Ryan Adams Blog

SQL, Active Directory, Scripting

PBM has four evaluation modes that provide us with flexibility in the way we evaluate policies against our SQL instances.  Here are the options and what we can use them for:

  • On Demand – This is a manual policy evaluation.  Policies in this mode can only be evaluated by performing a policy evaluation in SSMS.
  • On Schedule – This allows you to automate the evaluation of policies.  Policies in this mode require a schedule and are executed via SQL Agent jobs.
  • On Change: Log Only – This mode only evaluates a policy in response to a SQL Server DDL Event.  The action performed by the user is allowed to complete and the result is logged in PBM.
  • On Change: Prevent – This mode only evaluates a policy in response to a SQL Server DDL Event.  The action performed by the user is wrapped in a transaction and automatically rolled back if it violates the policy.

I will be speaking at SQLSaturday #97 in Austin, TX on October 1st, 2011.  I will be delivering my presentation on database mirroring.

I know the event team for this SQLSaturday and I can say without a doubt that it will be an event to be remembered.  Wes Brown (Blog|Twitter), Jim Murphy (Blog|Twitter), and AJ Mendo (Blog|Twitter) are some top notch guys that are committed to the community.  If you attend, make it a point to meet these guys and thank them for their hard work!

As with any SQLSaturday (especially the first one) there are some bumps along the road.  These guys have handled those bumps with grace, dignity, and the upmost in professionalism.  I know they could use any help they can get, so if your company can sponsor this event or you can volunteer to lend a hand, make sure to do so.

It is going to be a great event and there are limited spots left so make sure to Get Registered, and stop by my session.  Here is the abstract:

Mirroring: The Bare Necessities

Remember Baloo the bear from the Jungle Book? Well we are going to get down to the “bear” necessities of mirroring and more. Mirroring can be an integral part of your high availability and disaster recovery planning. We’ll cover what mirroring is, how it can fit into an HA/DR plan, the rules surrounding its use, configuration via the GUI and T-SQL, as well as how to monitor mirroring. This presentation is designed to not only give you an overview of mirroring, but to also walk you through a basic implementation. At the end you will have learned what mirroring is, how it can fit into your environment, what business requirements it solves, and how to configure it.

This past weekend I was speaking at SQLSaturday #90 in Oklahoma City.  During the event I had the pleasure of sitting down and getting to know Karla Landrum (PASS Community Evangelist).  We met each other at a SQLSaturday in Houston earlier this year, but we didn’t have much time to chat.  We had a great conversation about PASS and community.

I knew she had been a regional mentor prior to taking the new job at PASS as community evangelist, so I asked her what being a regional mentor was about.  I already knew what the overall goal of the program was and I was curious about the specifics.  She explained the program and the changes it has been going through.  At this point you may be asking the same thing.  What does a regional mentor do for PASS?  Allow me to give you an overview with a technical twist.

RMs are endpoints.  They are the communication channels between local chapters, PASS, and other local chapters.  It’s a mesh topology of endpoints!  We have a lot of chapters in the PASS organization and this gives us a way to remain connected and help each other out.  RMs are ambassadors for PASS to the community.  They gather information from the chapters about their pains, so that PASS understands the challenges and can help out.

RMs are also advocates for the local chapter leaders.  The idea is to make sure that chapter leaders have the resources and tools they need to be successful.  This can encompass a lot of things, like how a chapter can market itself, how they get sponsorship, how they get items for raffles, and how they get speakers.  It also provides a way for chapters that are geographically close to share resources like speakers and sponsors.

Let’s flashback to Saturday.  During my conversation with Karla, she mentioned a need for another regional mentor.  I let her know that I would be happy to help out.  We finished our conversation and I went back to attend some more sessions.  About an hour later I was called out of the session and Karla let me know that I would be the new regional mentor for the US South Central region.  She had already contacted Mark Ginnebaugh on the PASS board of directors, who approved it.  Thanks Mark!

It was already an amazing day simply because I was at a SQLSaturday, the Oklahoma City User Group had become an official chapter, and now this!

I am very honored to have been chosen for this position, but I’m even more excited.  In fact, I already have an idea for growing local speakers.

I am ready to serve!

SQLSaturday 90 OKC     #90

This was a fantastic event! This was Oklahoma City’s first SQLSaturday, so it’s quite an accomplishment and something to celebrate.  Tim Mitchell, Russell Loski, and I started off by heading from Dallas to Oklahoma City which only took about 3 hours. The speaker dinner was held at the Embassy Suites hotel restaurant. The hotel and restaurant were very nice and the food was good. They served finger foods and pizza, but the pizza was not your typical mediocre pizza. This was some good stuff.

The next morning we headed to the Norman Moore Technology Center, which was a prefect venue for an event like this. This place was new, clean, and very well laid out for sponsors and attendee networking.

