Database Mirroring Freak Show – SQL Quiz from Chris Shaw

Chris Shaw ( Blog | Twitter ) started another great web chainpost. He tagged Brent Ozar, Brent tagged Thomas LaRock and Tom tagged me. This particular quiz is a two-part question and here are my responses. Excuse my lack of wit and charm. It’s late, my caffeine supply is running low and my cat is eyeballing me in a most peculiar fashion.

Do you feel that you have a reliable SAN solution? If so, what’s the secret?

It’s hard for me to answer this one given that just a few weeks ago our data center (SAN included) came crashing down hard. Now given that the problem was a faulty generator test and not the SAN itself that was the problem I can’t really place blame there. Honestly I can’t say anything really bad about our SAN. Tons of disk space, tons of cache, it does what its supposed to do. We’re also in the middle of finding a replacement for a SAN administrator so what SAN solutions we have in place now could radically change in the coming months. As far as secrets go I’d say you just need to make sure you have an open line of communication with your SAN administrator. They have no idea what’s going on in your world and you have no idea what’s going in theirs. Clear communication of needs need to be there as a SAN admin worth his salt is going to know what they need to do on their end to make sure you get the best performance on your end (i.e. proper RAID levels for your LUNs depending on needs, I/O throughput, etc.).

Explain Database Mirroring in layman’s terms

Everyone else seems to be giving off-the-wall answers to this so I’ll give it a go as well. Not going to lie, took me a good portion of my drive to Melbourne last week to finally come up with an example.

Think of clustering as a conjoined twin. You’re talking to the same body. Both heads can hear the conversation but ultimately the two are stuck together because they have to share the same base trunk. Now if you were to punch one twin in the face and knock him out you’d still be able to talk to the other head but you’re still lugging around that base. Now, imagine a set of regular twins (non-conjoined). This is your database mirroring in that you have two separate entities. You knock one out but the other is still chugging along just fine. Only difference being that the location of the second one doesn’t really matter because he doesn’t have a shared trunk to deal with. I’m sorry if that explanation sucks, if you’re bored check out the whitepaper written by someone who doesn’t have a fascination for using genetic defects to compare feature sets. Ok time for me to tag a couple of unwilling victims fellow bloggers:

Kendal Van Dyke

Jack Corbett

K. Brian Kelley

Look Boss, The (Execution) Plan, the Plan!


That’s right, I went the Fantasy Island route since everyone else took the good jokes. Well Tim Ford kicked off a blog meme with this setup:

So You’re On A Deserted Island With WiFi and you’re still on the clock at work. Okay, so not a very good situational exercise here, but let’s roll with it; we’ll call it a virtual deserted island. Perhaps what I should simply ask is if you had a month without any walk-up work, no projects due, no performance issues that require you to devote time from anything other than a wishlist of items you’ve been wanting to get accomplished at work but keep getting pulled away from I ask this question: what would be the top items that would get your attention?

I was tagged by Jason Massie (Twitter) for this one and I’ve got to admit I love this scenario especially fitting considering all the crap I’ve been through the last couple of weeks with catastrophic power failures, shoddy backup software and database corruption fun. So let’s get to it.

Get Control of Backups

Man, if I’ve learned anything in the last week is that I need to get the backup situation under control. My first task (and hopefully this will become a reality here sooner than later) is to get Arcserve the hell out of our environment. I’ve never seen a piece of software this unstable since the release of Windows ME. Half the time you try to do something the GUI freezes up. Ugh, but I digress. Basically I need something reliable to be able to handle my backups, and most importantly, RESTORES!

Learn that Business Intelligence Stuff

I love the fact that SQL Server has so much to offer and the BI part of it is not only interesting but extensive! Whenever I get a chance I watch webcasts and presentations on Analysis Services, SSIS and Reporting Services but sometimes it just starts going over my head (especially AS). I think if I could take that 6 months and head-down study that stuff I’d be alright and definitely add more value to the organization.


