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Curated SQL Posts

Azure SQL Managed Instance Updates

Borko Novakovic gives us a rundown of improvements to Azure SQL Managed Instances:

Azure SQL Managed Instance provide management operations that you can use to automatically deploy new managed instances, update instance properties, and delete instances when no longer needed. Most of the management operations in SQL Managed Instance are long-running but until now it was not possible for customers to get detailed information about operation status and progress in an easy and transparent way.
Through the introduction of a new CRUD API, the SQL Managed Instance resource is now visible from when the create request is submitted. In addition, the new OPERATIONS API adds the ability to monitor management operations, see operation steps, and take dependent actions based on operation progress.
Check out this blog post to learn how to effectively utilize new APIs in real-word scenarios.

If this product potentially fits your needs, also check out Vladimir Ivanovic’s post on performance improvements:

Previously, the tempdb I/O operations were governed as part of the instance log rate cap (which used to be configured to 22 MB/s for General Purpose and 48 MB/s for Business Critical). With this set of improvements, tempdb I/O operations are no longer governed as part of the instance log rate cap, allowing for a significantly higher tempdb I/O rates.

The improved tempdb performance will greatly improve the speed of tempdb-bound operations, such as running queries with large sorts/spills, or data loading through tempdb.

It looks like they’ve upped the caps on several storage-related limits for no extra charge.

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Discovering MrbMiner

Randolph West gives us the low-down on some malware:

Tencent Security has released a report (written in Chinese) describing a new malware attack by the name of “MrbMiner” on SQL Server instances exposed to the Internet with passwords that can be brute-forced.

According to the report it installs an application written in C# by the name of assm.exe which communicates with a command-and-control server to download a digital coin mining tool, which may be disguised as various Windows system services. The malware uses several techniques to ensure that it sticks around.

Randolph has some more advice on how to determine if it is on one of your servers.

One quick thing I’d like to point out is that this is not a flaw within SQL Server; it only infects a machine which has a username and password it can guess.

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Power BI Premium Per-User Licensing

John White has some thoughts on a big announcement at Ignite:

The new Premium per user (PPU) license promises to solve this problem. Premium per user will be a new license that will include all of the capabilities of the Pro license, but will also include almost all of the features available in Premium. It will NOT include unlimited sharing. Users with this license will be able to publish content to a PPU workspace, and that content can be consumed by other users that have a PPU license.

The next question is of course going to be “great, so how much is it?”. Therein lies the rub.

This is why I’m interested, but not yet excited. I’d expect it to be more than $10 per user per month, as otherwise nobody would get a Pro SKU. But where, exactly, it lands above that is the key question. The number $50 per user per month comes to mind—the idea being that you save money up to 100 users, after which point it makes sense to switch to the fixed-price licensing. We’ll see what the real number looks like once they announce it.

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Shipping Jupyter Books to the ADS Marketplace

Emanuele Meazzo shows one good use of the Azure Data Studio Extension Generator:

The recently released Extension Generator for Azure Data Studio has opened up yet another way to ship Notebooks and Books to ADS allowing you to easily author your extensions.

In my previous post I’ve detailed how you can now access a Book remotely, now, if you want the book to be actually installed in your ADS instance, you can install it as an extension!

It looks like the process isn’t entirely smoothed out yet, but they’re working on it.

Meanwhile, you can also check out Emanuele’s post on how to get the SQL Server Diagnostic Book as an extension.

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Random Numbers in R: Parallel Processing Edition

Henrik Bengtsson takes us through an interesting issue:

R does a superb job of taking care of us when it comes to random number generation – as long as we run our analysis sequentially in a single R process. Formally R uses the Mersenne Twister RNG algorithm [1] by default, which can we can set explicitly using RNGkind("Mersenne-Twister"). However, like many other RNG algorithms, the authors designed this one for generating random number sequentially but not in parallel. If we use it in parallel code, there is a risk that there will a correlation between the random numbers generated in parallel, and, when taken together, they may no longer be “random enough” for our needs.

The post covers how the future package has your back when it comes to random numbers. H/T R-Bloggers.

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Connecting to Azure Databricks from Power BI

Gerhard Brueckl walks us through the Power BI connector to Azure Databricks:

I work a lot with Azure Databricks and a topic that always comes up is reporting on top of the data that is processed with Databricks. Even though notebooks offer some great ways to visualize data for analysts and power users, it is usually not the kind of report the top-management would expect. For those scenarios, you still need to use a proper reporting tool, which usually is Power BI when you are already using Azure and other Microsoft tools.

So, I am very happy that there is finally an official connector in PowerBI to access data from Azure Databricks! Previously you had to use the generic Spark connector (docs) which was rather difficult to configure and did only support authentication using a Databricks Personal Access Token.

Click through to see how it works.

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Azure Data Studio September 2020 Release

Alan Yu announces the September 2020 release of Azure Data Studio:

When trying out notebooks for the first time, many users were not familiar with Markdown, or users would always have to look up the syntax. Over time, we added a Markdown toolbar to help make it easier to remember Markdown syntax, which made many users happy, but we thought we could do even better. We wanted to make it as easy to write in notebook text cells as you would in an email or typing a document.

Through embracing hackathons and open source, and driven by the passion to do more for our users, we are excited to announce Rich Text Mode, also known as WYSIWYG Mode (what-you-see-is-what-you-get).

There’s a lot in this release.

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Using Synonyms in SQL Server

Greg Larsen takes us through the ins and outs of synonyms in SQL Server:

Once a database object has been created, and lots of application code has been written that references the object, it becomes a nightmare to rename the object. The nightmare comes from the amount of effort and coordination work required to make the name change without the application failing. If just one place is missed when coordinating the rename, the outcome could be disastrous. This is where a synonym can help minimize the risk associated with renaming a base object.

I’ll admit that I don’t really think about synonyms much and have used them at most a couple of times in my career. I can see where they’d be useful, but that comes at the risk of something going wrong and people not even realizing they exist.

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Thoughts on Using Source Control

Kevin Chant shares some thoughts:

In this post I want to cover more thoughts about SQL Server professionals using version control. Because I have had some interesting conversations since my last post about it.

In a previous post I covered how SQL Server professionals can benefit from using version control. Which you can read in detail here.

Now I want to clarify a few things relating to it as well.

Read on for those thoughts.

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