Month: February 2012

Still running on SQL Server 2000/2005 today??

Are you running your business still on Backend SQL Server 2000 or SQL Server 2005 Databases? Well, let me tell you this. Go ahead and Upgrade to SQL Server 2008R2 now, at least give it a consideration right now. Plan for it, work with your architects and DBA’s for options you’ve.

Beware, Microsoft has announced End of Extended Support(April 2013) as well for SQL 2000. In other words you’ve to run your business on Unsupported SQL Server Version with Self-help Online Support only!!!!

If you are running on SQL 2005 and unaware of support policy, SQL 2005 is already running on Extended Support as of now. Mainstream support has already been ended on April 2011.

For more information and for understanding the options you’ve in place if your shop is still running on Older Versions of SQL Server, please refer to

 http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/en/us/support/support-updates.aspx.

DB Mirroring from SQL 2008SP2 to 2008 RTM or from SQL 2005 to SQL 2008?

Have you ever thought about this? Can we Mirror a Database from SQL Server 2008SP2(Principal) to SQL Server 2008(Mirror) RTM? Well, how about Mirroring from SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2008??  Let me show you the prior case.

Scenario 1:

Principal DB Engine Version: SQL Server 2008 SP2

Mirror DB Engine Version: SQL Server 2008 RTM

DB Name: DB_Mirror

Answer: Yes, we can! You can see below screenshot.

You should not see any Issues with Failover/Switching DB Roles from Principal to Mirror and Viceversa.

Scenario 2: 

Principal DB Engine Version: SQL Server 2005 SP3

Mirror DB Engine Version: SQL Server 2008SP2/2008R2.

I don’t have a SQL Server 2005 Instance to show you how it works, but Yes, we can! Very Important point to consider in this case is, Once you failover(Switch the Mirroring Roles) the Database from SQL 2005 to 2008, you can’t failback! This is One-Way approach. 

Note: You can’t setup Mirroring from 2008(as Principal) to 2005(as Mirror). Well, DB Version can’t be downgraded. In other words, we can’t restore a DB to lower Versions!!

Hope this is Informative and something which you can think about as an option for upgrading/Migrating Large Databases with very less acceptable downtime! ( Make sure, you understand all the caveats before trying this in your Prod Environments).

Installing(Adding) feature(SSRS) to an existing SQL Installation!

In this post, let’s see how one can add a new feature to your existing SQL Installation. I’ve chosen SSRS(Single Server Deployment, not scaled out) to be Installed on my machine. This Server already has DB Engine and SSIS Installed on it. Please do not do the same on your Production environment unless you clearly understand all the odds of doing the same on an already busy SQL Server.(This is for my Lab purposes) Below Screenshot shows the current status at a very high level of my Server which I’m going to Install SSRS on.

Insert your SQL Server 2008 Media and DC setup.exe, Now navigate to Installation tab and click on 1st link(New Standalone Installation or add features to an existing Installation…) as shown below.

Support Rules/Run check will be kicked off automatically by Installation Wizard. Fix any Errors/Warnings and click on “OK”. The next phase will be installing “Setup Support Files” by SQL Server Installation wizard. This might take couple of minutes.

Now, make sure to select Add features instead of “New Installation” as shown below.

Select SSRS in features(see below) and click Next.

Now, select your Service account(I’ve chosen Network Service) as shown below and click Next.

Now, the Interesting part of SSRS Installation process pops up.(See below Screenshot for available Options we’ve)

Since I’m installing on a machine which already has SQL Server Instance(In other words, adding feature to existing Named Installation of my SQL Server) Option 1 is greyed out for me. Also, Since I don’t have MOSS, Option 2 is greyed Out. So, at this point Report Server S/W will be Installed, but we’ve to manually configure SSRS by navigating to SSRS Config Manager.

After couple of mins, I was greeted with the below Screen 🙂

So, are we done with Configuring SSRS? Nope! Not yet. We are just done with the Installation, not the configuration. For configuring SSRS Service, you’ve to go to Reporting Services Configuration manager under your Configuration tools.

Once Web Service URL has been setup, navigate to Database tab, select on Change Database Button. This is the place where you can select the Database(s) aka Report Catalogs names and select your Instance and respective credentials. I’m going to select SREEDR Instance.  At this moment, there are no databases on this Instance and no SSRS related Logins!

Step1: select Create a New RS Database(Since, this is my first Installation).

Step2: Select your SQL Server(For Named Instance, you’ve to specify ServerName\SQLInstance)

Step3: Enter your preferred DB Name and your Mode.(I left it to default)

Step4: Enter Credentials how SSRS Service will communicate with your Backend Databases. Since both my SSRS and DB Service are running on a same box, I can leave it to default(Service Credentials). Any ways, I’ve a domain account(It can also be a SQL Server Login) which I can use, for this purpose.

