Upgrading That Expired Evaluation Copy Of SQL Server

Cody Konior finds a way to extricate the poor souls who need to upgrade expired evaluation copies of SQL Server from their mess:

Common advice here is to set the clock backwards. My problem with that is that you’re probably doing this on an unsupported unknown black-box flaming garbage can of a system set up by someone who wasn’t meant to do it – because otherwise they wouldn’t be using the evaluation edition. So what are the repercussions of setting the clock backwards? Perhaps their application spawning silently in the background and trashing this or other databases with bad date information? Perhaps you’ll lose your RDP connection and then be unable to connect back in because of the SSPI error generated by a clock mismatch?

No thanks. Instead you need to do some detective work.

Read the whole thing.

Upgrading A Cluster To Windows Server 2016

Ryan Adams shows how to upgrade a failover cluster running Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016 without having to start from scratch:

Starting in Windows Server 2012 R2 you now have a way to upgrade a cluster to Windows 2016.  The best part is it’s not an OS upgrade, but a rebuild.  The magic is that you can join a Windows 2016 server to a Windows 2012 R2 cluster.  You can upgrade your cluster with as little as one failover and thus very little down time.  Everything stays in compatibility mode until all nodes are upgraded to Windows 2016 and then you upgrade the cluster functional level.  This is great news for those of us running FCIs or AGs.

Click through for a listing of steps and a video.

Using dbatools To Determine SQL Server Versions

Simone Bizzotto walks us through a new dbatools feature:

You get back on a jiffy:
– the Build
– the Major Release
– the Service Pack
– the Cumulative Update
– the KB related to that version
– when the support for that version ends
– if all of the above are matching a verified build
– if a warning is shown, you passed a bad build or the JSON must be updated

Getting the build is easy; getting some of this other information is where they add a lot of value.

Installing Zeppelin With Spark2 Support On HDP

Paul Hernandez shows how to install Apache Zeppelin 0.7.3 on Hortonworks Data Platform 2.5 in order to gain Spark2 support:

As a recent client requirement I needed to propose a solution in order to add spark2 as interpreter to zeppelin in HDP (Hortonworks Data Platform) 2.5.3
The first hurdle is, HDP 2.5.3 comes with zeppelin 0.6.0 which does not support spark2, which was included as a technical preview. Upgrade the HDP version was not an option due to the effort and platform availability. At the end I found in the HCC (Hortonworks Community Connection) a solution, which involves installing a standalone zeppelin which does not affect the Ambari managed zeppelin delivered with HDP 2.5.3.
I want to share how I did it with you.

Read on to see how Paul did it.  It’s not trivial but Paul lays out the process step-by-step.

What’s New In Analysis Services

Christian Wade explains what’s new in SQL Server Analysis Services 2017:

SSAS 2017 introduces the 1400 compatibility level. Here are just some highlights of the new features:

  • New infrastructure for data connectivity and ingestion into tabular models with support for TOM APIs and TMSL scripting. This enables support for a range of additional data sources, and data transformation and mashup capabilities.

  • Support for BI tools such as Microsoft Excel enables drill-down to detailed data from an aggregated report. For example, when end-users view total sales for a region and month, they can view the associated order details.

  • Object-level security to secure table and column names in addition to the data within them.

  • Enhanced support for ragged hierarchies such as organizational charts and chart of accounts.

  • Various other improvements for performance, monitoring, and consistency with the Power BI modeling experience.

There’s plenty more where that came from (unless you’re a Multidimensional fan…), so click through for the details.

Changes To SQL Server’s Servicing Model

Pedro Lopes announces changes to SQL Server’s servicing model:

Starting with SQL Server 2017, we are adopting a simplified, predictable mainstream servicing lifecycle:

  • SPs will no longer be made available. Only CUs, and GDRs when needed.
  • CUs will now accommodate localized content, allowing new feature completeness and supportability enhancements to be delivered faster.
  • CUs will be delivered more often at first and then less frequently. Every month for the first 12 months, and every quarter for the remainder 4 years of the full 5-year mainstream lifecycle.
  • CUs are delivered on the same week of the month: week of 3rd Tuesday.

