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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, Apr 16, 2001 (Vol. 6, #26 - Issue #261)
No NT 4 Service Pack 7 At All!
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
    • Repeat Request: Please Check Your Profile!
    • Creating Indexes In SQL or 'How We Messed Up'
    • No NT 4 Service Pack 7 At All!
    • Do Not Plug WXP In Your Cisco Network Yet: Crash Warning
    • Free White Paper on Tuning/Sizing Exchange 5.5 on W2K
    • Microsoft looks at Disaster Recovery Center in Midwest
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • Tuning and Sizing Windows 2000
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Repeat Request: Please Check Your Profile!

Hi NT/W2K-ers,

We finally made it. Last issue first introduced the possibility for you to modify your own profile. Obviously we ran into some small snags that were corrected (see our Tech Briefing), and we'd like to invite you to come over and check out your profile to make sure you will receive the right issue: HTML or TXT. You can also indicate if you want to receive the French or German issues.

Please check the profile we have for you now, and make sure it is the way you want it to be. Could you do this first before you read the rest of the news? Please click on this personalized link to get straight to your profile:


Warm regards,
Stu Sjouwerman
(email me with feedback: [email protected])

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Creating Indexes In SQL or 'How We Messed Up'

Here's the post-mortem. We all have our days of 'Alzheimer's Lite'. Some call it a 'blonde moment', or 'we messed up'. Well, we had one when we sent thousands of you to your new profile last Thursday. The website slowed down to a crawl for at least an hour before we found out about the problem, and many of you were not able to modify your profile! Why? Here's a lesson we learned. So you won't make the same mistake.

Let me describe our architecture, so you'll understand what happened.We have two new Dell servers with W2K Advanced Edition, clustered with the W2K built-in load balancer called WLBS. WLBS stands for Windows Load Balancing Server. Both of the nodes in the cluster talk to a third dual-cpu Dell W2K server that runs SQL 7.

The profile we built for you sits in that third back-end SQL box. Your profile consists of your email address, a unique 16-digit member ID we generated as a random number, and four fields that indicate TXT, HTML, French and German. That's it.

So, when you go to modify your profile, you come in through one of the two front-end servers. Cold Fusion then queries the back-end SQL server for your unique 16-digit member ID, and pulls the rest of the record forward to the webpage you linked to. That way you see what is in the database, and can modify it. Once you click 'submit' the changes get written back into SQL, and next time we send you W2Knews you'll get the right flavor: TXT or HTML. Each query goes through the SQL database of well over half a million records trying to find that unique member ID of yours.

Well, guess what happens when a good ten thousand people try to do a query at the same time, when each query needs to go through half a million-plus records? Right! We pegged out both of the 600Mhz CPU's of that server, and since the whole website comes out of that same SQL back-end, everything slowed down to a glacial pace. Technically we were not down, but for all outside users, we timed out. Ouch.

So, when we were confronted with this, we first quickly looked at the two front-end servers if there was a problem with any of them. Nope, in three minutes that was clear as daylight. So, the focus changed to the SQL back-end machine. Maxed out! We opened the SQL database, and found that there was no index for the member ID set. Duhh! (The member ID is the field that gets queried for the profile)

We quickly created an index for it, and when you create an index, SQL loads in into RAM. Took only about 25Meg to create that index, and INSTANTLY the CPU's went down to a happy 20% utilization, the website started to respond much faster and in about 2 minutes after we made that change, everything was humming along fine! Lesson Learned: If you plan over half a million people to query your database, better beforehand index the field(s) they are going to hit. It will do wonders for your performance. Indexes are good. I like good. [grin]


No NT 4 Service Pack 7 At All!

You may be aware of the NTSYSADMIN list that Sunbelt sponsors. It's a great (free) forum to discuss system administration issues for both NT and W2K. We have well over 4,000 pros on there discussing very interesting threads that hash out problems and solutions. Since we have increased our double T-1 to a T3 (now driven via optics), and downgraded the Lyris listserver software back to an earlier version, performance has soared. Imagine the news I got via the NTSYSADMIN list: WinNT4 Service Pack 7 will never arrive!

