I'm trying to read a table in a MS SQL Server using python, specifically SQLalchemy, pymssql, and pandas.read_sql. I want to execute the query, put the results into a pandas Dataframe, and continue on with my work. The sql database I'm accessing is a part of the Wonderware product line, is composed of more than 700 tags over a time period of 2 years.

I want to be able to read a simple query such as the following:

sql_query = '''
SELECT DateTime, TagName, Value

    FROM Runtime.dbo.AnalogHistory

        DateTime BETWEEN '2014-05-26 00:00' AND '2014-06-26 00:00'
        TagName IN (
        wwRetrievalMode = 'Cyclic'
        wwResolution = 5000

The query results in a dataframe object about 100 MB in size and takes a little under 10 min (423 s)

If my math is correct, 100 MB in 423 seconds is about 230 kB/s, which I think over an Ethernet connection is just painfully slow. The first question I have is, where is this speed going?

I posted a related question here on stackexchange.com. Someone commented on my post and told me to look into the Execution plan - I'm just a beginner and have no clue what to do with this information.

Running the query on a desktop with SSMS installed resulted in the same query runtime. After looking into it, I see that the execution plan is broken into 3 parts, heavily favoring the remote query:

  1. SELECT - Cost: 0%
  2. Compute Scalar - Cost: 0%
  3. Remote Query - Cost: 100%


Opening up the Remote Query execution plan into an xml file results in this file snippet.

I'm not sure what this is telling me. The gentlemen who kindly commented on my previous question and asked/gave me some helpful questions/pointers that I hope someone here would be able to expand on. The following are from him, and my follow up questions are in italics:

  • Which indices are defined for the Runtime.dbo.AnalogHistory table and the execution plan for this query? How do I determine this?
  • I think when you executed exactly the same query a few times the vast majority of the data pages needed for the result set were already in the MS SQL Server buffer pool and because of that 100% of the cost is in the final 'Remote Query' step, where it 'Sends a sql query to another than the current sql server', otherwise it would have to read data from disk, which is usually the slowest part (unless you have an extremely slow network). So, anyway you would have to check the execution plan. Where in the execution plan is this information hiding?
  • A remote query is accessing a remote server, such as a linked server. Your slowness is over the linked server. Can you run your query on the source server?
    – Arthur D
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 20:05
  • I don't think I have access to a source server. As far I understand it, Wonderware has a proprietary database format that it stores and gives access to via MSSQL using some special API. I think what's happening is Wonderware is 'constructing' the table asked for by the query, subject to various data retrieval options. More info on available options can be read here. I think the construction of the table itself is taking all of the time, not the transferring of the data.
    – cbcoutinho
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 20:31
  • How do you notice that the remote query is accessing a separate server?
    – cbcoutinho
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 20:31
  • I'm afraid I'm very out of my depth when it comes to Wonderware. Here is the TechNet article for the Remote Query operator: technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms189297(v=sql.105).aspx It looks like it is not a linked server then, just the Wonderware application. I have no idea why the query takes long to return from Wonderware.
    – Arthur D
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 20:37

1 Answer 1


Create a copy of the table into a #temporary table on the server you are running the query on, then run the query based off the temp table.

I am not an expert on why certain queries run slower over linked servers and others do not. However, if you move that data temporarily over to the server you are running the query on, it often makes it run faster. Someone more experienced can answer why this is the case.

  • Thanks for the tip @agenovese, I'll try it out this week
    – cbcoutinho
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 13:10

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