Enabling AlwaysOn for SSISDB

I am at client where I get to do some fun work. I get to work on a brand new environment that is dedicated to SQL Server. It has some pretty cool specs. Biggest thing is that they are going all 2016. Both the OS and SQL Server will be 2016. This has let to a lot of fun and interesting discussions. One of those being how do we place the SSIS Catalog into an availability group.

This led me to ponder the possibilities. When AlwaysOn first came out, this was not supported. Sure, you could find clever work-arounds for this, but at the end of the day, they were not sanctioned by Microsoft. This would then leave the client in a bit of a bind if they ran into issues. However, starting in SQL Server 2016, this is now supported. Microsoft has made it possible to officially place the SSISDB into an availability group.

Which group you put the SSISDB in, will be a design question that you will need to answer for yourself. In short, it should go into a group that makes sense. If all your databases are in one group, then placing this in DB into the same group makes sense. If you have multiple groups, you may need to make a choice that best suits your application needs.

In this example, I will assume you already have an availability group set up with a listener. In my lab, I have a very simple setup. my availability group is called Group1 and my listener is called Listener1.

This video shows the steps I took to add the SSISDB into an availability group. I even show publishing a SSIS package to the listener name instead of a SQL Server Name.

This video doesn’t exist

In case you do not want to watch the video, below is the process I did to add the SSISDB into the availability group.

  1. On the Primary Replica, open SQL Server Management Studio
  2. Right click on Integration Services Catalog, click Create Catalog
  3. On the Create Catalog Dialog,
    Check the box to enable automatic execution of Integration Services stored procedures at SQL Server startup. Then enter a strong password.
  4. Open the Availability Group folder and navigate to the group you want to add the SSISDB to. Right click on Availability Database and click Add Database.
  5. Due to the encryption that the SSISDB uses, you will need to provide the password you used when creating the catalog. Put that password into the password field, click refresh and then click the check box next to SSISDB. Click Next
  6. On the Add Database to Availability Group dialog, ensure that Automatic Seeding is selected. Click Next.
  7. You will be presented with a list of the secondary replicas, connect to each one listed. Then click Next
  8. The information will be validated. As long as there are no failures, click Next.
  9. On the summary dialog, click Finish. SSMS will add the database to the availability group
  10. Click Close
  11. Once the database has been added to the availability group, go to the Integration Services Catalog folder, right click and click Enable AlwaysOn Support. (you may need to refresh this folder before the option is available to you)
  12. Click connect next to each secondary replica. Then click OK.

The SSISDB is now established in an availability group and will failover based on the group rules.

Spring Cleaning

The birds are singing, the grass is able to be seen, the air is warm, the sun is shining, more importantly, baseball has started. I finally get to go enjoy some down time at America’s most beloved ballpark. Fenway Park for the non-New Englanders. Yes, Spring is finally here and with Spring generally, comes some cleaning up. I have a VM lab that I run on my Surface Pro 4. Nothing crazy, just a bunch of VMs to test out different versions of SQL  in different scenarios. Recently I had to build up a 3 node cluster to test with Windows and SQL Server 2016 Always On Availability Groups for a client. The tests required me to tear down and install SQL Server multiple times while I tested out a set of scripts to install and configure SQL, and later test out failover scenarios. More on that later though.

As I was going through my environment, I realized I created a new domain controller for my tests. This DC has a new name and domain name which is different from my other VMs. I quickly realized that this will cause me issues later with authentication. No worries. I will just boot up the VMs and then and join them to the new domain. Easy-peasy. Now let met go test out my SQL Servers.


I received a login failure with access is denied. Using Windows Authentication with my new domain and recently joined server is not working. Why?…..Oh right, my new user id does not have access to SQL Server itself. As I sit there smacking myself in the head, I am also thinking about the amount of time it will take me to rebuild those VMs. Then it hit me!!!

Powershell to the rescue!!!

More specifically, dbatools to the rescue.

Now if you have not heard of dbatools, you have to check this out. Head over to dbatools.io and look around on the site. This set of Powershell cmdlets, started out as a project by Chrissy Lemaire to make database migrations super simple. Now with a couple of cmdlets, she can migrate an entire server and sit back enjoying a beer. Now, with the help of a few MVPs and input from the SQL Community, this has evolved into a fairly comprehensive set of cmdlets to aid DBAs everywhere in their day-to-day tasks. I highly recommend checking this out.

