What follows is a list of new and improved features in the LiteSpeed 7.0 release due out on June 8, 2012. I'll create more in-depth posts on some of the newer features in coming weeks. As always, if you have a request for a new feature or an enhancement to an existing one, please let us know in the Ideas section of the LiteSpeed Community site here: https://www.quest.com/community/products or contact me directly at david dot gugick at quest.com if forums are not your thing.
If you’ve ever had the need to restore a large production database to a development of staging environment, you’ve probably run into a situation where you may not have adequate drive space. LiteSpeed 7.0 allows customers to restore a LiteSpeed backup as a compressed, read-only database. Storage requirements are considerably reduced. On our TPC-E test database, we see compression in the 80% range, meaning storage requirements are 5X less than they might otherwise be. This allows for a full investigation of the data and schema and running database operations like DBCC CHECKDB without affecting the production environment, all while allowing the DBA to restore in a fraction of the space normally required. I'm going to follow up next week with a blog post about how to leverage this great new feature.
We’ve made some improvements to the existing Backup Template implementation. If you're new to Backup Templates, they are great for multi-server job management. Simply create a template and then deploy to any number of instances and your jobs or maintenance plans are automatically created for you. Update the template and quickly re-deploy. You can also quickly remove deployments from instances. Multi-instance management made simple.
In the new 7.0 release, we added the ability to custom select databases at deployment time for those cases where options like “All User Databases” or Wildcards just won't work. We also made improvements to job scheduling to help DBAs avoid too many concurrent backups running in the data center. This is especially helpful when you're saving backups to a common share and want to avoid 50 instances all backing up at the same time. For example, you can now easily stagger the backups every 10 minutes or spread them out over a 3 hour time span.
If you're tired of backups failing simply because the backup directory did not exist at backup time, then we're right there with you. LiteSpeed 7.0 now automatically creates directories at the time of backup. It creates the entire directory tree if needed. Not only does this prevent backups from failing but it also means you can be very creative and leverage the LiteSpeed “%” variables in folders to dynamically organize backups. In a backup template, for example, you could use the following path to organize backups by Server, Instance, and Database: \\BackupShare\SQLServer\%SERVER%\%INSTANCE%\%DATABASENAME%
Object-Level Recovery (OLR) Enhancements
Object-Level Recovery now fully supports SQL Server ROW and PAGE compression. Any tables that leverage this 2008/2012 feature to save space can now use OLR to recover data from these tables. In addition, we have added full support for the XML data type.
One interesting new feature is the ability to bypass tail-log processing during an OLR operation in order to speed recovery. This is particularly useful with databases that process a lot of transactions during backups. As you know, SQL Server appends any transactions to the end of a backup if they were committed while the backup was running. It makes for a more comprehensive backup. But in order for OLR to provide you the absolute most recent version of the requested data, we normally process this tail log data (every OLR operation). But processing tail log data can be time consuming on backups where the database was very busy running DML and DDL operations during the backup. In the case where you don’t care about the transactions that were run during a backup and how they may or may not have affected the data you need, you can easily disable this tail log processing and possibly save yourself some time as a result.
We also improved the LiteSpeed console and now allow you to easily restore multiple tables at the same time. Since we will never overwrite an existing table during an OLR restore operation, we also give you the option to stamp the new tables with a common prefix or suffix. This makes them very easy to find in Management Studio so you can start the investigation and migration of the data back into the production tables.
For our Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) users, we now fully support Fast Compression. TSM customers can now enjoy all the backup time and space savings that our existing Fast Compression users have been experiencing for some time. Everything works the same, except instead of targeting disk, you can now target TSM.
Import Instances from Central Repository
To make it easier for DBAs to register common instances in their consoles, we now include the ability to save SQL Server instance names in the central repository. You can decide which instances should be made available in the repository for import (from the instance registration page) and using the SQL Server Registration dialog’s Import from Central Repository option, you can easily search and import multiple instances at the same time. For the security minded, no credentials (user names or passwords) are ever saved.
We get this request a lot from DBAs. A DBA creates some maintenance plans and then leaves the company. Now there are a number of maintenance plans and their related jobs that are still assigned to the DBA that no longer works there. If you update the jobs and change the owner, those changes were lost the next time you edited and saved the maintenance plan. The only option was to run some queries against the msdb database, which was time consuming and prone to error. In LiteSpeed 7.0, you can now easily change the owner right from the maintenance plan editor in the LiteSpeed console. Small improvement. Big time savings.
For those DBAs who require tight control over when Reinitialize and Resync operations run on publishers and subscribers, LiteSpeed now includes a script option. Rather than running an operation interactively in the LiteSpeed console, you can now grab the scripts and run them as you see fit on the publisher and subscribers.
