3 Jun

SQL Server Data Files in Windows Azure | Part-1

This is a brand new technology which is introduced in SQL Server 2014, having said that believe me this is not something which is new to us – we’ve been using this technology since a long time in our daily life like: Streaming music files through internet or saving all your data on One Drive.

So just like the examples mentioned above now starting from SQL Server 2014 you can take advantage of Azure & place your Data and Log files in Azure no matter if your SQL Server Instance is running on-Premise or on Windows Azure Virtual Machine.

It lets you create & place your data and log files directly on windows azure storage, by doing this you get all the advantages of Azure storage – Bottomless storage, offsite location, Geo-Redundant, No provisioning and No need to do Device Management, its decay free (Full Media Safety) and always accessible remotely from anywhere. To know more read this.

 

Why do you want to place your data\log files on Azure?

Don’t you think this is counter intuitive to keep the files on Cloud? Yes at first even I was thinking the same. This looks odd but can be used in many circumstances. So essentially all you need to do is re-attach your (data and log) files from cloud to your SQL Instance, SQL instance can be on-premise or on Cloud.

The next question will obviously be regarding Performance…. In case you are skeptical about the performance you can host your SQL Server also on Cloud (windows Azure VM) this way your SQL Server & data\log files both will be on cloud.

This feature gives you power of a DR, even if your Data Centre goes down you can bring back the SQL instance in minutes without any special technique all you need is a SQL Instance which you can use just like your production server because all data is still intact & placed on Cloud – you just have to re-attach the files to make it working.

 

Is it Secure?

Obviously it is very much secure and your data is protected in many ways:

a) Windows Azure itself provides a mechanism to secure & protect your data; it’s not like a public folder which is open to all. To know more you can read this blog which will help you understand how the security works in Azure Storage and the importance of each type of key.

b) Granular Encryption encrypts the data (Cell by cell encryption) at all times & the key to decrypt is only available with SQL Server instance and never on the cloud along with data\log files.

c) If you are still not convinced you may still use TDE (transparent data encryption) to further encrypt it. It is fully supported.

 

Ok, I am convinced but what about my RTO & RPO?

You don’t have to worry about these two because inherently this technology take care of these two; It saves a lot of your time – you don’t have to restore the Database from a backup even if your server got crashed because your data files are intact in Cloud, you just need to re-attach them on a new Instance and your database is available right from the point where you left (you lose only uncommitted transactions) so it gives you better RPO (Recovery Point Objective) along with RTO (Recovery Time Objective)

Enough of talking now, let me know how to use this amazing feature….

 

Thanks,
Sarabpreet Singh


18 Apr

SQL Tip-12 | Using SQL Server Backup to Windows Azure Tool – Part2

In last part we discussed the installation, configuration and usage of the SQL Server Backup to windows azure tool.

In this part we’ll discuss some internals of this tool and how to restore the backups which were moved to Azure storage.

As we discussed in the last part this tool creates a login ID with the name of SQLBackup2Azure , let’s diagnose it further. The tool creates this login with a low privilege account which is used to run this service. This tool also creates a group called “TempGroup” and the login SQLBackup2Azure gets the membership of this group. The name of the group and login are hardcoded and can’t be changed. However the password of the login gets generated automatically and randomly which is not known to anyone including Microsoft.

When you start adding different rules in this tool, this group get read\write access on the specified location – that is how this tool is able to take backup and restore.

The biggest disadvantage of this tool is it doesn’t provide a mechanism to track the uploaded files and any kind of error logging information, you don’t even have any control over the schedule of the uploading of backups since there is a service it keeps on checking the files.

 

Restore a Database from the Backup file which was uploaded using this tool

This tool creates a Stub file with some metadata to use during restore. You can use this tool just like a regular backup file when you want to restore a database. SQL Server automatically reads the metadata information in the file and restore the database by getting the required file from the Azure Account. Internet connectivity is a must since the stub file contains only the metadata information about the backup file rest everything is there in the Azure Storage account.

 

Stub File

This tool uploads the specified backups from the file path mentioned in the rule but once the backup file gets uploaded it creates a Stub file for the same and leaves it in the local storage folder with metadata information to be used during restore.

 

What if Stub file is inaccessible or Deleted by mistake?

A copy of the same Stub file gets uploaded along with the backup on your Azure Storage Account. If for any reason the stub file is inaccessible you can download the copy of the stub file and place it in the same location which is configured for this tool.

 

Some known issues:

1. In the event of a loss of network connectivity, SQL Server will surface the error as not being able to write to the device. You will need to clean up the files relating to this backup operation (if any) and retry the backup.

