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Archive for October, 2013

Before we get started on this topic, here is a quick fact..in SQL Server 2000, there used to be hard limit on the data that can be stored in a single row, which is 8,060 bytes. So, if the data exceeds this limit, the update or insert operation would fail!

Fortunately, in later SQL Server versions, rows are dynamically managed to exceed this limit and the combined width of the row can now exceed the 8,060 byte limit. I wanted to refresh this in our memory as this will help us to better understand the allocation units concept.

What are Allocation Units in SQL Server:

Every partition in a SQL Server table can contain 3 types of data, each stored on its own set of pages. And each of these types of pages is called an Allocation Unit. Below are the 3 types of Allocation Units.

  • IN_ROW_DATA
  • ROW_OVERFLOW_DATA
  • LOB_DATA

So, an Allocation Unit is basically just a set of particular type of pages. Now, let us try to understand each of these allocation units using a demo.

  • IN_ROW_DATA 

When the row size stays within the 8,060-byte limit, SQL Server stores all of the data in the IN_ROW_DATA allocation unit and usually this unit holds the majority of data in most of the applications.

To better explain the concept, I came up with this simple Demo:

--Create a sample db AllocationUnitsDemo
USE master
GO
CREATE DATABASE AllocationUnitsDemo
GO

--Cretae a sample table ProductDetails in the AllocationUnitsDemo db
--Total length of the row in this table is 1000 + 4000 = 5000 (< 8000)
Use AllocationUnitsDemo
GO
CREATE TABLE ProductDetails
(
ProductName varchar(1000),
ProductDesc varchar (4000), 
)
GO

--Check the allocation unit type
Use AllocationUnitsDemo
GO
SELECT type_desc, total_pages, used_pages,data_pages 
FROM sys.allocation_units
WHERE container_id = (SELECT partition_id FROM sys.partitions 
WHERE OBJECT_ID = OBJECT_ID('ProductDetails'))

Results:
In_Row_Data
  • ROW_OVERFLOW_DATA 

Remember the introduction? so, when the row exceeds the 8,060-byte limit, SQL Server then moves one or more of the variable-length columns to pages in the ROW_OVERFLOW_DATA allocation unit.

We still have a limitation here for the row size. Though the combined width of the row can exceed the 8,060 byte limit, the individual width of the  columns must be within the limit of 8,000 bytes. This means we can have a table with two columns defined as nvarchar(5000), nvarchar(5000), but we are not allowed nvarchar(10000)

Demo Continued..

--Add an extra column to the above table ProductDetails
--Make the total length of the row to become 5000 + 4000 = 9000 (>8000)
Use AllocationUnitsDemo
GO
ALTER TABLE ProductDetails ADD ProductSummary nvarchar(4000) 

--Now, Check the allocation unit type
Use AllocationUnitsDemo
GO
SELECT type_desc, total_pages, used_pages,data_pages 
FROM sys.allocation_units
WHERE container_id = (SELECT partition_id FROM sys.partitions 
WHERE OBJECT_ID = OBJECT_ID('ProductDetails'))

Results:
Row_OverFlow_Data
  • LOB_DATA 

If a column with LOB data type is defined, then SQL Server uses the LOB_DATA allocation unit. To know what data types are considered LOB and to get the list of LOB columns from a database, please refer my previous post: “SQL Server – Find all the LOB Data Type Columns in a Database Using T-SQL Script

Demo Continued..

--Add LOB data type column to the table ProductDetails
Use AllocationUnitsDemo
GO
ALTER TABLE ProductDetails ADD ProductImage Image

--Again, Check the allocation unit type
Use AllocationUnitsDemo
GO
SELECT type_desc, total_pages, used_pages,data_pages 
FROM sys.allocation_units
WHERE container_id = (SELECT partition_id FROM sys.partitions 
WHERE OBJECT_ID = OBJECT_ID('ProductDetails'))

Results:
LOB_Data
--Cleanup
Use master
GO
DROP DATABASE AllocationUnitsDemo

How many Allocation Units can a Table have?

It actually depends on the number of partitions and indexes on the table.

To simplify the concept, as shown in the below picture, assume there is one table having no indexes (HEAP) and no partitions. Having no partitions mean, all of the table’s contents are stored in a single partition, meaning every table has at-least 1 partition.

AllocationUnits_Figure1

Based on the above, we can have upto 3 allocation units for a table with no partitions and no indexes. And how about if we have partitions and Indexes? Below is the formula I came up with to get the maximum possible number of allocation units per table.

  • No of Allocation Units = No of Partitions × No of Indexes × 3

AllocationUnits_Count

So, as we see from the figures above, a table can have up to 45 million allocation units in SQL Server 2012!