Once everything goes Green, You should see the Databases being Created on the Selected Instance and also the Login will be created automatically with the required Permissions as well, which is awesome:)

Now, go to report Manager URL and click Apply! That’s it… Now your Basic SSRS is all setup and configured. As you can see now, I can open my Report Manager URL!

Tada…Yes, it’s that Simple 🙂

Cluster Logs in Windows Server 2008??

In this Blog post, let’s focus on where/how we can review Failover Cluster Logs on Windows Server 2008 and above. As most of us know on Windows Server 2003 Cluster, we used to have  “cluster.log” file on each node participating in cluster, which contains debug information. FYI, One can locate these files in “%systemroot% \ cluster” Folder. But how about cluster log files in Windows Server 2008/2008R2?? Uhuhh…It’s not something which you can review directly by navigating to systemroot folder. Below is the screenshot of that folder in my cluster.

You can see a folder called “REPORTS” in the above screenshot where all the cluster Validation Reports will be stored by default. attaching below Screenshot Just to prove, that cluster.log file can’t be located in the “reports” folder as well 🙂

Starting Windows Server 2008, cluster logs are managed by something called as “Windows Event Tracing“. Just an FYI, If you are interested, You can pull all the current  running traces by opening “perfmon” and navigating to Data Collector Sets. (Shown Below in the Screenshot)

So, as any other logs, cluster logs are stored in “C:\Windows\System32\winevt\Logs” folder with “etl” extension as you can see below.

Well, so How to read those .ETL files??

For that, we have to use “cluster.exe” command with “/gen” switch. Basically this will generate a human readable text file in your “Reports” folder.

Syntax: Cluster log /gen

Output:

 

As you can see in the above Screenshot, it will communicate with all the nodes in your cluster. In my scenario, Node2 is offline(Powered down).  BTW, even though Node2 is down, it will create “Cluster.txt” file in your Reports Folder with related information.

So, how to generate Logs related to a specific Node?

You have to use “/NODE” switch with your cluster log syntax. Please see below Screenshot.

As you can see, this time, we had no RPC Errors.

So, there is lot to explore/learn in 2008 Failover Clustering, if you are using 2003 since long time, things got changed drastically. There are lot of other options/switches available with cluster.exe. Even you can limit the size if you are interested. BTW, everything which I’ve shown here can be achieved via Powershell Cmdlets as well!

Hope this is informative….

DPM(Data Protection Manager 2010) Gotchas….

In the previous post, we’ve seen what is DPM and what can be achieved via DPM at a very High level. In this Blog Post, let’s see few GOTCHAS(The Oops Moments 😉 , things you should be aware of) to keep in mind implementing DPM.

Let me get this very straight, Absolute 100% protection/Up time  is of course not possible. Yes, this is the same case with any other technology out there in market.  Most of the cases, we the administrators, see Business saying ” we can’t tolerate even a single second  of downtime, we can’t tolerate any data loss. Absolutely we need all the data to be recovered at any given point of time”. Let me say this, in practical world, this is not possible. Step back a little and work with your business to understanding the real business needs. Make them understand how technology works. Define RPO’s and RTO’s, Document SLA’s. Define allowable Maintenance Window, where we can perform any maintenance tasks on our Servers. The bottom line is, we should be able to recover from a disaster with least amount of data loss and least amount of time as much as we can!

Anyways, few things which one should be aware of before implementing DPM:

  • DPM is heavily dependent on your Network Bandwidth as any other Backup tool available out there. Of course It has to copy data over wires across multiple Sites. With Compression enabled, make sure your servers have enough CPU cycles available.
  • Of course, It’s also heavily dependent on your Disks performance.
  • Initial Replica might take considerable amount of time depending on amount of data and Network Speeds.
  • DPM doesn’t support FAT Based Disks. Disks can be either DAS, or SAN Based with NTFS.
  • Disks within DPM Storage Pool should not contain any other Application Data, Volumes etc. All the Partitions/Volumes will be erased while initial Configuration of your Storage Pool.
  • 15 Minutes is the least possible frequency for your Recovery Points.
  • DPM Can’t be Installed on Machines with Fail Over Clustering Services being enabled. You’ve to remove that Role prior to Installation of DPM. Can’t be Installed on a machine with SCOM Agent on it.
  • Be prepared for Multilpe Reboots for successful Installation of DPM.
  • You can either Encrypt your Data or Compress your Data, but not both!
  • If you’ve to use BMR(Bare Metal Recovery), System State Protection must be enabled.
  • You can’t Backup Junction Points, recycle BIN, Paging File,SysVol Information Foder.
  • Protected Systems can’t be moved between Protection Groups on fly. It’s not supported. You’ve to manually remove system from Protection Group and add it to new Protection Group.
  • Don’t use SQL Server Application Protection for backing up your MOSS(Share point) Databases if you are already backing up MOSS Application. DPM will get confused with LSN’s and your Backups will fail.
  • If you are backing up your SQL Databases, make sure that no other tool besides DPM is truncating your T-Logs. DPM Backups will fail in that case.
  • If you plan to Install DPM SQL Databases remotely, make sure that you’ve to acquire License for your SQL Server. If you’ve chosen to Install Locally on the same machine, DPM will cover SQL License for you!
  • DPM Installation will fail, if your SQL Installation fails. Make sure to Install DB Engine, SSRS, SQL Client Connectivity SDK and Management Tools as bare minimum. For remote SQL Deployments, Named Pipes must be enabled.  We’ve to Install SQL Server DPM Support Files prior to DPM Installation( Can be found in SQLPREPINSTALLER folder in your DPM Media)

