I was very privileged to get the opportunity to write a chapter in a book with some of my friends and SQL Family, Pro SQL Server 2012 Practices
. Just as each of us took a chapter to write, each of us going to take a chapter to review. But, being the greedy sort, I’m going to review two. First up, Chapter 12, “Windows Azure SQL Database for DBAs”, by Herve Roggero (b|t)
Personally, I love Azure. And I love Azure SQL Databases. But, I get the fear and trepidation they might cause. I also get the urge to write about them, but I never really felt like I should approach them from a book. Everything changes so much, so quickly in Azure and books just take a while to get out the door. It all seemed like an exercise in terror. But, Herve Roggero has taken a very smart approach here. Instead of a straight how-to, which is what I would have stupidly done, Herve has done a “why” approach. Why would you use this? What does it offer? What business need are you fulfilling? And I really love that approach to technology, not worrying about the technical aspects of it, but the business needs that it answers.
Herve starts with the basic architecture of the SQL Database. His emphasis is on the fact that we’re talking availability and up-time instead of performance. He does a good overview of how things are put together on the server so you can understand what’s happening to your data and why. He then goes on to show differences between what you are presumably familiar with, SQL Server, and SQL Database. He also covers the various management tools available online as part of Azure and security settings. He’s very careful to qualify things so that you know that everything is subject to change, but he still packs a lot of useful information in as he discusses the types of databases available and how to backup your data (you don’t, but you can get around that to a degree).
Herve spends a lot of time talking about how Federations are currently working within SQL Database. This is because Federations are one of the key business needs that the Azure SQL Database answers. He gives a great overview of Federations works then walks through a simple example so that you can understand what he meant. He finishes up that section with a review on the limitations so you will know how it affects your business needs.
Since performance is a secondary consideration everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, right? No! Of course not. And Herve doesn’t let us down. He covers some of the most important performance Dynamic Management Objects (although he calls them DMVs, dude, get with the program. Kidding, kidding.) you’ll need for understanding which of your queries are performing badly. He also provides a nice overview of how execution plans are presented within the SQL Database Management Portal (SDMP, a new abbreviation, I’ll use this). He also shows how the Query Performance dashboard will help you identify problem queries within your SQL Database.
Herve also covers some of the other utilities included with SQL Database such as Reporting Services and SQL Data sync. It’s important to remember, we’re not just talking T-SQL here. This is a full infrastructure to answer complete business needs. Herve doesn’t forget. He concludes with a short discussion on price, something that must be taken into account when talking about Azure SQL Database.
In summary, this is an excellent introduction to the topic of the Azure SQL Database. Herve has supplied you with the information you need to begin to make decisions on whether or not this could be something to satisfy business needs within your organization. Nice work Herve.