In this issue:

Vendors/3rd Party Products

Tech News : General Interest

Tech News : Security

Microsoft News : General Interest

Microsoft News : Patches, Bugs

Hardware News

Blogs : Administration

Blogs : Analysis Services / BI

Blogs : Big Data

Blogs : Computing in the Cloud

Blogs : Database Design, Theory and Development

Blogs : DMO/SMO/Powershell

Blogs : Hardware

Blogs : High Availability/Disaster Recovery

Blogs : Performance and Tuning

Blogs : Professional Development

Blogs : Security and Auditing

Blogs : Software Development

Blogs : T-SQL

Database Weekly - www.databaseweekly.com

The Complete Weekly Roundup of SQL Server News

Hand-picked content to sharpen your professional edge

SQL Server News for 2013-09-16

SQL Server Concurrency eBook Understand Locking, Blocking & Row Versioning
Read Kalen Delaney's eBook to understand SQL Server concurrency, and use SQL Monitor to pinpoint excessive blocking and deadlocking. Download free resources.
SQL Prompt 6 5 ways to code effortlessly
Discover the different ways you can make writing, exploring, and refactoring SQL code refreshingly effortless with SQL Prompt 6. Download a free trial.
SQL Backup Pro "A real time saver" Andy Doyle, Head of IT Services
Andy and his team saved time by automating backup and restores with SQL Backup Pro. Find out how much time you could save. Download a free trial now.
Editorial - The MCM Program is dead. Long live the MCMs!

A week or so ago, Microsoft announced that it was retiring the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) program, the granddaddy of all certifications offered by Microsoft, and it's caused a predictable stir in the community, with many having spent money working toward a certification they will no longer be able to take, or complete.

I have nothing but admiration for my friends who have managed to pass this MCM exam, but more about them in a moment. Let's talk certification for a minute. First, I should make it clear that I have a jaundiced view of most certifications. I am not Microsoft certified. I've never taken a single Microsoft certification test, including the sample tests, so I don't even know if I could achieve certification.

In theory, holding a certification proves a level of knowledge. It should show a potential employer that you, the certificate holder, retain a level of skill and understanding of a topic that you will apply to their business, as a more valued employee than the person who does not have that certificate. In practice though, I'm not so sure.

I used to interview people a lot. We went through hundreds of resumes (CVs) trying to find qualified candidates. It's actually shocking the numbers of people, who have 3-5 years of experience with databases, yet don't know the difference between a clustered and non-clustered index, or can't tell me about Recovery Models in SQL Server. Even more shocking is the number of people who have passed multiple certifications, and don't know those things either.

As a result, I never saw the need for, or benefit of, certifications. My experiences interviewing people who absolutely failed to demonstrate even the most basic knowledge of SQL Server but who nonetheless were certified to the hilt, made my already small respect dwindle to nothing.

Look up the word 'dump' associated with most of these Microsoft certifications. It is so easy to cheat your way through these exams that it almost feels intentional. The MCM program was different, though. It was rigorous, it was hard, it wasn't just a multiple-choice test, it had a full on lab where you had to solve real problems. The people who started getting their MCM, I already knew were the best. Many of them wrote books and presented their knowledge; I knew they had a firm grasp on SQL Server. The MCM just confirmed and acknowledged their abilities.

Now, sadly, the MCM program is gone. However, those who passed the exam remain, and they remain Masters of SQL Server. No cancelled program can take that from them. So long live the MCMs!

Grant Fritchey (Guest Editor)

» Join the debate, and respond to today's editorial on the forums


The Weekly News

All the headlines and interesting SQL Server information that we've collected over the past week, and sometimes even a few repeats if we think they fit. These headlines are gathered throughout the week and are posted in real time at the website. Check there for information throughout the week or enjoy this weekly summary of the SQL Server world.


