Exotic wait types: PREEMPTIVE_OS_ENCRYPTMESSAGE


Some time ago, we were discussing wait types with a group of customers. To demonstrate the waits-and-queues methodology we use, I showed the group the sys.dm_os_wait_stats DMV, and the results were sorted by wait_time_ms in descending order. On the top of that list was the PREEMPTIVE_OS_ENCRYPTMESSAGE wait type. At that moment I was not exactly sure what that wait type was and I promised to look into it later. This post is a quick explanation of the same.

It turns out that if the SQL client and / or server is configured to use SSL for secure communications, the implementation within SQL Server will use an Win32 API hosted within SspiCli.dll. Such wait states - where the SQLOS calls into an external DLL which SQL has no direct control over - are identified with the PREEMPTIVE_* label.

So in short, this wait type is representative of the time it takes to encrypt TDS traffic back to the client. Does it represent a problem if it is on top of the list? Not necessarily, and as with all wait types, it needs to be carefully examined within the context of the specific issue being investigated and co-related with other observations such as performance counters etc. In certain cases, if you strongly suspect that this is representative of a problem, you can always check if you have configured SSL for SQL Server or for the client, and test with that turned off (subject to the boundary security requirements of course!)

Till next time, have a good one!

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