Kevin Feasel



Jules Damji shows off SparkSession:

Beyond a time-bounded interaction, SparkSession provides a single point of entry to interact with underlying Spark functionality and allows programming Spark with DataFrame and Dataset APIs. Most importantly, it curbs the number of concepts and constructs a developer has to juggle while interacting with Spark.

In this blog and its accompanying Databricks notebook, we will explore SparkSession functionality in Spark 2.0.

This looks to be an easier method for integrating various parts of Spark in one user session.  Read the whole thing.

Concurrency In Hadoop Using ZooKeeper

Kevin Feasel



Garima Dosi discusses an architecture using ZooKeeper to introduce some limited protections for concurrent access in HDFS:

The ZooKeeper nodes topology as per the design looks like this. ZooKeeper works like a filesystem starting with a root directory followed with several nodes (analogous to folders) and finally the data nodes (analogous to files). The circles in the image represent the name of a property/folder that we are trying to maintain and the rounded boxes are the values/files for those properties/folders.

So, the image above shows that the “global version” is 100 and there are 10 & 20 read requests being executed on versions 98 and 99 respectively and since there is a write request in progress, no other write request would be taken up until it completes.

This feels a little overly complicated to me.

Analytic Tool Usage

Alex Woodie notes the increased popularity of Python for data analysis:

According to the results of the 2016 survey, R is the preferred tool for 42% of analytics professionals, followed by SAS at 39% and Python at 20%. While Python’s placing may at first appear to relegate the language to Bronze Medal status, it’s the delta here that really matters.

It’s interesting to see the breakdowns of who uses which language, comparing across industry, education, work experience, and geographic lines.


Kyle Kingsbury explains that sequential, serializable, and strictly serializable consistency models cannot provide locality:

We often speak of locality as a property of subhistories for a particular object x: “H|x is strictly serializable, but H is not”. This is a strange thing to say indeed, because the transactions in H may not meaningfully exist in H|x. What does it mean to run [(A enq y 1) (A enq x 1)] on x alone? If we restrict ourselves to those transactions that doapply to a single object, we find that those transactions still serialize in the full history.

So in a sense, locality is about the scope of legal operations. If we take single enqueue and dequeue operations over two queues x and y, the space of operations on the composite system of x and y is just the union of operations on x and those on y. Linearizability can also encompass transactions, so long as they are restricted to a single system at a time. Our single-key, multi-operation transactions still satisfied strict serializability even in the composite system. However, the space of transactions on a composite system is more than the union of transactions on each system independently. It’s their product.

Here’s the part where I pretend that of course I understand what Kyle wrote…  Seriously, though, this is a very interesting read.

Min And Max Server Memory

Kevin Hill explains the minimum and maximum server memory options in SQL Server:

Min Server Memory seems to get the most bad information spread around.   SQL Server does NOT automatically grab memory up to the Min setting when it starts.  However, once it gets there, it doesn’t give back.

Back to the car analogy…if you start up and head off down the road at 20 mph, you are above the default (0), but not at the max (100+, depending on the car and the tires…).  If you set the cruise control, you can accelerate up and down above 20, but you won’t go below that unless you hit the brakes.

I do like the car analogy to his post.

VirtualBox Setup

Kevin Feasel



Jon Morisi has notes on downloading and preparing the Hortonworks sandbox VM via VirtualBox:

Lessons learned:

Use wget for downloads that repeatedly drop the connection.
Don’t try to run VirtualBox inside a VM.
Enable VTx in the BIOS to run VirtualBox.

This post is mostly about troubles in getting the VM and preparing the software.  Definitely take his advice on enabling VTx in your BIOS.

Vendors And Privileges

Dave Mason has a good post about onerous third-party software requirements:

If you’re not familiar with SQL Server, the “sysadmin” server role conveys the highest level of authorization available to a login. “db_owner” also conveys a high level of authorization. Both requirements are far more than what is necessary and violate the Principle of Least Privilege. While I strongly disagree with the install-time requirements, I can at least understand the argument: it’s a one-time activity. But elevated permissions at run time are inexcusable.

Most of the time, software companies publish that because they want to avoid the hassle of support calls when people don’t grant privileges correctly.  I’ve worked with one third-party vendor in the past who sent me the actual permissions requirements after I pestered them a bit, as I wasn’t going to let just anyone have sysadmin on my servers.  But that’s not a scalable approach and does nothing for the next guy who reads the documentation and just gives sysadmin away.

DocumentDB Notes

Kevin Feasel



Victoria Holt has a few handy DocumentDB links:

Query Playground converts T-SQL Syntax to JSON

This tool, along with the capacity planner and a querying cheat sheet, are available by clicking through to the post.

Load Testing Analysis Services

Bill Anton provides Powershell code to load test Analysis Services cubes:

One of the more time consuming pieces in this process is step 4 – setting up a solution that can generate a concurrent query workload. Bob Duffy (b | t) has written blogs and delivered presentations on the topic of Analysis Services load testing. However, when it comes to tooling (unless something changed recently) I believe he’s still using a custom .NET Visual Studio Test solution for the test harness. And unless you know .NET, you’re going to have a pretty difficult time getting setup… which is why I was so happy when, earlier this year, Chris Schmidt (b | t) wrote a post over on MSDN demonstrating a method for load testing an Analysis Services database using PowerShell.

This weekend I finally had some time to expand upon Chris’ code sample and add several new features… e.g. parameters (target server/database, level of concurrency, queries per batch, etc) and the ability to retrieve MDX (or DAX) queries from a SQL table. In my experience, it’s quite a bit easier to generate a table of MDX/DAX queries rather than a bunch of txt files with a query in each file.

My first thought was “Well, that doesn’t seem too complicated.”  Which means that Bill did a great job.

Query Store And Dropped Objects

Grant Fritchey gives us a potential nightmare scenario with Query Store:

Along comes our aggressive junior DBA who decides that there are “too many” indexes on the server. No, I don’t know what that means either, but they evidently read it on the internet or something so they drop the index we created before:

DROP INDEX TransactionOccurredWhenNCI ON Warehouse.StockItemTransactions;

What now happens to our lovely execution plan and the plan forcing? We’ll take a look at two events in Extended Events, sql_statement_recompile and query_store_plan_forcing_failed. Nothing happens immediately on dropping the index. The plans associated with that object, if any, are marked as invalid in the cache. The next time we call the query it’s going to recompile and we can see the event:

The result is a bit happier than I would have expected; I was looking forward to a “and the world came crashing down” conclusion.


August 2016
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