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Microsoft

First published on MSDN on Aug 06, 2018

Authored by rajsell@microsoft.com

 

Overview

The Database Experimentation Assistant (DEA) is a new A/B testing solution for SQL Server upgrades. The utility will assist in evaluating a targeted version of SQL for a given workload. Customers who are upgrading from previous SQL Server versions (SQL Server 2005 and above) to any newer version of the SQL Server will be able to use the analysis metrics provided, such as queries that have compatibility errors, degraded queries, query plans, and other workload comparison data, to help them build confidence and better ensure a successful upgrade experience.

 

What's new in v2.6?

The v2.6 release of DEA has the following improvements:

    • Capture and replay of production database(s) workloads through automated set up.
    • Support for server side traces and XEvents .
    • Perform statistical analysis on traces and/or XEvents collected using both old and new instances.
    • Visualize data through analysis report via rich user experience.
    • Use SQL Authentication to both capture and replay.
    • An Inbuilt replay tool in addition to already supported SQL Server Distributed Replay for simple workloads.
    • Removes the dependencies of R and R-Interop.
    • Capture and replay workloads to Azure SQL Database , Azure SQL Managed Instance , and SQL Server on Linux .

 

    • Reporting enhancements:

        • New error categorization chart to easily find upgrade / migration blockers.

        • New error pie chart grouped by error id to easily identify the root cause of the errors.
    • Bug fixes and other performance improvements.

 

Tutorials

The following postings provide step-by-step guidance for leveraging DEA to perform a workload comparison:

Installation

You can download and install DEA from the Microsoft Download Center. Run ‘DatabaseExperimentationAssistant.exe’ to install the Database Experimentation Assistant.

 

Existing features

 

Supported sources and target versions

Source: SQL Server 2005 and above
Target: SQL Server 2005 and above
Analysis: SQL Server 2008 and above

 

How to contact the DEA team?

Customers can submit feedback by using a simple interface within the DEA tool or by sending an email to deafeedback@microsoft.com.

30 Comments
Occasional Visitor

All the tutorial links are broken.

Occasional Visitor
Hi! I'm planning to implement DEA and I wonder if I will be able to use my Amazon Relational Database Service SQL Server Databases as target where I can run the load against. I saw that on this release of DEA you added SQL authentication feature, but not sure if Amazon Relational Database Service could be used as target server.
Thanks!!
Visitor

Hi,

 

I hope someone can help. I have installed DEA 2.6 and the reporter.exe is missing. I use RML Utilities a lot so know how useful this tool could be. Any suggestions? 

Microsoft

The tutorials and links in this post have been refreshed.

Regular Visitor

Family :-

 

Unable to use the GUI.

 

My laptop resolution is configured for 1366 by 768.

 

When I try to import Extended Events \ Trace files the bottom portion of the screen is not visible and I am unable to access any buttons.

 

I tried to resize, but the application is intentionally preventing window resize.

 

Is there any reason why this application is intentionally "eating" up this event.

 

Please help!

 

Daniel Adeniji

 

Microsoft

Hi Daniel.

 

In your Display Settings, please make sure that Scale and layout is set no higher than 100% to ensure full visibility of the DEA interface.

 

Scale.png

Regular Visitor

 Jim :-

 

Thanks for the pointer.

 

I went back and looked at my MS Windows 10.  

 

Unfortunately, it does not have the "Scale and Layout" settings easily accessible.

What actually worked for me is to change my desktop view from 2 monitors, the laptop and projected screen to a single display, the projected screen alone.

 

Interestingly enough, while troubleshooting I installed the application on one of my servers that I was accessing via Remote Desktop.  It did not help at the time.

 

And, now that works, as well.

 

Before Change :-

 

DatabaseExperimentationAssistant.Change.Before.20190624.0108PM.PNG

 

Change  ( Chose to Show Only On 2.. )

 

settings.display.20190624.0103PM.PNG

 

Post Change Visual

DatabaseExperimentationAssistant.Change.After.20190624.0121PM.PNG

 

Daniel

 

 

Microsoft

Thanks for the heads up, Daniel!

Regular Visitor

Covered here.

 

Application Window, Does Not Fit on Screen

Link

 

 

Regular Visitor

I've come across the absence of reporter.exe in the DEA 2.6 release too, as noted above by @edd_tintin.

 

My error message is:

06/26/19 15:18:28.951 [0X000004AC] The file [C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Corporation\Reporter\Bin\Release\Reporter.exe] does not exist with operating system error 0x00000003 (The system cannot find the path specified)
06/26/19 15:18:28.951 [0X000004AC] Attempt to launch Reporter failed. Check the error log and your RML installation.