Keynote
Steve Jones (Blog|Twitter) delivered a key note speech. His keynote was titled “The Winding Road” and was about his life and path to technology, how he became a SQL Server expert, and how he started SQLServerCentral.com. He went on to talk about how we make choices that define where we go and how those choices are presented to us. Sometimes those choices are not clear cut. How often do you hit a fork in the road where you get to make a choice? Steve says that for most of us, we are on a road and the choice is to stay on that road or take an exit and try something new.

Steve also talked about why we make the choices we make. Did you choose a career path for money, or maybe knowledge? The reason for making a choice is a good indicator whether it will be a good one or not. He suggests that we not decide what to do, but first decide what things we do NOT want to do.

Session 1
Wes Brown presented on “Understanding Storage Systems and SQL Server”. Wes runs the Austin, TX SQL Server user group and they are planning SQLSaturday #97. Make sure you check that event out in any way you can. Whether you are looking to sponsor the event, speak at the event, or just attend and I’ll see you there!

Have you heard that something is only as good as its weakest link? Well for SQL server that is the disk subsystem. Wes covers everything about the various disk systems and how they all integrate together. 10 minutes into the session and I had an overwhelming urge to hop on Newegg and start building a new home system. If you are building out a new SQL Server system then this session is for you.

Session 2
I spoke during this time slot on Policy Based Management and Central Management Server. If you attended this session or want to see what it was about then you can view the abstract and download the slide deck HERE.

Lunch
They served a nice box lunch with sandwich, apple, cookies, and chips. My chips expired on August 9th, so I hope that was the only expired thing in the bag.

Session 3
I used this time to do a little networking and some great conversations. I got the opportunity to talk to Karla Landrum, who recently joined the PASS HQ team. We had some great community dialog and I look forward to working with her in the community space.

Session 4
Sri Sridharan spoke on data governance. Sri explained how he handles mining configuration data from his servers and aggregating all the information. It can serve as an inventory, but it’s the data that is mined that can give you real value. It provides a way to see the discrepancies between test, dev, and prod. It also gives you a central way to manage your data and server environment. Have you ever wondered which cluster node your SQL instance is currently running on? Sri shows a way to see that from one central point across your enterprise.

Session 5
This session was a 30 minute time slot and is the first time I have seen this done at a SQLSaturday. It’s a short time, but I think it worked well and encourages networking after the session for those that want to dig deeper. I watched Ben Miller talk about TDE, but I was called out of the session early.  Make sure to check back tomorrow to find out why.  I was able to meet up with Ben after the event, and talk shop to fill in the gaps.

Closing
The closing ceremony went very smoothly with good advertisement of SQLPASS and community events. The raffle process is a pain point for many of these events and OKC did a great job making it run smoothly.

Other Observations
The speaker evaluation forms only had two criteria. One was for expectations (Did Not Meet, Met, Exceeded) and the other was a scale of 1 to 5 for overall quality. The fact that it was short and sweet might have yielded a greater return of forms.  People are more inclined to fill it out since it’s quick.  The tradeoff is whether it was enough for the speakers.  It worked fine for me as an attendee and speaker.

In all honesty I only saw two things that could have been improved upon, and that is absolutely amazing for a first time event.  Those things were no signs outside and pre-event communications were behind schedule.  I suspect the communications thing was due to pre and post event venues, and sometimes there is just nothing you can do about it.

Icing on the Cake
The OKC SQL group officially became a chapter of PASS on the day of the event.  The team was able to announce it at the event which really made it special.  Congratulations OKC!

REGISTER

On September 7th, 2011 at 1pm Central Time the SQL Server Worldwide User Group will be airing my presentation on how to Manage your shop with CMS and PBM.  The webcast is free for SSWUG members and $29 for non-members.  As an added bonus, I will be in the live chat room ready to answer your questions.  Make sure to catch my session by Registering Here.  Here is the abstract:

Manage your shop with CMS and Policy Based Management

In this presentation we talk about Central Management Server and how it can help you manage a disperse environment. We will also cover what Policy Based Management is and how you can leverage its power to better manage your environment. With PBM we’ll see what it can and cannot do to help you enforce standards in your enterprise. We will cover and demonstrate PBM for the beginner from creating and evaluating policies to receiving alerts on policy violations.

 

When you import policies into your Policy Based Management Server you have two options.  The first option is “Replace duplicates with items imported”.  This option will replace any policies in your PBM server that have the same name as the one you are importing.  This can come in handy if you have to make a change to the policy and re-deploy it to several servers in your environment.  It is also great to use if you suspect the policy has been altered and you want to ensure the settings are replaced.  The real jewel to this setting is that it does not replace the evaluation history for that policy.

The other option is “Policy State” and describes what state we want the policy to be put in after the import.  Here are the choices we have.

  • Preserve State – Whatever state the policy was exported in, is the state we want after we import it.  If the policy was in a disabled state when it was exported then it will be in a disabled state after we import it.
  • Enabled – Imports the policy and enables it regardless of the export state.
  • Disabled – Imports the policy and disables it regardless of the export state.