This despite my last issue where I expected it to arrive end Q3. I was contacted by some one 'in the know' that this was incorrect. Here is the copy that one of the list subscribers just received from their Microsoft Technical Account Manager. I'm quoting verbatim here, so there will be no confusion caused by me interpreting anything. here goes:

"Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 6a, the most recent service pack for Windows NT, was released in November of 1999. Since then, Microsoft has been supporting our customers with a series of hotfixes in response to specific concerns, including security vulnerabilities.

"Microsoft intends to continue supporting customers by making hotfixes available as they are needed. However, since the release of Service Pack 6a, the frequency of critical problems reported to Microsoft has declined significantly. Microsoft originally planned on releasing Service Pack 7 late last year, approximately 1 year after the release of SP6a.

"At the time, Microsoft had produced relatively few post-SP6a hotfixes, and decided to delay SP7 until Q3 of 2001. The frequency of hotfixes has continued to decline, and now, well over 1 year beyond the last SP, we still have made fewer fixes than were included with either SP5 or SP6.

"We discussed with a number of our customers their use of recent service packs, and their requirements for an additional service pack. From these discussions we learned that most customers are running a combination of Service Pack 5 and Service Pack 6; in some cases with 3-5 additional hotfixes. These customers told us that these service packs, particularly Service Pack 6a, have been very stable.

"There were three reasons we heard that customers were anticipating Service Pack 7: An easy mechanism for deploying the security fixes Microsoft has publicly released since SP6a. Availability of the Windows NT 4.0 Active Directory client, originally planned to be part of SP7 - now available for download at
High Encryption for International versions of Windows NT which is now available through Internet Explorer and downloadable at:

"Based on discussions with our customers, we have come to the conclusion that Service Pack 7 is not needed, but that an easy way to deploy our publicly released security fixes would be appreciated by many of our customers. It is clear to us that our customers would rather have a smaller, lightweight, easily deployable way to secure their systems, rather than potentially disrupt their stable environments with another large service pack. Microsoft is therefore planning to release a comprehensive rollup of all Windows NT 4.0 security vulnerabilities as a single package in Q3 2001.

"Microsoft recognizes that some companies have been planning on a new service pack, especially since Microsoft had previously given indications that Service Pack 7 would be released. For customers who were planning on deploying Service Pack 7, we now encourage them to focus on completing rollouts of Service Pack 6a, in combination with the planned security pack. Microsoft will provide detailed instructions for deploying Service Pack 6a with the security pack.

"While Microsoft will not offer any further service packs for NT 4.0, we are committed to providing regular service packs for the currently released operating system, Windows 2000. Service Pack 2 for Windows 2000 will be released in the near future. As new versions of Microsoft operating systems are released, Microsoft will continue to evaluate the need for service packs based on our customer's requirements and feedback, and the stability of the operating system." End Quote.

Andrew Baker (one of the Guru's on the NTSYSADMIN list) commented 'tongue-firmly-in-cheek':

Top 10 Reasons Why SP7 Was Cancelled:

  • 10.Win2K is selling better than expected so there's no reason to continue working on NT4.
  • 9. Giving each developer $1000 for every bug found was getting far too costly.
  • 8. Due to a softened economy, they've had to cut some costs, and NT4 bug fixes drew the short straw.
  • 7. The odd numbered Service Packs are the "good ones", so Win2K migrations would probably be put off for another 18 months.
  • 6. It was taking too long to get WPA integrated into SP7, so that work is being transported to Win2K SP2
  • 5. Trying to get the entire Service Pack to fit on one DVD was far too difficult.
  • 4. It just occurred to them that by Q3, they'd be supporting 5 OSes: Win98, WinME, WinNT, Win2K and WinXP, and they didn't want to get customer expectations too high.
  • 3. Marketing reminded Sr. Management that most folks would be consider 200MB service packs to be an OS install, not a patch.
  • 2. Win2K sales are slow, so several "Win2K Migration Incentives"have been established.
  • 1. It was becoming very difficult to entice anyone in the company to continue supporting NT4 when "everyone else" is getting to work with that cool .NET stuff
You can subscribe to the NTSYSADMIN list here:

