Monitoring and Troubleshooting SQL Server Performance in Visual Studio .NET

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Monitoring and Troubleshooting SQL Server Performance
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Building a Workload File
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DTA requires you to provide it with a workload that it can analyze. You can provide the workload in a variety of formats, including a trace file, a trace table, or a TransactSQL script. The most common workload used within DTA is a trace file. You can generate this trace by using SQL Server Profiler, which ships with a template designed to capture the data DTA needs to perform its analysis. To generate the trace file, launch Profiler, select the Tuning trace template, and save the results to a file. Alternatively, you can load the trace into a table that DTA uses to perform its analysis.
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Using a Transact-SQL script as a workload file
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A Transact-SQL script makes for an interesting workload file, which simply contains a batch of SQL that you want to analyze. Although there isn t anything earth-shattering about creating a file that contains a batch of SQL, this option takes on a new meaning when you integrate it with your development processes. For example, you can highlight a query in a batch of SQL in the query window within SSMS, right-click the query, and select Send To Database Engine Tuning Advisor. This action launches DTA against the SQL batch you highlighted, letting you perform targeted analysis while you are developing queries.
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Configuring DTA to Analyze a Workload
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Analyzing a workload in DTA consists of three basic steps: 1. Launch DTA and connect to your server. 2. Select a workfile to analyze. 3. Specify tuning options. Let s walk through each of these steps. First, launch DTA so that you can configure a new analysis session, as shown in Figure 15-14. Each session you create will be saved, so you can go back and review previous analysis sessions and view the recommendations that DTA generated. To easily identify sessions, make sure to give each one a descriptive name. You need to specify the workload source along with the database for the workload analysis. You also have to specify the databases and tables that you want to tune within the workload. DTA uses the database you specify for the workload analysis as the basis for making tuning decisions. And by specifying the databases and tables for tuning, you let DTA ignore some of the events in the workload file.
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Lesson 3: Using the Database Engine Tuning Advisor
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Figure 15-14 Configuring an analysis session
After you specify the general options for the tuning session, click the Tuning Options tab (see Figure 15-15).
Figure 15-15 Specifying tuning options to consider
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Monitoring and Troubleshooting SQL Server Performance
One of the most important options to set when configuring a tuning session that involves workloads from production systems is to limit the tuning time. Otherwise, DTA could run for several days before completing. DTA performs its analysis by loading the specified workload and starting the first command to tune. DTA then interrogates the query optimizer with various options and compares the query cost that the optimizer returns. DTA repeats this interrogation process until it cannot find any options that produce a query plan of a lower cost. DTA then logs any recommendations for that query such as creating an index, an indexed view, or partitioning the table and moves on to the next statement to repeat the process.
CAUTION
DTA s performance impact
DTA actively sends requests to the query optimizer, which then returns a query cost. The query cost is based on the live distribution statistics for data within the database being tuned. Therefore, DTA generally uses your production database when it is in an analysis session. Thus, you must be very careful when executing a DTA analysis because the load it puts on the database can affect performance. If possible, restore a backup of your production database on another server and use it for the DTA analysis session.
In general, you will specify that DTA look for both indexes and indexed views to create for better performance. However, you can restrict the structures that DTA will consider. DTA also analyzes whether partitioning a table might improve query performance. When you are configuring partitioning options in DTA, keep in mind that if you are using the SWITCH command with partitioning, you will want to restrict DTA s analysis to aligned partitions only.
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