Active Directory Authentication Added to Azure SQL
It lets admins manage database user IDs from one place.
Security upgrades lead the list of enhancements for a key storage service on Microsoft's public cloud platform. They come as a response to user feedback.
Microsoft has updated its Azure SQL Data Warehouse service with several key new features including Azure Active Directory authentication, eased cloud migration through support for large data rows and the ability for administrators to limit transaction sizes to reduce the need for large rollbacks.
Azure SQL Data Warehouse is Microsoft's enterprise-focused storage solution that scales both computing power and storage space based on need when processing large amounts of data, allowing users to adjust both on the fly. Sonya Marshall, senior program manager for Microsoft's SQL Engineering group, outlined the improvements in the SQL-based database cloud service in a blog posting.
The Azure Active Directory authentication is the most noteworthy new feature, which Marshall noted will let administrators "manage the identities of database users and other Microsoft services in one central location." Users will also have increased identity control over its database with support for single sign-on, token-based authentication for apps trying to connect and password storage through Windows authentication.
While support for Azure Active Directory in Azure SQL Data Warehouse will now be on par with what is already found in Azure SQL Database, one minor difference is how users will connect the two. Instead of using SQL Server Management Studio to bridge the gap, as used in Azure SQL Database, Microsoft's free SQL Server Data Tools (which can be downloaded here) will be used instead.
The improved authentication added to Azure SQL Data Warehouse is an important addition to ensure data security, which customers should welcome. Marshall noted many have also requested the support for large rows, which she said will make it easier to migrate on-premises data to the cloud by letting administrators and developers use more data types from existing table definitions. The new release now supports rows larger than 32K and data types over 8K. Large row support adds support for varchar(max), nvarchar(max) and varbinary(max), she noted.
This week's update will also include the following new and updated features:
- Limits for transaction sizes, which will cut down the time to roll back a database. Microsoft is updating this to avoid issues that may occur when an outage strikes during a long data transaction.
- Future upgrades to SQL Server Data Tools connection app will be managed and automatically updated through Visual Studio. Microsoft also said that the tool will be receiving database project support in a future update.
- Support for Transact-SQL (T-SQL), used in modifying and changing relational databases, will now be supported.
- Rand(), Checksum() and Binary_Checksum() functionality have been added, along with support for numeric, uniqueIdentifier and NEWID() data types.
- The server role of individual users connecting to the database can now be monitored, and the ability to query a collection of databases at once.
- Archival compression support has been included to cut down on the size of stored data.
Just as this week's update was strongly dictated by user feedback, Marshall said Microsoft will roll out additional Azure SQL Data Warehouse improvements with features and tweaks shared among the Azure SQL Data Warehouse community.