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In this article I will show you how to restore a database that is encrypted with Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) on to a different server. Let’s use the same database ‘TDE_Test’ that we have created in the previous post HERE

Restoring a database to a different SQL Instance is usually a straightforward task. However, this attempt will return an error as shown below for an encrypted database when restoring into a different instance.

USE [master]
RESTORE DATABASE [TDE_Test_restore] FROM  
DISK = N'C:\Backup\TDE_Test_withtde.bak' 
WITH  FILE = 1,  NOUNLOAD,  REPLACE,  STATS = 5

Output:

Msg 33111, Level 16, State 3, Line 2
Cannot find server certificate with thumbprint..
Msg 3013, Level 16, State 3, Line 2
RESTORE DATABASE is terminating abnormally

To restore successfully, we will need to physically copy the certificate (.cer) and private key (.pvk) to the destination server. As a best practice, we should immediately back up the certificate and the private key when we enable TDE. However, we can still take backup the certificate and private key now in the source server as shown below if not done earlier.

USE master; 
GO 
BACKUP CERTIFICATE TDECert
TO FILE = 'E:\Backup\certificate_TDE_Test_Certificate.cer'
WITH PRIVATE KEY
(FILE = 'E:\Backup\certificate_TDE_Test_Key.pvk',
ENCRYPTION BY PASSWORD = 'Password12#')

Create a Master Key in destination server.

The password provided here is different from the one we used in the source server since we are creating a new master key for this server.

USE master
GO
CREATE MASTER KEY ENCRYPTION BY PASSWORD = 'D1ffPa$$w0rd'

After a master key has been created, create a certificate by importing the certificate we created earlier. Here the ‘Decryption By Password’ parameter is same as that provided to export the certificate to a file.

CREATE CERTIFICATE TDECert2
FROM FILE = 'E:\cert_Backups\ certificate_TDE_Test_Certificate.cer'     
WITH PRIVATE KEY (FILE = 'E:\cert_Backups\certificate_TDE_Test_Key.pvk', 
DECRYPTION BY PASSWORD = 'Password12#')

Restore Database in destination server

We will now be able to restore the encrypted database backup successfully.

USE [master]
RESTORE DATABASE [TDE_Test] FROM  DISK = N'F:\Backup\TDE_Test_withtde.bak' 
WITH  FILE = 1, NOUNLOAD,  REPLACE,  STATS = 5

Listed are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using TDE.

Advantages

  • The performance impact of TDE is minor. Estimated to be around 3-5%
  • Performs real-time I/O encryption and decryption of the data and log files
  • Encrypts the Entire Database in rest
  • No architectural changes needed
  • No application code changes are required and the user experience is the same
  • Easy to implement
  • DBAs can still see the data

Disadvantages

  • No protection for data in memory
  • Not granular – Cannot just encrypt specific tables/columns
  • Not good for high CPU bottleneck servers
  • Not protected through communication/networks

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Being a part of the database engineering team, I was given a task to setup disaster recovery program for some of our SQL Servers hosting critical applications. After a few discussions, I planned to make use of log shipping to sync data between the two data centers like most DR sites work. This requires us to copy the backup files to the Disaster Recovery (DR) site for the initial setup. But in a little while, I realized moving 30 TB of data over network is a Herculean task considering our extra large databases at an approximate 12-15 mbps over network. This might not be a feasible option with 45 days of wait time along with something that chews up all our bandwidth. So we rather decided to ship the hard drives in a truck to the DR site which is just a few hundreds miles away.

Everything was good until one of the IT Directors who overheard this while he was passing by DBAs  was curious and asked if it isn’t a security risk if we lose our disks during the transit?

I jumped in and replied him with a smile, “Not when we encrypt our data with Transparent Data Encryption”

Lets see what Transparent Data Encryption is?

Transparent Data Encryption is a new feature in SQL Server 2008 which allows the encryption of the entire database while providing real time encryption of data files (.mdf) and log files (.ldf). Apart from this, TDE also encrypts any backups taken while the encryption is enabled. Data is encrypted before it is written to disk and data is decrypted when it is read from disk as it is read into the memory. This will help in preventing unauthorized access to the data and backup files.

Demo

I will show you an example of how anyone can read the backup files even without restoring the backup into another database.

I have created a database called TDE_Test that contains address details as shown below.(This database basically contains a few tables imported from the AdventureWorks2012 sample database. For downloading and installing AdventureWorks2012, refer HERE)

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Figure 1: Result set showing Address data

Let’s backup the ‘TDE_Test’ database

BACKUP DATABASE [TDE_Test] 
TO DISK = 'E:\Backup\TDE_Test__Backup.bak' 
WITH INIT, STATS = 5

Open the backup file using Notepad and search for address ‘‘5 4 4   M a g d a   W a y’, as shown in Figure 2 (note the spaces between the letters and three spaces between each word as this is Unicode text)

We can easily see that the data in backup file is readable. This means anyone with the backup file can actually read your data with little skill, even without restoring it. 