PowerShell, the magical language that Microsoft is pushing as the standard scripting language for administrators. I’ve watched Buck Woody do a cool webcast on PowerShell for Database Administrators but I haven’t had time to sit down and learn PowerShell the way I’d like to. Then again I don’t have thousands of servers to deal with so for me it’s really not a priority for me at the moment. But if I have those 6 months with Wilson staring at me from an adjacent rock, I might as well learn something cool and scalable.

Security Auditing and Cleanup

I jumped into my current environment with servers that were just kind of stood up with no real security policy and no real thought/regard to performance. Now that I’ve been here a year I have a “lay of the land” and if I had time I’d like to go back through everything and clean up stuff like built-in administrators in sysadmin group and whatnot. This task will definitely be helped using Policy Based Management but what I need is the time to plan, coordinate with our IT security team, and execute/enforce. Pipe dream? Maybe.

I’m sure there are probably a hundred other things I’d like to do including certification but I’ll leave the list as-is. Time to pay it forward and tag some of my SQL bretheren:

Marlon Ribunal (Blog Twitter)

Aaron Alton (Blog Twitter)

Chuck Boyce Jr. (Blog Twitter)

SQL Quiz #4

Well Chris Shaw has continued his awesome SQL Quiz chain and I was lucky enough to get tagged down the line by none other than the SQLFool! Here’s the question on the table this week:

Who has been a great leader in your career and what made them a great leader?

Given the fact that I’m pretty young (26 for those curious) I’m only on my second manager in my true IT career. However with my first manager Jim, I spent almost 5 years under in varying stages of my career.

I first started my career at SWFWMD (Southwest Florida Water Management District) as an intern in their applications group as a web developer. My first experience with Jim was when I got in trouble because I brought in my laptop to do work and plugged in to the network and I went undetected for a few weeks before I got caught (whoops). Jim, at that time, was kind of shadowing our-then IT manager as Jim was slated to take her place after retirement. Jim scared the ever-living hell out of me. After graduation I came back to SWFWMD as a desktop technician and by that time Jim has ascended in to the manager role. Under Jim’s management he had very explicit plans for his section and wanted to make sure his people were up to snuff so to speak. Sometimes his ways were a bit strict but I’ll be damned if he didn’t back his people when it mattered. One of the strengths that Jim has is that he is a huge proponent of education and bettering yourself and strongly enourages his employees in that vein. A thing I liked is that he bought purchased an online training tool and sat down with each of us and laid out his expectations for us in terms of our position and customized a learning path for us in this tool.

At this point of the post you’re probably thinking “yeah, he was…managing, big whoop”. Yes, he was doing what a good manager does but it was the “other stuff” that made him a great leader. At a department retreat we had a consultant come in and do some team-building using the Kepner-Tregoe method. At one point she asked each section within IT who made the decisions in our group (or who was the leader, can’t recall exact phrasing) . Our section laughed when we heard that and all fingers pointed to Jim. This excercise was just an indicator of how strong a leader he was. The other thing I really liked about him was his ability to sit down with you and have a no-BS person-to-person talk. My personal situation at SWFWMD was complicated due to my mother being in a sensitive political position over there. Jim helped me throughout the years deal with the problems that caused every so often. He helped me out a few times when I really broke down and for that I’ll forever be grateful. Jim’s other strength was his ability to look beyond next week. He was always thinking 3 steps ahead in terms of personnel placement and technology adoption. This method has payed off well and to this day SWFWMD is one of the local businesses that is a technology innovator and leader. A testament to this is that Jim is the leader of the Tampa Area VMware User Group!

I’ve rambled enough so let’s see if we can’t get some others to spill their guts!

Chuck Boyce Jr. (aka chuckboycejr) – Works for Quest and got to spend some quality time with in chat during SSWUG Virtual conference
Ward Pond (aka sqltwit) – Another local guy (to me) and hopefully I’ll get to meet at next SSUG meeting
Andy Leonard – I’m not even sure if he has a blog but he just got promoted to managing his ETL team and I’d like to hear his story.

Just FYI, if I follow you on Twitter you’re pretty much in my pool of candidates for tagging in the future.