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My Denali First Glance – PowerShell Enhancements

First, PowerShell 2.0 is now required as a pre-requisite for installing SQL Server Denali (SQL Server 11). Hopefully, you’ll only be installing Denali in a Windows 2008 R2 environment which has PowerShell 2.0 installed by default. But, if not, you’ve now been forewarned – just in case you don’t read the “readme” prior to installing!

SQLPS is now a module (a new feature in PowerShell 2.0). The SQLPS utility has been deprecated, but if you use it, it apparently will start PowerShell 2.0 and import the SQLPS module.

Additionally, there is now a module of cmdlets for SSAS (Analysis Services). After installing Denali, if you execute the command Get-Module -ListAvailable you’ll see that in addition to SQLPS, SQLASCMDLETS also is displayed. This module contains 11 cmdlets as shown below:

But, my focus is Database Engine, so that’s all I’ll say about SSAS. If you are a BI guy or gal – check it out!

When you first import the SQLPS module, you will get the following warning unless you import the module using the -DisableNameChecking parameter.

You’ll notice that as soon as you import the SQLPS module, your location changes to the SQLSERVER provider. To see what’s new in this hierarchy, just type: dir

XEvent, IntegrationServices and SQLAS are all new. Thus, more features and components of the SQL Server stack are now being exposed for PowerShell management.

Then, there are all the new cmdlets available in SQLPS.

Considering there were only 5 cmdlets (highlighted in yellow above) for SQL Server 2008, I now count 29! Most appear directed at new features in Denali such as High Availability\Disaster Recovery (HADR) and Availability Group configurations. I’m sure I’ll be looking at those in detail when I get around to studying AlwaysOn.  However, two very traditional database commands have been provided now with their own cmdlets – Backup-SqlDatabase and Restore-SqlDatabase. These two cmdlets are modeled after the Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Smo.Backup class, so if you are used to the properties in that class, then the parameters for these cmdlets will be very familiar.  

That means you can now execute commands like this as a SQLAgent PowerShell job step:

Dir SQLSERVER:\SQL\MyServer\MyInstance\Databases | Backup-SqlDatabase

This simple command will backup all user databases on an instance using all the defaults, of course. But, you can start imagining the possibilities here – especially if you start integrating any additional parameters needed in your environment.  

As indicated by the title, this is just a “first glance” at what is coming in Denali; I’m sure I’ll be investigating and writing more about using PowerShell with Denali in the future. What new PowerShell enhancements are you looking forward to implementing?


What’s in Your msdb?

So, what’s in your wallet msdb?

If you’ve been working with Microsoft SQL Server anytime at all you can name the system databases fairly quickly – master, model, msdb, and tempdb. Almost rolls off your tongue as smoothly as Tenaha, Timpson, Bobo, and Blair (if you don’t know that reference, click here for some interesting Texas folklore). I’ve been working with SQL Server since 4.21 and the system db names have not changed from release to release. But, what did change drastically over all those releases are the contents – especially for msdb. Have you taken a look lately? I did and here is what I found.

Lots of new tables, lots of new views, and lots of new roles – well, just lots of new objects period! I always investigate what’s changed in master with every release, but it seems I’ve been delinquent in thoroughly examining msdb changes. It appears every new feature being added to the SQL Server database engine is being “managed” from the msdb database.

The objects supporting SQLAgent have always been in msdb – jobs, operators, alerts; along with the objects supporting database backup and recovery sets. Then DTS came along which later morphed into SSIS – guess where those objects are stored?  Maintenance plans, log shipping, and database mirroring also join the party in msdb. And, oh yeah – SQLMail which became DatabaseMail…

Now with SQL 2008 and R2, you can add to the list – CMS (Central Management Server), Data Collector, PBM (Policy Based Management), DAC (Data Tier Applications), UCP (Utility Control Point)… but “Wait!” you say. “Don’t the Data Collector and UCP have their own databases?”  Well, yes, they do – typically MDW and UMDW respectively. But, those databases only hold the collection results – the management and configuration of those features is all contained in msdb.

Here’s what the SQL Server 2008 R2 BOL says about msdb:

The msdb database is used by SQL Server Agent for scheduling alerts and jobs and by other features such as Service Broker and Database Mail.

After seeing this, I had to laugh, I totally missed Service Broker in my list, but then I’ve never implemented it. On the other hand, look at all the features using msdb that BOL just lumped into “other features”!  Bottom line – the BOL description really sells msdb short on its importance to so many features.  AND, the default recovery mode for msdb is Simple. Before SQL 2008 I would have said that a daily full backup was typically sufficient. You didn’t usually make too many changes to jobs such that you couldn’t easily recreate a day’s work if you lost it restoring to the prior day. And, best practice said to take a backup after making modifications which impacted it anyway… but now, with so many features tied to msdb – do you really know when you are making changes to msdb? Considering all that is now dependent upon msdb – is your backup and restore strategy for msdb adequate?

However, before I go examine my msdb recovery strategy, I’m thinking of opening a Connect suggestion – rename msdb to KitchenSinkDB. Do you think I could get some votes for that? 😉