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Category: Cloud

SQL Licenses On Azure

Kenneth Nielsen notes that you can now bring your own SQL Server licenses to Azure marketplace images:

A few days ago, we announced that Microsoft Enterprise customers is now allowed to bring their own SQL Licenses to Azure VMs. This means that if a customer already have a SQL License, this license can be used on SQL Server VM images from Marketplace.

This means that they do no longer need to build their own VM, but instead can just provision a server from the marketplace and use the existing license.

I like this, but I do wonder what percentage of people will use marketplace-created VMs instead of customizing their own builds.

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New SQL Server Connector Preview

Rebecca Zhang notes that there is a new public preview of the SQL Server Connector:

For those not familiar with the SQL Server Connector, it enables SQL Server to use Azure Key Vault as an Extensible Key Management (EKM) Provider for its SQL encryption keys. This means that you can use your own encryption keys and protect them in Azure Key Vault, a cloud-based external key management system which offers central key management, leverages hardware security modules (HSMs), and allows separation of management of keys and data, for additional security. This is available for the SQL encryption keys used in Transparent Data Encryption (TDE), Column Level Encryption (CLE), and Backup encryption.

When using these SQL encryption technologies, your data is encrypted with a symmetric key (called the database encryption key) stored in the database. Traditionally (without Azure Key Vault), a certificate that SQL Server manages would protect this data encryption key (DEK). With Azure Key Vault integration for SQL Server through the SQL Server Connector, you can protect the DEK with an asymmetric key that is stored in Azure Key Vault. This way, you can assume control over the key management, and have it be in a separate key management service outside of SQL Server.

Check it out, as it might be a solution to some key management issues.

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Migrating SQL Server To Azure IaaS

James Serra has links and notes on migrating SQL Server from on-premesis to Azure virtual machines:

  • Convert on-premises physical machine to Hyper-V VHD, upload to Azure Blob storage, and then deploy as new VM using uploaded VHD.  Use when bringing your own SQL Server license, when migrating a database that you will run on an older version of SQL Server, or when migrating system and user databases together as part of the migration of database dependent on other user databases and/or system databases.  Use on SQL Server 2005 or greater to SQL Server 2005 or greater

  • Ship hard drive using Windows Import/Export Service.  Use when manual copy method is too slow, such as with very large databases.  Use on SQL Server 2005 or greater to SQL Server 2005 or greater

If you’re looking for notes on where to get started, this is a good link.

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BACPACs In Azure

Mike Fal uses Powershell to import and export Azure SQL Database data:

What makes this black voodoo magic work? Is this some proprietary technique Microsoft has snuck in on us? Surprisingly, this is a bit of technology that have existed for sometime now as part of SQL Server Data Tools called BACPACs. A BACPAC is essentially a logical backup of a database, storing the schema and data as SQL statements.

This differs from a typical SQL Server backup, which stores your database pages directly in a binary format. Because of this, native backups are smaller and can be made/restored faster. However, they are more rigid, as you can only restore a native backup in specific scenarios. A logical backup, since it is a series of SQL statements, can be more flexible.

Mike’s going to follow up with a way to take advantage of this to migrate normal SQL Server databases, so that should be interesting as well.

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Building Blocks Of Cortana Intelligence Suite

Melissa Coates has put together a new presentation on the building blocks of the Cortana Intelligence Suite:

Each section will wrap up with an example of the ‘building blocks’ to formulate a solution. Although these ‘building blocks’ examples are greatly simplified, my hope is it will generate ideas for how the different Azure components can fit together for formulating hybrid solutions.

Check it out, as there are a lot of pieces.

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Cortana Intelligence Suite

Buck Woody discusses various components of the Cortana Intelligence Suite:

It’s not a simple matter of “choose one from column B and two from column A” – you have to learn the processes, and then the tools, and then think about your situation. In other words, some things are complicated because they are…complicated. However:

There are some things you can consider out of the box. So I spoke with my friend Romit Girdhar while we were co-teaching in London last week, and he put together a great visualization. You can see them here, and download the PDF below. Thanks, Romit!

And of course they had to change the name—it wouldn’t be a Microsoft product if the name didn’t change every six months…

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Threat Modeling

Michael Howard discusses threat modeling in Azure:

Many conversations I have with customers go like this:

Customer: “We cannot deploy on Azure until we know that appropriate defenses are in place.”

Me: “I agree 100%, so let’s build a threat model for the proposed design and see what you need to do, and what Microsoft provides.”

A couple of days pass as we build and iterate on the threat model.

Now here’s when the customer has an “a-ha” moment. At the end of the process we have a list of defenses for each part of the architecture and we all agree that the defenses are correct and appropriate.

It’s at that point the customer realizes that they can deploy a cloud-based solution securely.

My tongue-in-cheek response is, of course a customer can deploy a cloud-based solution securely if they have Michael Howard walking them through it.  Michael does include some links on Azure security configuration and threat modeling resources so check those out.

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Deploying To Azure SQL Database

Julie Smith shows how to deploy a database (AdventureWorksDW) out to Azure:

This is telling us that four of the tables in the sample do not have clustered indexes. Azure SQL Database insists on a clustered index for every table. So without warranty, here is a script that I used to refactor my on-prem AdventureWorksDW2014 database. After making these fixes, I was able to deploy to Azure SQL DB from SSMS with no errors.

Julie includes the script she used to fix up AdventureWorksDW.

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Dealing With DocumentDB

Rolf Tesmer has an example of using DocumentDB:

How do you work out what DocumentDB will cost?  

Well, 1 RU corresponds to a GET of a 1KB document.  You then need to know the specifics of your workload such as number of documents, avg document size, how the documents are accessed (query patterns), and how often documents are updated.

I suggest loading your data and running your standard queries in the Azure Portal (see below) to see what RU’s your workload generates, and use that in your calculations.

Rolf also has some comparisons to SQL Server queries and some hints with integrating SQL Server with DocumentDB.

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Restoring Azure SQL Databases With Powershell

Mike Fal shows us how to restore an Azure SQL Database database using Powershell:

The most fundamental form of disaster recovery is database backups and restores. Typically setting up backups is a lot of work. DBAs need to make sure there’s enough storage available for backups, create schedules that accommodate business operations and support RTOs and RPOs, and implement jobs that execute backups according to those schedules. On top of that, there is all the work that has to be done when backups fail and making sure disk capacity is always large enough. There is a huge investment that must be made, but it is a necessary one, as losing a database can spell death for a company.

This is one of the HUGE strengths of Azure SQL Database. Since it a service offering, Microsoft has already built out the backup infrastructure for you. All that stuff we talked about in the previous paragraph? If you use Azure SQL Database, you do not have to do any of it. At all.

What DBAs still need to manage is being able to restore databases if something happens. This is where Powershell comes into play. While we can definitely perform these actions using the portal, it involves a lot of clicking and navigation. I would much rather run a single command to run my restore.

The Powershell cmdlets are easy to use, so spin up an instance and give it a try.

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