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Index Fragmentation on Partitioned tables

Partitioning can be effectively used to break up a very large table into multiple partitions based on a column or partitioning key. However, there can be significant management overhead in maintaining partitioned tables. The features of partitioned tables that give you the ease of management can also conspire against you to make your maintenance a nightmare!

Thinking of each partition as its own table will help you understand how best to approach your maintenance. Index rebuilds can be quicker because you can rebuild just those partitions that you identify as being fragmented. Conversely, full partitioned Index rebuilds will take longer as each partition is its own b-tree.

Note that old style DBCC SHOWCONTIG command does not work for partitioned indexes. You need to familiarize yourself with the more powerful DMV sys.dm_db_index_physical_stats. This DMV returns fragmentation information at a partition level and provides you the necessary information to make a decision on which partitions require rebuilding or reorganizing.

-- to return fragmentation information on partitioned indexesSELECT
 object_name(a.object_id) AS object_name,
FROM sys.dm_db_index_physical_stats (DB_ID(), NULL, NULL , NULL, 'LIMITED') a
JOIN sys.indexes b on a.object_id = b.object_id and a.index_id = b.index_id
order by object_name(a.object_id), a.index_id, b.name, b.type_desc, a.partition_number 

Once fragmentation has been identified we can rebuild the index statement for just that single partition:

--Rebuild only partition 10.
ALTER INDEX IX_alert_events_timestamp
ON dbo.alert_events
REBUILD Partition = 10;

If you're partitioning your data on a date field and you have a sliding window and you are only ever adding data to the right most partitions then you can save unnecessary overhead by not checking for fragmentation of older partitions where you already know they are not fragmented. sys.dm_db_index_physical_stats DMV allows you to specify a partition number. This greatly improves IO over full index scans and has the potential to shorten maintenance job durations.

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