 

I thought Id be able to work around by downloading and installing RML but there doesn't seem to be a recent version...

 

Any thoughts?

 

 

Regular Visitor

Julian Dixon :-

 

Please access SQL Server 2016 Feature Pack from here

 

You want to download the following packages :-

 

1) SQL System CLR TYpes

    ENU\x86\SQLSysClrTypes.msi

2) Report Viewer
    ENU\x86\ReportViewer.msi

 

Once downloaded, please install both msi packages.

 

And, you should be good.

 

Microsoft

@JulianDixon, see Daniel's comment above.

Regular Visitor

Thanks @DanielAdeniji,

 

I've installed the packages as you suggest and the error messages I previously posted have cleared from the ReadTraceLog.

 

However, I think the lack of reporter.exe I was seeing in the ReadTrace.log might have been a red herring.

 

I was previously (and am still) getting an error onscreen in DEA:

 

"An error occurred while creating Analysis Database. DacPac publishing failed."

This occurs repeatably at the stage:

36% complete, Creating report database

 

Despite this error message I can see the A & B databases have been created.

 

I also see in the ReadTrace.Log:

 

"* ReadTrace encountered one or more WARNINGS. A warning condition typically *
* continues processing with reduced functionality, but the ReadTrace output *
* may be adversely affected. Review the log file for details. *
*******************************************************************************
06/27/19 09:57:39.489 [0X000003D4] ***** ReadTrace exit code: 0"

 

The only warnings in the ReadTrace.Log are:

"06/27/19 09:57:35.596 [0X000003D4] WARNING: The following trace events were not captured: [Audit:Login, Audit:Logout]. Review the help file to ensure that you have collected the appropriate set of events and columns for your intended analysis."

and

"06/27/19 09:57:36.290 [0X000003D4] WARNING: One or more warning conditions exist that may affect the quality of the analysis data. See BFunctionTest636972226440609604.ReadTrace.tblWarnings table and the ReadTrace log for complete details."

 

The BFunctionTest636972226440609604.ReadTrace.tblWarnings table contains a single row with the warning message value of "One of more warning conditions exist that may affect the quality of the analysis data. Review tblWarnings and the ReadTrace log for details."

 

Any further assistance happily received!

 

 

Regular Visitor

 

As DEA seemed to be struggling to deploy the DacPac to my SQL Server (SQL Server 2017) I installed an instance of SQL Server 2016 on the same server, pointed DEA at that and to my delight I have no more errors and can see the reports.

 

Is there any reason you can think of to explain why DEA Analysis seems to work in my environment with SQL Server 2016 but not SQL Server 2017?

Regular Visitor

Julian Dixon :-

 

Glad you made such great progresses with so much fight in you.

 

I am not quite sure why SQL Server 2017 will not work, yet 2016 works.

 

Please do the following :-  

 

1) There are a few major steps in DEA, which specific one are you failing on 

 

2) Can you please review the SQL Server Error Log on the SQL Server 2017 machine; especially along the timeline when the errors was encountered

 

3) The other test is to re-run the process against SQL Server 2017 while engaging extended events or SQL Server Profiler and been sure to include error capture

 

You have made a lot of progress and done an exemplary job truly observing the steps and results and documenting them.

 

Again, thanks for greatly expanding the knowledge base.  

 

Daniel Adeniji

Occasional Visitor

The documentation available currently does not provide any explanation on how to use XEvents when replaying a trace. What should I use for "Full path to source file" when I am configuring a replay and all I have is a big list of *.xel files?

Visitor

I am getting the following error:

 

An unexpected error has occurred. Please restart the application and try again. If the problem persists, please contact the product team.

I have restarted the application and tried again.  

The server type is Azure SQL Database.

Is it possible to capture a trace on Azure SQL Database?

Microsoft

@dbacmw, the details on the DEA 2.6 download page (and above) indicate that this version can capture and replay on Azure SQL DatabaseAzure SQL Managed Instance and SQL Server on Linux.

 

If you continue to experience issues, please contact the Database Experimentation Assistant Feedback alias (deafeedback@microsoft.com). Thanks!

I get the following bacpac error on the analysis when I compare two traces or XEvents when SQL 2017 i used for the repository. I have no problems if SQL 2016 is the repository used for analysis.

 

Here is what is braking incase it helps.