One of the cmdlets in dbatools is a command called Reset-SQLAdmin. This is a super useful script. You point this at a SQL Server and it will either reset the sa account or add an account to your SQL Server with sysadmin access. It is meant for you to use as a tool when you have lost access to your SQL Server. This fits my needs perfectly. The command is as easy as running the below command.

Reset-SqlAdmin -SqlServer sqlserver\sqlexpress -Login ad\administrator

That is it. It will go through its process and after a few seconds, you will have access to your SQL Server. Want to see it in action? Check out the video on the dbatools.io site. One thing to note, this process does require an outage as it will stop and start your SQL Services. So do not use this in production. 

So back to my issue….I ran this against my 6 VMs, and voila, I am in. I had access to my old VMs with little to no effort what so ever. This saved me hours of time and effort. Now I am able to reorganize the VMs in my lab and clean up old users and database.

Powershell and dbatools making things easy-peasy!



My WTF….Really? Moment

So, to join into this month’s #tsqltuesday88, we are to write about a “WTF” moment. Mine is not directly database related, but it is related.

I was presenting at the NESQL User Group monthly meeting. I was giving a lightning talk on Powershell for a DBA. (See…somewhat related.) It was not meant to be a long presentation. At most about 15 minutes. I was coasting along talking about the enhancements made by Microsoft and the community when all of a sudden my machine would not accept any input from my keyboard or mouse. I have a Surface Pro 4, that suddenly decided to stop talking to the keyboard. Now, I was not about to let this stop me. Yes, it slowed me down, but stop me no…well not yet. I tried to use the touch screen. Yay…it was working. So I tried to continue on using the touch screen but then realized that I could not. There is no F8 key or way to highlight text, then copy and paste the text.

After a few minutes of trying to live troubleshoot, I had to give in to the Demo Gods. They have not smiled favorably upon me this day. I took my Surface and went to my seat and started looking around at what was going on. Windows Update hit me earlier in the day and had not properly finished. It was acting up and I had to hard stop it. I purposely had not wanted to do any updates just to prevent this from happening. I even made sure my demos were practiced and typing would not be needed. I remember the tip I have heard many times, never type in a demo)

After several reboots and a firmware update, and more reboots, everything was working fine. All I could say on this day was WTF…Really?

Now to put together the blog post on the talk I was going to give and figure out what my next talk will be on. Maybe give this talk at the RI SQL User Group.


DSC Install of SQL Server

It has been a while since I have made a post and figured it was long over due. I figured for my first post in a while, it would be about something I have been working on lately. The automation of installing and configuring of SQL Server.

So the installation of SQL Server is now fairly straightforward. The wizard does a nice job of guiding you along the way. 2016 even includes best practice suggestions for tempdb and instance file initialization. Along the way, Microsoft as given us ways to automate the installation of SQL Server. You can sysprep an instance, but this does not really automate the installation. It just helps create a template of an instance. At the end of the day, you still need to do things manually. You can also use a configuration file to assist here. This is a great step forward, but it does not allow for all of the things you need to do to configure a SQL server.

Powershell does. Desired State Configuration (DSC) is functionality built into Powershell that allows for the installation and configuration of a SQL Server.

First, to get started, you need to have a base understanding of DSC. Without this, the rest of this post will be hard to follow, as DSC can be difficult to follow. The link below will take you to the videos on the Microsoft Virtual Academy site that Jeffrey Snover put together that explains how DSC works.

Getting Started with Powershell Desired State Configuation (DSC)

Also, the modules you will need to make DSC work in your environment can all be downloaded from the Powershell Gallery. I have also found that searching for the module on GitHub, has returned back better documentation on how each module works.This has been great in my learning of how to get DSC going.

For the example what I have put together, we will use a Push mode for our DSC script.

The snippet that is below, uses a Powershell section called Configuration. This is similar to a Powershell Function in construction and how it works.

