Performance tuning

Timothy Smith

Securing access for SQL Server auditing

May 21, 2018 by

Our organization must restrict permissions and prove to an independent party that we investigate access and restrict permissions. We restrict permissions to objects using least permissions and give full access to an exceptional few based on an organizational design that follows best practices. What can we do additionally that will help us prevent unauthorized access or catch when someone who shouldn’t have access is able to infiltrate our systems, especially in the context of showing a third party that we track this.

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Ahmad Yaseen

Tracing and tuning queries using SQL Server indexes

May 18, 2018 by

In the previous articles of this series (see the full article TOC at bottom), we discussed the internal structure of the SQL Server tables and indexes, the best practices to follow when designing a proper index, the group of operations that you can perform on the SQL Server indexes, how to design effective Clustered and Non-clustered indexes and finally the different types of SQL Server indexes, above and beyond Clustered and Non-clustered indexes classification. In this article, we will discuss how to tune the performance of the bad queries using SQL Server Indexes.

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Gerald Britton

Recursive CTEs and Foreign Key References in SQL Server

May 16, 2018 by

Introduction

Foreign key constraints are a powerful mechanism for preserving referential integrity in a database. They can also represent a challenge when doing bulk table loads, since you need to find a “base” table to start with – that is, a table that has no foreign key constraints defined. Let’s label tables like this as level 0, or ground level if you like. Once that is loaded, you can begin to load other tables that have foreign key references to the base table. We can label those tables level 1, and so on. If you start with table data that already has referentially integrity and load tables by their level numbers — level 0, level 1, level 2 and so on – the load should proceed without problems. Let’s look at a simple example:

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Ahmad Yaseen

Working with different SQL Server indexes types

May 8, 2018 by

In the previous articles of this series (see the full article TOC at bottom), we discussed the internal structure of both SQL Server tables and indexes, the main guidelines that you can follow to design a proper index, the list of operations that can be performed on the SQL Server indexes, and finally how to design effective Clustered and Non-clustered indexes that the SQL Server Query Optimizer will always take benefits from, in speeding up the data retrieval process, which is the main goal of creating an index. In this article, we will go through the different types of SQL Server indexes, above and beyond Clustered and Non-clustered indexes classification, and when to use them.

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Ahmad Yaseen

Designing effective SQL Server non-clustered indexes

May 7, 2018 by

In the previous articles of this series (see below for the full index of articles), we went through the internal structure of SQL Server tables and indexes, listed a number of guidelines that help in designing a proper index, discussed the operations that can be performed on SQL Server indexes and finally showed how to design and create a SQL Server Clustered index to speed up data retrieval operations. In this article, we will see how to design an effective Non-clustered index that will improve the performance of frequently used queries that are not covered with a Clustered index and, in doing so, enhance the overall system performance.

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Ahmad Yaseen

Designing effective SQL Server clustered indexes

May 3, 2018 by

In the previous articles of this series (see bottom for a full index), we described, in detail, the structure of SQL Server tables and indexes, the basics and guidelines that help us in designing a proper index and finally the list of operations that can be performed on the SQL Server indexes. In this article, we will see how we could design an effective clustered index that the SQL Server Query Optimizer will always take benefits from, in speeding up the data retrieval process, which is the main goal of building an index.

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Dmitry Piliugin

SQL Server 2017: How to Get a Parallel Plan

April 28, 2018 by

SQL Server chooses parallel plans based on the costing (there are also some other factors that should be met for the plan that it can go parallel). Sometimes serial plan is slightly cheaper than a parallel, so it is assumed to be faster and picked by the optimizer, however, because the costing model is just a model it is not always true (for a number of reasons, enlisted in Paul’s article below) and parallel plan runs much faster.

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Dmitry Piliugin

SQL Server 2017: Statistics to Compile a Query Plan

April 28, 2018 by

While preparing the post about Adaptive Joins, I’d like to share a quick post about the hidden gem in SQL Server 2017 CTP 2.0, discovered recently. In this short post, we will look at how you can determine what statistics are used by the optimizer during a plan compilation in SQL Server 2017.

Prior to SQL Server 2017, there were two ways how you could do it, both undocumented and involving undocumented trace flags.

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Dmitry Piliugin

SQL Server 2017: Sort, Spill, Memory and Adaptive Memory Grant Feedback

April 27, 2018 by

Sorting is one of the key operations in query processing. SQL Server can achieve sorting by either reading data in an ordered fashion, for example, performing ordered Rowstore index scan or performing an explicit sort. If we want to get sorted data from a Columnstore index, the only option is to perform a sort explicitly with a Sort operator in a query plan, because a Columnstore index has no particular order, at least at the moment of writing this post.

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Dmitry Piliugin

SQL Server 2017: Interleaved Execution for mTVF

April 27, 2018 by

In this post, we are going to look at the new feature in SQL Server 2017 – interleaved execution. You need to install SQL Server 2017 CTP 1.3 to try it, if you are ready, let’s start.

Now, when a CTP 2.0 of SQL Server 2017 is out, you don’t need to turn on the undocumented TF described further, and the plans are also different, so the examples from this post use CTP.1.3, probably not actual at the moment (I was asked to hold this post, until the public CTP 2 is out, and interleaved execution is officially announced). However, the post demonstrates Interleaved execution details and might be still interesting.

