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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Treating database as a code

code
Everything as a Code

Over the last two years I have been working lot on improving the tooling and processes related to database development at where I work. One concept born out of this work is what we have started calling a “Database-as-a-Code” model. Originally the idea was to introduce some of the good practices, such as version control, build automation and unit testing to database development. Over the time it has evolved to include even more, in an effort to break down traditional silos between software developers, database developers and the operations people.

In this post I’ll describe some of the decisions we made and the steps we have taken in our Database DevOps journey.

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Perils of synthetic test data

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Data, data, data

I was recently involved in a query tuning work where we used synthetic, rather than production data, to validate the results of our query and index tuning work. We faced some issues with the generated data that had quite a severe impact on our testing, and that prompted me into writing this blog post. Lets start by first defining what is synthetic data. In my view synthetic data is data that resembles actual production data, but is artificial/generated. I have seen similar (and also more detailed) definitions elsewhere and I think it is a good one.

I also like to point out that there are plenty of good reasons for using synthetic data in testing, as production data is often strictly regulated and not easily available for testing purposes.  However, you need to be certain that the synthetic data you are using is similar to what you have in production.

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Basics of the blockchain technology

Blockchain image
Blockchain

While I normally blog about SQL Server or topics that closely relate to it in some way, I decided to make a small exception this time. Today, I will be writing about blockchain. Granted it’s not a huge jump outside my usual themes, as we’re still talking about database technology. So why I am writing about the blockchain, is it because it’s new and cool technology that everyone else is talking about? Admittedly that is part of, but I also wanted to have some of my thoughts and questions about the blockchain in an easy to find place.

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