Strings Are Hard

Kenneth Fisher on varchar versus nvarchar:

In any study of Data Types in SQL Server you are going to have to look at the various string data types. One important component is the difference between nChar vs Char and nVarChar vs VarChar. Most people reading this are probably thinking “Well that’s ridiculously easy.” If you are one of them then I want you to read these two facts about these data types.

Char and VarCharnChar and nVarChar
StoresASCIIUNICODE
SizeAlways one byte per character.Always two bytes per character.

One of these is incorrect. Do you know which one?

The correct answer is “both are wrong.”  Then you get into debates about what a “character” is, how certain languages (like Hebrew and Arabic) have layers of modifiers which modify semantic context, etc. etc.  Strings are probably even harder than dates.

Things A Junior DBA Should Know

Kendra Little has a list of three things a junior DBA should know:

Confession: I was a Junior DBA for a long time before I had a clue about this. It’s not unusual– many DBAs pick up existing databases and it’s natural to accept that the settings are correct.

Except, usually they aren’t. Usually, the last person who set them up just kinda guessed.

Guess what? You’re responsible for whatever they guessed.

Kendra’s three items are definitely junior-level, but we all start somewhere.

A Sad Day

SQLIO is no more.

Microsoft is now recommending diskspd.  At this point, I suppose SQLIO could be considered “venerable” but tip a 40 on the curb for a good tool.

Columnstore In 2016

Niko Neugebauer has two new posts up on columnstore index changes with SQL Server 2016.

First, row group merging with clustered columnstore indexes:

Row Group merging & cleanup is a very long waited improvement that came out in SQL Server 2016. Once Microsoft has announced this functionality, everyone who has worked with SQL Server 2014 & Clustered Columnstore Indexes has rejoiced – one of the major problems with logical fragmentation because of the deleted data is solved! Amazing!
Just as a reminder – logical fragmentation is the process when we mark obsolete data in the Deleted Bitmap (in Columnstore Indexes there is no direct data removal from the compressed Segments with Delete command and Update command uses Deleted Bitmap as well marking old versions of rows as deleted).

Second, Stretch DB with columnstore:

Stretch DB or alternatively Stretch Database is a way of spreading your table between SQL Server (on-premises, VM in Azure) and a Azure SQLDatabase. This means that the dat of the table will shared between the SQL Server and the Azure SQLDatabase giving the opportunity to lower the total cost of the local storage, since Azure SQLDatabase is cheap relatively expensive storage typically used on the local SQL Server installations.
This mean that the table data will be separated intoHot Data & Cold Data, where Hot Data is the type of data that is frequently accessed and it extremely important (this is typically some OLTP data) and the Cold Data (this is typically rarely or almost never accessed archival or log data).
For the final user the experience should be the same as before – should he ask for some data that is not on the SQL Server, then it will be read from Azure SQLDatabase by the invocation of remote query, joined with the local results (if any) and then presented to the user.

These two posts are must-reads if you work with columnstore indexes.

Collecting ETL Metrics

Andy Leonard has a long and useful post on collecting ETL metrics in SQL Server 2016:

“In an age of the SSIS Catalog, why would one ever employ this kind of metadata collection, Andy?” That’s a fair question. The SSIS Catalog is an awesome data integration execution, logging, and externalization engine. There are a handful of use cases, though, where enterprises may opt to continue to execute SSIS packages from the file system or the MSDB database. Perhaps the biggest reason to do so is that’s the way the enterprise is currently executing SSIS. When SSDT-BI converts pre-Catalog-era (2005, 2008, 2008 R2) SSIS packages to current, it imports these packages in a “Package Deployment Model” SSIS Project. This allows developers to upgrade the version of their SSIS project to SSIS 2016 (and enjoy many benefits for so doing) while continuing to execute SSIS packages in the file system. Kudos to the Microsoft SSIS Development Team for this backwards compatibility!

Andy asks the question I wanted to ask and gives a good answer.

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