SQL Saturday 572–Extended Events and Always On

imageThis is the second year that I will be speaking at SQL Saturday at Portland. Last year I had talked about troubleshooting slow queries. This year I will talk about debugging SQL Server issues without having to use the debugger! As always, this will be an awesome prelude to the PASS Summit!

The event sees a great turnout with a number of data professionals talking about various topics. It’s a great opportunity to meet the SQL Server community and network with the folks that help you on the forums and social media. Also, you have a large number of experts under the same roof. So bring your questions.

Session Title: SQL Server Debugging Made Easy using Extended Events
Track: Enterprise Database Administration & Deployment
Level: Intermediate
Time: 1.30PM – 2:45PM
This is a demo filled session that will show you how to debug several common issues in SQL server database engine and identify hotspots as well failures using only extended events. We will showcase how extended events make scenario based troubleshooting easier without having to collect disparate sets of diagnostic data, gather memory dumps and comprise on performance. There have been a plethora of Extended Events which have been added to SQL Server recently based on customer feedback which deprecates the need to run profiler in many commonly encountered situations in production environments. This session covers the new enhancements and capabilities available for Extended Events.

Additional Notes
Understand the diagnostics enhancements in SQL Server database engine Use the diagnostics to troubleshoot and mitigate issues quickly in mission-critical environments Setup session templates proactively to reduce mitigation time during reactive situations.

I will also be delivering  a lightning talk on Enhancements in SQL Server 2016 which will keep your SQL Server environment Always On.

A big thank you to the organizers for giving me the opportunity to speak at the event again and talk about the enhancements that the Tiger team is shipping!

SQL Saturday 511: Extended Events and more

imageExtended Events have evolved a lot since they were first introduced in SQL Server 2008. And today, there are multiple extended events available in SQL Server which allow you to debug common scenarios without collecting having to collect memory dumps or diagnostic data which can be detrimental to your SQL Server instance’s performance.

On April 2nd, join me at Redmond to understand how to leverage the new extended events that are available in SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 3 and above in your environments. I will talk about common scenarios where the new extended events are available and provide canned scripts to help collect and analyze data for complex scenarios.

There are a host of SQL experts and as well as folks from the Microsoft SQL Server product group who will be at the event to present and answer questions that you have! Looking forward to meet the SQL Community at the event!

WHEN: April 2nd, 2016, 2.15 – 3.15 PM PST
SESSION: Troubleshooting made easier using Extended events

Details about the session are available here. The full schedule of the event is available here.

The slide deck that I used during the session is available below.

Creating custom XEvent Templates

SQL Server 2012 added the Extended Events UI which made working with Extended Events session much easier. You no longer need to chalk up lengthy T-SQL scripts to spawn off your Extended Events monitoring session. The UI also provides you an option to view the collected data and perform groupings and aggregations for easier analysis.

The templates that you see while configuring an Extended Event session are located at “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Templates\sql\xevent“. When you export an Extended Events session, you will be given an option to export the Session as a Template to the following folder: “C:\Users\<user name>\Documents\SQL Server Management Studio\Templates\XEventTemplates“. The template is always exported as an XML file. Now when you create a new Extended Event Session, you will see the template under the user templates section in the templates view as shown in the screen shot below:

You can now choose to create as many templates as you want for your monitoring purposes. However, the template files have to be deposited in the above mentioned location so that Management Studio can show them to you while creating an Extended Events session.

The above blog post is a manifestation of a seemingly simple question asked by Naman Vadhera yesterday while he was exploring the Extended Events UI option.

Reference: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms174169.aspx

System Health Session and beyond

I had blogged extensively about System Health Session available in SQL Server 2008 and above. I had also demonstrated how the System Health Session can be used in conjunction with SQL Server Management Studio reports in previous series that I ran on my blog.

System Health Session Dashboard Reports for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 – A set of reports available for SQL Server 2008/SQL Server 2008 R2 which provide visualizations for the events tracked by the System Health Session. The reports can be used using the custom reports option in SQL Server Management Studio.

System Health Session Dashboard – Shows the basic information of the information that can be fetched from the System Health Session.

System Health Session Dashboard — sp_server_diagnostics and more – A look into the different issues tracked by the sp_server_diagnostics script and how to build visualizations using that information.

System Health Session Dashboard – sp_server_diagnostics – The basics of what is covered by the sp_server_diagnostics procedure and how to build visualizations on top of the data captured.

System Health Session Dashboard – Error Summary Report
– Shows information on how to write queries to fetch information about various errors tracked by the System Health Session. Shows information tracked by the enhanced System Health Session in SQL Server 2012.

System Health Session Dashboard – Health Summary Report
– Gives you information about the SQL Server instance health like CPU usage, memory etc. A screenshot of the report is shown below:

I have added UTC time formatting so that the time is shown in the same time zone based on the server on which you are viewing the report.

I will keep updating this post once I keep updating with the new reports. As usual, feedback is always welcome.

The report definitions (.rdl) can be downloaded from here.

