voiceofthedba's podcast







October 2016
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After I wrote about a home lab recently, someone was curious about the amount of money that others invest in their technology lab, habit, or hobby. I thought that was fairly interesting, so I decided to ask others to get an idea of what amounts people spend and even on what.

How much do you spend on technology in a year?

Let's skip cell phone and Internet service bills, but if you buy cell phones, tablets, computers, Kindles, or other gadgets, let us know. I'd be curious about your spending on your career, which might be travel and events, training, books, etc. versus the spending on technology for fun.

Read the rest of "Your Technology Budget"

Direct download: techbudget_142_v1411.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

I know most of you don't work with the R language. In fact, plenty of you might not know anything about R other than a cursory understand of this as some sort of data analysis language. If you want to know more, here's what the R Project is.

Microsoft wants you to use R Services in SQL Server, or the R Server product available as a standalone system. However, I saw someone ask the question why would someone run their R scripts inside SQL Server, because these are expensive CPU cycles to burn on analysis. Someone else noted that Microsoft loves your licensing dollars, so their push to use R Services is perhaps a little self serving.

Read the rest of "Where Do You Run Your R Scripts?"

Direct download: where_rscripts_139_v1408.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

Is a million writes/sec a large number? I guess it's all relative, but I'd consider it a fairly large number. Our peak transfers for SQLServerCentral are in the hundreds/sec, though we're not really a busy database server. Some of you might have much higher numbers, and if you're in the 100,000/sec and can let us know, I'm sure others would be interested in hearing about your experiences.

I ran across a piece on the Uber database infrastructure that I found impressive. No, Uber doesn't use SQL Server (they use Cassandra), but they have worked to build a large scale infrastructure. Their goals:

Read the rest of "One Million" at SQLServerCentral.


Direct download: onemillion_140_v1409.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

I was watching the San Diego Technology Immersion Group meeting in September, and found myself transported back into the past. This month was the first meeting of the Linux chapter, spending a few months working through The Linux Command Line.

Watching from home, I watched the hosts walking through the command line in Linux, showcasing various basic file comments. Seeing them explain and execute commands like ls, rm, alias, cat, tail, less, and other commands in a text session reminded me of learning Unix at university on SunOS. Slowly various bits of knowledge came back to me from my own experiments learning how to work with files, full of text data, interspaced with my regular visits to the "man" pages when something didn't work. In fact, seeing the man pages come up on the YouTube session made me smile.

Read the rest of "Archaic Commands"

Direct download: archaic_141_v1410.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

The "yet another" moniker is used throughout technology. YAAF, YARN, YAML, and more ways that people talk about yet another way to solve some problem or build a platform. That's one of the amazing things about technology is that we, as a group, are not satisfied with the way things are done. Someone is constantly looking to find a better solution and advance our technology choices in a new direction.

In the database world, we've seen changes as well. Relational databases were the obvious, or perhaps just dominant, choice for most of my career. At some point I saw object databases, XML databases, then streaming databases, none of which gained much popularity. The last few years have seen document databases, graph databases, key value databases, and more. We categorize databases as row-store or column-stores now. There are probably other types I'm forgetting.

Read the rest of "Yet Another Database"

Direct download: yeanotherdb_138_v1407.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

The pieces by Bruce Schneier related to security are fascinating. One of his latest posts looks at potential coming attacks to our Internet infrastructure, which could potentially take down parts of the worldwide network. Whether you think this is a valid concern or not, it bears thinking through the issue a bit. If something did happen, your organization could be affected.

Imagine what would happen to your production sites if they, or their clients, couldn't resolve a DNS address. Or if there was a DDOS against your domain, perhaps just as a test by attackers to see where you might be vulnerable. What would be your response? For most of us, there isn't much we could do, but I'm sure your management would want some answer, so do you have a way to respond? Would you worry if there were a targeted attack against your database servers using SQL Injection, cross site scripting, or some other technique?

Read the rest of "Coming Attacks"

Direct download: comingattacks_136_v1405.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

I was honored to have the chance to give the keynote at SQL Saturday #520 in Cambridge this year. This was a quick keynote, and it was fast. I didn't record it, but people seemed to enjoy it, and I decided to share some of my thoughts on the Exciting World of Data, the title of the talk.

We love data. At least, I do. It's a way of learning more about the world around us, describing it, modeling it, understanding it, even enhancing it. And the world of data is changing. Size is increasing. We've moved from bits to bytes, to kilobytes to megabytes to gigabytes to terabytes, just in our hands. We can't even really conceive of what this amount of storage means in a physical sense. Our large systems have grown to petabytes, perhaps exabytes and zettabytes one day and eventually to yottabytes and beyond.

Read the rest of "The Exciting World of Data"

Direct download: excitingworlddata_135_v1404.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

I've been in a data center when most servers turned off. I've actually heard dozens of systems powered off quickly, and it's a strange sound. You become so used to the white noise of numerous fans that having them turned off is a little unnerving. It's neat when it's a scheduled patch day and all servers cleanly shut down together. It's an altogether different experience when there's an unexpected issue and management sees their expensive hardware not working.

However, imagine losing your servers because of a loud noise. That's what happened to ING Bank when a fire extinguishing test caused a number of hard drives to fail. To be fair, the loud noise was north of 130db, which is very loud. Since sound is really vibration, the impact to read/write heads caused numerous failures. The bank needed 10 hours to restart systems in their DR center, and managed to do so, which is good. While that might not have been what the bank officials wanted, this is a good DR test, and I hope they learned a few things that might help to fail over much quicker in the future.

Read the rest of "The Quiet Zone"

Direct download: quietzone_134_v1403.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

I read Tom LaRock's post on the future of monitoring, looking at the rise of machine learning and complex algorithms to evaluate systems. Tom notes that the data input into a system is crucial in determining whether the system can produce a prediction or output that has value. Since the humans that decide what data is included may not choose wisely, the system won't necessarily reduce the time required to manage a system.

I tend to agree. From my conversations with those people having success with machine learning systems, the data preparation is the most critical (and difficult) step. Shortcut the cleansing and organizing, or make poor choices of what data to include and you won't likely get actionable results.

Read the rest of "What is the Future of Monitoring?"

Direct download: futuremonitor_133_v1402.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

I've been watching Microsoft for quite a few years, with my career being tightly intertwined with the company for 25 years.  I'm amazed by the way the company has changed in the last five years. It's probably been longer than that, but from the outside, the last 5 years have been surprising. Certainly the way Microsoft produces software is a process worth studying by almost any organization with developers. There are some scale advantages Microsoft has, and their mission is to reach and touch people at a level far beyond what many of us deal with, but there are lessons to be learned.

There's a great piece that shows some of the ways in which Microsoft is practicing DevOps in their own software development. I like that the focus isn't just that developers do more, but that operations staff are involved in working closely with the development teams. In fact, there's a quote I like that notes in addition to technology changes and habits, " we found that the organizational changes and cultural shifts required to embrace these practices have been just as significant."

Read the rest of "DevOps at MS"

Direct download: devops_ms_132_v1401.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

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