Note: the Modern Servicing Model (MSM) only applies to SQL Server 2017 and future versions.

If you’re the type who waits for SP1 to drop, you’ll be waiting for Godot.  Who should be here any minute now.

SQL Server 2017 Now Generally Available

Travis Wright announces that SQL Server 2017 has gone GA:

Today, October 2nd, we are excited to announce that SQL Server 2017 is generally available for purchase and download! The new release is available right now for evaluation or purchase through the Microsoft Store, and will be available to Volume Licensing customers later today. Customers now have the flexibility for the first time ever to run industry-leading SQL Server on their choice of Linux, Docker Enterprise Edition-certified containers and, of course, Windows Server. It’s a stride forward for our modern and hybrid data platform across on-premises and cloud.

In the 18 months since announcing our intent to bring SQL Server to Linux, we’ve been focused on making SQL Server perform and scale to the industry-leading levels customers expect from SQL Server, making SQL Server feel familiar yet native to Linux, and ensuring compatibility between SQL Server on Windows and Linux. With all the enterprise database features you rely on, from Active Directory authentication, to encryption, to Always On availability groups, to record-breaking performance, SQL Server is at parity on Windows and Linux. We have also brought SQL Server Integration Services to Linux so that you can perform data integration just like on Windows. SQL Server 2017 supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Ubuntu.

It’s only been a year, but there’s a lot in this new version.  Click through for a high-level summary.

Performance Improvements In SQL Server 2017

Bob Ward goes over some of the performance improvements introduced in SQL Server 2017:

Consider for a minute all the built-in capabilities that power the speed of SQL Server. From a SQLOS scheduling engine that minimizes OS context switches to read-ahead scanning to automatic scaling as you add NUMA and CPUs. And we parallelize everything! From queries to indexes to statistics to backups to recovery to background threads like LogWriter. We partition and parallelize our engine to scale from your laptop to the biggest servers in the world.

Like the enhancements we made as described in It Just Runs Faster, in SQL Server 2016, we are always looking to tune our engine for speed, all based on customer experiences. Take, for example, indirect checkpoint, which is designed to provide a more predictable recovery time for a database. We boosted scalability of this feature based on customer feedback. We also made scalability improvements for parallel scanning and consistency check performance. No knobs required. Just built-in for speed.

One of the coolest performance aspects to built-in speed is online operations. We know you need to perform other maintenance tasks than just run queries, but keep your application up and running, so we support online backups, consistency checks, and index rebuilds. SQL Server 2017 enhances this functionality with resumable online index builds allowing you to pause an index build and resume it at any time (even after a failure).

I saw the performance improvements in 2016 and am looking forward to the ones in 2017.

SQL Server 2017 GA Date

Steve Jones reports:

Announced today at Microsoft Ignite, the general availability date is Oct 2, for Windows, Linux, and Docker. Time to get ready to upgrade.

Exciting times.  There are a few big features in 2017 if you want to run Linux or have columnstore indexes.

Azure SQL Database Compatibility Level Change

Joe Sack reports that new Azure SQL Databases will have a compatibility level of 140 by default:

Once this new database compatibility default goes into effect, if you still wish to use database compatibility level 130 (or lower), please follow the instructions detailed here: View or Change the Compatibility Level of a Database.  For example, you may wish to ensure that new databases created in Azure SQL Database use the same compatibility level as other databases in Azure SQL Database to ensure consistent query optimization behavior across development, QA and production versions of your databases. We recommend that database configuration scripts explicitly designate COMPATIBILITY_LEVEL rather than rely on the defaults, in order to ensure consistent application behavior.

For new databases supporting new applications, we recommend using the latest compatibility level (140).  For pre-existing databases running at lower compatibility levels, the recommended workflow for upgrading the query processor to a higher compatibility level is detailed in the article, Change the Database Compatibility Mode and Use the Query Store.  Note that this article refers to compatibility level 130 and SQL Server, but the same methodology applies for moves to 140 for SQL Server and Azure SQL DB.

It’s good to hear, and as Joe mentions, you have the ability to move back down to 130 if you need it.

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