Analysis Services Locking And Blocking

Bill Anton shows how to figure out if your Analysis Services performance problem is due to locks:

This past weekend, after one of my presentations on Analysis Services at SQL Saturday 520, an attendee described a performance issue in his environment that he thought could be related to locking and blocking and asked if there was a way to confirm if this was the cause. The short answer is yes, absolutely!

While I wouldn’t say this is a common issue across *all* analysis services environments, it’s definitely common amongst the subset of analysis services environments that do intra-day processing – which is when the SSAS database is being processed during hours of the day when users might be simultaneously querying it.

This is a very interesting article.  I’d never thought about SSAS taking locks, but it makes perfect sense.

Error Handling Extended Event

Dave Mason shows how to use an Extended Event to capture error data:

Here’s an example for DBCC CHECKDB on a corrupt database. Remember from the last post that in this scenario, control never passes to the CATCH block. So we’ll need to check the Event Session data after END CATCH. You can also run this as a single batch in SSMS, but you’ll need a corrupt database to get similar results. As before, replace “2016” with your SPID.

There are a lot of working parts to this, so read the scripts carefully if you’re interested in implementing something similar yourself.

XE Default Sessions

Jason Brimhall goes into the various Extended Events default sessions:

With the release of SQL Server 2016 there is another default session that gets installed. This session is probably the most difficult to find. This is a private hidden session when it is installed. In addition, it is not present by default with SQL 2016 RTM but it was present by default with various CTP versions. The session is specific to the new stretch feature and is called rdaxesession.

Breaking down this particular session reveals pretty easily what feature the session is designed to support. The name rdaxesession breaks down to the following: rda = remote data archive, and then the rest is self explanatory. If I investigate the metadata for the session I will discover that the following events are traced in the session:

Jason also has an earlier blog post about the default sessions I tend to use, like system health.

Extended Events Audit

Steve Jones creates an audit with Extended Events:

The third part of the invitation was to write this. I covered what I did, and some of what I learned. I’ll add a bit more here.

I certainly was clumsy working with XE, and despite working my way through the course, I realize I have a lot of learning to do in order to become more familiar with how to use XE. While I got a basic session going, depending on when I started it and what I was experimenting with, I sometimes found myself with events that never went away, such as a commit or rollback with no corresponding opening transaction.

This T-SQL Tuesday was a bit broader in scope, so it has been interesting watching people respond.

AutoRestart SSAS Extended Events

Bill Anton looks at the AutoRestart option on Extended Events for Analysis Services:

So how do we handle the scenario where the server is rebooted?

  • Option 1: always remember to restart the trace after server reboots
  • Option 2: create a SQL Agent job to poll for the SSAS service status and start the xEvent trace if its not already running
  • Option 3: write a custom .NET watchdog service to poll for the SSAS service status and start the xEvents trace if its not already running

Those are the options I’ve used or seen used in the past… and to be sure, all of them have their drawbacks in reliability and/or complexity.

…which is why I was so excited when it was brought to my attention that there is an “AutoRestart” option for SSAS xEvents!

Do read the whole thing.

Audit Select Statements

Jason Brimhall shows how to build an extended event session which audits all SELECT statements:

I have to be a little honest here. Prior to somebody asking how they could possibly achieve a statement audit via extended events, I had not considered it as a tool for the job. I would have relied on Audit (which is Extended Event related), or some home grown set of triggers. In this particular request, Audit was not fulfilling the want and custom triggers was not an option. Another option might have included the purchase of third party software but there are times when budget does not allow for nice expensive shiny software.

So, with a little prodding, I hopped into the metadata and poked around a bit to see what I could come up with to achieve this low-budget audit solution.

Read the whole thing.

Shredding Event Data

Jason Brimhall has a script to shred extended events:

In the following script, I have tried to accomplish just that – a single script to create the entire XML parser for me, for you, and for anybody wishing to use it. I don’t want to have to remember the subtle nuances of how to parse each of the events each time I need to parse the session data. I want something that is quick, easy, and repeatable.

With all of that said, here is the script that I now use to parse my session data. You should notice that it has been simplified and is more extensive now.

Jason also has sample usage.  Check this out for sure.

Help With Extended Events

Jason Brimhall has two recent blog posts on figuring out Extended Events information.  First is a republication of an older article:

First let’s tackle the problem of discovery.  When we want to use extended events to try and troubleshoot a problem or to capture more information, it is really good to know if such an event exists.  There are many events that capture data for various different things within SQL Server.  More and more events are being added with each release.  More and more data is being made available to the DBA to help perform a better job and to help the DBA better understand what is really happening within the database environment.

In order to determine if there might be an event, that can provide the data for that one “thing” that may be happening within your environment, we could start by querying the SQL Server Internals.  This next query will do just that for us.

After you read that article and check out the queries there, Jason has another post on finding the right event:

In my previous article I demonstrated how to find an event based solely on the name or description of the event. This is fantastic if the event name (or description) contains one of the magical words you have used. What if the event name or description has nothing to do with the terms you selected? Or, what if the data you seek may be attached to the event but wouldn’t necessarily stand out as a description for that event (by name or description details for that event)?

Now comes the more difficult task right? If the name or description of the event doesn’t relate to the search terms then you just might overlook a few events and be stuck trying to troubleshoot a problem. An equally big problem this could cause is yet another invisible barrier to using Extended Events. It would be easy to slide down the slippery slope and not transition to Extended Events just because an event, applicable to the problem at hand, could not be found.

Check out both of these posts.

Diagnosing Memory Grant Issues

Pedro Lopes looks at Extended Events around memory grants:

Three conditions can trigger this warning to show up in showplan:

  1. Excessive Grant: when max used memory is too small compared to the granted memory. This scenario can cause blocking and less efficient usage when large grants exist and a fraction of that memory was used.

  2. Used More Than Granted: when the max used memory exceeds the granted memory. This scenario can cause OOM conditions on the server.

  3. Grant Increase: when the dynamic grant starts to increase too much, based on the ratio between the max used memory and initial request memory. This scenario can cause server instability and unpredictable workload performance.

I like that this information also shows up when you view an execution plan using SSMS 2014 SP2.

Going From Trace To Extended Events

Erin Stellato shows that SQL trace events map pretty closely to Extended Events:

Every time I talk about migrating from Profiler and Trace to Extended Events (XE), I seem to add something to my presentation.  It’s not always intentional, and I don’t know if it’s because I just can’t stop tweaking my demos and contents, or something else, but here in London at IEPTO2 this week, I added a query that helps you see what event in Extended Events is comparable to the event you’re used to using in Trace/Profiler.  While most of the events in XE have a name similar to the event in Trace (e.g. sp_statement_completed for SP:StmtCompleted), some mappings aren’t so intuitive.  For example, SP:Starting in Trace is module_start in XE, and SP:Completed in Trace is module_end in XE.  That’s not so bad, but if you’re ever monitoring file growths, note that the database_file_size_change event in XE is the event for the following four events in trace: Data File Auto Grow, Data File Auto Shrink, Log File Auto Grow, and Log File Auto Shrink.

This is a helpful query to keep around until you get really familiar with Extended Events.

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