WebSphere on Windows (WOW)

Microsoft recently conducted some interesting studies on running WebSphere on Windows. Their research is published at the website http://www.websphereloveswindows.com/, which has an intro splash that looks more like a flash-based Valentine’s card than anything else. I recommend clicking the "Skip Animation" link and digging into the research information. This is a compelling study to consider running Windows for WebSphere applications rather than IBM OSes and Unix variants.
I look at this information as being  another step forward, similar to announcements like integrating PHP with Windows Azure data resources (see http://phpazure.codeplex.com/).
The Stock Trader sample download that was used in the benchmarks for the study includes some very interesting code from a WCF perspective. I recommend everyone explore this sample for more information about the study.

SCOM runs SQL in the SQL Management Pack

As part of a couple projects I have gained experience working with Systems Center Operations Manager (SCOM) as part of working with IT departments who needed to manage BizTalk, Active Directory, and SQL Server. One request I recently got was to determine how SQL actually gets executed as part of the SQL Server management pack. So the first thing I needed to do was to load the SQL Management pack into SCOM and then explore the Task artifacts to determine which ones were executing SQL. You would think that there would be quite a few of them for DBA-centric tasks. Along the way of doing this I noticed a few gotchas and wanted to point these out. Catch the end of this post to see the results of my probing into the management pack.
When installing the SQL management pack download, an MSI runs to export a copy of all of the management pack files (*.mp) that need to be loaded into SCOM. If you search on the management pack catalog (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/systemcenter/cc462790.aspx), it comes back with the same management pack for SQL 2000, 2005, and 2008. But when running the installer it does not created any 2008-specific management packs, only 2000 and 2005 ones so this is a little misleading. The MSI creates 5 different management pack files, the SQL Core Library, the 2000 discovery pack, the 2000 monitoring pack, the 2005 discovery pack, and the 2005 monitoring pack. The core library should be loaded first, then one or both discovery packs, and finally one or both monitoring packs. Most managment pack installs just create a single .mp file so be sure to run the additional packs to get all of the management artifacts!
I loaded the management packs into SCOM and then started searching for where SQL may be executing based on the SQL management pack. There are a couple of different things to look for in a management pack such as alerts, monitors, tasks, rules, etc. Typically tasks are used for executing scripts, starting Windows services, or other command-line executable tasks. I ended up only finding a single instance of specific SQL being executed from the SQL Management pack:
sqlcmd.exe -E -S $Target/Property[Type="SQL!Microsoft.SQLServer.DBEngine"]/ConnectionString$ -Q "sp_configure"
One thing that is interesting about this command is that it pulls out a property from for the connection string in what looks like a Powershell variable and then executes a call to sp_configure. This provides an example of what would be required to create a custom task that executes SQL. Only finding a single task was surprising – I was expecting that there would be one for updating indexes based on the results of SQLProfiler, or other common administration tasks. Alas, I will need to create a custom management pack to do these kinds of things. At least this example shows me how easy it would be to create a task to execute some custom SQL.

Windows Server 2008 Event Viewer Refresh Notifications

Lately I have been working a lot on Windows Server 2008 and have been very impressed with the updated Event Viewer. If you have ever been debugging a particular Windows Service or BizTalk application and were watching the event log for errors, you end up spending a lot of time refreshing the Event Viewer. In Windows Server 2008, the my newest favorite feature is the way that the event viewer will notify you if it is not currently showing the latest events. At the top of the Event Viewer MMC you can find a line which shows the number of events currently visible, as seen below:
Then when new events occur, you will get a notification of the new events to the right of the event count. This is shown below:
This notiifcation means that you can now wait until the notification in order to refresh the event viewer rather than refreshing it manually yourself to watch the events roll in. This is a very helpful and productive addition to Window Server!

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