Automating Automatic Indexing in Azure SQL Database

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I’ve been in love with the concept of a database as a service ever since I first laid eyes on Azure SQL Database. It just makes sense to me. Take away the mechanics of server management and database management. Focus on the guts of your database. Backups, consistency checks, these easily automated aspects can just be taken care of. Same thing goes with some, not all, but some, index management. Azure SQL Database can manage your indexes for you. I call it weaponizing Query Store.

Anyway, I needed a way to automate this for the book I’m writing. I couldn’t find any good examples online, so I built my own.

Queries in Need of Automatic Indexing

Because I want this to be as simple and repeatable as possible, I’m using the sample database that you can create when you create an Azure SQL Database. It’s basically a very tiny subset of AdventureWorks, simplified and reduced in size. With that as a starting point, you need some queries:

What you’ll notice is that several of the queries are filtering on the FirstName column. There’s no good index there. If you look at the execution plans for those queries you’ll also note the Missing Index suggestion. That suggestion is a necessary part of the automatic indexing. Yeah, missing indexes. I know. They’re not always accurate. It’s just a suggestion. Blah, blah, blah. I hear you.

The magic is not supplied by missing indexes. The magic is supplied by lots of data. Microsoft can take advantage of three things. Yes, missing index suggestions is first. Then, they can use the query metrics gathered in Query Store to see the behavior of your queries over time. Finally, they can use machine learning algorithms to determine if indexes will be helpful and measure how helpful they’ve been if one gets added. It’s great stuff. Go and read on it.

Automating Queries for Automatic Indexing

The key to getting your indexes automatically added though is time. You can’t run one query once, get a missing index, and Microsoft will add it for you. They’re not crazy or stupid. You need a lot of executions (exact number, unknown to me). There have to be a lot of executions over time (approximate time based on testing, 12-18 hours). Finally, you also need more than one query (again, how many, I don’t know, but having only one or two did not cross the threshold, so I went for four, which did).

So, how did I run these procs for hours? Easy. Powershell:

Create the procedures. Run this script for 12-18 hours, and you should get something that looks like this in your Recommendations blade:


The goal here is really simple. I want automatic indexing to fire. I’ve done just enough work to make that happen. Automatic indexing also has a drop option for duplicates. I haven’t yet figured out how to make that happen, but you get the start of that in these scripts too.

You will not automate all your indexes. If you want to learn more about query tuning and indexing, and the necessary tools to make query tuning easier, I have a bunch of opportunities coming up this year where I’m teaching an all day course on the topic. Please follow the links below for your local event:

For SQLSaturday NYC on May 18, 2018. Go here to register.

For SQLSaturday Indianapolis on August 10, 2018. Please go here to sign up.

For SQLSaturday Oslo on August 31, 2018. Click here right now to register.


OK, fine, but what do you think?