to find bruises, scrapes, and general soreness the next day.  Even if things look nice and cushy with your databases – are they?  Are you prepared for the bumps and bruises?  This is another case of where experience lends a hand and helps us to better be prepared for seemingly “easy” days on the job.

Managing Contacts

Categories: News, Professional
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Published on: September 6, 2010

This is one of those posts that has little to do with SQL Server and more to do with helping to make life in technology just a bit easier.

I recently changed phones and needed to find a way to transfer my contacts from the Blackberry platform to another platform.  After some research I found a really easy way to do it.  Google has an app called Google Sync.  This can be downloaded and installed on your cell-phone.  Once installed you can then synchronize your contacts and calender from the smart-phone to your gmail account.  This is useful for other reasons as well.

I had not stored all of my contacts on the sim card nor on an additional media card but in the phone memory instead.  Once I had everything sync’d to GMAIL, life became much simpler.  I was able to much more quickly group and organize the contacts as well as edit them.  A word of caution though – do not delete a contact that is duplicated.  The contact may get linked behind the scenes and deleting one of the linked contacts will delete the other if a duplicate is detected.  Instead use the merge option in GMAIL.  Now, I can make changes through GMAIL to a contact and it can be synched to the phone rather rapidly.  NO more need for an additional software on every computer to keep those address books in sync.

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