A Rose By Any Other Name

SQL Server
There is only one kind of execution plan within SQL Server. I've said this several times on this blog. Now, I'd like you to go and read this excellent blog post by Hugo Kornelis. Hugo, Erin Stellato and I are working with Microsoft to hopefully, at long last, make this issue clear. In the grand scheme of life, like Shakespeare's rose, the name we use for execution plans doesn't really matter. However, the fact is, language really does matter. Clarity is so important in communications, of any kind. When we try to teach execution plans, the confusion caused by the old naming standards is one of the first things we have to spend time getting people to un-learn. I fully support this newly proposed naming standard: Execution PlanExecution Plan Plus…
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Query Store, Plan Forcing, and DROP/CREATE

SQL Server, T-SQL
I absolutely love Query Store and the ability it provides to force a plan is amazing. However, there are a lot of little gotchas in this functionality. I just recently found one that has quite a far reaching effect. Let's talk about what happens when you DROP and then CREATE a stored procedure. Query Store and Plan Forcing Let's quickly recap how Query Store works and how Plan Forcing works. First, Query Store is driven by query, not by procedure, not by batch, but by query. Second, plan forcing is also by query. However, there are queries and there are queries. Let's take this as an example: CREATE PROC dbo.AddressByCity @City NVARCHAR(30) AS BEGIN SELECT a.AddressID, a.AddressLine1, a.AddressLine2, a.City, sp.Name AS StateProvinceName, a.PostalCode FROM Person.Address AS a JOIN Person.StateProvince AS…
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Extended Events: Database Auditing

SQL Server, You Can't Do That In Profiler
Extended Events can do things that simply are not possible with Profiler and another example comes from the stack of audit events that exist only in Extended Events. One of these is a set of expanded events for database auditing. Comparing the list of things exposed through Extended Events to those exposed through Trace/Profiler isn't entirely fair. All new functionality is only in Extended Events since Trace hasn't been updated since 2008. However, these events that you can use to audit your database, aren't new functionality, they're just new events for watching old functionality. The addition of new events is just one more reason why moving to use Extended Events is a must. Auditing Databases In this instance, when I say audit the database, what I mean is keep an…
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Extended Events: Histogram Output

SQL Server, You Can't Do That In Profiler
The single most important thing to remember about Extended Events is that this functionality is not simply a replacement for Profiler/Trace, but a whole new tool with new functionality. My first example for functionality that you simply cannot get in Profiler/Trace is the ability to output to a Histogram. Profiler/Trace can output to a table or to a file. Extended Events can have a target that is a file, same as Profiler. However, you can also have a target: etw_classic_sync_targetevent_counterhistogrampair_matchingring_buffer Read about each of the types in the Microsoft documentation here. I'm going to focus for the moment on the histogram target because it lets you do some fun stuff and easily collect data that you simply can't collect using Profiler/Trace without hopping through a bunch of flaming hoops. Setting…
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Profiler: Time To Go

SQL Server
I've decided that, in fact, it is time to start moving people off the ancient technology, Profiler. Before, I always said, stay where you're comfortable. However, keeping people comfortable means that they're also going to keep promoting Profiler/Trace to new people on new platforms. That is a real problem. To fix the problem of old school, slow, inferior, methods of data collection, troubleshooting, and consuming metrics, we need to educate people. Extended Events are not simply a replacement for Trace. They're not simply another way to gather query metrics. No, in fact, this is a whole new tool, with new functionality and a very high level of support and engagement from Microsoft. Extended Events are where all new functionality since 2012 provides mechanisms for monitoring behavior. As technologists we should…
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Extended Events Misperceptions: Profiler is Easier, Part 2

SQL Server, Tools
I wrote a short blog post about the misperception that Profiler was easier than Extended Events when it came to the core concept of "click, connect, BOOM, too much data". Go read it if you like, but I don't think it's actually an effective argument for how much easier Extended Events is than Profiler. Here, we're going to drill down on that concept in a real way. Let's start with a little clarification. I'm going to be a little lazy with my language. Trace is a scripted capture of events on a server. Profiler is a GUI for consuming a Trace, either live or from a file, and for creating Trace events. However, almost everyone refers to 'Profiler' when they mean either Trace or Profiler. I may do the same…
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Microsoft Tools That Help Query Tuning

SQL Server, T-SQL, Tools
Query tuning is not easy. In fact, for a lot of people, you shouldn't even try. It's much easier to buy more, bigger, better hardware. Yeah, the query is still slow on newer, faster hardware, but not as a slow as it was. However, sooner or later, you're going to have to start to spend time fixing queries. In fact, you can find that fixing queries actually is more cost effective than buying more hardware. The problem is, query tuning is not easy. So, what do you do? Microsoft Can Help There are a number of tools available to you, right now, provided by Microsoft that can help you better and more easily tune your queries. This ranges from extended events to query store, and absolutely includes execution plans and…
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Extended Events Misperceptions: Profiler is Easier

SQL Server
I know, I know, I'm on #teamexevents so I think that Extended Events can do no wrong, but let's address this thought that Profiler is easier. Now, if we're strictly talking knowledge, sure, if you've got a lot of experience with Profiler/Trace and very little with Extended Events, of course Profiler is easer. However, what I'm told is that Profiler doesn't require very much set up, while Extended Events does. That's just wrong, but let's put it to the test. The Test For the comparison, we're not going to do anything special with either tool. I'm just going to start collecting query data with the fewest possible clicks and/or key strokes. I'm going to use both tools short cuts to make this as fast as possible. The goal is, click,…
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Causality Tracking in Extended Events

SQL Server
If you go through all the stuff I've written about Extended Events, you'll find that I use causality tracking quite a bit. However, I've never just talked about what causality tracking is and why I use it so frequently. Let's fix that issue now. Causality Tracking Causality tracking is quite simple to understand. It's property that you set for a given session. A session, of course, is defined by one or more events and a target. You can define things about a session, like it's name, when you define the session itself. Turning on, or enabling, causality tracking is just a matter of defining that the session will have causality tracking. It looks like this in the GUI: It looks like this in the T-SQL code: CREATE EVENT SESSION QueryBehavior…
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Execution Plans: First Operator

SQL Server, T-SQL
The first time you see a new execution plan that you're examining to fix a performance problem, something broken, whatever, you should always start by looking at the first operator. First Operator The first operator is easily discerned (with an exception). It's the very first thing you see in a graphical execution plan, at the top, on the left. It says SELECT in this case: This is regardless of how you capture the execution plan (with an exception). Whether you're looking at an execution plan from the plan cache, Query Store, or through SSMS, the execution plan, regardless of complexity, has this first operator. In this case, it says UPDATE: If you get an execution plan plus runtime metrics (previously referred to as an "actual" execution plan), you'll still see…
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