Configuration SQLServerInstall
        Import-DscResource –Module PSDesiredStateConfiguration
        Import-DscResource -Module xSQLServer
        Import-DscResource -Module SecurityPolicyDsc
        Import-DscResource -Module xPendingReboot

        Node $ComputerName
            WindowsFeature NET-Framework-Core
                Name = "NET-Framework-Core"
                Ensure = "Present"
                IncludeAllSubFeature = $true
            xSqlServerSetup InstallSQL
                DependsOn = '[WindowsFeature]NET-Framework-Core'
                Features = $Configuration.InstallSQL.Features
                InstanceName = $Configuration.InstallSQL.InstanceName
                SQLCollation = $Configuration.InstallSQL.SQLCollation
                SQLSysAdminAccounts = $Configuration.InstallSQL.SQLSysAdminAccounts
                InstallSQLDataDir = $Configuration.InstallSQL.InstallSQLDataDir
                SQLUserDBDir = $Configuration.InstallSQL.SQLUserDBDir
                SQLUserDBLogDir = $Configuration.InstallSQL.SQLUserDBLogDir
                SQLTempDBDir = $Configuration.InstallSQL.SQLTempDBDir
                SQLTempDBLogDir = $Configuration.InstallSQL.SQLTempDBLogDir
                SQLBackupDir = $Configuration.InstallSQL.SQLBackupDir

                SourcePath = $Configuration.InstallSQL.SourcePath
                SetupCredential = $Node.InstallerServiceAccount
            xSQLServerNetwork ConfigureSQLNetwork
                DependsOn = "[xSqlServerSetup]InstallSQL"
                InstanceName = $Configuration.InstallSQL.InstanceName
                ProtocolName = "tcp"
                IsEnabled = $true
                TCPPort = 1433
                RestartService = $true
            xSQLServerConfiguration DisableRemoveAccess
                SQLServer = $ComputerName
                SQLInstanceName = $Configuration.InstallSQL.InstanceName
                DependsOn = "[xSqlServerSetup]InstallSQL"
                OptionName = "Remote access"
                OptionValue = 0
            UserRightsAssignment PerformVolumeMaintenanceTasks
                Policy = "Perform_volume_maintenance_tasks"
                Identity = "Builtin\Administrators"
            UserRightsAssignment LockPagesInMemory
                Policy = "Lock_pages_in_memory"
                Identity = "Builtin\Administrators"
            xPendingReboot PendingReboot
                Name = $ComputerName
                RebootNodeIfNeeded = $True
            xSQLServerAlwaysOnService EnableAlwaysOn
                SQLServer = $ComputerName
                SQLInstanceName = $Configuration.InstallSQL.InstanceName
                DependsOn = "[xSqlServerSetup]InstallSQL"
                Ensure = "Present"
            xSQLServerMaxDop SetMAXDOP
                SQLInstanceName = $Configuration.InstallSQL.InstanceName
                DependsOn = "[xSqlServerSetup]InstallSQL"
                MaxDop = $MAXDOP
            xSQLServerMemory SetMAXDOP
                SQLInstanceName = $Configuration.InstallSQL.InstanceName
                DependsOn = "[xSqlServerSetup]InstallSQL"
                MaxMemory = $MAXMemory
                DynamicAlloc = $False

To break down the script and the areas in the Configuration function, the names are thankfully fairly self explanatory.
WindowsFeature – Ensures that Windows features are present. This is a function that will initiate the installation if needed
xSqlServerSetup – This section will install SQL Server. If you look at the properties it is asking for, it will mirroring most of the properties that are in a configuration file
xSQLServerNetwork – This section is used to enable protocols, like TCP and configure what port SQL Server should use.
xSQLServerConfiguration – Is used to set values that you would normally set via sp_configure
UserRightsAssignment – Will set values in the Local Security Policy. In this case, I am setting who can Lock Pages in Memory and Perform Volume Maintenance Tasks
xPendingReboot – Will check to see if a reboot is required and reboot if needed
xSQLServerAlwaysOnService – Used to enable the Always On Service
xSQLServerMaxDop – Used to set MAXDOP
xSQLServerMemory – Used to set MIN and MAX memory values

Any place you see $Configuration.InstallSQL.* this is a value from a JSON file. I use this a parameter file that will feed this script. This allows me to easily reuse this script as many times as I need.

When the Powershell Script runs, the DSC will output a text file with an extension of MOF. DSC will then push this configuration file to the server and then proceed to configure the server as instructed. Then I use scripts that I have written or found along the years to finish the configuration. Ideally, using Powershell, I can configure the SQL Server any way I would like.


I have posted my entire set of scripts for installing and configuring SQL Server on Githib. You can find the scripts here. Here you can see the full example. Enjoy.