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Dmitry Piliugin

SQL Server 2017: Scalar Subquery Simplification

April 26, 2018 by

Nowadays a lot of developers use Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) frameworks. ORM is a programming technique that maps data from an object-oriented to a relational format, i.e. it allows a developer to abstract from a relational database (SQL Server, for example), use object-oriented language (C#, for example) and let an ORM to do all the “talks” to a database engine by generating query texts automatically. ORMs are not perfect, especially if they are used in a wrong way. Sometimes they generate inefficient queries, e.g. a query with redundant expressions. SQL Server has a mechanism to struggle with that inefficiency called a query simplification.

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Dmitry Piliugin

SQL Server 2017: Columnstore in-place updates

April 26, 2018 by

In this post, I continue the exploration of SQL Server 2017 and we will look at the nonclustered columnstore index updates.

Columnstore index has some internal structures to support updates. In 2014 it was a Delta Store – to accept newly inserted rows (when there will be enough rows in delta store, server compresses it and switches to Columnstore row groups) and a Deleted Bitmap to handle deleted rows. In 2016 there are more internal structures, Mapping Index for a clustered Columnstore index to maintain secondary nonclustered indexes and a deleted buffer to speed up deletes from a nonclustered Columnstore index.

Updates were always split into insert + delete. But that is now changed, if a row locates in a delta store, now inplace updates are possible. Another change is that it is now possible to have a per row (narrow) plan instead of per index (wide) plan.

Let’s make some experiments.

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Dmitry Piliugin

SQL Server 2017: Columnstore Indexes and Trivial Plan

April 25, 2018 by

Some time ago, SQL Server 2017 was released and issued as CTP. The most exciting release in that CTP was that SQL Server now supports Linux! This is awesome and I consider it to be great news for many people.

I am personally interested in the new features of query processing, and finally I had some time to install the SQL Server 2017 and dig a little bit into it. Currently, it is CTP 1.2 available, and I will use this version for my experiments.

While exploring new extended events, I’ve found an interesting event compilation_stage_statistics and one of the columns of this event was trivial_plan_scanning_cs_index_discarded with the following description “Number of trivial plans discarded or could have been discarded which scan Columnstore index”. That pushed me to do some investigations of the topic.

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Dmitry Piliugin

Scalar UDF Estimation and Project Normalization

April 25, 2018 by

In this post, we will continue to look at the cardinality estimation changes in SQL Server 2016. This time we will talk about scalar UDF estimation. Scalar UDFs (sUDF) in SQL Server have quite bad performance and I encourage you try to avoid them in general, however, a lot of systems still use them.

Scalar UDF Estimation Change

I’ll use Microsoft sample DB AdventureworksDW2016CTP3 and write the following simple scalar function, it always returns 1, regardless of the input parameter. I run my queries against Microsoft SQL Server 2016 (SP1) (KB3182545) – 13.0.4001.0 (X64) 

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Dmitry Piliugin

Join Estimation Internals

April 24, 2018 by

In this post we continue looking at the Cardinality Estimator (CE). The article explores some join estimation algorithms in the details, however this is not a comprehensive join estimation analysis, the goal of this article is to give a reader a flavor of join estimation in SQL Server.

The complexity of the CE process is that it should predict the result without any execution (at least in the current versions), in other words it should somehow model the real execution and based on that modeling get the number of rows. Depending on the chosen model the predicted result may be closer to the real one or not. One model may give very good results in one type of situations, but will fail in the other, the second one may fail the first set and succeed in the second one. That is why SQL server uses different approaches when estimating different types of operations with different properties. Joins are no exception to this.

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Dmitry Piliugin

Query Plan on a Busy Server

April 24, 2018 by

Yesterday I came across a question on one of SQL forums, that I may rephrase like:

“Does a query plan compilation depend on how busy SQL Server is”.

Before we go further, I should explicitly mention that we talk about a Compiled plan, not an Executable plan. Plan execution will of course depend on how busy server is, for example, the query may wait for the memory grant to start execution, or execution may be slow because there are no cached pages in the Buffer Pool etc.

However, the question was about a Compiled plan: does the shape of a plan depend on the server load.

From the first glance it should not. But…

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Dmitry Piliugin

Query Trace Column Values

April 23, 2018 by

Sometimes, when I saw expressions like ‘Expr1002’ or ‘WindowCount1007’ or something similar in the columns Output List of a query plan, I asked myself, is there a way to project those columns into the final result to look at the values. That question first came to me out of curiosity when I was playing with window aggregate functions and a Window Spool plan operator in SQL Server 2012, I wanted to look into the Window Spool to understand, how it performs an aggregation.

Interestingly, that SQL Server 2016 CTP3.0 allows us to look deep inside into the iterator and observe the data flowing through it. Let’s turn on an “x-ray machine” and take a look.

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Dmitry Piliugin

Runtime Constants Sniffing

April 23, 2018 by

Most of the people know about the so-called “Parameter Sniffing”. This topic was discussed in many aspects in a number of great articles. It is interesting that not only parameters might be “sniffed” during the first execution, but also a runtime constant functions. Let’s look at the example.

Test Data

I will use a test server and administrator account to run the script below, be sure you have enough privileges on your test server if you want to try out the script below.

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