Questions About SQL Server Collations You Were Too Shy to Ask

Of course we all like our colleagues to think that we know everything there is to know about SQL Server Collations. However, the truth is that it is a rather complicated topic to fully understand and the cost of getting collation wrong can be great. If only one could ask certain questions on forums or at conferences without blushing. Help is at hand, because Robert Sheldon once again makes the complicated seem simple by answering those questions that you were too shy to ask… Read more

Stairway to SQL Server XML

XML has been part of the SQL Standard since 2003, and is essential for any DBA because so many of the dynamic management views return XML data. Now that the industry is more used to data defined by document markup, it is becoming more important than ever for Database Developers and DBAs to understand the technology and to know where it makes sense to use XML. In this book, originally a series of articles on SQLServerCentral.com, Robert Sheldon flexes his talent to make the complicated seem simple.… Read more

Encrypting SQL Server: Dynamic Data Masking

Dynamic Data Masking is a good way of rendering data unreadable for such purposes as user-acceptance testing, or demonstrating an application. It doesn't encrypt the data, and a knowledgeable SQL user can defeat it. However it provides a simple way to administer from the database what data the various users of a database application can and can not see, making it a useful tool for the developer.… Read more

SQL Server Encryption: Always Encrypted

Is 'Always Encrypted' SQL Server 2016's most widely important new feature? It is significant that 'Always Encrypted' in SQL Server is in all editions of SQL Server. Because of the increasing importance of encryption to data governance, it allows encryption for the sensitive application data for everywhere beyond the application's client connection, including network, server, database and storage. Robert Sheldon explains what it is, why you should try it out, and how to set about it.… Read more

Core Database Source Control Concepts

Sometimes, it isn't the technicalities or details of database source control that people find difficult, but the general concepts and workflow. In this article, taken from Robert Sheldon's book 'SQL Server Source Control Basics' , he takes a step back from the details to explain the whole purpose of database source control and the most important operations within source control such as versioning, branching and merging.… Read more

Encrypting SQL Server: Transparent Data Encryption (TDE)

Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) encrypts the data within the physical files of the database, the 'data at rest'. Without the original encryption certificate and master key, the data cannot be read when the drive is accessed or the physical media is stolen. The data in unencrypted data files can be read by restoring the files to another server. TDE requires planning but can be implemented without changing the database. Robert Sheldon explains how to implement TDE.… Read more

Using Power BI Desktop to Visualize SQL Server Metadata

You can easily use PowerBI Desktop to show graphically how your database is growing, which tables are taking the most space, how various parts of SQL Server is consuming memory, its use of indexes and so on. Sure, you can create graphs in SSMS, but with PowerBI, you can create reports that you can then publish to others, and which allow drill-down. It is a great way to get familiar with PowerBI Desktop as well. Rob Sheldon shows how simple it is to do.… Read more

Importing Excel Data into Power BI Desktop

In any commercial setting, Excel Spreadsheets remain the preferred way of collecting and analysing data, and it makes sense that it should be easy to get the data into PowerBI so it can be made more generally available for sharing and further analysis. As well as the data, we'd probably need the other analysis components such as the Power Pivot tables, Power View visualizations, Power Query queries. It is all possible, and Robert Sheldon demonstrates how.… Read more

Retrieving SQL Server Query Execution Plans

Execution plans explain all you need to know about query performance, and how to fine-tune. Sure, you can see them in SSMS, but what if you need to drill into to the important details? What about using DMVs, Extended Events or SET statements to get at the execution plans? To get the best use of execution plans you need to be able to get right information from the right plan at the right time. Robert Sheldon explains how.… Read more

More Power BI to your Elbow

Power BI Desktop continues to evolve. There have been many improvements to the reporting side that together make it easier to get from the data to the visualisation as quickly as possible. You can now create line charts that let users drill down into hierarchical data. There are now ways of adding dynamic reference lines to a visualization that provide users with relevant reference points. Robert Sheldon demonstrates how to combine these features to great effect.… Read more

SQL Server for Linux

Although SQL Server for Linux removes the concern that adopting SQL Server forces you to also adopt the Windows platform, it could also provide a useful alternative platform, and a more obvious alternative to Oracle. There are, however, several obvious concerns as to how such a product could ever achieve parity with the existing Windows-based product. Microsoft have made an interesting move with several ramifications, as Robert Sheldon explains.… Read more

SQL Server Access Control: The Basics

No technology yet invented can in any way allow us to neglect the task of ensuring the security of the database by controlling access. Security must be applied in depth, and the database is designed provide a system that will thwart even the most determined external attack. If it seems a bit complicated at first, that is no longer an excuse now that Rob Sheldon has provided this simple guide for getting started. … Read more

SQL Server Statistics Basics

Distribution statistics are used by SQL Server's Query Optimiser to determine a good execution plan for your SQL query. You don't need to know about them to execute queries, but the better you understand them, the better you can optimise your queries and sort out performance problems. Robert Sheldon once more provides a simple guide.… Read more

Windows Containers and Docker

Windows Server 2016 features support for containers. These are not Linux-based, but containers that run on Windows and run Windows on the inside. These conform to the Open Container Initiative (OCI). They allow you to run applications insulated from the rest of the system, within portable containers that include everything an application needs to be fully functional. As they did with Linux, containers will change the nature of the software supply chain for Windows users.… Read more

SSIS in SSDT: The Basics

SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) is a fast and reliable way of importing and exporting data, but it can be tricky to learn, initially. Rob Sheldon provides a beginner's guide to get you started with using SSIS with Visual Studio and SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT)… Read more

Taking Azure SQL Data Warehouse for a Test-Drive

Azure SQL Data Warehouse uses SQL to query the data, but there are some differences to SQL Server's dialect of TSQL, and queries don't necessarily work in the same way. DBAs are also required to use SSDT to access Azure SQL Data Warehouse. It is worth taking the time to try the preview of the product, and take it for a 'spin around the block', following Robert Sheldon's walk-through.… Read more

Connecting to SQL Data Warehouse

The most frustrating thing with any new system is often just working out how to connect to it. Oddly, you can't use SSMS with SQL Data Warehouse, but it is fine with SSDT, SSIS, Power BI desktop, sqlcmd, BCP, and a range of Microsoft cloud services - there are PowerShell Cmdlets too. Rob Sheldon provides the details.… Read more