Double-Click Restore (DCR) was improved some time back to automatically create a DCR Loader (EXE) in the case where the backup was larger than 4GB. That’s because Windows cannot run an EXE larger than 4GB. When the backup is smaller than 4GB, LiteSpeed automatically converted it to an EXE. But if you don’t want to change the backup to EXE, you now have the option to simply create DCR Loader and leave the backup file as is. Simply send the created DCR Loader along with the LiteSpeed backup and users can restore without the need to have LiteSpeed installed. The option is available from the DCR extended stored procedure, the DCR command-line, as well as from the LiteSpeed console in the Backup Browser tab, Backup History tab, the Backup Wizard, Maintenance Plans, and Backup Templates.
When you restore a database to a different server, where should the data files go? In previous releases, we defaulted the path in the Restore Wizard to the location from the original instance. But when restoring to a different instance, it’s a pretty good bet the original folder didn’t exist and you needed to spend a minute entering the correct path. In LiteSpeed 7.0, we automatically recognize when a backup is being restored to a different instance and provide you with the option to quickly change the path (originating instance or destination instance). You can, of course, still customize the location.
We worked to improve Undo/Redo wizard performance, especially when working with thousands of DML statements. Performance has improved about 40%. We also now allow users to reconstruct multiple rows at the same time. Reconstruction is the recovery of the original and new column values for an operation. But this process can be time consuming, so we didn’t perform it unless asked. Previous releases could only reconstruct one row at a time, but what if you wanted to see 1,000 updated rows and how the column values changed by using the Table History Wizard? Well, it meant clicking Reconstruct 1,000 times, which no one would do. Now you simply click-select and check all the rows you want to reconstruct, select the Reconstruct option on the context menu, and LiteSpeed does all the work automatically.
If you're an early adopter and plan on leveraging the really cool AlwaysOn Availability Group feature in SQL Server 2012, you can now rely on LiteSpeed to help you manage the backup part. Design how you want to leverage your primary and secondary copies for backups when defining your Availability Group and when you use a LiteSpeed maintenance plan or a Backup Template, LiteSpeed will automatically back up the preferred instance. If you want to override the “preferred” setting in the Availability Group, you can optionally back up only the primary, the primary and all secondary instances, or none at all.
We have a new LiteSpeed edition that will be available very soon. It’s a bundle of LiteSpeed for SQL Server Enterprise 7.0 and Quest’s NetVault FastRecover. The new High-Availability Edition combines the power of LiteSpeed for SQL Server with the Continuous Data Protection (CDP) capabilities of FastRecover to provide SQL Server DBAs the highest level of backup protection, data recovery, replication, and disaster recovery.
FastRecover CDP technology captures byte-level changes in SQL Server as they occur and the changes are logged on a FastRecover server. Using our patented FlashRestore™ technology, databases can be restored to any point-in-time in a matter of seconds. Customers can now resume business operations almost immediately after a site disaster, corruption, or data loss – meeting strict SLAs. Customers with remote offices or data centers can use the FastRecover real-time replication technology for high-availability and disaster recovery.
For those database servers that require the utmost in protection, LiteSpeed for SQL Server High-Availability Edition reduces administration overhead, reduces storage requirements, and provides the added value of CDP protection for near-instantaneous restores with replication to keep critical business applications up and running. FastRecover also supports Oracle (on Windows), Exchange, and Windows file-systems.
I'll plan to blog more about FastRecover in the coming weeks. If you can't wait, you can start your reading here: https://www.quest.com/products/netvault-backup/ (click on videos).
For those installing LiteSpeed on a SQL Server 2012 instance, you should be aware that Microsoft has hardened the security of the sysadmin server role by removing the NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM privilege. That poses some changes in how you need to install LiteSpeed on SQL Server 2012, so have a look at the Install Guide prior to installation. The easiest way to get past this is to select “Ignore” on all instances when installing from the MSI and then after LiteSpeed is installed on the server, run Instance Configuration from the LiteSpeed Start Menu. The Install Guide has other options and more details.
We are now leveraging some features in a more recent version of .Net, so the old .Net 2.0 requirement is now a requirement for .Net 3.5 or .Net 3.5 SP1. The .Net requirement is only a requirement for the LiteSpeed console. Server components never require .Net. But it does mean that Windows 2000 systems can no longer run the console. So if you have some legacy SQL Server 7/2000 instances still running on Windows 2000 Server, you’ll need to run the console from another server or your local workstation. Not something we think will affect most customers, but definitely worth mentioning. It’s also worth noting that .Net 4.0 does not include 3.5 components, so if you only have .Net 4.0 installed, you need to install 3.5 or 3.5 SP1. Installs with 2.0/3.0 will need to be upgraded to 3.5 for console support. .Net 3.5 was released by Microsoft in 2007 and the 3.5 SP1 can be downloaded from Microsoft here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=22
That’s all for now. Let us know what you think.