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SQL Server - Diary of a DBA – Num 14 – Trichotomy of control, Dry Runs, Silver Bullets

20 October,2012 by Jack Vamvas

A common practise amongst the Stoics in Ancient Greece was to apply the trichotomy of control. According to the Stoics, there are three levels of control 1) Matters in which we have no control  2) Matters which we have partial control  3) Matters which we have full (or substantial control). They argued you should only worry over 3)  i.e matters we have full control .   Of course , they never worked  as DBAs or in large IT departments,!! but I thought I’d apply this system  over the last few days.

My experience was interesting. These are my initial experiences\impressions. I’m sure , if I continued to apply , I’d eventually achieve their state of calm

1)       Stopped standing over people to force them to solve the problem quicker. From personal experience, SQL Server performance problems, may take some time to resolve. Someone standing over you can be counterproductive and causes  unnecessary stress

2)       Started focusing more on my stack of issues. SQL Server Tuning, Performance problems, scalability issue, DR setup , DB2 tuning etc. It’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on the wider environment , ultimately database servers sit on a complex IT ecosystem , but as a DBA , you need to stay on top of your issues.

A large Production System  SQL Server data migration is looming. I’m updating over 1 billion records , migrating the data from a DB2 server , cleansing the data ,  disabling non clustered indexes , updating and rebuilding. All the scripts are ready , but I prefer in these circumstances to do a Dry Run , approximately 1 week before. This gives me an opportunity to fine tune any scripts and very importantly get an idea of the job duration. The attempt is to follow a documented process , which safeguards the organisation , where someone can step in , if I’m unavailable.

SQL Server  silver bullet tuning is a universal approach where a  change can have a  positive impact on SQL Server  database performance. The SQL Server Silver Bullet Tuning is an approach where an suboptimal server-wide element is identified and the “Silver Bullet” is the single action that results in an improvement to an entire SQL Server  database. 

In the right hands , the Silver Bullet can save the day , in the wrong hands – it can grind the server down to a less than expected performance, and may take days to unwind.  The trick, is to understand the exact reason for the slow performance – and develop a logical argument , based on facts , to warrant applying the change

 Posts this week on


SQL Server – Check Data and Log files are on separate drives

SQL Server - Database Server Security Audit Process

SQL Server – Datetime date range , AS400 and OPENQUERY

SQL Server –Semicolon in sql

SQL Server – Erase Phantom System Health Records – reason 193

SQL Server – Find queries causing Lock Timeouts per second

SQL Server – Memory leak detection





Author: Jack Vamvas (


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