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Toggle Switches

March 22, 2013
More toggle switches mean more decisions, but also more control. Are they worth it?

More toggle switches mean more decisions, but also more control. Are they worth it?

When SQL Server 7 was released, it was touted as a self-tuning, self optimizing database platform requiring much less attention from a DBA. The product had relatively few tuning options and limited information available about how it processed queries. DBAs were worried about losing their jobs, though as history has shown us, the concerns were overblown. There was plenty of work for DBAs then, and that has continued through the current SQL Server 2012 release.

However the number of tuning options, and the wealth of information exposed by SQL Server to developers and administrators has grown tremendously over the years. We have DMVs and DMFs, many more tuning options, new hints, isolation levels, and more that enable the DBA to manage SQL Server fairly in a very granular way when they want to do so. From what I understand, there are still less options than other platforms have and often the best advice I seen given from various people is to write more efficient code and let SQL Server still determine the optimal plan for query execution.

This week, I’m curious how you feel about the tuning and configuration options in SQL Server. The downside of the additional options in other platforms is that there are more choices to make, more DBA decisions, and more administrative overhead in regularly, and constantly tuning these systems.

Do you want more toggle switches in SQL Server?

I don’t mean two position switches, like the physical ones used on the Apollo command module, but rather just switches you can use in SQL Server. These could be database or instance level, sp_configure settings, they could be query hints, they could be session options. Do you want more options, or do you think we have a lot to work with already?

Personally I like the idea that we can change behaviors, but I’d really prefer that the defaults were well set and somewhat self-tuning for most installations.

Steve Jones


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