Powershell Step Type Bug

Derik Hammer notes that there is a bug in 2016 with SQL Agent jobs which have Powershell step types:

When executed through the SQL Agent, the SQLPS.exe mini-shell is called and the current working directory is switched to the SQLSERVER:\ provider. When you call a cmdlet that uses the FILESYSTEM provider under the context of the SQLSERVER provider the cmdlet will fail.

Derik has a Connect ticket open for this bug as well.

Visual C++ Runtime Update

Arvind Shyamsundar reminds us that there’s a critical Visual C++ Runtime update which affects SQL Server 2016:

At this time, we want to remind you of a critical Microsoft Visual C++ 2013 runtime pre-requisite update that may be* required on machines where SQL Server 2016 will be, or has been, installed. Installing this, via either of the two methods described below, will update the Microsoft Visual C++ 2013 runtime to avoid a potential stability issue affecting SQL Server 2016 RTM.

* You can determine if an update is required on a machine via one of the two methods below:

  1. Select View Installed Updates in the Control Panel and check for the existence of either KB3164398 or KB3138367. If either is present, you already have the update installed and no further action is necessary.

  2. Check if the version of %SystemRoot%\system32\msvcr120.dll is 12.0.40649.5 or later. If it is, you already have the update installed and no further action is necessary. (To check the file version, open Windows Explorer, locate and then right-click the %SystemRoot%\system32\msvcr120.dll file, click Properties, and then click the Details tab.)

If you’re running 2016, please make sure that your systems are up to date.  This post includes an easy T-SQL query you can run to see if you’re up to date already.

Spark 2.0 Out

Apache Spark 2.0 has officially been released.  Vinay Shukla gives us some highlights:

Performance
Project Tungsten has completed another major phase and with new completely new stage code generation, significant performance improvements have been delivered. Parquet and ORC file processing have also delivered performance improvements.

Databricks Community Edition offers (tiny) free clusters with Spark 2.0 on top of Scala 2.10 and Scala 2.11.

SQL Server 2016 CU1 Bugfixes

Andrew Pruski notes an important bugfix in SQL Server 2016 CU1:

SQL Server 2016 CU1 has been released and one thing I noticed was: –

FIX: Canceling a backup task crashes SQL Server 2014 or 2016

That’s pretty nasty, when I originally clicked on the link I was expecting to see detailed a pretty precise set of circumstances in which that bug can occur but no no, apparently not. Cancelling any backup task can lead to this happening.

Andrew then argues in favor of waiting for SPs before deploying new versions of software, having been burned on it in the past.  I don’t agree with that philosophy; regardless, I recommend reading his post.

Listing Enterprise-Only Features

Patrick LeBlanc has an embedded report which shows Enterprise Edition-only features:

Someone recently asked me if there was a list of all the SQL Server “Enterprise Only” features available on the web.  I pointed them to the Features Supported by the Editions of SQL Server web page and thought I was done.  He stated that this site was good, but did not provide a simple list of enterprise only features.  I thought for a second, and my thoughts went straight to Power BI.  Why?  Simple, there are tables on the web page, and Power BI can easily extract that data into a data model.  I am not going to go into all those details in this blog post.  Maybe one day, but for now take a look at this interactive Power BI report and let me know what you think.

I think this layout is a bit easier to read and follow than the features website, although I’d love to be able to click on an item and get more information on the feature.

R 3.3.1 Available

Kevin Feasel

2016-06-23

R, Versions

David Smith reports that a new version of R is now available, 3.3.1:

This minor update, codenamed “Bug in Your Hair”, makes a few small fixes to the R 3.3.0 release. Bugs fixed include mostly rarely-encountered cases like generating Gamma random numbers with zero or infinite rate parameters, and correctly matching text (with the matchfunction) that only differed in the encoding.

There are no new features in this update, and all R code and packages should work with R 3.3.1 just as they did with R 3.3.0. For a complete list of the fixes in R 3.3.1, follow the link below.

Even though this is a small update, it might be useful to check out.

New No-Longer-Features In SQL Server 2016

Bob Pusateri acts as SQL grim reaper:

32-bit SQL Server. SQL Server 2016 is 64-bit only. If for whatever reason you’re running on a 32-bit architecture, sadly you’re now out of luck – 2014 is the end of the road. On the bright side, there’s probably some new hardware in your future!

Compatibility Level 90. If you’re using compatibility level for backwards compatibility, the oldest available version in SQL Server 2016 is 100, which corresponds to SQL Server 2008. Compatibility level 90, SQL Server 2005, is no longer an option.

Bob also covers a few deprecated features, none of which (hopefully) are in regular use in your environment.

Waiting For SP1

Guy Glantser hates “wait for SP1” advice:

Historical Facts

Throughout my career I have never seen an RTM version that was substantially less stable then the following SP1. Sure, there were bugs and issues. Sometimes there were critical bugs and issues. But there were just as much bugs and issues in SP1 and in SP2, and so on. I haven’t conducted a thorough research, so I don’t have a statistical proof, but these are the facts, at least from my experience.

I’d add one more thing:  pre-release versions of SQL Server run in production as part of Microsoft TAP (older link, and I think RDP and TAP have merged together at this point, but I don’t have those inside details).  These are real companies with real workloads running pre-RTM versions of SQL Server.  I work for a company which is in the program, and we were running our data warehouse on CTP 3 and then RCs.  By the time RTM hits the shelves, there’s already been a good deal of burn-in.

Choose Your Edition

Grant Fritchey explains the differences between different editions of SQL Server:

SQL Server Enterprise Edition is the high end. Here is where you need to go to multi-terrabytes in size and you have massive transaction loads. You’re looking at very sophisticated availability and disaster recovery. Again, the name gives it away. You’re generally only going to this edition when you’re working at an enterprise level of scale and architecture. Since you’re just getting started, don’t worry about this.

My version of the story is, “Buy Enterprise Edition.  Don’t cheap out because you’ll regret it later.”  Grant’s version is much more thorough.

Launch Event Thoughts

Patrick Keisler sums up his thoughts on the Raleigh-Durham SQL Server 2016 Launch Discovery Day:

Your solution must be completed in 3 hours.

On paper this all sounds pretty easy, but in practice it was quite hard. I am no BI developer and the other members of my team did not have any expertise in that area either, but we still managed to create a solution and have fun doing so.

The first issue was had was how to combine our development work on the same database. This one was easy…just use Azure. In the span of about 30 minutes, I spun up a new Azure VM with SQL Server 2016 pre-installed, uploaded the database, setup logins, and opened the appropriate ports. I then gave my team members the URL and credentials so they each could connect from their laptops.

These are good thoughts, and I completely agree with the point that better data definition would have made for a better event.  Each one of the teams had to spend a lot of time cleaning up data, and I think that limited the teams’ ability to do really cool things.  I’d love to put something like this on again, but if that happens, I’m going to make sure we start with a good data model so people can do fun things on top of that rather than spend all their time scrubbing data (unless that’s the point of the exercise).

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