If you are not familiar with the policy being imported, including the Microsoft Best Practice Policies, it is always suggested to import the policy in a disabled state.  You need to open and evaluate the policy for yourself and your environment before you import it.

I will be speaking for the PASS DBA Virtual Chapter on August 24th, 2011 at 11AM CT.  I will be delivering my presentation on Central Management Server and Policy Based Management.

If you have not checked out the virtual chapters that PASS has, then you need to Go Check Them Out.  These chapters are designed to fill the gap for areas of the country that do not have a local user group chapter.  Even if you have a local chapter in your area you need to check these out.  Why?  Most speakers have to pay for travel out of their own pocket and can’t visit every chapter in the country.  The virtual chapters provide a platform where you can watch the presentations via Live Meeting.  This means you get access to great speakers you might not otherwise get to hear, and best of all you get to do it from the comfort of your desk.

Don’t cheat yourself of amazing free training, and go check out the chapter(s) that interests you.  There is a $50 Amazon gift card up for grabs if you register by 5pm ET August 23rd.  You can register for my session HERE.  If you just want to attend this FREE session then you can access the Live Meeting directly by going HERE.  Below is the session abstract:

Manage your shop with CMS and Policy Based Management

In this presentation we talk about Central Management Server and how it can help you manage a disperse environment. We will also cover what Policy Based Management is and how you can leverage its power to better manage your environment. With PBM we’ll see what it can and cannot do to help you enforce standards in your enterprise. We will cover and demonstrate PBM for the beginner from creating and evaluating policies to receiving alerts on policy violations.

I get a lot of questions about the terminology surrounding PBM.  Here is a list of the terms you will want to become familiar with along with a description.

  • Facet – These are a grouping of properties based on a feature or particular aspect of SQL Server.  Be sure to look through these after you enable PBM to get a better idea of how Microsoft has organized the available properties.  Examples would be properties grouped around server level settings, databases, stored procedures, and triggers.
  • Condition – Conditions define and scope the object types you are looking to evaluate.  They are also used as filters for target servers and restrictions on server types like SQL Server versions.
  • Policy – Policies are containers that hold and describe the facets, conditions, targets, evaluation modes, and server restrictions you have chosen.
  • Target – Targets are the objects that contain the properties you are looking to evaluate.  For example, you may have chosen the database facet, but you can use a condition to define your target as a specific database.
  • Server Restriction – Again you can use a condition to restrict your policy to a particular type of server.  An example would be restricting to only servers running SQL Standard Edition.
  • Category – Categories are logical groupings of policies.  You might have 5 different policies that evaluate things regarding SOX audit compliancy.  You can add all 5 policies to a SOX audit category and then apply the category to the servers that require them.

I will be speaking at SQLSaturday #90 in Oklahoma City on August 27th, 2011.  I will be delivering my presentation on Central Management Server and Policy Based Management.

I’m looking forward to this event since I lived in the western Oklahoma City suburb of Yukon for about 5 years.  I’m hoping to visit some of the old stomping grounds if time permits.  I haven’t seen all that beautiful red clay they call dirt in a really long time!

I’m also looking forward to visiting with all my SQL friends from OKC and Tulsa.  This event should be a good one and a little different.  They only have 3 tracks and 15 sessions, so you can bet they will all be top notch.  The other really cool thing they are doing is to have one of the fathers of SQLSaturday, Steve Jones (Blog|Twitter), deliver a key note.

It is going to be a great event and there are only about 50 spots left so make sure to Get Registered, and stop by my session.  Here is the abstract:

Manage your shop with CMS and Policy Based Management

In this presentation we talk about Central Management Server and how it can help you manage a disperse environment. We will also cover what Policy Based Management is and how you can leverage its power to better manage your environment. With PBM we’ll see what it can and cannot do to help you enforce standards in your enterprise. We will cover and demonstrate PBM for the beginner from creating and evaluating policies to receiving alerts on policy violations.

Policy Based Management gives us centralized management of our SQL Servers.  It allows us to evaluate, configure, and enforce standards across the enterprise.  If you are familiar with Active Directory Group Policy Objects then you will see a direct resemblance between the two technologies.  PBM allows us to create rules for our SQL Servers so that we can ensure a consistent configuration across our enterprise.  You can use it to evaluate these rules and change any settings that do not conform.  In some instances you can even prevent users from making changes that do not conform to your rules.

PBM is only supported on SQL 2008 or above.  It is supported on any edition except Express, Web, and Compact.  It is a common misconception that PBM is supported in Express Edition.  In Express Edition you will see Policy Management under the Management node in SSMS, but if you attempt to enable it, you will receive an error that it is not supported on that edition.

Even though PBM is only supported in SQL 2008 and above, that is only for the management server itself that houses your policies.  However, you can use that PBM instance to evaluate both SQL 2000 and 2005 servers.  PBM stores all of its policies and configuration in the MSDB system database, so make sure you back up that database regularly.