Couple of months ago I had the opportunity to share with my first look at SafePeak, a new and unique software solution for improving SQL Server performance and solving bottlenecks, accelerates the data access and cuts the CPU and IO of your SQL Server. SafePeak unique approach not just tells you about the problems but actually resolves them automatically and improves SQL Server performance and the performance of applications dramatically.
It looks like SafePeak team gave a very serious thinking how to make things even easier during the integration and fine tuning, thus improving the short term benefits, and also to provide a valuable information about the usage of the database by the application, an important long term benefit. Before I get into my key findings of the new features and improvements let me give a short reminder of SafePeak.
SafePeak in a brief:
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SafePeak is a dynamic caching proxy that resides between the application and the database. It is unique in the way it requires neither code changes nor database changes. The only change required is routing the application through SafePeak instead of the database (by changing connection string, a DNS record, or simply adding reroute line in the c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file).
Here is a short video about SafePeak (thanks to ApplicationPerformance.com team for benchmark and the video):
SafePeak analyses the database schema and the SQL traffic, prepares sql patterns for decision making process and applies those sql patterns as caching rules. When data served from cache – the result is immediate (tests show 100-400 micro seconds per query – that is 0.000,100 of a second).
Concept of “dynamic caching” is actually very interesting and unique: SafePeak caches in RAM the results of queries and stored procedures, but makes sure that the data integrity is enforced real-time both in SafePeak and in SQL Server.
The benefits of such a solution are obvious: quick integration, immediate ROI, no complex projects and most importantly, minimal downtime for production systems.
To learn more about the concept and how SafePeak works see my previous post here.
New features in the SafePeak version 2.1
As this is my first semi-deep look at the new version, I’ll cover the top features that I found useful.
1. Improvement of the cache setup and fine-tuning.
The #1 obstacle in previous versions was the understanding what needs to be actually configured to improve cache efficiency. Most of the setup is automated, some applications still demand important fine-tuning process. You see, SafePeak takes data integrity as its primary concern and that can reduce even significantly he cache effectiveness at the beginning. Two factors to consider from the beginning: A) “Dynamic Objects”; B) Manual (or non-deterministic) patterns to be enabled for cache. Actually few of the comments of my previous review asked questions exactly about this.
The “dynamic objects” are usually stored procedures that your application has, that dynamically create SQL and then execute it (actually CLR objects and encrypted objects are also considered as “dynamic”). For SafePeak such procs are signed as “dynamic objects” and by default SafePeak takes the safest course of action to ensure data correctness: each execution of such proc ALL Cache is cleaned and SafePeak mode during the execution is “Disabled (DDL)” (visible on the dashboard screen).
Consider that you have 2-3 procedures with dynamic code that do not change any data and are executed every 5 seconds. This means that instead of caching them, SafePeak all instance cache is cleaned each 5 seconds. This doesn’t really give you a chance for improvement, right..?
While it was configurable in the previous versions, the new version makes the process of both identification of such events and procedures and the configuration much easier: Immediately on such execution you will see on the Dashboard the name of the procedure that needs to be configured:
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Clicking on the line will take to the Dynamic Objects configuration screen (Caching managementàInstanceàDatabaseàDynamic Object tab) where a filter will apply to show you only this procedure plus all of its dependant dynamic procedures. You will need to manually configure to all these procedures.
Configuration became easier too, eliminating the previous requirement running “sp_helptext” on your production SQL Server each time. The “Available Objects” popup (under “Object Dependencies” tab) shows us the text of the procedure. All we are left to do is identify the tables that are read from (selects, joints), tables that are updated (DMLs) and/or which other stored procedures it calls. Focus only the SQL code that is dynamic (the regular code has already been learned by SafePeak automatically).
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At the end configure the checkboxes at the “Object Information”: if object is deterministic (makes the activation of cache automatic), does it have transactions inside, DDL – does it changes schema, and should it clear all SafePeak cache (best not to do that J ).
The new version makes it simple to know what needs to be configured (from the dashboard) and the configuration is simpler and no longer requires opening in parallel your database server. This makes things also nice, as this can be done remotely.
2. Database templates
What happens if I have multiple similar structured database (like content databases in SharePoint)? Or I have several servers with same structured databases?
Well this is the next improvement by SafePeak: creation of Database Templates.
After you configure One database, you can save this a as a database template (in the Caching Management area). Then if you have additional similar database, SafePeak will recognize their pattern and apply that configuration to those databases too. You have also control for it under the very much enhanced “SettingsàInstance Configuration” section. You can also export these settings to a file and then import it on another SafePeak installation. A very nice feature.
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3. Controlling caching by databases was also enhanced. In addition to controlling sql patterns, at the “SettingsàInstance Configuration” section you can enable and disable cache per each database. Because SafePeak licensing model is based on cached databases this makes it very simple to control.
4. SafePeak extends to near real-time analytical abilities of the SQL Server usage
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SafePeak version 2.1 brings the DBA new abilities to see and analyze all the SQL queries that were executed during anytime. While previously we could see only cacheable “read” sql patterns, the new SafePeak allows investigation of all executed SQL patterns, including DMLs, DDLs, DCLs etc. The new SafePeak also makes it possible to check exactly what happened by choosing the specific timeframe. The new version creates analytical statistics every 15 minutes (reduced from 1 hour), which allows better investigation of suspicions events. SafePeak team also changed the columns list, added a “DB” column. This way you immediately see the queries response time as they run on SQL, performance from cache, and the change on the average performance new performance with SafePeak.
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Actually this is interesting, as just couple of weeks ago one of my customers had a sudden overload on the SQL server during evening hours. It is not really clear when it started, when it ended, what happened there and why – all remain a mystery up to day. SafePeak’s new analytical abilities could definitely unveil the mystery and help the DBAs to save their precious time and back to normal work.
I was impressed of SafePeak first version, but the new features and components make SafePeak a very advanced and comprehensive SQL Server performance, acceleration and analytical solution. In this post scanned a small part of the overall changes and improvement. I would very much like to hear your findings and suggestions.
SafePeak is a great acceleration solution for users who want immediate results for sites with performance, scalability and peak spikes challenges.
SafePeak can significantly increase response times, by reducing network round-trip to the database, decreasing CPU resource usage, eliminating I/O and storage access.
For all those SQL Server shops – definitely worth giving SafePeak a try. You can download a free, fully functional trial www.safepeak.com/download.
Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)