2

Figure 2: Backup file opened in Notepad – Un-encrypted format

Implementing Transparent Data Encryption

TDE setup includes the below four basic steps.

  1. Creating a Master Key
  2. Creating a Certificate Protected by the Master Key
  3. Creating a Database Encryption Key
  4. Turning on the TDE

1. Creating a master key 

It is a good practice to backup the database before proceeding with the encryption. So in case we want to reverse the implementation of TDE we have a latest copy of database to bring back.

The master key must be created within the master database

USE MASTER; 
CREATE MASTER KEY ENCRYPTION BY PASSWORD = 'Password12#'
GO

2. Creating a Certificate Protected by the Master Key

The certificate is used to protect the database encryption key that we will create next. In addition, this certificate is protected by the master key created in the previous step.

USE MASTER; 
CREATE CERTIFICATE TDECert WITH SUBJECT = 'TDE Certificate'
GO

3. Creating a Database Encryption Key

Create Database Encryption Key inside the database to be encrypted, and protect it with the certificate. You can choose from one of the following encryption algorithms: AES_128, AES_192, AES_256, or TRIPLE_DES_3KEY. Details on the encryption algorithms is beyond the scope of this article. Check out this Microsoft Technet article for guidance on choosing the encryption algorithm

USE TDE_Test  

GO 
CREATE DATABASE ENCRYPTION KEY WITH 
ALGORITHM = AES_256 ENCRYPTION BY 
SERVER CERTIFICATE TDECert ; 
GO

I have also added an additional script below to backup the private key and certificate to disk drive. Since TDE also encrypts the backup files, it is always required to maintain a backup of private key and certificate along with the database backup to use at the time of restoring.

USE master; 
GO 
BACKUP CERTIFICATE TDECert 
TO FILE = 'E:\Backup\certificate_TDE_Test_Certificate.cer'
WITH PRIVATE KEY
(FILE = 'E:\Backup\certificate_TDE_Test_Key.pvk',
ENCRYPTION BY PASSWORD = 'Password12#')

4. Turning TDE ON

Since encryption is a resource intensive process it is always a best practice to turn on TDE during off-business hours or when the server is least busy.

USE  TDE_Test
ALTER DATABASE  TDE_Test
SET ENCRYPTION ON ; 
GO

We can check the progress of Encryption using the below script from utilizing ‘sys.dm_database_encryption_keys’ DMV. A value of ‘2’ for ‘encryption_state’ indicates that encryption has begun and ‘3’ for completed

SELECT
db.name,
db.is_encrypted,
dm.encryption_state,
dm.percent_complete,
dm.key_algorithm
FROM sys.databases db JOIN sys.dm_database_encryption_keys dm
ON db.database_id = dm.database_id WHERE db.name = 'TDE_TEST'

Let’s take a backup of our encrypted database now and search for address as mentioned earlier.

BACKUP DATABASE [TDE_Test] 
TO DISK = 'E:\Backup\TDE_Test_withtde.bak' 
WITH INIT, STATS= 5

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Figure 3: Backup file opened in Notepad – Encrypted format

Whoopee! Our data is now encrypted and secured 🙂

This way, we can make sure the data is secured as well protected from any unauthorized access.

As a continuation to this topic,  I have explained how to restore a TDE Encrypted database backup HERE

Technical Reviewer(s): Venkata Suresh Raavi; Jaipal Vajrala

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The command prompt utility dtutil can be very handy when we want to quickly export an SSIS package from either file system to msdb or vice-versa.

For a quick demo, I created a package called “ProductPrice” uder the file system C:\packages, as shown in the screenshot below

1

Also, I created another package called “UpdatePrice” in SQL Server, which gets stored in msdb database, below is the screnshot

2

Now, let us see how we can quickly import or export these packages using cmd. For this we will be using the COPY option in the dtutil utility

  • To copy package from file system to msdb

Run the below syntax from cmd:

dtutil /FILE C:\Packages\ProductPrice.dtsx /COPY SQL;ProductPrice

This copies/exports “ProductPrice” package from file system to msdb database as shown in the below screenshot

3

  • To copy a package from msdb to file system

Run the below syntax from cmd:

dtutil /SQL UpdatePrice /COPY FILE;C:\Packages\UpdatePrice.dtsx

This copies/exports “UpdatePrice” package from msdb database to file system. Below is the screenshot

4

I have used “Windows Authentication” in this demo. To use mixed mode authentication or to export packages to a different server, we need to provide proper dtutil options, which can be found running the syntax dtutil /? from cmd utility.

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