New SCOM Book

SCOM
I got a new SCOM book in the mail yesterday, System Center Operations Manager Unleashed. It's friggin' huge. I've just started reading through it and it looks pretty good. So far, it's much more thorough than the only other book available for SCOM, Mastering System Center Operations Manager 2007. I'm going to ready through more of it before I post a review to Amazon. I think I'll write up a review for the PASS book reviews too. Hey, if you have time on your hands, get on over there, request a book and write up your own review.
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SQL Server 2008 Free Instance

SQL Server 2008
If you don't want to risk blowing up your laptop (like I did) and you're not interested in setting up and maintaining a virtual server, but you still want to test SQL Server 2008. Then, PASS (Professional Association of SQL Server Users), Dell & MaximumASP have a solution. Just go to SQL Server Beta. You can set up a private instance and it will persist between sessions.
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SCOM As a Code Source

SCOM
A friend has had an article posted over on SQL Server Central that's worth a read. Scott Abrants outlines the type of code that SCOM uses for SQL Server auditing and how you can leverage that outside of SCOM for other work you may be doing. As noted in the comments, it's also worth taking a look at how Microsoft set up it's rules and monitors as a method for setting up your own.
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Top vs. Max

TSQL
The company I work for has a very well defined need for versioned data. In a lot of instances, we don't do updates, we do inserts. That means that you have to have mechanisms for storing the data that enables you to pull out the latest version of all the data or a particular version of all the data, or the data at a particular moment in time, regardless of version.  That means maintaining a version table and a series of inserts into various tables. Some tables will have pretty much a new row for each version, some tables may only have one or two versions out of a chain. With the help of a very smart Microsoft consultant, Bill Sulcius, we have a mechanism that works very well. However,…
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Virtual Servers

Misc
The dev teams that we support have long believed that if only they had an infinite number of environments then the deployment and integration issues that they, and we, wrestle with would go away. Never mind pointing out that if you have problems integrating then spreading yourself on to even more servers with even more isolation of individual development teams would only radically increase the problem. I tried that. I was shut down. Anyway, we had been using a tool set from one of the heavy hitter virtual environment companies. Supposedly it was going to make it possible for us to implement as many virtual environments, not just servers, but sets of servers, as we wanted. Months of work have gone by. I just got the word through back channels...…
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Slick New Tool from RedGate

Tools
I have no intention of this becoming "tool of the day" or anything, but I can't help tooting the horn for a tool that I've been using a lot from RedGate. It's new and in beta right now, but it's going to be pretty good. It's a data generation tool called, are you ready, Sql Data Generator. Who saw that coming? Ok. I know. I'm not funny. Anyway, this is a great little tool. I've been using it to quickly slap large amounts of data into small sets of tables to test queries that I'm writing or for checking answers that I'm posting over at SQL Server Central. The tool lets you pick which tables and the columns inside those tables that you want filled with data. It has a…
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SCOM Troubles

SCOM
I inherited the SCOM project when one of our Admin people left the company. This person had done a ton of work setting things up but ran into some problems. One of the problems was identified as databases missing from particular instances. I investigated further and found that the database list was "distinct" across instances. Meaning, if two instances shared the same database name, only one of the databases was listed. After getting an email from PSS, I did more investigation today. Now it's getting weirder. Some servers aren't showing up in Explorer, some aren't in both Explorer and the console. Not good. I've documented it all and shipped it off to the PSS guys to see what they think.
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SQL Inspect

Tools
I was asked if I would look at a new tool from a company I hadn't heard of. It's SQL Inspect from Yohz Software. Nominally this is a SQL query editor. However, strictly as a query editor, especially when compared to what's available in SQL 2008 or what tools like Red Gate's SQLPrompt or SQLRefactor can do for you, it's not so hot. Luckily, that's not where its strengths lie. Instead, it's all about performance tuning your queries and it does this very well indeed. It takes a query and returns a tree structured execution plan, looking a bit like the old text plans, but much more sophisticated with roll-ups, etc. It shows you all the details of the operations, just like an execution plan, but immediately accessible on the screen,…
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SCOM SQL Agent Job Defaults

SCOM
I'm working through implementing SCOM, specifically the SQL Server Management Packs. I've been tweaking and tuning and for the most part I'm really impressed with how MS configured the defaults. Until today. Since I've hit all the really big and important monitors & rules (at least the ones that have caused problems) I'm starting to drill down a bit. I just hit the Duration monitor for SQL Agent Jobs. The run time for a warning state is 1 minute and an error state in 2 minutes. OK. So any backup on a database over about 2gb in size is going to go into a warning state? I don't think so. What the heck were these guys thinking of?
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Presentation Last Week

SNESSUG, SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, TSQL
Last week I presented at the Southern New England SQL Server User Group (SNESSUG) where I'm the Program Director. I presented from the book, Dissecting Execution Plans, that is supposed to be published any day now. I kept it basic and it flowed very well. The audience seemed receptive and there were a few questions. Mostly around figuring out what to do when you saw certain problems within the execution plans. Since that was the goal of the presentation, I was ready for most of the questions. I got stumped once on a Constant Scan operation. I finally looked it up this morning and feel silly. Here's the query: INSERT INTO [AdventureWorks].[Person].[Address]      ([AddressLine1]      ,[AddressLine2]      ,[City]      ,[StateProvinceId]      ,[PostalCode]      ,[rowguid]      ,[ModifiedDate] VALUES ('1313 Mockingbird Lane'…
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