How to give everyone in Azure access to your database, the easy way

Sometimes I run into things in cloud that really just blow my mind away. Not that long ago I learned how you can give everyone in Azure, no matter what subscription or region they are in, an access to your database. And it was super easy too. It’s just one click to allow whole (Azure) world to start accessing your data.

Is this something I wanted to do, or would I recommend anyone to do it? No, not really. Also the documentation around this particular setting was less than great, so I decided to share what I learned.

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SQL Server 2019 security improvements: Feature Restrictions

Tilted Stop sign vector image
Restricted!

Very recently I was working on a customer databases, when I more or less stumbled on a something I had not noticed before. Apparently at some point the latest version of SQL Server (I was working with Azure SQL DB) had a new security enhancement added into it called Feature Restrictions. As this was something I had not heard about before, I figured this would be a good opportunity to dig in and learn more about it.

Note: As I was finishing up this post to add links and such, I noticed that the official documentation from Microsoft regarding Feature Restrictions has completely vanished.

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Platform-as-a-Service databases and the future of the DBA role

I just realized that it has been awhile since my last post, so I figured it’s time to do one before the end of the year. Last few months have been rather hectic with me migrating new workloads to Cloud as well as taking the time to visit PASS Summit 2019 to learn more about Microsoft Data Platform.

I also wanted to finish up my year of blogging by writing about a topic close to my heart, the evolution of the DBA role in the Cloud era. I did have a session about this topic in SQLSaturday Finland earlier this year and I will be doing a PASS Cloud Virtual Group presentation about it on January 16th.

In this post we’ll be looking at one of the Cloud technologies that have significant impact on the DBA role in the future, Platform-as-a-Service databases.

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Azure SQL Database SLA is awesome

Microsoft recently released their new SLA, RPO and RTO guarantees for Azure SQL Database and oh boy, those are really something else. In fact they are so much something else, that at the moment of me writing this, no other cloud provider has managed to promise the same level of business continuity for their Platform-as-a-Service database services.

Besides the highest SLA currently in the market Microsoft has gone one step further and is now guaranteeing also RPO and RTO for their service. Now this is very interesting approach because neither Google or AWS is giving any for their own services.

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Fun with Filegroups

Filegroups are an interesting and useful (if not actually all that fun, despite the title) concept within SQL Server. They provide not just a way to group objects like tables together, but also provide a mechanism to help us to speed up the backup, restore and recovery of the databases. And sometimes they can even give us a little help with the performance or to migrate data to disks that have more space available.

In this post, focus will be in archiving a table that we no longer need by making a read-only copy of it. In a real world scenario we’d also consider putting that to a slower disk, if it’s not frequently used, but my demo environment only has a single data disk.

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Hiding (mostly) in plain sight: Dynamic Data Masking

Masks on!

One of the more recent additions to SQL Server security features is the Dynamic Data Masking (DDM), included with the 2016 version. Like the Transparent Data Encryption I blogged about recently, DDM is a feature that is relatively easy to implement, and doesn’t require a lot of changes to the application. And just like pretty much everything is easy in a real life, it too has some limitations.

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Protecting Data at Rest: Transparent Data Encryption

I recently read an article which stating that since the GDPR came in force, there has been 59,000 data breaches reported in the EU. I must admit, that while I did anticipate that we’d see a surge in these numbers, due to reporting requirements in the legislation. I really did not expect the numbers to look that terrifying.

From the point of view of a SQL Server DBA, there is a number of different ways to protect your data. Some of them are even quite easy to setup, such as Transparent Data Encryption (TDE). So let’s have a look at how to set that up!

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