Insufficient data from Andrew Fryer

The place where I page to when my brain is full up of stuff about the Microsoft platform

September, 2009

  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise edition and Virtualisation

    I get quite a few questions about virtualising SQL Server and typically today this is on VMWare so yesterday I went along to find out more at the VMWare London User Group. 

    In the current world of computing, vendors compete with everyone but also has alliances with everyone (a bit like the UN really!).  So I was made to feel really welcome by the organisers and the Vmware and Cisco staff there. and being a good citizen I didn’t want to bang on about how amazing Hyper-V, but of course if anybody’s asking then it would be rude not to explain what it is.

    For example I was asked about how much Hyper-V costs on top of Windows Server 2008. This is a difficult question as when you buy a copy of Windows Server 2008 or R2 what this gives you is the rights to 4 x virtual machines on one physical server each running the version of windows server you bought or any earlier one.  So that makes sense for Vmware ESX, as you already bought the hypervisor, but suppose you want to buy the Hyper-V thing and use the Microsoft platform?

    Well the strange thing here is that you already bought Hyper-V when you bought Windows Server 2008 and you can do 2 things:

    • Install Windows Server 2008 as the physical operating system setup Hyper-V (it’s a role) and nothing else.  You can then run your four vm’s on that server without any extra licenses. 
    • However if you decide to us the physical/host  operating system for other tasks as well as Hyper-V e.g. a domain controller file & print etc. then you only get to run 3x virtual machines on it.

    Hopefully that makes sense but if you need more information you can contact our licensing expert Emma Healey

  • Do You trust your DBA

    I noticed a new tool appeared last week from Sentrigo that scrambles SQL Server passwords so that they cannot be seen in plain text by the DBA. 

    This is to address a supposed vulnerability in SQL Server 2000/5 where by allowed memory dumps which exposed users passwords (BTW I am not doing a post on how to).  This only applies to installations where mixed mode is set and those passwords belong to a SQL Server (as opposed to a windows authentication) account. 

    I was interested in what the Microsoft security team had to say about this and what their recommendations are as they have usually fixed this sort of thing before most of us are aware that it exists.

    Firstly the problem doesn’t apply to:

    • SQL Server 2008 in mixed mode.
    • Any version of SQL Server in windows authentication mode

    Secondly you have to be a member of sysadmins to run these tools so as with any security it all comes down to how much you trust the gatekeeper i.e. the DBA. This is why there is no fix from Microsoft to address this issue nor will there be.

    If this is a concern for you and it might be because this could mean that a sysadmin could impersonate a user without their knowledge I don’t really see how the Sentrigo utility is going to help. It it runs a scheduled job to scramble memory according to some unknown algorithm which I assume any sysadmin would be aware of.

    Having said that SQL Server 2005 has a common criteria version cleared for use in governments so I don’t consider this is a big deal. BTW SQL Sever 2008 as it is still going through this process whihc could only start once the product was released

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  • Britain Works

    I sat watching Dave the other night and there’s a bit in it where Kevin Kline simply states that he wants to give everyone in America a job that wants one.  I’m not sure if our the MD of Microsoft, Gordon Frazer has seen this, but he’s just announced that we plan to get to 500,000 people into work by 2012 through an initiative called Britain WorkstitleElevate 

    So how do we do that?

    • A new national IT apprenticeship (with 700 new Apprenticeships before the end of the year and 3,000 by 2012).
    • Targeted skills and employability training (for which Microsoft is making available ££millions of training vouchers over three years).
    • A new job matching service called MSEmploy (which matches industry vacancies with skilled applicants)
    • Working with our partners, as well as a host of other NGOs and local government – including Leonard Cheshire, UK Online Centres, The Wise Group and Jobcentre Plus
    • Support from all the major political parties as well as Lord Digby Jones (former government skills envoy and Director general of the CBI).

    Hopefully this will grow to be much bigger than Microsoft and I have already had the SQL Bits organisers contact me about this to see how they can get involved. The various Microsoft user groups not only provide good free training, they are a great place to network to find and fill vacancies as well.

    So if you have friends or family looking to get into IT, point them at the site and if you think you can help out then please contact me.

  • SQL Server event horizon

    I’ve just got back from a week off and I was going to blog about the SQL Server Data Management on 29th September at

    Inmarsat Ltd Conference Services
    99 City Road London London

    Map picture

    But it’s already on a waiting list! You can still register and you’ll be notified if a space frees up.

    I am doing the Data Platform and Consolidation slot, so hopefully they’ll let me in! 

    If that doesn’t happen then I can also recommend SQL Bits and I have put in a longer version of this for consideration – as the sessions for the community day are voted on by attendees.

    Finally if you are in the London area then there’s a PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server) evening on this Thursday where you can get your fix of SQL Server.

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  • SQL Server, Lies Damn Lies and Statistics

    I see Oracle have published a couple of papers recently on how easy it is install, configure and manage Oracle 11g vs SQL Server and DB2. The work was commissioned from the Edison Group and the paper on the Oracle / SQL Server comparison is available here

    When I read this I was reminded of one of James O’Neill’s favourite expressions “What you get is what you  measure”. In this case the trick is to measure things in such a way as to make the answer attractive to the client.  Of course Microsoft has published it’s own whitepaper refuting the Edison research on this basis and has already published research from Forrester to backup it’s manageability claims.

    I work for Microsoft so you would expect me to be biased, but I chose to make a career out of SQL Server rather than Oracle long before that. Why?

    I have never been on any SQL Server or Oracle database training, but it has always been Oracle that I struggled with from my first go with Forms 2 / Oracle 5 to 10g a couple of years ago. Bizarrely it wasn’t the SQL itself that was the problem but those very same areas mentioned in the Edison research; installation, configuration and maintenance. 

    Like anyone I have my aaarrghh! moments with SQL Server and what helps here is the unique ecosystem behind it e.g.

    • Lots of free utilities on Codeplex to augment what’s possible in SQL Server.
    • A vast range of user groups and forums run by other SQL Server DBA to help you get the most out of it, including the UK SQL Server User Group and the SQL Bits events

    The other fact I will leave you with is that 12% of the IT jobs on the various sites like JobServe mention SQL Server specifically  (as per this post) so I don’t see me jumping the SQL Server ship anytime soon even if Oracle DBA’s typically earn more than the SQL Server variety.