If you are an old hand at Microsoft SQL Server, you have probably used the SQL Server Agent (i.e., SQL Agent) service and MSDB database for the last 20 years. With a humble and largely unchanged feature set since it was first introduced, SQL Agent is one of those incredibly useful and cost-saving features we have come to expect from the Microsoft Data Platform. However, SQL Agent faces one important shortcoming: It can run on Azure VMs and on Azure SQL Managed Instances, but it is not available on Azure SQL Database. As a result, we need a substitute.
Posted October 08, 2020
Microsoft continues to make positive strides in the world of open source. The company once considered open source software to be an anathema, but now it's common for Microsoft to pull software from—and also push software to—the open source software community.
Posted August 11, 2020
Here's one big advantage to moving to Microsoft Azure SQL Database—you never have to patch. That's all well and good, but most of the SQL Server installed license base is still on-premise. If you're in this category, then it is essential that you keep up with patching and security fixes regularly. The information in this article is the sort that experienced SQL Server DBAs keep close at hand. So, let's take a few minutes to walk through the details of how to do that.
Posted June 10, 2020
I've kept you informed over the years about not just the latest news and features in SQL Server, but across the entire Microsoft Data Platform, both on-premise and in the cloud. This includes additional products such as SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), and their cloud siblings, Azure Synapse Analytics, and Azure Data Factory (ADF). Another important and powerful sibling product is Azure Cosmos DB, previously known as Document DB, which I first wrote about here many years ago.
Posted April 08, 2020
Azure Arc and the Rising Tide of Kubernetes
Posted February 10, 2020
A New Chapter of Business Intelligence Begins with Azure Synapse
Posted January 02, 2020
The annual PASS Summit, the industry's largest gathering of SQL Server professionals, hosted more than 4,000 attendees in Seattle recently recently. PASS (www.pass.org) has grown to more than 300 local chapters around the world, and its 1,000th SQL Saturday will likely be held sometime in early 2020. The opening keynote by Rohan Kumar, corporate vice president of data and AI at Microsoft, focused on the achievements and growth of SQL Server in the marketplace, as well as on the new features and capabilities now available in the public release of SQL Server 2019.
Posted December 01, 2019
Back in the 1980s, a Stanford University computer scientist and professor named Donald Knuth introduced the concept of "literate programming," in which a computer program's logic is explained in a natural language such as English. The "literate" program would be further enriched with images, graphs, traditional source code, related macros, and scripts almost as if the programmer were writing an essay, and using all of these components together could still be compiled as usual. The most notable products to arise from this concept were notebooks, such as Azure Notebooks, Jupyter Notebooks, Apache Zeppelin, and the Apache Spark Notebook.
Posted October 01, 2019
The big cloud vendors tout many reasons for running IT infrastructure in the cloud. A very prominent benefit is "accelerated innovation and delivery." That's a powerful selling point because every IT manager I have ever known wants to deliver better results, faster, and at lower cost. However, it seems that the less IT managers know about doing actual hands-on IT work, the more demanding they are.
Posted September 03, 2019
Maybe you are still getting up-to-speed with the whole concept of cloud computing. If so, I have a lot of sympathy for you because there is so much to learn and because cloud technologies advance so rapidly. Here's one more important concept to add to that pile of things to learn—edge computing.
Posted August 07, 2019
SQL Server Drill Down: What's New in the Microsoft Data Platform, Build 2019 Edition
Posted June 10, 2019
Will the DBA disappear? No, far from it. But specific skills needed by DBAs and certain job roles fulfilled by DBAs will certainly change as we move to the cloud.
Posted May 01, 2019
If you haven't been paying a lot of attention, you might have missed the rise of a new form of virtualization, based at the operating system level, called "containers." While there are many specific software programs, by far the most prominent is Docker. So, from here on out, consider "Docker" and "container" to be synonymous.
Posted February 08, 2019
About 5,500 of the SQL Server faithful came out for the PASS Summit 2018 in Seattle last November. As usual, the event had the feel of a great big family reunion. It's always a fun time, with lots of socializing in the halls of the conference center and at the various restaurants and gathering places around town. The training was also top-notch this year with more than 16 tracks of sessions going on from early morning until evening—literally hundreds of SQL Server developer, DBA, architect, BI, and data science session
Posted January 02, 2019
The 2018 Microsoft Ignite conference was overflowing with attendees this year, as user enthusiasm continues to grow with the advent of CEO Satya Nadella.
Posted December 04, 2018
On August 30, Microsoft announced the public preview of the Azure Database Migration Service (DMS) to support online migrations of various databases to Azure. What's an "online migration"? Online migration means that your databases remain operational while conducting the migration. This provides quite a few obvious benefits.
Posted October 10, 2018
Microsoft is on the march with multiple upgrades and improvements across the span of its cloud data products. Here are a few of the more prominent highlights.
