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Category: SQL Server Management Studio

Central Management Servers and SSMS 20

Greg Low works around an issue:

I’ve recently been doing work with a site that makes extensive use of Central Management Servers. And that’s an issue if you upgrade past v19.3 of SSMS.

Here’s my counter-argument: how frequent is it to find organizations that have enough SQL Server instances to make a Central Management Server worthwhile and also do not have any sort of certificate management process?

And more importantly, why don’t they have certificate management processes in place for SQL Server? This isn’t 2008 anymore—everybody (for some slight exaggeration of the term “everybody”) has certificate management in place for websites. It’s incredibly rare to find websites without TLS certificates, so somebody in your organization is managing certificates somehow. Why are these people not also managing certificates for SQL Server? Because once you have proper certificates in place rather than self-signed certs, there is no SSMS problem.

And if money is the issue, money is not the issue. Note that Daniel’s post is over 6 years old (and here’s me self-linking for street cred), meaning any company without the budget for proper certificates could have put this into place anytime over the past 6 years.

Self-signed certificates are okay for debugging purposes on personal machines. But they should not be acceptable for connecting to SQL Server in any environment. Certificate-driven encryption is a critical part of securing data movement over the wire, and a trusted certificate chain is critical for ensuring attackers cannot sit in the middle of that connection and read the data.

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SSMS 20 Minus Azure Data Studio

Erik Darling makes an observation:

I was quite publicly mystified by the coupling of Azure Data Studio into the SQL Server Management Studio installer. They’re different tools for different people.

This isn’t a tirade against Azure Data Studio, nor is it a victory lap since apparently the feedback item I posted was part of the decision to remove it.

This is purely informational, since the announcement that it’s not in there anymore is nearly as quiet as the announcement that it was being included back in SQL Server Management Studio 18.7, and only slightly louder than the availability of a command line switch to skip installing it.

I say this as someone whose primary SQL tool is Azure Data Studio: good. There’s a lot of functionality overlap between the two but it’s better making both of them optional.

Also, I’m subscribed to that same RSS feed Erik mentioned and fully agree with Erik’s assessment of Erin. Even if she is a Michigan fan.

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SSMS 20 and Mandatory Connection Security

Chad Callihan hits an annoyance:

I tried to run a new query for a CMS but the query window opened as disconnected. If I selected one server out of the group and tried to open a new query, I received an error that “A connection was successfully established with the server, but then an error occurred during the login process.”

That can get really annoying if you have a few hundred instances in your Central Management Server. They’d all go away if you set up certificates for the servers, but until then, it would be a major annoyance.

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What’s New in SSMS 20

Erin Stellato gives us the skinny:

We expect that the first two posts, combined with the release notes and the new Connect with SQL Server Management Studio page, provide the details you need about the changes in SSMS 20 GA.  As such, the focus of this post is the roadmap for SSMS.  Our roadmap is heavily influenced by the evolving capabilities of SQL Server and Azure SQL, and feedback from SSMS users.  We’re currently collecting general feedback at https://aka.ms/sqlfeedback, and feedback on Copilot in SSMS at https://aka.ms/ssms-copilot-feedback.  Please comment and upvote on items that you would like to see in SSMS!

With SSMS 20 now being generally available, you can download it and try it out in your own environment. Erin quells any fears that Microsoft is abandoning SSMS and covers some of the big-ticket items on the roadmap.

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SSMS 20 and Default Security

Brent Ozar notes a change:

SQL Server Management Studio 20 Preview 1 is out, and the new connection dialog has a big change:

When you click Connect, you’re likely going to get an error:

Read on for the quick-and-easy solution, which brings behavior back to the pre-SSMS 20 default, as well as the long-term solution to prevent it from being an issue at all.

This brings SSMS in line with Azure Data Studio, which has defaulted to requiring certificates for quite some time. Note that you will need to select “Trust server certificate” if you are using a self-signed cert, though self-signed certs remove one of the two benefits of using certificates in the first place. The first is that certificates allow for encrypting the Tabular Data Stream (TDS) packets SQL Server sends over the network. Self-signed certs do just as good a job of that task as certificates you get from a trusted authority.

The second use case of certificates, however, is ensuring that this is definitely the machine and service you intend to connect to. If an attacker takes over the machine and swaps out the certificate with their own, your client should panic a bit because that’s your early-warning indicator that something is wrong.

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Feature Request: Right-Click to Open Plan in New Tab

Erik Darling wants you to vote:

One problem I run into regularly is when I’m tuning a query, and I want to keep one of the resulting execution plans available, so I can:

  1. Compare it after I make some other changes and run the query again
  2. Do some additional analysis without worrying about accidentally losing the plan

The only way to do that is to save the plan, stick the XML in another tool, or keep opening new query tabs to run things in, where I won’t lose the plan.

Vote for Erik’s idea.

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Upcoming SSMS 20 Connection Security Changes

Erin Stellato announces an “above-the-fold” change:

In SSMS 20 we have made changes to the connection dialog.  In the screenshot below, you will see the Login and Connection Properties pages for the connection dialogs for SSMS 19 and 20 compared side-by-side.

Moving the Connection Security section to the Login tab (and it presumably showing up without needing to select Options) is a good change. It’s also interesting to see SSMS support Mandatory encryption, a part of Tabular Data Stream (TDS) 8.0 that Azure Data Studio supports but SSMS (and most other SQL Server-related things) don’t yet.

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Globs of Tabs in SSMS

Warwick Rudd has cramped environs:

Working in SQL Server Management Studio is potentially an everyday occurrence for you! And having to work with many queries open at the same time is probably the norm.  Depending on the size of your screen that you may be working on, you are limited with the amount of screen real estate you can work in.

Personally, I get frustrated with having to continually go to the open query drop down window to see what queries I have open and be able to cycle through them to make my life easier and be more productive.

Warwick shows off one built-in way to solve this problem. When I was a database developer, I would have 40-50 tabs open at a time sometimes. I used Tabs Studio (commercial product but it’s not that expensive if you’re buying for yourself) to manage all of that.

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