Query Store as an Upgrade Tool

SQL Server, Tools
There are a lot of uses for Query Store, but one of the most interesting is as an upgrade tool. We all know that upgrades in SQL Server can be more than a little bit nerve wracking. No matter how much you tested stuff in lower environments, deploying an update to production might result in performance issues as your code hits a regression. This is even more true when upgrading from versions of SQL Server prior to 2014 to anything 2014 and above. That's because of the new cardinality estimation engine introduced in 2014. Most queries won't notice it. Some queries will benefit from the better estimates. A few, problematic, queries will suffer. This is where Query Store can be used as an upgrade tool. The Steps We're going to…
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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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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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Combine Extended Events and TagWith to Monitor Entity Framework

SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017, T-SQL
I'm going to start with a sentence that makes a lot of people crazy; As a DBA and database developer, I love Entity Framework. That's right. Entity Framework is the bomb. It's amazing. It does wonderful stuff. Entity Framework makes the developers lives and jobs easier. It makes my life and job easier. Yes, Entity Framework will improve your job quality and reduce stress in your life. With one caveat, it gets used correctly. That's the hard part right? There is tons of technology that makes things better, if used correctly. There are all sorts of programs that make your life easier, if used correctly. Yet, all of these, used incorrectly, can make your life a hell. One nit that I've always had with Entity Framework is that it's very…
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Why Is The Server Slow?

SQL Server, SQL Server 2016, T-SQL
This is blog post #2 in support of Tim Ford's (b|t) #iwanttohelp, #entrylevel. If you haven't been working in SQL Server for very long, you may not have got this phone call yet, but you will: Hi, yeah, the server is slow. Thanks. Bye. Let's pretend for a moment that you know which server they're referring to (because just finding out that piece of information can be a challenge). Now what? The list of tools and mechanisms within SQL Server for gathering metrics is extremely long: Performance Monitor Dynamic Management Views & Functions System Views Extended Events Trace Events Activity Monitor Data Collector Execution Plans 3rd Party Tools I'm leaving out lots of stuff in that list. So where do you start when you get this phone call? Where is the server slow?…
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RML Utilities and SQL Server 2012

T-SQL
I'm working through some code that I haven't touched recently and I'm running it for the first time on a SQL Server 2012 server. The code is a way to load information into the RML utilities and I started hitting errors. First, I hit an error that my server couldn't be connected to, but thanks to Erin Stellato (blog|twitter), I was able to quickly fix that. Then I hit this: Number of processors: 2 Active proc mask: 0x00000003 Architecture: 9 Page size: 4096 Highest node: 0 Package mask: 0x00000001 Processor(s): 0x00000001 Function units: Separated Package mask: 0x00000002 Processor(s): 0x00000002 Function units: Separated Processors: 0x00000003 assigned to Numa node: 0 -Ic:\performancetuning\rml.trc -oc:\bu -SDOJO\RANDORI Using language id (LCID): 1024 [English_United States.1252] for character formatting with NLS: 0x00060101 and Defined: 0x00060101 Attempting to…
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Guest Blog

SQL Server
I was given the opportunity to put together a guest blog post for the MVP blog. I did a little something on determining whether or not you have high memory use through the use of a DMO. Check it out.
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Extended Events Data

Uncategorized
I’ve been working quite a bit over the last week or so with extended events in Denali. The sheer magnitude of what you can do with extended events is just becoming clear to me. The interesting thing though is how much the basics are similar to trace. Similar mind you, not the same. For example, the best way to gather trace data is to output it to a file and then read the file into a table for later querying. It’s the same with extended events. There’s even a function that acts as a table: SELECT * FROM sys.fn_xe_file_target_read_file ('C:\APath\Query Performance Tuning*.xel', NULL, NULL, NULL); This can take advantage of roll-over files just like the old function used for traces. You can also provide offsets to read a sub-set of…
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Extended Events and Performance Tuning Knowledge

Uncategorized
I’m working on updating my book, Query Performance Tuning Distilled, so that it reflects the new things available in SQL Server vNext:Denali. I’m going through the first chapters that are all about gathering information about your systems. Performance tuning is all about building up knowledge of how the system is working in order to understand what you need to change in order to improve it. I’m surprised by how much hasn’t changed. But some of the changes are fundamental and huge. Let’s talk huge. Extended Events is huge. Extended Events came out in SQL Server 2008, but very few people, myself included, paid much attention. Those who did found the implementation awkward and confusing. Only a few people persevered enough to discover just how powerful and amazing these things are.…
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SQL Rally

PASS
The Rally is next week. It’s not too late to register. This is going to be a very solid event with excellent opportunities for learning and networking. If you’re on the fence about going, don’t be. You should attend. I even have a few (somewhere near 10) slots open in my pre-conference seminar, Query Performance Tuning: Start to Finish. I’ve been working on hard on this presentation and showing pieces of it to various user groups around the country. The reception so far has been very good. If you want a seven hour brain dump on the ins and outs of performance tuning your queries, I strongly recommend it. Since there are still openings, you can get in, but I’d act quickly. Not because they’re all likely to fill, but…
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