Posted August 08, 2018
On June 20th, the Microsoft SQL Server team dropped the most recent release of SQL Operations Studio to the public. This is just one of many, many product announcements that demonstrate Microsoft's very serious commitment to interoperability and to meeting the needs of their customers wherever they reside, even if that's outside of the Microsoft ecosystem. One of the hallmarks of SQL Operations Studio, compared to the venerable SQL Server Management Studio, is that it's lightweight and expandable.
Posted July 02, 2018
If you've used Azure in the past, you probably know that there are two main ways to deploy SQL Server on Microsoft's cloud—Azure SQL Database, the PaaS offering; and Azure VMs running SQL Server. Microsoft is now offering a third deployment option in preview which provides full SQL Server engine capability, including SQL Agent, along with native VNet support.
Posted June 01, 2018
Women's issues have headlined the news media for the past several months. Many stories, ranging from the #MeToo movement to the "Brogrammer" email blast at Google, have shown that women in technology (WIT) face negative work conditions and social pressures. In light of that, it seemed appropriate to dive into the topic of WIT within the SQL Server community (aka, the Data Platform community) and gauge where we're at.
Posted April 12, 2018
The SQL Server Vulnerability Assessment tool (VA) is a feature within SQL Server Management Server (SSMS) 17.4 that scans your SQL Server instances of version 2012 and later, identifies security issues, and suggests fixes to the vulnerabilities it finds. It works for on-premises SQL Server and Azure SQL Database, whether housed on physical or virtual servers.
Posted February 01, 2018
3 New Year's Resolutions for the SQL Server Pro
Posted January 02, 2018
This year's PASS Summit packed more than 5,000 data professionals into the Washington State Convention Center for hardcore technical sessions covering all aspects of the Microsoft data platform. Here are some highlights.
Posted December 01, 2017
At this year's Microsoft Ignite, a variety of executives made a host of announcements that are important and relevant to data professionals. It is worth noting that there were actually four areas of focused innovation discussed at the keynote level: enabling IT and developer productivity, providing a consistent hybrid cloud, unlocking intelligent solutions (read: AI), and ensuring trust through security, privacy, and cost controls.
Posted November 01, 2017
With all of the hype around data being "the oil of the 21st century" and the rise of "the algorithm economy," it seems reasonable to make it a priority to learn more about how laws affect our lives as DBAs. The first law that I have targeted is probably the best-known data law in the U.S.—HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
Posted October 18, 2017
The next release of Microsoft SQL Server, announced as SQL Server 2017, is available for download in CTP2 at http://tinyurl.com/SQLvNextLinux and offers many cool new features. One set of features that I really like focus on adaptive query processing. These new features speed processing of workloads, especially those that have historically been the hardest to tune.
Posted July 05, 2017
Not only has the Microsoft SQL Server engineering team added more and stronger leadership, outstanding individual engineers and staff members, but it is also radically moving its entire development process into a "cloud-first" ethos. Now, I'd like to show one of the most salient results of this new development process-accelerated product releases. It was only a few years ago (and is still the case for other data management platforms) that a major new release takes at least 2, but more likely 3 years. With the "production-ready" release of SQL Server 2017 Community Technology Preview 2.0, we are only 1 year from the last production release.
Posted May 05, 2017
I always look forward to new research from Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc., publishers of this magazine and other great products for data professionals. The latest report which you should read is "SQL Server Transformation: Toward Agility & Resiliency 2017; PASS Database Management Survey."
Posted April 07, 2017
SQL Server Named DBMS of the Year
Posted March 02, 2017
There's a very handy new tool from Microsoft called the Database Experimentation Assistant (DEA). The DEA makes it very easy to conduct A/B testing for SQL Server upgrades, providing quantitative insight into the performance differences across two versions of a database workload on SQL Server.
Posted February 08, 2017
One of the long-standing differentiators between SQL Server's Enterprise Edition (EE) and Standard Edition (SE), besides price, were the large number of features available only in EE. This is also true for other lower editions of SQL Server such as Web Edition and Express Edition. But there's big news in the air!
Posted January 03, 2017
If you are a SQL Server professional, but you don't know about the PASS Summit, then you are missing out. The annual conference is convened every fall in downtown Seattle, the backyard of Microsoft, and attracted over 6,000 attendees this year. And, since it's so close to the Microsoft Redmond campus, hundreds of the SQL Server developers and program managers get to attend—answering user questions, delivering sessions, and presenting chalk talks and panel discussions.
Posted December 01, 2016
Back when I managed my employer's enterprise architecture, prior to the days of virtualization and cloud computing, one of my most difficult projects was to build out a sandbox environment for a major proof of concept (POC). Locally hosted servers and all of the required licenses were expensive and scarce. If you're still struggling with scarcity when conducting research and performing POCs, I've got to tell you you're doing it wrong.