System Health Session and Deadlocks

I had blogged about retrieving deadlock related information using the default Extended Event session which runs by default on all SQL Server 2008 instances and above. However, once you have retrieved the XML deadlock graph, it could be quite cumbersome to read if the deadlock happens to be complex or involves multiple nodes. I frequently require the need to fetching the information about past deadlocks from the System Health Session data while working on customer environments. Due to the frequent repetitive nature of the data collection, I decided to automate this task.

I again decided to use a combination of Powershell and T-SQL to extract this information. The Powershell script (TransformtoXDL.ps1), which requires Powershell 2.0 or above, uses a T-SQL script (TransformtoXDL.sql ) to extract data from the System Health Session and outputs each individual deadlock graph as a separate .XDL file into a folder of your choice with the timestamp of the occurrence of the deadlock. Note that the time reported will be in GMT timezone.

The powershell script accepts two parameters: vServername for the SQL Server instance that you want to extract the data from and the vPath for the folder into which the XDL files should be saved into.

.\TransformToXDL.ps1 -vServername "<server name>" -vPath "C:\Tempdb\"

Yes… I have a folder called Tempdb on my C: drive!! Smile

A sample output is shown in the screenshot below:


The Transact-SQL script called TransformtoXDL.sql does the following:

1. Extracts the System Health Session data into a temporary table
2. Based on the version of your SQL Server instance, it performs the parsing to extract the deadlock graph. This script accounts for issues mentioned in KB978629. I would like to thank Michael Zilberstein [B] for the proposed corrective action on an issue that Jonathan Kehayias [B|T] had blogged about.
3. The last action that the script takes is to perform XML modification to get the XML deadlock data in the same format which is recognized by SQL Server 2012 Management Studio when viewing XDL files.

The powershell and T-SQL script can be downloaded here.

#    Script Name: TransformToXDL
#    Author: Amit Banerjee
#    Date: September 6, 2012
#    Description:
#    The script reads the deadlock graphs from the System Health Session
#    Ring Buffer and parses them to create an individual deadlock graph
#    in a folder of your choice.
#    Usage: .\TransformToXDL.ps1 -vServername "INST1" -vPath "C:\Tempdb\"
# This Sample Code is provided for the purpose of illustration only and is not intended to be used in a production environment. THIS SAMPLE CODE AND ANY RELATED INFORMATION ARE PROVIDED "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND/OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. We grant You a nonexclusive, royalty-free right to use and modify the Sample Code and to reproduce and distribute the object code form of the Sample Code, provided that You agree: (i) to not use Our name, logo, or trademarks to market Your software product in which the Sample Code is embedded; (ii) to include a valid copyright notice on Your software product in which the Sample Code is embedded; and (iii) to indemnify, hold harmless, and defend Us and Our suppliers from and against any claims or lawsuits, including attorneys’ fees, that arise or result from the use or distribution of the Sample Code.

Param ([string] $vServername,
[string] $vPath)


# Load the SQL Server snap-in for using sqlcmd cmdlet
$ErrorActionPreference = "SilentlyContinue"
Import-Module sqlps
$ErrorActionPreference = "Continue"

Write-Host "`nConnecting to SQL Server instance " $vServerName " to extract deadlock information"
# Extract the deadlock graphs and parse them in the system health session
Invoke-Sqlcmd -InputFile "C:\Tempdb\TransformToXDL.sql" -ServerInstance $vServerName

# Function to get the information from the table stored in tempdb
function Get-SqlData
[string]$serverName=$(throw 'serverName is required.'),

$connString = "Server=$serverName;Database=$databaseName;Integrated Security=SSPI;"
$da = New-Object "System.Data.SqlClient.SqlDataAdapter" ($query,$connString)
$dt = New-Object "System.Data.DataTable"


# Get the data stored in tempdb using the function defined above
$rows = get-sqldata $vServername  "tempdb"  "select row_id,event_time,deadlockgraph from tempdb.dbo.deadlock_graphs"

$vCount = 0
# Extract each row retrieved into an individual XDL file with the timestamp of the issue
foreach ($row in $rows)
if($row -ne $null)
$vFileName = $vPath + $vServername.Replace("\","_")+ "_" + $row.event_time.ToString().Replace(":","_").Replace("/","_") + ".xdl"
Write-Host "`nCreating file: "  $vFileName
$row.deadlockgraph | Out-File $vFileName

Write-Host "`nDeadlocks found: " $vCount.ToString()
Write-Host "`nPerforming cleanup"
Invoke-Sqlcmd -Query "IF EXISTS (SELECT TOP 1 name FROM tempdb.sys.objects where name = 'deadlock_graphs')
DROP TABLE tempdb.dbo.deadlock_graphs
END" -ServerInstance $vServerName

The above has been tested on SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2012. The resulting XDL files can be opened in SQL Server 2012 Management Studio. I am always looking for feedback. So please feel free to Tweet, Facebook or Email me regarding any issues or enhancements that you might need for the same.

You might want to remember that the T-SQL query used is a resource intensive query and it is preferable that you run this extraction exercise during non-business hours especially if your SQL Server instance is experiencing a large number of deadlocks.