Nowadays everyone virtualizes. SQL Server is no exception. VMware is the most common hypervisor by far (sorry Hyper-V) so it is very beneficial for DBAs to know their way around vSphere, understand how to optimally configure SQL Server and VMware to work together, and know the red flags to watch for performance.
Diagnostics and the optimization of configurations are important for any SQL Server instance. However, it is not only the database server which need attention. The operating system, Windows Server, needs consideration as well. There are various general configurations to consider optimizing on any Windows Server hosting a SQL Server instance.
NOTE: this deals only with Windows Server. I know that Linux is now recently an option but this article will deal only with Windows Server.
This is part 2 of a 3 part series about SQL Server Environmental Diagnostics. Part 1 can be read here.
Supporting an application as a DBA means you have encountered complaints about performance. The investigation starts and the root cause must be determined. Often times the end result is not a bug in the code but rather something specific to the environment. Environmental problems are usually the culprit.
Performance problems for a SQL Server based application are likely to be caused by environmental factors and not buggy code.
Whether it is a configuration you can change in SQL Server, Windows Server, VMware, or the network it is likely the first course of action is to perform a quick assessment of the environment. This is where understanding the various configurations and best practices are key. Knowing what to look for can save tons of time.
A mistake I often see is a performance issue is passed off to someone else (more senior) and that engineer assumes a lot of things without checking. People are going to relay the problem as they see it – not as it actually is. This leads to skipping over some elementary checks which can save time and frustration from tracking down imaginary bugs.
Start troubleshooting with a quick environmental check.
Below are common environmental mishaps I see when troubleshooting SQL Server performance complaints. Consider these 1st line of action before getting into execution plans, statistics, indexing, and code refactoring.