What’s New in Azure SQL Database – March 2016

Author by Concurrency Blog

No major new features have been introduced to Azure SQL Database this month, but there are lesser-known features that are being improved upon.

Threat Detection

This is an option that can be set at the SQL Server or SQL Database level. It “detects anomalous database activities indicating potential security threats to the database”. (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/sql-database-threat-detection-get-started/) After setting it up, if an event happens, you’re sent an email which contains a link to the Auditing log. The low will show the “suspicious” events.

A great write-up demonstrating this feature is available at troyhunt.com - The ongoing scourge that is SQL injection and Azure’s new SQL Database Threat Detection.

I encourage you to apply this level of protecting to your SQL Databases. When deploying them, consider a few test cases that could generate these alerts, and test them to make sure they work as you expect!

Index Advisor

Having a PaaS database does not mean you can ignore fundamental database design decisions such as data types and indexes. SQL Database won’t automatically create or remove indexes, or reorganize or rebuild them.

But, much like we have Database Engine Tuning Advisor (DTA) in the on-premises versions of SQL Server, SQL Database has Index Advisor. This is designed to provide you with index recommendations based on your current SQL Database workload. To access it, open your SQL Database settings on the portal and select Index Advisor. If your database has had activity, you will see index recommendations. The indexes can be applied one at a time from the portal or via T-SQL, or you can automatically apply all of them. (I wouldn’t choose that last option!)

I’d like to do more research on this before I can definitely recommend it, especially after seeing much DTA index abuse over the years. But I’m glad to see that the Azure team is working to make developing indexes against a database easier.

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