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SQL Server Hardware Paperback – 6 Jun 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Red gate books (6 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906434638
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906434632
  • Product Dimensions: 19.1 x 1.8 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,012,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Glenn Berry works as a Database Architect at NewsGator Technologies in Denver, CO. He is a SQL Server MVP, and has a whole collection of Microsoft certifications, including MCITP, MCDBA, MCSE, MCSD, MCAD, and MCTS, which proves he likes to take tests. He is also an Adjunct Faculty member at University College, University of Denver, where he has been teaching since 2000, and he has completed the Master Teacher Program.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The latest SQL Server version covered is SQL Server 2008 R2 where the licensing model was per socket so many of the recommendations in the early part of the book can't be applied to the post 2012 licensing landscape.

Hopefully at some point we'll see a new edition covering this and also hardware implications of new features such as Hekaton and the buffer pool extensions.
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By J. Alan on 2 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is in a class of its own, so nothing else to compare it to.
Not 100% comprehensive, but better than nothing I guess...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic, thorough, accurate coverage 3 Aug. 2011
By Brent Ozar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
You probably only buy a couple of SQL Servers per year. You probably just tell your sysadmins, "I need a 2-socket server with 32GB of memory," and then you just assume everything's okay.

Scratch that. Let's be honest. It's just us here, you and me, so I can be frank. You don't trust those bozos. They sit around playing Capture the Flag while your server is down, and you've got a sneaking suspicion that they use your server as a BitTorrent host for a few weeks before they actually give it to you. You're lucky if it's even got the right OS, let alone the right CPUs.
Yes, I used pink Post-It notes.

It's time to take the problem into your own hands, and Glenn Berry is here to help. Glenn, like me, is a hardware addict who loves reading Anandtech and digging through the details of the latest CPU architectures, memory configurations, and storage options. Unlike me, Glenn wrote an entire book on the topic, all by himself, and this book kicks ass. It's everything you need to know to get the right hardware and get SQL Server set up correctly on it.
Hardware, Budgeting, and More

Let's pick just one page. Page 21 explains the difference in speed and quantity for all kinds of data - storage, memory, L3 cache, L2 cache, and L1 cache. Glenn then explains why you care about each and how to pick the right CPU for SQL Server. He finishes up (we're still on page 21, mind you) by discussing why you might want to invest more in CPU power than memory - something that seemed blasphemous to me until I read his explanation, but now I'm sold too.

The book covers more than just hardware details, though: Chapter 6, SQL Server Version and Edition Selection, does a better job of explaining the business benefits of Enterprise Edition better than anything I've ever read. Glenn gives a personal touch when he writes about each feature, and gives real-life hands-on-based advice about the feature's worth. For example, Distributed Partitioned Views sounds great in theory, but I've never seen it scale well. Glenn points out why Data Dependent Routing is a better solution. What, you haven't heard of that? Probably because it's not a SQL Server feature - it's a better way to design applications and databases, and it doesn't require Enterprise Edition. He doesn't teach you how to do it, but like everything else in the book, he points you where to learn more about the topic.
The Bad News

I read books with a stack of Post-It notes at my side. Whenever I see something that really surprises me - good or bad - I slap a Post-It note on the page with the edge just ever-so-slightly sticking out, and I jot notes on the Post-It. I have this thing about not writing on books - probably comes from my childhood years spent at the library. At the end of the book, I circle back and reread the tagged pages. If there's more good stuff than bad, I post a review on the blog.

Going back through this book, I only had one single negative Post-It. Chapter 4, Hardware Discovery, explains how to use CPU-Z, MSINFO32, Task Manager, and Computer Properties to build an inventory of what your SQL Server is running on. After reading that chapter, I was a little bummed that it didn't explain how to gather an inventory of storage data, or how to get more in-depth hardware information from onboard management systems like the HP iLO or Dell DRAC.

But then it hit me: this is a 321-page book exclusively dedicated to evaluating, buying, and installing SQL Server hardware. 321 pages of technical goodness, and my only complaint is that it's not long enough? There's never been a book like this before, and it's a Herculean effort for anyone to pull off alone, and do it accurately. Glenn pulled it off. I didn't find a single inaccuracy in the entire book, and believe me, that's a rarity. I even liked the cover photo of power plant cooling towers, a subtle joke about overclocked processors.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Where was this book all there years - A Must have book for all! 11 Aug. 2011
By Avid Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For most people working with relational databases, a lot of time, effort and money is spent on the software. SQL Server Hardware by Glenn Berry focuses on one of the most important, and most overlooked, aspects of setting up SQL server - the hardware (as you may have guessed from the title). If you've ever had a question about the type of hardware you might need and what to do with it once you have it, this book will answer all your questions.

