Get the Last Actual Plan With sys.dm_exec_query_plan_stats

SQL Server, T-SQL
I've always felt responsible for making such a big deal about the differences between estimated and actual plans. I implied in the first edition of the execution plans book (get the new, vastly improved, 3rd edition in digital form for free here, or you can pay for the print version) that these things were so radically different that the estimated plan was useless. This is false. All plans are estimated plans. However, actual plans have some added runtime metrics. It's not that we're going to get a completely different execution plan when we look at an actual plan, it's just going to have those very valuable runtime metrics. The problem with getting those metrics is, you have to execute the query. However, this is no longer true in SQL Server…
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Techorama Netherlands 2019

SQL Server
You only have a few more weeks to sign up for one of my favorite events, Techorama. This year is the second time the event will be held in the Netherlands (it started out in Belgium). I'm very honored to get to say that I'll be speaking again this year. The reason I like the event so much is because of how it draws from pure developers, architects, data specialists and analysts almost equally. Techorama succeeds at getting all the people into the room that ought to be in the room. Then, Techorama makes it possible for all these people to share knowledge and understanding about the Microsoft stack. I have several different sessions, but the one I want to talk about at the moment is the one on SQL…
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Profiler and Trace vs. Extended Events

SQL Server
It's a running joke among the more experienced (read, older) Microsoft Data Platform specialists as to whether you're #teamprofiler or #teamexevents. I'm very much #teamexevents, but I really don't care that you're #teamprofiler. If you want to use the old way of doing things, that's fine. However, I do have a bone to pick. Why on earth would you recommend to new data professionals working on modern systems, let's say at least 2016 or better, who are just getting going on this journey, that they should be using Trace? What are you smoking? Trace vs. Extended Events We're not just talking about where you are comfortable. I get it. You've used Trace/Profiler for 20+ years. Getting it going is all muscle memory. That's fine. As the kids say, you do…
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Announcing a New Book: Query Store for SQL Server 2019

SQL Server
I'm pleased as punch to be able to share with you the fact that I helped Tracy Boggiano write a whole new book on Query Store. It will be available in October. You can pre-order it now. Tracy is a great author and a serious scholar of SQL Server. She's put together an excellent resource on Query Store. I added a couple of chapters just to help her out, but this is truly her book. Query Store is incredibly simple to use. It is however a bear to manage, so getting Tracy's book is a must if you're going to be implementing Query Store on your databases. By the way, you really should be implementing Query Store on your databases. Tracy covers all the topics from reporting with Query Store,…
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sp_execute_external_script and SQL Injection

SQL Server
In order to take advantage of R and Python (and Java in SQL Server 2019) directly from your SQL Server scripts, you'll be using the function sp_execute_external_script. When you see this code in use for the first time, it's going to remind you of sp_execute_sql. The very first thing I thought about was, "Oh no. Another SQL Injection vector." I have a little good news and a little bad news. It's Not SQL The first and most important thing to understand is, we're not talking about SQL. Let's start with looking at some code. This is straight from the examples in the Microsoft documentation linked above: DROP PROC IF EXISTS generate_iris_model; GO CREATE PROC generate_iris_model AS BEGIN EXEC sp_execute_external_script @language = N'R' , @script = N' library(e1071); irismodel <-naiveBayes(iris_data[,1:4], iris_data[,5]);…
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The Constant and Constantly Changing Role of the DBA

DevOps, Redgate Software, SQL Server
I've been working in and around data for over 30 years now. My title has changed a number of times and is poised to change again. My responsibilities have also shifted fairly continuously over that time. Even though it has been more than 20 years since I first took on the title of DBA, some aspects of the job are the same. However, over that 20 years, a stack of new technologies and processes have fundamentally changed a whole swath of what I do. The DBA Song Remains the Same Are your servers online? Are all databases available? Did the data load process run successfully last night? When was the last time a backup was run on this database? I honestly don't care if you're in the cloud, on-premises, or…
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Which Query Used the Most CPU? Implementing Extended Events

SQL Server, T-SQL, Tools
A question that comes up on the forums all the time: Which query used the most CPU. You may see variations on, memory, I/O, or just resources in general. However, people want to know this information, and it's not readily apparent how to get it. While you can look at what's in cache through the DMVs to see the queries there, you don't get any real history and you don't get any detail of when the executions occurred. You can certainly take advantage of the Query Store for this kind of information. However, even that data is aggregated by hour. If you really want a detailed analysis of which query used the most CPU, you need to first set up an Extended Events session and then consume that data. A…
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Query Store, Plan Forcing and Table Variables

SQL Server, T-SQL
This weekend I was in Stockholm in Sweden, talking Query Store and plan forcing with Steinar Anderson, when he mentioned the problems he had while forcing plans that had table variables in them. Don't panic. Of course you can force a plan with a table variable, most of the time. Steinar had a fairly focused problem. Before I go on to explain the issue, let me be really clear, Steinar figured out the issue all on his own. When he outlined the problem, I saw immediately what his conclusion was going to be. What's spurring this blog post is that Steinar said he'd searched on the internet and no one had talked about the issue yet. So, let's talk about it. Plan Forcing With Table Variables First up, let's show…
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Database Fundamentals #21: Using the JOIN Operator, OUTER JOIN

Database Fundamentals, SQL Server
The OUTER JOIN returns one complete set of data and then the matching values from the other set. The syntax is basically the same as INNER JOIN but you have to include whether or not you’re dealing with a RIGHT or a LEFT JOIN. The OUTER word, just like the INNER key word, is not required. OUTER JOIN Imagine a situation where you have a list of people. Some of those people have financial transactions, but some do not. If you want a query that lists all people in the system, including those with financial transactions, the query might look like this: SELECT p.LastName, ft.TransactionAmount, ft.TransactionDate, ft.TransactionTime FROM Personnel.Person AS p LEFT JOIN Finance.FinancialTransaction AS ft ON p.PersonID = ft.PersonID; Except for the addition of the LEFT key word, this…
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system_health Extended Events in Azure SQL Database

Azure, SQL Server
The system_health Extended Events session is incredibly useful. Further, it's running, by default, in every server you have under management that is 2008 or greater. Things are not the same in Azure though. system_health in Azure SQL Database If you look at the documentation for system_health, it shows that it's applicable to Azure SQL Database. However, if you try to run the example query, it won't work. This is because the implementation of Extended Events inside Azure SQL Database is a little different. Instead, you need to use the Azure SQL Database equivalent system views to create the same query like this: SELECT CAST(dxdst.target_data AS XML) FROM sys.dm_xe_database_session_targets AS dxdst JOIN sys.dm_xe_database_sessions AS dxds ON dxds.address = dxdst.event_session_address WHERE dxds.name = 'system_health'; Now, running this in Azure, prepare to be…
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