SQL/Server Health Checks

Recently I’ve been asked to develop a set of scripts, plans and reports packaged up as a general server health check, but also with a specific focus on ERP servers, by which we’re interpreting as the Application and Database servers (Microsoft SQL in this case).

The thing is, if you Google “Server Healthcheck” or “SQL Performance Analysis” and everything in between, you will find a large array of sites out there specifically designed for these purposes. Therefore, I am now interperting my task as “analyse the tools already available and package up a selection of the best to add value to our customers”.

As thie self proclaimed king of scripting I have already started my work on a selection of scripts to analyse and build reports on various areas of systems, from the OS level all the way through to the DB contents where required. As always I welcome feedback on things I could be using on this project.

To begin with I’m focussing on the SQL analysis, T-SQL is still fairly new to me, so I’d rather reuse what’s already out there for example Brent Ozar’s SQL Health Check (https://www.brentozar.com/archive/2017/10/free-sql-server-health-check/). I will use the intial out of the box analysis, running it across a variety of systems to see where the standard baselines need adjusting (paramaterization and parallelism anyone?) and then build my own rules and descriptions to better benefit our specific needs. Sounds fun right?

Watch this space as I develop the scripts and reports, the eventual end game would be to run 1 executable/script with a set of predefined constants (server names, user credentials etc) and have a close to complete report out the end of it. If you do know of any sites or tools out there that can help me complete this then please do get in touch @jaward916


Virtual Home Server

As one of those people who loves to be running the latest tech in both my home and professional lives it’s critical that I build the correct infrastructure in order to achieve that.

At home I recently obtained a 2014 spec Dell server, which had a fair bit of memory and storage, certainly for what was to become the hub of my home operations!

In the last 2 months I have been building the server up, utilising all the latest platforms I can get my hands on.. VMWare ESX 6.5, Windows 10/2016, Ubuntu 16.04 etc.

I now have 8 VMs, across 2 datastores having upgraded all firmware possible and playing around with various settings to balance performance and noise (it’s in the spare room)

Here’s the outcome of that work:

This first image shows my ESX 6.5 HTML5 based landing page (one of easiest to use web admin tools I’ve seen), you’ll note the 128GB RAM, Dual 2.9GHz CPUs and 8.5TB storage – perfect for running media servers as well as testing platforms for my crazy ideas!

Drilling down into the VMs I have built you’ll see a mixture of OSes and things I’m testing:

I was clever enough (somehow) to make my FTP server web facing, it’s where I store all the freebie utility style programs that I use across many systems, It allows me to use it instead of having to carry a USB around all the time!

Plex is the big one, over 3TB assigned to it for all the media we have at home, we can play it across all our devices, such as the SmartTV, Amazon Fire Stick, XboxOne etc.

What I’ve not yet got to grips with is the VMNetwork side of things, eventually I’d like to VLAN off some of the VMs to do some sandbox style testing with various OSes, maybe get back into Linux and re-learn hardening techniques etc, just need the time!

4 years ago…

4 years ago this week I was preparing for a 2 week trip to Amsterdam for the EPSIAE Green IT trip. With a focus on sustainability in IT, and alongside my fellow students from Birmingham City University we visited the Dutch HQ of IBM, Microsoft, Philips and Cisco, we even visited a data centre and a regional electric company! From the information we gained over the 2 weeks, and with many laughs along the way, we worked towards the theory of cloud, which featured in many of our final year projects in some way or other. Between the 4 of us, guided by our lecturer we developed the ECCF (European Combined Cloud Framework) – this is better explained in the animation below, however the concept is something I have come back to this week. After delving more into the world of cloud computing, and potentially running enterprise applications at that level (it’s early days) I have come to be baffled by the different terminologies and technologies used across cloud providers, why can’t we all just agree on our a basic set of principles that are named and defined the same? Sure each provider will have its niche (otherwise there’d be no competition), but the standard set of “here’s a server with 2 cores, 4gb ram and 500gb disk” should be stated in the same phrasing! – Rant over, here’s the rather dodgy animation I did 4 years ago…

Busy Times

So, as 2012 draws towards its close, I sit here, typing on a funky iPad2 with a bluetooth keyboard,
wondering why it feels busier than ever.

This latter part of the year has seen me running (virtually on my own) the infrastructure of 2 very different companies. Firstly, my career job, the home from home that is my Infrastructure Manager position at BMS. A very successful year in infrastructure terms, despite the network outages a few months ago, and the conficker spread in March it has been reasonably quiet. That said the workforce has practically doubled and the server rooms have seen numerous additions. The company’s ambitions continue to match my own and 2013 looks set to be even busier.
Secondly, Redsumo.com, the friendly, local web design, it services and hosting company, founded in 2010 and run out of an office in Alcester with servers hosted on the interweb. Well, what a change we’ve seen there. With an office move into Studley and an even more ambitious server migration to locally hosted servers, a mere few feet from my own desk! Redsumo has continued to take a lot of my time, with building, configuring and maintaining the web and email systems as well as helping with the migrations and even a fair bit of web coding, something that has always been a passion of mine. Redsumo has become more of a Web Development & Hosting company over the last few months, with the IT services gradually phased out. The site has seen a revamp, with new products sitting alongside the old and trusted services that have been provided since day 1. A new WordPress based blog has also been developed to provide a news platform for existing customers to share their stories and prospective customers to see into what we do and how we do it. The Blog project has been something of a success for me, practically recoding an entire theme with many customisations to make it like no other out there. Whilst on the outside it looks plain and simple, I
assure you underneath the hood there’s a lot of clever things going on!

2013 looks set to be a busy, and hopefully compelling year for both companies, and therefore for myself as well. I’m really looking forward to the challenges ahead.