Not only is this book basically an exhaustive look at all aspects of database hardware, the author clearly has a passion for the subject - and that is what makes it a truly great book. The author's enthusiasm and expertise is obvious throughout the book, which makes it interesting as well as informative. The author has a long string of very impressive acronyms after his name - all leading up to the fact that he is a SQL Server MVP, and it shows here in this book.

This book goes into in-depth detail about the best way to install and configure SQL Server on your hardware to get the best performance possible out of your machines. Topics in this book include current and upcoming hardware you should know about, like processors, memory, and storage; how to determine what hardware you need for specific SQL Server uses; the pros and cons for the various versions of Windows server available and why some work better with SQL Server; how to install and configure SQL Server, as well as the patches, fixes, and updates you need to know about. Calling this manual the "bible" of SQL Server hardware would not be an exaggeration.

Honestly the best part of the book is - it answers following questions.
1. What kind of CPU I should use to get best out of my Database?
2. What kind of Memory will improve the caching performance for database?
3. What are the optimal IO settings to avoid performance bottleneck?

Well, the answers are all there in the book, one just have to read it.

If you work with SQL Server, would like to learn how, or just want to be able to communicate with your sysadmin, I recommend that you buy this book. It covers everything from CPU architecture to installing and configuring SQL Server. This is a must-have reference book.

Five Stars!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Great Book 26 July 2011
By Scott G. Newman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very very good book. This book delves into the gory details of setting up sql server properly from the very ground up. Processor specs, IO subsystems, bench-marking, windows & sql server installation options...you'll find it all.

If you follow the advice in this book, I guarantee that you will not only have the most optimal running sql server, you'll look like a rockstar as well.

This book should be on every DBA's bookshelf, and should be the first one you reach for when provisioning a new server. It's that good.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Pick this up and let your inner hardware geek show! 23 Oct. 2012
By Jes Schultz Borland - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is designed to help anyone who needs to build or troubleshoot a SQL Server system understand different processors and storage available, how to benchmark the hardware, and the differences in versions and editions of SQL Server.

I've given it a 4 instead of a 5 because now that SQL Server 2012 is out, some of the advice has changed - but it's still a fantastic book!

I've never been a hardware nerd. I used to build my own desktop systems, but I found the process of comparing processor L2 and L3 cache sizes unbearably boring, and wondered if different types of memory were really going to make a difference when I went to surf the internet and write .NET programs. I am not the type to sweat over what hard drive speed is best (SSD, baby). I'd rather have someone hand me a box and tell me it's the best there is.

However, there are times a DBA will need to provide input on what hardware to buy for a new system, and many times she will need to know what hardware is underlying a system to troubleshoot it. This book is a great primer for anyone who has been avoiding getting to know the base layer of their systems.

Chapter 1: Processors and Associated Hardware

The motherboard and pieces that get attached to it are the core of your system. Glenn guides you through cache size, clock speed, hyper-threading, and different models to help make the best decision for your system. One thing to note here is that this book was written pre-SQL Server 2012. The licensing model for SQL Server has changed, and that may affect the type of system you buy now. He also covers memory types, NICs, and motherboards. Remember that everything has to work together, and you'll be fine.

Chapter 2: The Storage Subsystem

I never truly appreciated properly sized, properly configured storage until I became a consultant. There are so many options for storage out there - magnetic hard drives vs. SSD, DAS vs SAN, RAID 0 vs RAID 1 - that picking what to use can be overwhelming. Glenn breaks the options down in an easy-to -understand format.

Chapter 3: Benchmarking Tools

Benchmarks are a useful way for you to understand what your hardware is capable of before you ever install a piece of software on the server. Glenn talks about common application and component benchmarks. Application benchmarks, such as TPC-C, TPC-E, and TPC-H are used to predict the performance of hardware using a general database design and load. Glenn discusses the differences between them, and how to analyze the results. He also gives useful tools for component benchmarking, like Geekbench and CrystalDiskMark. The extra time taken to benchmark your hardware before using it can save you a lot of time in the long run.

Chapter 4: Hardware Discovery

If you need to find out what hardware is in an existing system, there are several tools available. Glenn talks about common tools I use frequently, such as CPU-Z and even Task Manager. Knowing what hardware I have to work with makes a difference in how I troubleshoot problems!

Chapter 5: Operating System Selection and Configuration

I always want to pick the latest and greatest OS, but that's not always a possibility. It may not be supported by a piece of software that needs to run on that server. Here, Glenn discusses the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit. He breaks down Windows Server 2000, 2003, 2008, and 2008R2. What I really liked here is the table showing when Microsoft will stop offering both mainstream and extended support for various versions. It's important to understand what support levels you have, and what happens when that goes away.