DEA Information: 0 : DiagnosticEvent, 10/17/2019 19:20:16, Data: {"Message":"Error occurred while running process. Command: \"C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft SQL Server\\130\\DAC\\bin\\SqlPackage.exe /Action:Publish /SourceFile:\"ExperimentationDatabase.dacpac\" /TargetDatabaseName:\"AnalysisTempTable637069368000347489\" /TargetServerName:\"DESKTOP-H2V08UL\" /Variables:\"DatabaseA\"=\"ATempTable637069368000347489\" /Variables:\"DatabaseB\"=\"BTempTable637069368000347489\" /Variables:\"ReportName\"=\"TempTable\" /Variables:\"DEAVersion\"=\"2.6.61459.2\" /Variables:\"SchemaVersion\"=\"1.3\" /p:BlockOnPossibleDataLoss=False\", Error:\"*** Could not deploy package.\r\nUnable to connect to master or target server 'AnalysisTempTable637069368000347489'. You must have a user with the same password in master or target server 'AnalysisTempTable637069368000347489'.\r\n\r\n\"","Timestamp":"2019-10-17T19:20:16.2065652Z"

Microsoft

@John Sterrett, the current logged in user running DEA requires sysadmin privileges to the analysis server. Based on the detail you provide, it as if the specific user doesn’t have sysadmin privileges in their server. Being a member of a group with sysadmin privileges is not sufficient - the user specifically needs sysadmin privileges on the server.

Frequent Visitor
@Jim Toland you say that DEA can capture and replay on Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Managed Instance and SQL Server on Linux. Are you saying that it cannot work on normal Windows instance?! Also does the DEA follow the mechanisms of Distributed Replay Controller provided my MS which basically better simulates parallel data loads? Thank you.
Microsoft

@panoslondon1 , support for capturing and replaying workloads to Azure SQL DatabaseAzure SQL Managed Instance, and SQL Server on Linux are improvements offered in DEA 2.6. DEA already supports SQL Server on Windows. Also, DEA does follow DReplay Controller mechanisms.

Frequent Visitor
@Jim Toland i have raised a question in the msdn forums see link below prpbably no reason to recreate here. See link below. Thank you for any help. https://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/sqlserver/en-US/21395a77-1e45-42d3-a47f-755e4b2b0df3/databa...
Microsoft

@panoslondon1 , have you reviewed the detail here and ensured that your environment meets all requirements?

Frequent Visitor
@Jim Toland, I believe so, i am the sysadmin and SQL Server running just on a pc, i am using SQL 2017 BTW. Can you confrim for the Windows account what setting i should have, I am the sysadmin, and can run profiler ok. I managed to "resolve" the issue by using a Sql server account and managed to get the trc file finally. Now Step 2 (replay), again i am using the same SA like account. This plays the trace but doesn't produce any replay results. It kept going for 24 mins when my capture was for only 5min. Then i stopped it to see if anything happened. I did get some long xel files but not no other trc files. Step 3 (reporting) i decided to use the same trc file for both sections to see if i will get anything. I am using the same SA like username. You mention analysis database, we don't need an SSAS database or something? Unfortunately i cannot supply you any screenshots to explain better. Do i have basically use Windows authentication for all 3 steps and should give up on the SA like account which seemed to have fix some of the issues? Also your documentation doesn't appear to be for latest version 2.6. Also same for the video tutorial on channel9. Any extra help appreciated. Thank you again.
Microsoft

@panoslondon1 - Thanks for your feedback about the need to refresh the content. We are removing the outdated video and are currently working on a major content update. Re the issues you are experiencing, please email me directly (jtoland@microsoft.com) and I will work with the Database Experimentation Assistant team for guidance.  Thanks!

Frequent Visitor
Hi @Jim Toland After uninstalling SQL 2017 and started using SQL 2016 my reporting side is working now. Similar to what @JulianDixon mentioned previously. You should be able to reproduce if you try it on a 2017 instance. The reporter.exe error has disappared as well even though i don't see a reporter.exe in the DEA dir. I am hopefull i can get the replay working as well. Thanks.
Microsoft

Thanks for the update, @panoslondon1. Please be sure to keep the related thread with the DEA Feedback alias up-to-date with your findings as well.

Frequent Visitor
Hi @Jim Toland, How much difference there is in terms of functionality/ performance between the inBuilt Tool and the Distributed replay controller. We would like to avoid setting the latter up if possible. The inBuild seems fine although to be fair i have set the maxDop = 1 in 1 session and the other = 0 and 99% of queries come up with the same time, bit surprising. I am running relatively simple sql but it's still 50-60k rows per table so was hoping that 5% diff should show something up. Also any ideas when the documentation will be available for ver 2.6? Also, is is the XEL format better in terms of detail than trc (trace)? I will pass my comments to the team as well. Thank you.
Microsoft

@panoslondon1, sending your questions directly to the Database Experimentation Assistant Feedback alias (deafeedback@microsoft.com) is the most efficient way to get an answer.  Thanks!