Posted November 02, 2016
SQL Server Adds Even More New Features in Data Science
Posted October 07, 2016
As a heavy user of other RDBMS data platforms, I have long appreciated the extra effort that Microsoft put into their data management and administration tool, the SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). While SSMS is an outstanding administration and T-SQL programming tool, it does have its minor qualms and quibbles.
Posted September 02, 2016
I had the pleasure to spend some time with my old friend Mark Souza, a general manager in the Data Platform team at Microsoft, while speaking at the SQL Saturday event in Dublin, Ireland. Now keep in mind that Mark and I have known each other since the 1990s when SQL Server was just being ported to a brand new operating system called Windows NT. Mark and I were having a laugh and more than a twinge of nostalgia about how much SQL Server has improved over the decades and now sits atop the heap on most analysts' "best database" reports. This isn't just two old-timers sharing a few war stories though. This is a living, breathing transformation that is still in process.
Posted August 04, 2016
There's a new buzzword on the loose, the data lake. At first glance, a data lake could be easily mistaken for a data warehouse. The two big data concepts have a common focus on analytics and they may, in certain situations, produce roughly equivalent output. But that's about where their similarities end.
Posted July 12, 2016
While temporal data support is something that has existed in the past within other database platforms, it is a newly available feature with the RTM version of SQL Server 2016. In case you haven't heard of temporal data values (or for some, "bitemporal"), here is a brief explanation.
Posted June 09, 2016
Many thought it was an early April Fool's Day prank, but it was no joke: On March 7, 2016, Microsoft announced the beta release of SQL Server on Linux with the intention of shipping a full release of the product by April of 2017.
Posted May 04, 2016
Microsoft has been on a tear for the past couple of years. It has been pushing forward with a very steady stream of powerful new features and capabilities, even entire product lines, within its Data Platform business. But while Microsoft has been hard at work on this deluge of new technologies, it would be completely forgivable if you haven't noticed. The reason it's OK is that Microsoft is advancing on multiple fronts, both in the on-premises product line and even more dramatically with the Azure cloud-based products.
Posted March 31, 2016
Microsoft first truly disrupted the ETL marketplace with the introduction of SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) back with the release of SQL Server 2005. Microsoft has upped the ante yet again by bringing to market powerful ETL features to the cloud via the Azure Data Factory, which enables IT shops to integrate a multitude of data sources, both on-premises and in the cloud, via a workflow (called a "pipeline) that utilizes Hive, Pig, and customized C# programs.
Posted March 03, 2016
If you're into data and databases and you have not heard the term "machine learning," may I suggest that you're not reading enough? This technology is hot and hyped, largely because it is the secret ingredient in many successful Big Data projects.
Posted January 07, 2016
In addition to StretchDB and AlwaysEncrypted, there are two more exciting features in the works for SQL Server 2016: dynamic data masking and row-level security. In the case of these two features, they'll be released first to the cloud platform (Azure SQL Database) and, later, to the on-premises version of SQL Server.
Posted December 02, 2015
The PASS Summit 2015, the largest conference in the Microsoft SQL Server world, was held in October in Seattle, WA. The event provided a look at key initiatives that Microsoft's SQL Server group has been working on and a glimpse of what's ahead for the future.
Posted November 09, 2015
Prior to SQL Server 2016, currently in CTP, your main method for encrypting a SQL Server application was to use a feature called Transparent Data Encryption. TDE provides strong encryption, but with some shortcomings. First, you have to encrypt an entire database. No granularity is offered at a lower level, such as encrypting specific tables or certain data within a table. Second, TDE encrypts only data at rest, in files. Data in memory or in-flight between the application and server are unencrypted. Enter Always Encrypted.
Posted October 07, 2015
The Top 10 Mistakes Made by SQL Server DBAs
Posted August 10, 2015
New Releases for the Microsoft Data Platform
Posted July 08, 2015
If you've been managing databases for any length of time, you've probably had to contend with the "noisy neighbors" scenario. In this scenario, you have several applications, each with their own database residing on a single instance of SQL Server, which don't share the resources of the server nicely. To deal with this issue, you might want to investigate Resource Governor as an alternative.
Posted June 09, 2015
With all the cheerleading and the steady drumbeat of new features being released to Azure, it's easy to lose track of the many cool and valuable new features released in the on-premises version of SQL Server. One of the crown jewels of SQL Server, the cardinality estimator (CE), underwent a large redesign for SQL Server 2014 to improve performance. Cardinality estimates are an extremely important part of query processing. In a nutshell, cardinality estimates are what the relation engine predicts for the number of rows affected by a given operation, including intermediate row sets like those created by filters, aggregations, joins and spool.
Posted May 14, 2015
Using StretchDB, an enterprise can "stretch" an on-premises database into the cloud, such that "hot," heavily used data is stored in the on-premises instance of SQL Server, while "cold" and infrequently used data is transparently stored in Azure. A stretched database automatically and transparently manages synchronization and movement of aging data from on-premises to the cloud.
Posted April 06, 2015