Glenn also talks about tweaks that can be made to the OS to make SQL Server perform at its best. These are great tips! I have a well-highlighted section that shows the increase in power usage and increase in performance between different power settings.

Chapter 6: SQL Server Version and Edition Selection

Again, it would be nice to always pick the latest and greatest version of SQL Server, but that is not always practical or possible. Glenn focuses on SQL Server 2008 and 200R2 editions and features in this chapter. Knowing what changed between versions is always helpful. Knowing what features you can get when you move from Standard to Enterprise edition is also a big decision (data compression, anyone?). Sometimes, one feature can make the difference for your company. Keep in mind that SQL Server 2012 isn't covered here, but also has a lot of great new features.

Chapter 7: SQL Server Installation and Configuration

When installing SQL Server, it's possible to kick off the wizard and click Next on every screen. Is that advisable though? No. Glenn covers what to do before you begin installation, such as updating all drivers. He talks about knowing what accounts you will use for the services and knowing where the data and log files are to be placed. He walks through the installation wizard. He also covers slipstreaming - the process of creating a package to install SQL Server and service packs or cumulative updates together. I love this ability and if you aren't doing it, urge you to give it a try!

Thank you, Glenn!

Overall, this is a great, information-filled book. It's a reference I'll keep on my bookshelf and use regularly. I'd like to thank Glenn for sharing his passion and knowledge with those of us that aren't as in love with the nuances of hardware!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A must for every DBA 13 Feb. 2012
By sirsql - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been an avid fan of Glenn's SQL Server Performance blog for a couple of years now in which he talks about chipsets, CPUs and performance. Glenn's blog is also the go to place for SQL Server diagnostic information queries which can be used to look at various aspects of SQL performance (check them out you won't be disappointed).

When I first learned that Glenn was writing a book dedicated to SQL Server Hardware I was very excited and preordered it. Somehow it got lost amongst a hundred other books and I came upon it recently. At that time I cracked it open immediately and started reading.

The book has a nice easy to read style and Glenn does an excellent job of putting forth clear and concise information. Glenn's passion for this stuff really shines through and that makes what could easily be a boring technical book something so much better. I think one of the most telling things about the book for me was that I immediately wanted to go out and benchmark my systems to compare them to various specifications listed in the book.

I wound up jotting down quite a lot of notes as I was reading (which is really unlike me). I thought I might share a few of my personal highlights:

Chapter 1: Processors and Associated Hardware
The history of CPUs
A clear explanation of multi-core CPUs and Hyper-threading and how they differ
How to identify your CPU and what the model numbers actually mean
An overview of NUMA
System configuration recommendations

Chapter 2: The Storage Subsystem
A wonderful description of the different kinds of spinning media
SCSI
SAS
SATA
IDE
PATA
How spinning media differs from SSD/FusionIO drives
Straightforward description of the different RAID types, their strengths and drawbacks
DMV queries to help you recognize the read/write ratio on your system to help you choose an appropriate RAID level

Chapter 3: Benchmarking Tools
What the TPC benchmarks are and how they differ (plus how the database vendors would try to game the system)
A breakdown of TPC-E benchmarks by CPU along with providing comparative performance data
An easy way to test the performance of components in your new (and old) servers

Chapter 4: Hardware Discovery
Detailed information on CPU-Z and how to read the results you get from it
What MSINFO32 can teach you about your system

Chapter 5: Operating System Selection and Configuration
Why you should use X64 hardware instead of X32
How to configure a 32-bit system to use greater than 4GB of RAM
An explanation of the difference between each OS version (and edition)
Actual numbers to demonstrate the impact of power saving modes on CPU performance

Chapter 6: SQL Server Version and Edition Selection
An explanation of the difference between each version of SQL Server
Bonus Enterprise Edition features you may not know about (like Enhanced Read-Ahead and Advanced Scan)

Chapter 7: SQL Server Installation and Configuration
How to prep for your SQL Server install
An installation walk-thru
Slipstreaming
SQL Server post install configuration

The IT world changes very quickly and so despite this book being released in 2011 some parts are out of date (for example several time the costing model for SQL Server is mentioned as being per processor which Microsoft decided to change with the upcoming release of SQL Server 2012).

I'd love to see a revised edition of this book come out every year which keeps up to date with new CPU releases and SQL Server changes (I mean it's not like Glenn has a job or anything).

If you are a SQL Server professional then this book should definitely be at your disposal. While there may be some things in here that you do know there will be a lot that you don't. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Also don't forget to read Glenn's blog and follow him on Twitter

Final note, thanks Red Gate Software for supporting books like this that would not see the light of day otherwise.
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