Does using a NULL value save you space?

When saving data you may have wondered if converting a null value to another character i.e. a space, impacts disk space usage in your database.

Why would you convert a null to a space or dash? Well some people/organizations, rightly or wrongly, prefer this for reporting purposes or some other business requirement.

OK, lets review 3 common storage types, int, char and varchar:

INT


As we can see, there is no storage difference when storing a null and a single int value.

CHAR


Again, there is no storage difference when storing a null and a single int value.

VARCHAR

Finally we get a difference of 3 bytes when using a null rather than another character when using varchar.

Conclusion, not all data types allow for space savings when using nulls.

SSMS Drag/Drop Format Options

With the newly released SSMS v17.6 there has been a new Drag/Drop section added to Tools -> Options menu item as shown below:
 

 
When both are set to True you’ll get the existing functionality
 

 
When both are set to False you will now get:
 

 
Notice that the Database Version column will still have brackets as it has a space in the name even though Surround object names with brackets when dragged is set to False.

Identify columns available for extended events

The following query helps identify the columns associated with extended events and the format of the column i.e. int32.

SELECT 
 b.[name] AS package
,a.[object_name] AS [event]
,a.column_id
,a.[name] AS [column]
,a.column_type
,a.[type_name] AS column_storage
,a.column_value
,a.[description] AS column_desc
,b.[description] AS package_desc
FROM sys.dm_xe_object_columns a, sys.dm_xe_packages b
WHERE 1=1
AND a.object_package_guid = b.[guid]
AND a.column_type <> 'readonly'
ORDER by b.[name], a.[object_name],a.column_id;


As the data is typically extracted and used on SQL Server, I would have thought it would be more meaningful for Microsoft to actually use the SQL Server types i.e. bigint, nvarchar(MAX), instead we are supplied with a you guess field and it just adds another unnecessary frustration for the DBA / developer.

How secure is Azure SQL Database?

As part of a revamp of AKAWN Monitoring to include Azure SQL Database and Linux support the usual look at available monitoring options is being under taken.
 
Azure SQL Database is one of the trickier to monitor as it is pretty locked down and xml parsing for session events info can be hellish (one of the reasons the current AKAWN Monitoring is moving away from use of xml storage).
 
As locked down as it is, there are still ways to look into the inner workings. Just one example of the security things I’ve discovered is:

SET NOCOUNT ON;

IF OBJECT_ID('tempdb..#temp') IS NOT NULL
BEGIN
DROP TABLE #temp;
END

CREATE TABLE #temp (EventType nvarchar(30), [Parameters] smallint, EventInfo nvarchar(4000));

WHILE (1=1)
BEGIN

DECLARE @sqlcmd nvarchar(MAX);
DECLARE @session_id varchar(3);
DECLARE item_cursor CURSOR LOCAL FAST_FORWARD FOR
SELECT session_id from [sys].[dm_exec_sessions];
OPEN item_cursor
FETCH NEXT FROM item_cursor INTO @session_id
WHILE @@FETCH_STATUS = 0 
BEGIN
 SET @sqlcmd = 'INSERT INTO #temp (EventType,[Parameters],EventInfo)
				EXEC (''DBCC INPUTBUFFER (' + @session_id + ') WITH NO_INFOMSGS'')' ;
 EXEC (@sqlcmd )
 FETCH NEXT FROM item_cursor INTO @session_id
END
CLOSE item_cursor;  
DEALLOCATE item_cursor;

SELECT DISTINCT * FROM #temp WHERE EventInfo IS NOT NULL;

WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:05';

END

IF OBJECT_ID('tempdb..#temp') IS NOT NULL
BEGIN
DROP TABLE #temp;
END

The above method will show buffer activity for all sessions, which is a big no no and something Microsoft will likely need to look into locking down.
 
What does it show? Well basically everything i.e. it shows the checks performed, shows when and where backups are going along with the syntax used:
 
(@DbName nvarchar(36),@BackupStats int,@BufferCount int,@TransferSize int)BACKUP LOG @DbName TO URL = N'https://xxxx.blob.core.windows.net/server-akawnxxxx/backup/xxxx/Log/2017-11-26T12-02-06/2017-11-30T23-13-25_2017-11-26T12-02-06.log' WITH COMPRESSION, INIT, FORMAT, CHECKSUM, STATS = @BackupStats, BUFFERCOUNT = @BufferCount, MAXTRANSFERSIZE = @TransferSize
 
If you collected info for long periods, who knows what could be revealed.

 
The above was collected from a standard azure database and not master, although you could just as well use it.
 
I haven’t seen anyone else mention this, so you’re reading about this first here.

What’s the local time?

SQL Server has a handy view called sys.time_zone_info, but as shown below it’s lacking the local time.

SELECT * FROM sys.time_zone_info;


 
The following is one way to workout the local time:

SELECT *,
DATEADD(MINUTE,
CAST(
SUBSTRING ( current_utc_offset ,1 , 1 )  
+ CAST(
(CAST(SUBSTRING(current_utc_offset ,2 , 2 ) AS int) * 60) 
+ CAST(SUBSTRING(current_utc_offset,5,2) AS int) 
AS varchar(3))
AS int)
,GETUTCDATE()) AS local_time
FROM sys.time_zone_info;


Or just a specific zone:

SELECT *,
DATEADD(MINUTE,
CAST(
SUBSTRING ( current_utc_offset ,1 , 1 )  
+ CAST(
(CAST(SUBSTRING(current_utc_offset ,2 , 2 ) AS int) * 60) 
+ CAST(SUBSTRING(current_utc_offset,5,2) AS int) 
AS varchar(3))
AS int)
,GETUTCDATE()) AS local_time
FROM sys.time_zone_info
WHERE [name] = 'New Zealand Standard Time';


Hopefully at some stage Microsoft will look to include the local info by default so this kind of work around is not required, especially as Azure is heavily invested in UTC.

Choosing a SQL Server edition during setup on Linux

You may be wondering how you specify the edition of SQL Server when installing on Linux.
 
As shown below; when you get to the step sudo /opt/mssql/bin/mssql-conf setup the following edition options are presented to you.
 

Here option 2 (Developer) was selected and this presented a further set of 3 questions before the setup successfully completes:

      1) Accept the license terms
      2) Choose the language
      3) Confirm the sa password