2. If you want to create a backup using the Tool, you must create a new backup file instead of overwriting/appending to an existing backup file.

 

Thanks,
Sarabpreet Singh


8 Apr

SQL Tip-11 | Using SQL Server Backup to Windows Azure Tool

As you know there are so many cool benefits of using Windows Azure Storage Account, everybody want to use it to get advantage. Last month i blogged about “SQL DB Backup to URL\Cloud” feature which was first introduced in SQL Server 2012 and later in SQL 2014 it was integrated completely in every aspect.

But what if you are still running old version of SQL Server and want to take advantage of Cloud?

Microsoft is being very kind and they are providing you a workaround. They released a small tool which can help you create a one cloud backup strategy that means you will be able to take backups on cloud for prior SQL versions like SQL Server 2005, 2008 and SQL 2008 R2.

By using this tool you get all the latest features like Backup on Cloud, using Encryption and Compression in all earlier versions.  Currently these features are available only in following versions\editions.

Feature Version Edition
Backup Encryption 2014 Enterprise, Standard and Business Intelligence Edition
Backup Compression 2008 Enterprise Edition
Backup Compression 2008 R2 Enterprise and Standard Edition


Isn’t it cool you get all latest features even if you’ve not upgraded to new version\edition.

The Utility can be downloaded from this link and the utility is less than 10 MB is size. Let’s see how to install, configure and use this tool.

Installation of this tool is quite simple just like any other regular software.

1  2

3   4

The tool installs a service which takes the responsibility of taking the backups from local system to Cloud. The tool also creates a separate login for this tool with the name of “SQLBackup2Azure.

service

 

To configure this tool you’ve to provide a local path of a folder where your backups will be placed – this location will act as a source for this tool. You need to also mention the file name\extension which will be picked to be backed-up on the cloud. The best part is you can use wildcards to select the type of files.

config1 config2

 

Next you need to mention the details about your Windows Azure Storage Account, this is similar to creating a credential which will provide necessary access to this tool to backup the files on Azure. You get an option to Verify the account details right from the wizard.

config3

In the next page you also get an option to use Encryption and Compression for all these backups.

config4 config5

Read the next part here…

Thanks,
Sarabpreet Singh


10 Mar

Global Windows Azure BootCamp 2014 | 29-March-2014

Welcome to Global Windows Azure Bootcamp- 2014 !

Global windows azure bootcamp 2014We invite you to join us on Saturday, March 29, 2014 for a 1 day deep dive class on developing Cloud Computing Applications for Windows Azure. Join us for a full day session with lunch, high tea and a chance to network with fellow windows enthusiasts. 

I’ll be speaking at the Event about “Hybrid Cloud Features of SQL Server 2014

Register: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/global-windows-azure-bootcamp-2014-tickets-10829554489?aff=es2&rank=1&sid=e7a33c45b3e211e3b5731231391edcec

Register for the event above or contact: Vikas Mangla (vikas.mangla@globallogic.com) @9810219770 for more information.

Event Details:

Venue: GlobalLogic India Limited, Noida  (Tower A, Oxygen Park, Plot No.7, Sector-144, Noida Expressway, Noida, Uttar Pradesh IN) 

Timings: 9 am to 5 pm

Transport: To & Fro cab facility for all participants from Noida city centre metro station. Send in your details via email to vikas.mangla@globallogic.com for cab facility

Participant take aways: Windows Azure licenced software, Goodies powered by Windows Azure and GlobalLogic.

Here is the detailed Agenda:

Global Windows Azure Bootcamp agenda 2014

 

See you at the Event!

Cheers!


26 Feb

ITPro Track – Demystifying SQL Server Backups | 19-March-2014

Microsoft MVP community India along with Microsoft is hosting an online tech conference called “Microsoft Virtual Tech Conference” for both IT Pro and Developer audience.  This is scheduled on 19th March 2014.

I’ll be presenting a Session for ITPro Track: Demystifying SQL Server Backups. In this Demo heavy session SQL Server MVP Sarabpreet Singh Anand will explain you the untold tips and tricks. Sarabpreet will Demo how to do Point-in-time recovery, what are the key things to keep in mind while planning the backup strategy of your mission critical DB. We’ll corrupt a DB live and then show you how to recover it.

I’ll also try to cover the new features of SQL Server 2014 related to Backups.

So Stay tuned and Register for this session: https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032577204&culture=en-IN

 

VTCC2014 - Sarabpreet Singh Anand - Demystifying SQL Server backups