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Toolbox New Products for IT Pros
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Move Your Data
SQL Examiner Bundle
Whatever your role is within an organization—be it a DBA, a developer, an operational specialist, or a wearer of many hats—if you work with SQL Server™, you’ve probably had to move data between environments and ensure that the integrity of the data and the data structures remain intact. Of course, SQL Server has many built-in replication and synchronization features, but if you are checking to see if your QA database exactly matches your development database, a tool like TulaSoft’s SQL Examiner Bundle can be invaluable, saving you time and effort.
With a few mouse clicks, the application can sniff out discrepancies in either the database structure or the data itself between two database instances. You simply point the application to the databases you want to check and go. As the name suggests, SQL Examiner Bundle bundles two applications: SQL Examiner and SQL Data Examiner. SQL Examiner looks at the structure of your databases, while SQL Data Examiner looks at the all the data and highlights any differences.
SQL Examiner will look at and compare everything in your database instances, from tables and stored procedures, to full-text catalogs and XML schema collections. For those of you using SQL Server 2005, you can compare common language runtime (CLR) assemblies, as well. Once you compare databases, SQL Examiner lets you choose which database objects should be synchronized, plus the direction of the synchronization.
Look At and Compare Your Databases with SQL Examiner(Click the image for a larger view)
One really cool feature is that the application generates the SQL script that creates an object and will highlight the difference in that generated script between your databases. This would be a great way to highlight errors after a creation script or migration script fails on building the structure of your target database. ("Oh, that’s where I left out my clustered index!") You can run the generated scripts individually, save those scripts to run later, or you can just click the Synchronize button and have the application do all the work for you.
Another nice feature is the option to add exclusions to the comparison, such as ignoring comments, triggers, indexes, or extended properties of an object. After you look at the structure comparison, SQL Data Examiner allows you to look into the data and see any discrepancies. You can pick which tables you want to compare as well as pick which columns of those specified tables should be compared. Once the comparison of the data tables has completed, you can see which rows are identical, which are different, and which reside in only one database or the other.
As with SQL Examiner, SQL Data Examiner lets you click a button to synchronize the tables or you can selectively choose which data should be transferred as well as the direction of that transfer. Both applications let you save your setup as a project, so you won’t have to recreate the tasks every time. Each app can be purchased separately, but based on my experience, I bet you’ll want both.
Price: $299.95 for a single-user license.
Search For Duplicate Files
zsDuplicateHunter (Professional Edition)
If you are involved in desktop management, you undoubtedly have come across the user who has "run out of space" on his machine. An investigation reveals that he has been copying his documents every time he makes an edit, even though you have a backed-up Network Attached Storage (NAS) system for your user base to store files. Or, you have a log server with batch processes that have managed to duplicate huge logs, taking up all the allocated server space. A possible solution to these problems is zsDuplicateHunter Professional Edition, a Java-based duplicate finder that can run on Windows®, Linux, or Mac OS X.
The application lets you easily search drives, directories, or network shares and sniff out possible duplicates. Going beyond name comparisons, the application allows you to group files by file size, file checksum, or even file digest calculation to ensure the files you are cleaning up are actually different. Also, you don’t have to permanently delete your duplicates. As a precaution, the app lets you move all the marked duplicates into a specified folder.
Another nice feature is the "Keep Files in this Folder, Delete Duplicates Elsewhere" option that lets you pick your clean source directory and wipe out any others that may be on the disk. Within the search results, you can also double-click any file to open it with an associated file viewer, sort them, and select them to get the exact results you need. A nice "IT pro" feature lets you tune how much memory the application is allowed to take up while hunting for duplicates. As an additional protection, you can also disable search hidden or system files to ensure you don’t delete anything you shouldn’t or delete any file that is being managed by the operating system or another application.
The Professional Edition also gives you a granular filter on your search resultsets, letting you apply a Regular Expression to find the exact files to eliminate.