Vendors/3rd Party Products

New SQL Monitor Custom Metric: Percentage of Free Log Space - This metric measures the percentage of free space for transaction log files (LDF files). You’ll find this useful if your SQL Server has limited capacity, so you need to maximize existing disk space utilization by minimizing unused space. It will also alert you if the amount of free space drops below the specified thresholds....(more)

Tech News : General Interest

Google swaps out MySQL, moves to MariaDB - Google is migrating its MySQL systems over to MariaDB, allowing the search company to get away from the Oracle-backed open source database....(more)

Tech News : Security

This Patch Tuesday One To Remember, With 13 Bulletins - Microsoft Relevant Products/Services on Tuesday issued 13 security Relevant Products/Services bulletins. Four are rated critical. The cumulative 47 patches address vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, Office, Outlook, Internet Explorer and SharePoint Relevant Products/Services. Microsoft recommends focusing on MS13-067, MS13-068, and MS13-069 first. ...(more)

Massive Hack on Vodafone Germany Affects 2 Million Users - The personal details of about 2 million Vodafone Germany customers have been exposed in a hack that's making international headlines. According to the company, hackers tapped into an information pool of addresses, bank account numbers and dates of birth. ...(more)

Microsoft News : General Interest

Microsoft to launch new Surfaces on September 23 - At an invitation-only event, Microsoft is expected to show off the Haswell-based Surface 2 Pro and the Tegra-based Surface 2 -- products about which there've been a number of leaks in the past week-plus....(more)

Who's who on Microsoft's new operating systems team - Microsoft's new cross-platform operating system team includes a number of former Windows big-wigs and few of the members of the most recent Windows regime....(more)

Microsoft News : Patches, Bugs

Microsoft pulls botched KB 2871630, while many Office patch problems remain - The really bad Black Tuesday patch -- KB 2871630, the one that caused the folder list in Outlook 2013 to disappear -- was pulled early Wednesday morning...(more)

Hardware News

Google Introduces Haswell Chromebooks - Google's next line of Chromebooks will run on Intel's fourth generation Core i-series of CPUs....(more)

Hardware Tricks: How to Not Fix a Crashed Hard Drive - most tech savvy people have likely heard of the various tricks you can use to try to get data off of a failing hard drive. Put it in the freezer, knock it on the side, drop it, sacrifice a virgin keyboard under the pale LED light…. Some of those tricks might actually work on occasion, but none of them – no, not even the keyboard sacrifice! – have worked for me in my lifetime of geekdom. But there’s one option that I have heard can work: the hard drive transplant....(more)

Blogs : Administration

Monitoring Database and Table Sizes - Trending database and table sizes helps give you an idea of what to expect, and, sometimes, points out problems and their root causes. I even go so far as to monitor the disk space, file growth rates, and have a report going out telling me that “according to your current growth trends, you’ll run out of space on this day”....(more)

Source code control - SQL Server and Oracle - "One of the things that I find very poorly done in most SQL Server sites that I visit is source code control for database objects." Greg Low suggests a few ways you can connect SQL Server Management Studio with source code control systems, to make it easier to manage scripts...(more)

SQL Server Configuration Manager – Remote Procedure Call Failed - If you find a need to install multiple version of SQL Server on a laptop of server, you are bound to run into a problem with the MMC snap for configuring the instances. One of the most common, the remote procedure call failed. This error is simply due to the lack of backward compatibility for 2008 SQL Server Configuration Manager....(more)

Getting more details with an enhanced xp_fixeddrives for SQL Server - I manage a large number of SQL servers and I don't want to waste SAN space, so I want to control SQL server drive space very closely. Because of that, when there is a space problem, I use xp_fixeddrives to see how much free space the drives have but this extended stored procedure doesn't give all the information that I need. Also, we are starting to use Mount Points more and I want to see free space by mount point as well. ...(more)

Database maintenance and when is it needed (Part 2: SHRINK operations) - How to avoid the need to shrinking a database , a task that should never be a part of any periodic database maintenance plan, as it can cause severe index fragmentation and even file-level fragmentation....(more)

Blogs : Analysis Services / BI

Comparing Data Quality Services (DQS) and Master Data Services (MDS) - This post describes some of the ways that Data Quality Services (DQS) and Master Data Services (MDS) differ in their processes and some of the ways in which they are similar....(more)

