Database Options

DMVs with Database Compatibility Level 80??…

Let me give a brief background on why i would like to discuss regarding this interesting and most often ignored topic of Dynamic Management Views(DMVs) and their relation with Database Compatibility Mode.

Note: When i say a DMV, i actually mean DMO(Dynamic Management Object) which Includes both DMV’s and DMF’s(Dynamic Management Functions). To avoid the confusion, people generalized and started calling both DMV’s and DMF’s with a single term called DMV and i love it:)

Why am i sharing this today?? Well, we(our Team) recently started a Small Internal Project something called as “Performance Tuning Initiative”. As you all know, a DMV can help a DBA than any other free tool(Sometimes a paid tool too) out there in market!! So…we started to Pull all the Cool information with proper benchmarks and started doing trend analysis and monitoring using few fabulous DMVs which are available to all of us.
Note: We’ve few Databases with Compatibility Mode 80 because of Vendor Restrictions even running on SQL Server 2005 SP4. So…as you imagined by this time, today in the morning myself and one of the DBA’s in my team had a discussion regarding how DMV’s behave if run against a database with Compatibility Level 80. Interestingly, he was in a misconception – “Most of the DMV’s are of no use if the DB Compatibility Level is 80” and i was arguing exactly the other way.- “Most(Almost every) of the DMV’s will have no issues even the Compatibility level is 80”

Quick Demo:
I’ve a Database “AdventureWorksDW” set to Compatibility Level 80 as you can see below.

Let’s run few typical DMV’s which we’ll be using on a regular basis against this database.

In the above Screenshot you can see it had no issues with the “AdventureWorksDW” Database.

Let’s see what happens if we run our sys.dm_db_index_physical_stats against this Database.

Ummm…it is screaming that there’s a syntax error. Actually it’s not. There’s a Simple trick to crack this thing.

Crack – Execute the DMV in context of any other database which has 90/100 compatibility mode. In my case I’m running on SQL Server 2008R2 and my master database has 100 Compatibility level.
Syntax 1 where we had issues:

USE AdventureWorksDW
FROM sys.dm_db_index_physical_stats(
) x
WHERE x.avg_fragmentation_in_percent > 50

Syntax 2 where we are having no issues:

use master
FROM sys.dm_db_index_physical_stats(
) x
WHERE x.avg_fragmentation_in_percent > 50
The results are as shown below in the screenshot.

If you observe the syntax carefully, I’ve just changed the database context of execution and I’m passing my Database which is in Compatibility level 80 to the DB_ID() Function.
What’s the Reason behind this??
Very Very Important……
Because the physical structure(Version) of the database is not going to change when you change compatibility level.In other words you are not downgrading a Database at it’s underlying physical architectural level by just reducing the compatibility level to an older version. You are changing only few Queries execution behaviors! That’s all basically what you are achieving here by reducing compatibility level to 80 in this case. Once the Database is on SQL Server 2005 by any means(Create from Scratch/Restored/Detached-attached), that’s it…the Database Version is set to 611/612.
SQL Server Denali Database Version – 700
SQL Server 2008R2 Database Version – 661
SQL Server 2008 Database Version – 655
SQL Server 2005 Database Version – 611/612
SQL Server 2000 Database Version – 539.

That’s the reason why you can’t restore a Database from SQL Server 2005(2008) onto SQL Server 2000(2005) even though you changed the compatibility level to 80(90). SQL Server won’t allow to downgrade any database version. No exceptions here!! You’ve to choose the difficult path of moving object by object and data using SSIS!!

Let’s do a Quick Demo what I’m talking about:
SQL Server Database stores the Database version information in it’s Boot Page( Page 9 of 1st File in the database). I’ve to turn on traceflag 3604 to dump the boot page to our results pane. For More Information on this please see my previous blog post

In the above screenshot, you can see the database has 80 Compatibility level but the DB version is 661(SQL Server 2008R2).

Hope this information is useful….!


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