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Blogger was fine for what I needed...but its time to move the posts over to my own domain.

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Security fail.

This...just no:

Relax...its ok...

Sometimes its good to sit back, listen, nod and hear what is being said before speaking.   Actually, that is almost always the best idea.

Case in point:

I am the team lead here (small team of 3...SQL, Windows and storage admins...we overlap.).

I cam back from lunch yesterday and one of my guys very passionately launched into "We need to have a meeting!", "The developers want too many deployments!", "We need change management!", etc.

All of his points were true.  This is a small team with very few procedures and practises, and our job is to get a handle on this.   We are also at the end of the development process for v1.0 of an internal application...which is being demonstrated today.   Not the best time to suddenly change things.

So I listened while he made his case, agreed with most of what he said and asked some questions when he was done:

1.  What problem are you trying to solve by forcing change windows today that don't exist?
2.  How many "deployments" are we being asked to do each day?  (A deployment here could simply be ALTERing a stored proc, and the target is a Pre-Production database)
3. Should we be focusing on the other issues here we have already identified?  Where does this rank in the list? (Backups, security, perf, etc. all rank higher and are more actionable)

What it boiled down to is that we don't really have a problem...he just got hit with three requests in a short time frame, due to the upcoming demo to the executive staff.

We get maybe 2 requests a day from the Devs, and have 3 people capable of deploying them.  At this time, on this project...all a forced window will do is alienate 10 of the 15 team members.   Yes, it is a good idea, but lets phase it in for better acceptance, when the team is not under the gun.  Production release is only a month away...

Sometimes its best to relax, look at the bigger picture and make the best decision for the team.

Imma buy this guy lunch, with fries :)



Refreshing SQL Server development databases

Refreshing the Dev environment

I started a new contract recently.  This is a global company, but I am on a relatively small product team within it.  10 developers, 3 admins (SQL, O/S, Storage), 2 Business Analysts.

The company has a formal Change Management process, which is great.  However, this team manages and operates outside of that structure...not so good.   Devs have sysadmin to production. For now.

I and the other DBAs are working on all of the things you would expect to be missing from this sort of environment...consistent backup strategy, documentation, proper security, etc.

As with most places our Developers have a Dev copy of the database and are told not to touch the Pre-Prod version.  But, since we are test loading data there, Dev is way out of date.  Also, there are objects in Dev not moved to Pre-Prod yet.  So, they regularly point their queries, procedures and even the website to the PP database.  And then forget what they are connected to after lunch.

This makes for interesting hallway conversations!

The solution of course is to refresh the Dev db from Pre-prod, without losing any Dev code or users.

DBAs that have been around for awhile know where I am going with this...

Basic steps:

1. Backup the Production (or Pre-prod in my case) database.   Or pull from your overnight backup.   You DO have an overnight backup, right?   RIGHT?!?!?   ;)

2. Restore that backup to the Dev server as MyDB_Refresh:

-- Get the logical and physical filenames
Restore filelistonly
From disk ='B:\Backup\FULL\MyDB_FULL_20160810_000012.bak'

---Restore, not overwriting the existing Dev db
Restore Database MyDB_Refresh
From disk ='B:\Backup\FULL\MyDB_FULL_20160810_000012.bak'
With move 'MyDB' to 'B:\Data\MyDB_Refresh.mdf'
       ,move 'MyBD_log' to 'B:\Log\MyDB_Refresh_log.ldf'

3.  Use SQL Server Data Tools/Visual Studio, or a 3rd party tool such as Red Gate SQL Compare to compare and synchronize the schema in MyDB (Dev copy) to MyDB_Refresh.  SSDT works well for this if you don't have a license for a vendor tool, or don't want to download a trial version.  The Refresh database is the Target...

4. Once you have the tables, procedures, USERS, and other objects exactly the same as the old Dev database, you need to rename both databases:

--Make sure all connections are closed:
Use master;

exec Sp_renameDB 'MyDB', 'MyDB_Old'

exec sp_renameDB 'MyDB_Refresh', 'MyDB'

If you are having trouble getting exclusive use because Devs or apps keep re-connecting, you need to use a 2-step process (run both at the same time):

--Take the database offline and kill connections
Alter database MyDB Set offline
with rollback immediate

--Bring it back online and rename all at once
Alter database MyDB set online
use master;
Sp_renamedb 'MyDB', 'MyDB_Old'

Change the database names if you need to do the same on MyDB_Refresh.  You can use the same offline/online code when you are doing an emergency restore in prod and the app servers won't let go of their connections.

Compare a select of tables between Prod and Dev to make sure the data is refreshed, and double check using schema compare that Dev is different than Prod (likely, since that is what Devs do...).

This is a basic process, best done in a maintenance window, early in the morning or late at night.  And you can automate most of this.  I have not tried to automate schema compares other than using SQLPackage.exe in the SSDTools to "upgrade" a target data-tier application, or create a Drift report.   But that is way beyond the scope of this post.  Maybe another time :)

Please feel free to post up your processes, or enhancements to this one that some new DBA or Windows admin may be able to use 3 years from now when he finds this post on Google.

Have a fantastic day!



Join vs. IN Not IN

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SQL Server 2016 Stretch Database

New to SQL 2016 is the ability to send archived data off-premises to MS Azure storage, in the form of a "Stretch Database."  Sounds like a great idea in theory but do your testing and bust out the calculators before you put production data in the cloud. 
Things I like:
  • Not buying storage, especially on a maxed out server
  • Easy to query full dataset across on-prem and Azure stretch
  • Ummm...all editions is a good thing instead of Enterprise only
  • Nope.  That's it.
Not fond of:
I'm pretty sure I could roll my own "stretch" function into a Azure SQL Database, and I'm an admin much more than a developer.
Maybe down the road this will be better, but right now its an expensive alternative to a USB drive from Fry's, or a NAS/SAN upgrade.
Are/were you planning to use Stretch?  Have a differing opinion?  Let's hear it!



I was participating in an email interview about my SQL career and opinions and one of the questions was basically "What's the worst SQL thing you've inherited?"

I gave them this list:

o   SQL 2008 R2, RTM
o   Incorrect Memory configuration
o   Full recovery model on data that only changes once a week at most
o   ZERO documentation
o   New data is imported to a new table and a UNION ALL is modified to add that table
o   ZERO documentation
o   Stored Procedures have no comments, poor formatting and developer names in the name of the sproc
o   Autogrow is 1MB, data imports are hundreds of MB each
o   Everyone is sysadmin, probably including you…
o   Change control process is intentionally shortcut and ignored on this internal production system

o   Ownership changed to me in December, then was yanked back 3 weeks later with developers overwriting my fixes in prod.

Really....all that on one server!

Upgrade your fries broseph!!!