Problems With Calculated Members And Level Names - A customer had created a calculated member, not on the measures dimension but on another hierarchy, and even though it had been selected in their client tool it wasn’t appearing in the query results. Chris Webb tested in Excel, saw some strange error message, and after a bit of thought found out what was going on…...(more)

Data Analysis: Just one component of the Data Science workflow - Judging from articles in the popular press the term data scientist has increasingly come to refer to someone who specializes in data analysis. This is unfortunate since the term originally described someone who could cut between a series of interdependent tasks....(more)

Blogs : Big Data

Compare Big Data Platforms vs SQL Server - SQL is derided by modern developers as 'Scarcely Qualifies as a Language'. But just how efficient are the new wave of NoSQL languages touted by bleeding-edge skunk works? This tip is a defense of SQL and of the relational model, and argues for the efficiency and suitability of relational technology....(more)

Blogs : Computing in the Cloud

SQL Server Self-Service Kit : Provisioning SQL Server as a Service - Some great work is being done by the Windows Server and System Center CAT related to Hybrid Cloud and… Wait for it… Provisioning SQL Server as a Service!...(more)

Move your SQL Server Databases to Windows Azure SQL - Would you like to move SQL Server databases out of your datacenter and into a reliable, scalable, and secure solution? How about taking those databases that are rarely accessed or even idle and storing them somewhere else? Windows Azure SQL Database can help you with solve those issues and more!...(more)

Blogs : Database Design, Theory and Development

NULL in the Data Warehouse - The arguments for and against NULL in the data warehouse are complicated. The goal of the data warehouse is to represent a single version of the truth for the enterprise. This article looks at a number of situations when use of NULL might be appropriate, and situations where the use of NULL could cause end user confusion. ...(more)

Revisited: The Story of Pubs, Northwind, and AdventureWorks - The interesting journey from Pubs, to Northwind to AdventureWorks......(more)

Blogs : DMO/SMO/Powershell

PowerShell 4.0 – A first look - There are a number of welcome changes to v4 but fortunately for you, assuming you are already running v3, there jump isn’t as dramatic as I feel it was going from 2.0 to 3.0....(more)

The POSH DBA – Getting to know PowerShell - Laerte Junior offers an introduction to PowerShell and describes how DBAs can use PowerShell to automate repetitive tasks. He also explains when to use PowerShell instead of, or in addition to, T-SQL and SSIS. ...(more)

Weekend Scripter: Remoting the Cloud with Windows Azure and PowerShell - Windows PowerShell remoting to configure the operating system and applications running inside our new Windows Azure virtual machine. ...(more)

Remoting the Implicit Way - Just about everyone knows how to run Windows PowerShell commands on a remote computer. You can use WMI or Windows PowerShell remoting, and the commands are very similar. However, there is another way......(more)

Blogs : Hardware

SSD and Internal SQL Server Tuning Strategies - Microsoft does not like to make meaningful tuning parameters in SQL Server. In part, I understand this because? in the past I have seen really bad settings being used in other products that do expose more tuning parameters based on seriously mistaken understanding of the inner workings of the database engine....(more)

IOPS Are A Scam - Storage vendors brag about the IOPS that their hardware can provide. Cloud providers have offered guaranteed IOPS for a while now. It seems that no matter where we turn, we can’t get away from IOPS. ...(more)

The storage wars: Shadow Paging, Log Structured Merge and Write Ahead Logging - Having done a lot of research lately on storage, Ayende Rahien describes a few of the most popular ways of writing to disk today....(more)

Blogs : High Availability/Disaster Recovery

Finding Performance Benefits with Partitioning - Partitioning is a SQL Server feature often implemented to alleviate challenges related to manageability, maintenance tasks, or locking and blocking. Administration of large tables can become easier with partitioning, and it can improve scalability and availability. In addition, a by-product of partitioning can be improved query performance....(more)

Blogs : Performance and Tuning

Execution Plan Cost Estimates - It’s been emphasized over and over that the costs of operations within an execution plan, and the estimated costs of the plan themselves are, in fact, estimates. But it goes further than that. The estimated values are based on statistics, or the lack thereof. Statistics themselves are also estimates. ...(more)

