Your own personal space

Somewhere to relax, get away from it all (by all I mean pesky Developers wanting code deployed on a bleeding Friday afternoon) and generally unwind. Your worries seem to drift off until there’s a bang on the door…there’s been an issue in Production and you need to investigate. You heave yourself up, over to your desk and connect to your other personal space.

Every DBA should have their own database setup within the environment(s) that they monitor. Depending on the environment there could be one per instance monitored or one central database. Anyway, the point is to have an area specifically for yourself (and any other DBAs) so that you can store scripts for analysis and data on the instance(s) of SQL being monitored.

But what information should be captured? At a (bare) minimum I think the following information on a server should be captured:-

Backups – you want to know about your backups…….right?
Database Size – how big are you databases, how much have they grown over a set period of time?
Disk Space – how much free disk space do you have on your drives hosting SQL databases?
Index Stats – how are the indexes in the databases being used? Are they efficient?
Wait Statistics – what are the top waits on your server?

OK, so there are many third party tools out there that will collect this information (and more) for you. However, I still think a DBA should be able to collect this information by using scripts in their own script archive. By setting up these monitors yourself, you learn about the DMVs within SQL Server and how they can be used to troubleshoot a problem. You don’t want to be using them for the first time after an issue has occurred!

But what else should you be looking at? I’ve recently revamped my monitoring database to include the following:-

Auto-Growth Events – which databases are growing?
Blocking – who is being blocked? Are there any patterns?
Deadlocking – what deadlocks have occurred, what process was the victim?
Log Space – how much log space is being consumed for each database?
Suspect Pages – which pages have generated 823/824 errors?
SQL Error Log Auditing – what errors are being recorded?

Once this data is being collected, you can then decide what alerting you want to place on top. Certain events you’ll want to know about immediately (think deadlocks) but do you want to know about all auto-growth events? Maybe you do…by having your own personal space you can decide what you want to see, and tailor your space to what you need.

Shutting down multiple servers with Powershell

I’ve recently helped a company move their infrastructure to a new data centre. Part of this involved shutting down a large number of virtual development application servers. I don’t often shut down servers (maybe an occasional bounce after patching) so I thought about how I wanted to approach it as I wanted the process to be as quick and as painless as possible.

I decided that rather than go to each server individually in vCentre I used that marvelous tool, powershell (I say marvelous now, there have been times when I’ve cursed it, repeatedly).

I’m not THE SQL DBA WITH A BEARD but I do like to have a go with powershell, here’s how I scripted it:-

PowershellShutDownServers

Nice and simple, and as I had over 50 servers to go through saved me a load of time!

Quick note – don’t use this script for shutting down any SQL Server boxes, unless you really don’t care about the databases on them.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a good Xmas, ate too much, drank too much and are still telling yourselves that this year you will stick to your New Year’s resolutions (ha).

I didn’t blog in December because…I moved to Ireland to start a new job. I’ve always wanted to work abroad and for a Brit, working in Ireland is like abroad lite. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of differences between Britain and Ireland but there are similarities which I find comforting (being able to get the same TV channels is a big one).

I’ve been in a hotel for the last several weeks whilst I removed all my furniture from my old flat in England (which I’ve geekily referred to as decommissioning) and whilst I searched for a new one in Ireland. But I’ve got a flat now so can start to relax a little bit on the personal front and start to concentrate on my new position.

I don’t want to blog about my new position or the company that I’m working for but I do want to talk about how I approach a new position in general. DBAs have a tendency to want to change things immediately when starting a new job, for example implementing their own backup and maintenance procedures.

In the past I have spent most of the first couple of weeks reviewing the environments in a new position, mainly to familiarise myself with them but also to make any notes for any changes I am going to recommend. After that I’ll speak to the incumbent DBA about any recommendations I have and go from there. For example, I like to disable the SA login but there may be apps that have been setup to use that account so simply disabling it may not be an option.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that it’s not a good idea to go into a new job “all guns blazing”, wanting to make radical changes immediately. This can be difficult for me and I have had to restrain myself in the past but all it will do (at best) is make people think, “Who does this guy think he is?”

Introducing changes slowly with sound evidence for the reasons behind them will not put anyone’s nose out of joint and will also get your new colleagues to respect the knowledge that you are bringing to the table.