SQL Server DevConnections Post Con session on Virtualization and SAN

Just when I thought it wasn’t possible to make an already amazing conference better.  Brent comes along with this fantastic presentation on Virtualization and SAN basics for the SQL Server DBA.  You can watch an older version he did for SQL Bits here.

Brent started the session by describing how virtualization is about making things cheaper and easier to manage.  He also described a lot of ways to ensure we don’t leave performance on the floor while doing so.  Brent explained why it is better to start with 2 virtual CPU.  This helps to ensure we get the same machine each time.  Some other tips were to always run the latest hypervisor, minimize background services and applications, and frequently check and monitor the CPU speeds and cache.  He showed us one really great tool to check the speeds called CPUID.  Brent also emphasized getting memory reservations from the host and described how empty memory won’t be used.  It is important to set the min/max memory, avoid locking pages in memory while in virtualization, and monitor the memory levels to avoid issues with the balloon driver.  He went on to describe storage and VMOTION.  He also described the pros and cons of using virtualization for High Availability and Disaster Recovery.  A lot of really great material and he described it all like the true SQL Server master he is.

For the SAN section, Brent gave a very detailed explanation of how SANs work, the architecture and the importance to follow your vendor’s best practices.  All too often the SANS are configured incorrectly and that just leads to performance issues.  Brent described various RAID arrays and types of disc systems, and which were better suited for reads, writes etc. while maintaining the best performance and price in mind.  He went over shared and dedicated disk arrays, compression, and backup mechanisms using SAN snapshots, and replication.  He also described multipathing and how it can drastically improve SAN performance.  Brent finally described some tricks to monitor the SAN and analyze the throughput capabilities so we can know our machines limits.   

I could just go on and on, about how informative and helpful this session has been to me.  I really learned a lot and I am so thankful for Brent’s incite and expert advice.  I would highly recommend following Brent’s tips and I have already seen the fruits of his labor as I put some of them to work already.  What a great way to end an amazing conference.  I can’t wait for the next one now, but I will always remember SQL DEVConnection 2011 as being one of the best.  Thank you all for a great learning experience!

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