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A SQL Server Issue? (Database Weekly May 11, 2009)

By Steve Jones,

Last week Windows 7 was made available as a Release Candidate (RC) and lots of people attempted to download the bits. This resulted in delays, complaints, and even quite a few failures. I was one of those that had numerous failures one day, and then slowness pulling it down the second day. My first thought was that just too many people were trying and bandwidth was being choked somewhere.

Then I saw this note from a ZDNet blog that said it was a "SQL Server issue" with the downloads. It cited SQL Server fragmentation because of the downloads. It said there was an spike in the CPU of this server and provided a graph. Apparently after an index was rebuilt the CPU went down, and a regular rebuild in the indexes was scheduled to prevent this.

At first that seemed silly to me as a DBA, but Paul Randal of SQLSkills provided a great explanation about what the issue could have been, looking at how fragmentation caused by page splits would have spiked the CPU. That makes sense, and everyone that experiences large loads should understand this issue, and look to minimize page splits where possible.

However I'm stunned that Microsoft let this go without more information released officially, especially after the ZDNet blog. That's the type of story that could spread virally and become a part of urban legend.

Does that matter?

Absolutely it does if you want to sell SQL Server. People will think that SQL Server has issues, Oracle will harp on this as an issue with SQL Server design, and it will become more difficult to get SQL Server to be designed into new applications, especially web sites. It doesn't matter if the story is correct or not, if people start to repeat this as a SQL Server issue, it hurts sales.

Microsoft would be better off claiming poor website design, or poor application design that is being reviewed than allowing people to believe this is a SQL Server issue. I'm sure they make more money on SQL Server's reputation than that of their internal web development team.

Steve Jones

Steve's Pick of the Week

Misconceptions around corruptions: can they disappear? - They can't, and you still have problems. Read Paul Randal's explanation, and don't continue along blissfully if they appear to be gone on the next DBCC.


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