There are countless sources for information on SQL Server available today. There are books, webcasts, conferences, and blogs. With all of these sources, it is easy to forget that there are white papers available from Microsoft. It is important that we make an effort to read the white papers that are available.
The trouble is, there are so many white papers available from Microsoft and other sources, we need to know which are most important. Should those from the latest release of SQL Server trump the older white papers? If a white paper hasn’t been updated, is it still valuable?
As I’ve thought about this, there are a few Microsoft white papers that are available that are more important than others. They should be read by every DBA, and anyone that has a hand in managing or administering a SQL Server environment. These are:
- Troubleshooting Performance Problems in SQL Server 2008 (also available for SQL Server 2005) – This whitepaper is where I first turn people when they want to start learning about how to fix their performance issues with SQL Server. It hasn’t been updated for SQL Server 2012, but the concepts remain the same, and the approaches recommended are just as valid.
- SQL Server 2005 Performance Tuning using the Waits and Queues – Similar to the first item, here’s another white paper in desperate need of an update but with information just as useful today as when it was first written. When you look at how many DBAs performance tune their environments today, the roots of those methodologies are found in this white paper. In fact, many third party monitoring tools are built around this white paper.
- SQL Server 2012 Security Best Practices – Security is never one of the most exciting topics, but this white paper walks through some basics, and helps dispel some myths. It’s one of those papers that can easily provide a quick reference for security questions. It has an easily digestible length, and can be used to send to managers and peers when security questions arise.
- AlwaysOn Architecture Guide: Building a High Availability and Disaster Recovery Solution by Using AlwaysOn Availability Groups (for SQL Server 2008 R2 - Proven SQL Server Architectures for High Availability and Disaster Recovery) – When it comes to maintaining availability of data and your environment, you need to be well aware of the options and how all the moving parts can fit together. These white papers provide that perspective. Since the options between SQL Server 2008 and 2012 are so different, it is important to read both of these.
- SQL Server 2012 Upgrade Technical Reference Guide Whitepaper - Contrary to the other white papers in this list, this document is fairly large, coming in at 454 pages. While lengthy, this document should be kept on hand and read through prior to any SQL Server 2012 upgrade. In fact, when people suggest doing “a quick weekend upgrade”, send this over to them beforehand to verify that they’ve considered everything in the document already. Not to stop or slow down the upgrade, but you need to be sure that upgrades don’t lead to disasters, because at the end of the day DBAs will be responsible for those results.
The white papers listed above are just a few of the ones available from Microsoft. There are countless others, and even more from other vendors. What white papers do you recommend to others on SQL Server?