Do Not Plug WXP In Your Cisco Network Yet: Crash Warning

Computer Reseller News reported something 'interesting'. MS found out about an incompatibility between Windows XP and Cisco Systems' Catalyst 5000 switch. The conflicts can cause your corporate networks to crash. The unexpected incompatibility sits between the 802.1x wireless security feature in Windows XP and the Cisco switch software that has a bug. Cisco has a fix on its website.

This week, Redmond sent an e-mail to all of Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) to not plug Windows XP machines into any network without explicit approval of the client's IT department. What seems to have happened is that a Microsoft consultant plugged a laptop running Windows XP into a site and took the entire company down.

Some adventurous souls in Xerox did the same, and brought the whole network down. Xerox sent an email to all 50,000 employees and told them that if they plugged in WXP and brought the network down, they would pay for the damage out of their paycheck. Sounds like they mean it. More at:


Free White Paper on Tuning/Sizing Exchange 5.5 on W2K

So, you are planning to use Exchange as your messaging platform or need to improve the performance of the one you have. Where do you start? There are some thick books out there, but most focus on general administration and basic planning. What can you do? Check out the Sizing and Tuning Exchange 5.5 extract from Tuning And Sizing Windows 2000, published by Prentice Hall and authored by Curt Aubley.

This solution scenario case study covers the strategies and tactical hands-on steps for sizing your Exchange system and tuning it so it runs at it's very best. The core methodologies and performance information are directly applicable to Exchange 2000 too! Check it This free white paper (it's actually more like a whole chapter) sits in the Real-View product page, as the first file of the section: "White Papers, Documents and other files" as a PDF of 2.7MB here:

Microsoft looks at Disaster Recovery Center in Midwest

MS seems to be planning to create a Disaster Recovery Center in another geographic area than Seattle. Why? The recent earthquake that shook up the main Redmond campus. MS actually reported very little damage as a cause of the quake, however it set its execs onto the path of mulling over the protection of their data storage. That last one was the biggest quake in over 50 years, causing more than $1 Billion in total damage with a 6.8 on the Richter scale.

In a presentation to journalists in the Seattle area, a MS employee remarked: "We have data centers that are redundant in Seattle and the (San Francisco) Bay Area. Look at us to put one in the Midwest, not a seismically active area". (Both Seattle and San Francisco are known for being on top of tectonic fault lines.

Looking for similar solutions, and need to get your data from here to there? Here's a video that sits on the MS site explaining how to do that, utilizing Double-Take. Hey, MS, need some? Call us! ;-) Here is a direct link to the MS-video. Middle of the page:


This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

  • The best MCSE and Cisco Certification Boot Camps. Told Ya so.
  • ServerWatch has latest news & product updates for Internet Servers
  • Want to break into the Security Consulting business? Get trained!

    Tuning and Sizing Windows 2000

    Tuning and Sizing Windows 2000 is a good intermediate-level admin's guide to making the most of the performance, scalability, and reliability of Windows 2000. Shows how to size and tune Windows operating system, key back office applications, and system hardware. Also shows how to optimize the performance of SQL Server and other programs.

    You can maximize Windows 2000 Server performance and scalability-through a hands-on, step-by-step approach that provides immediate solutions to your performance issues. It's got practical "rules of thumb" for identifying and resolving performance bottlenecks.

    There are specific techniques for optimizing file servers, backup servers, IIS, SQL Server, and Microsoft Exchange. Covers sizing and optimizing the latest hardware technology. Exclusive management scripts for tracking performance and availability. Good one!