Exploring Partition-Level Online Index Operations in SQL Server 2014 CTP1 - SQL Server 2014 CTP1 introduces extensions to online operation options that will good news for companies hosting very large databases that require little to no downtime....(more)

Three More Tricky Tempdb Lessons - Tempdb contention is a common DBA problem. Michael J Swart shares three lesser known surprises about everyone’s favorite bottleneck....(more)

Diagnosing Transaction Log Performance Issues and Limits of the Log Manager - For transactional workloads I/O performance of the writes to the SQL Server transaction log is critical to both throughput and application response time. This document discusses briefly how to determine if I/O to the transaction log file is a performance bottleneck and how to determine if this is storage related....(more)

(USE THIS): New SQL Server 2012 rewrite for sp_helpindex - Kimberley Tripp updates here useful stored procedure for investigating your indexes....(more)

Excuses for Slow Databases That Don’t Hold Up - The database application is slow, and you’re throwing something under the bus, but we’ve got bad news. Changing it probably isn’t going to make your server faster. Here’s some of our favorite excuses....(more)

Blogs : Professional Development

Death of the MCM program - Paul Randal hoped his survey would be one more data point that would help persuade Microsoft Learning (MSL) that the MCM program should continue. Alas, it is not to be, as on Monday’s con-call between the MCM community and MSL it was made very clear that the program is effectively dead....(more)

We can handle the truth - Joe Sack's thoughts after attending the MCM call with Microsoft Learning (MSL)....(more)

Look back and realize how far you came - It appeared out of nowhere while I was having a strong argument with the ton of dust that had taken over my computer room. My former favorite book, "Advanced Transact-SQL for SQL server 2000"......(more)

Blogs : Security and Auditing

How do the fixed Database and Server roles map to more specific permissions? - Links to some nice charts showing how the various fixed server and database roles map to individual permissions....(more)

In Google We Trust – Links and more info from 4 Corners - Troy Hunt on a piece he's collaborated on that looks at the digital footprints we’re leaving behind us through the use of apps and from externalised tracking such as via the roads authority, police and shopping centres covertly monitoring devices....(more)

Blogs : Software Development

Methodology Agnostic - As a jobbing programmer, one could not draw oneself up to one’s full height and say, “I’m an Agile developer”, if one wanted the work. Hence, in the same way that Goldsmith shunned any controversy or debate over religion, so the seasoned developer avoided picking sides in the debate over methodologies....(more)

Blogs : T-SQL

Not-so-dirty SQL hacks - There are many ways to use SQL. Having seen plenty of awful code over the years, and written plenty of it myself, I know that there are lots of ways to achieve the same thing, and there are ways to persuade the Query Optimizer to take one particular approach rather than another. These efforts might seem quite ‘hacky’ at first glance, but if there is good reason for them, then perhaps they belong....(more)

Processing nonstructured data using FILESTREAM and FileTable - SQL Server 2012 simplifies the processing of unstructured data found in files. The FileTable enhancements to FILESTREAM allow documents to be known to SQL Server full-text search by simply copying them to a FileTable network share. ...(more)

When to Breakdown Complex Queries - Microsoft SQL Server is able to create very efficient query plans in most cases. However, there are certain query patterns that can cause problems for the query optimizer; this paper describes four of these patterns. ...(more)

EMA – When a Cursor Is Faster than a Set Oriented Query - Dejan Sarka challengers readers to find a set-oriented solution that is more efficient than a cursor for calculating the Exponential Moving Average (EMA)....(more)

Find which column in which table updated from logfile - Sometimes the database developers need to work with a database which they don't have any permission to add any procedure or trigger, because that database is for someone else but they need change tracking, in this article i will show a solution for this problem ...(more)

Databases and Dominoes - A Dominoes game of Texas 42 inspires Joe to explore unusual uses for check constraints and views. Sometimes, the best way of discovering useful SQL techniques is to tackle the more unusual problems....(more)


Administrative