Price: $39.95 for a single-user license.
Take Your Apps With You
If you are traveling around from environment to environment and miss your favorite applications and desktop settings, or if you just don’t like leaving your footprints around someone else’s desktop, you might want to take a look at MojoPac from RingCube Technologies.
Silly names aside, MojoPac lets you carry your settings and applications to any Windows XP system (Home, Professional, Media Center, or Tablet) on a USB hard drive, personal media device that you can connect to the host system via USB 2.0, such as a Zune or iPod, or even a cell phone with enough storage space. At the time of this writing, Windows Vista™ and Windows 2000 hosts were not supported, but the documentation on the product Web site said an upgrade supporting those OSs would soon be available.
Carry Your Settings with MojoPac(Click the image for a larger view)
Currently, MojoPac requires Administrator privileges on the host system, but the 2.0 version in development will have support for limited user mode. The tool basically runs interference between the host OS and the storage devices, and, on the first launch after you install the application to your portable device, MojoPac triggers the initial Windows account set up to run, configuring your personal settings for your MojoPac user onto the MojoPac device.
Once you are up and running, switching between the host system and the Mojo system is easy: you simply click on the toolbar (which can be minimized) at the top of your screen. You install applications to your Mojo device as you would normally while your MojoPac is active. And as long as you heed the big warning in the readme documents about installing to the default directory, you should be set to go.
All in all, MojoPac has the potential to be a great asset to any IT pro who finds himself traveling yet wants his own setup. For example, you could have all your system utilities, packet sniffers, and traffic monitors on your MojoPac and troubleshoot from any PC in your organization, leaving no footprints behind.
Price: $49.99 for a single-user license.
Administrator’s Guide to SQL Server 2005
More and more IT groups are realizing the potential power and breadth of functionality provided by SQL Sever 2005. From the extensive XML data support, to SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), to the SQL Server 2005 Service Broker, the application adds tons of useful enhancements. To help you get going with your own upgrade path or administering your recently released SQL Server 2005 instance, Buck Woody has written an excellent reference guide—Administrator’s Guide to SQL Server 2005 (Addison-Wesley Professional, 2006).
The book gives you insight into practical administration practices as applied to the new server platform and, unlike many other references out there, does so concisely. The book starts out with a section on right-sizing your infrastructure to suit your application’s needs as well as a guide on which SQL Server version would be appropriate under different scenarios. Here, too, you’ll get an idea of how to architect your infrastructure to ensure you don’t end up with avoidable performance bottlenecks on your installation.
The guide then moves into delineations of the different tools provided with SQL Server such as the enhanced SQL Server Profiler and the new SQL Server Management Studio. You’ll also delve into maintenance and automation tasks and see how you can plan for growth based upon server profiling and how to come up with an appropriate maintenance plan for your implementation.
In the chapter on security, you’ll also explore how to secure your installation, from the network and hardware, through the OS and SQL Server instance. Here, too, you get a peek into the added encryption, certificate, and key management services provided by the new platform.
Another chapter explains the mechanisms that exist to ensure high availability of your system, based upon your implementations’ needs. You’ll investigate clustering, database mirroring, replication, and log shipping as methods of achieving your up-time requirements. And with virtualization becoming a great way to achieve high-availability without the overhead of physically distinct infrastructures, the book gives you a step-by-step guide to setting up a two-node cluster using Microsoft Virtual Server.
The chapter on SSIS shows you how to use the new tool (goodbye DTS!) to not only develop and deploy extract, transform and load (ETL) functions, but also how to use the services to create monitoring, e-mail notification, and backup tasks.
Finally the last few chapters delve into the Reporting and Analysis Services provided by the new SQL Server platform. Here you will touch on report design and creation, managing reporting systems, and what is involved in maintaining an analysis services deployment.
All in all, Administrator’s Guide to SQL Server 2005 is a great way to get up to speed on administering, monitoring, and upgrading to SQL Server 2005.