Hope this is informative! BTW, There’s fabulous documentation from microsoft on troubleshooting any issues related to DPM.

It can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=15954.

Data Protection Manager(DPM) – Protected System Requirements!

Let’s deviate a little bit from SQL Server in this Post and see what is DPM and how one can get benefited by using/implementing DPM in their environments at a very High Level.

Why I’ve started exploring and teaching myself DPM? Well, being a Consultant, I’ve to work with multiple clients and Each client will be using their own set of tools(can be MSFT or even any Third Party Tools). Being said that, more I’ve vision on Microsoft tools and Products, and other 3rd Party tools related to my Skills,  more I can succeed in my career. Single point I love working as a consultant – I’ll get an opportunity to learn and explore various technologies which helps me growing Up and in return I can help another client(may be in next assignment).As I always say, best way to learn something is teach yourself. Create a Lab, simulate a corporate environment and start getting familiar with whatever the tool/product is!

Anyways…So, what is DPM? Well, as the name indicates it is a tool for Protecting our Mission Critical Data. It can be either a File Server, an Exchange Server, a Sharepoint Server or a SQL Server or your Windows Server Itself or even your Client/Desktop Machines! DPM 2010 has some real cool features and I’ve observed recently, many companies started leaning towards implementing DPM rather than depending on some third Party Products as their Backup/Recovery Solution. I don’t mean, 3rd Party tools can be Ignored either…IMHO, I prefer being as a complete Microsoft Shop rather than dealing with multiple vendors in case of any support needed. YMMV! I may be coming up with few other posts showing some DEMO’s, once I Install DPM in my LAB!  Okay…enough blabbering, It’s time to do some justice to the Post Title now 😉

So, what are the minimum requirements for your protected Systems, if you want DPM 2010 to support them?

Supported Win Servers: Windows Server 2003-2008R2. Yes, DPM 2010 won’t support your Windows Servers 2000(Hope you don’t have any in your shop), Small Business Server 2008. For Win Server 2003, HotFix KB940349 is Mandatory. For Win Server 2008R2 you’ve to enable Windows Backup Service manually(Basically adding a new feature from your Server Manager)

Application Servers:

SQL Server 2000 through 2008R2. Note: SQL 2000 should be running on minimum SP4 and SQL 2005 RTM is not supported as well.(VSS – Volume Shadow Service) must be enabled.

Exchange Server 2003 through 2010.

MOSS(Sharepoint Server) 2003 through 2010.

Other General Considerations to be considered:

It won’t support FAT!! Only NTFS Disks are supported. If you are considering using System State Backup/BMR(Bare Metal Recovery), you should have additional 20 GB of free space available.

Note: It’s always better to have latest Service Pack/Hotfix Installed on your Servers for avoiding any potential Issues.

Once you Install DPM on any Server, It will automatically create a SQL Instance for it’s own. You can choose Local Server(on DPM) or a remote Server. I prefer Local Server and Keeping DPM SQL Instance dedicated for those Databases. Don’t create your Application Databases on DPM SQL Server!

One Interesting Point with DPM 2010 is, It will Backup your SQL Server 2008R2 Servers, but actual DPM SQL Instance should be on SQL Server 2008. In other words, the DPM Databases cannot be hosted on SQL Server 2008R2 and Agent Service should be set to Automatic(Clustering your DPM SQL Server is not Supported, but you can backup Clustered SQL Servers)…Hope Am not confusing you 🙂

Epitome – I’m really glad that I got an opportunity to explore this awesome tool in recent days. Thanks to the person(Shh..It’s a secret ;)) who made me to think about this tool! As any other tool, You’ve to remember few GOTCHAS…before rolling out this guy into production. Let’s see those in future posts…

Hope this in informative…Cheers!