What queries are getting blocked?

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June 6, 2018 by Kenneth Fisher

Monday Grant Fritchey (b/t) put up a great post EXTENDED EVENTS, THE SYSTEM_HEALTH SESSION, AND WAITS that talks about how the system health extended event session pulls, among other things, queries that have to wait for more than 30 seconds for a resource. He shows us how to pull the XML information out of the system health session but decided to leave the XML parsing to someone else. As it happens I’ve had a couple of requests for this type of information so, well, here’s my attempt.

	xed.event_data.value('(@timestamp)[1]', 'datetime2') AS [timestamp],
	xed.event_data.value('(data[@name="wait_type"]/text)[1]', 'varchar(25)') AS wait_type, 
	xed.event_data.value('(data[@name="duration"]/value)[1]', 'int')/1000/60.0 AS wait_time_in_min, 
	xed.event_data.value('(action[@name="sql_text"]/value)[1]', 'varchar(max)') AS sql_text, 
	xed.event_data.value('(action[@name="session_id"]/value)[1]', 'varchar(25)') AS session_id, 
FROM sys.fn_xe_file_target_read_file ('system_health*.xel','system_health*.xem',null,null) fx
CROSS APPLY (SELECT CAST(fx.event_data AS XML) AS Event_Data) AS xData
CROSS APPLY xData.Event_Data.nodes('//event') AS xed (event_data)
WHERE fx.object_name = 'wait_info';

This is some amazing information, made better by the fact that it’s automatically collected. There are however a couple of downsides.

  • The system health session only keeps so much information so on a busy system stuff can disappear pretty quickly.
  • In the case of blocking it only shows the query that was blocked and the type of lock it was trying to get. It doesn’t tell you what query was actually blocking it, which somewhat limits resolving it.

Personally, I’m thinking about putting a process in place to store this information over time and summarize it. I can then use this as another place to look for low hanging fruit that needs to be fixed.

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