SQL Server 2019 Administrator’s Guide, 2nd Ed
Article Index
SQL Server 2019 Administrator’s Guide, 2nd Ed
Chapters 5-9
Chapters 9-12; Conclusion

Author: Marek Chmel & Vladimir Muzny
Publisher: Packt Publishing
Pages: 522
ISBN: 978-1789954326
Print: 1789954320
Kindle: B08D9CDC9L
Audience: DBAs and curious Devs
Rating: 2.5

Reviewer: Ian Stirk

This book aims to give you the skills to set up, administer, and maintain SQL Server 2019 databases - how does it fare?

SQL Server 2019 is the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship database. With each version, complexity increases as new features are added and existing features extended – explaining this complexity can be a difficult task.

This book aims to cover a broad range of SQL Server topics, including: set up, administration, maintenance, configuration, security, optimization, upgrading, Disaster Recovery (DR), High Availability (HA), and best practices.

The book is primarily aimed at database administrators, but should also be accessible to curious SQL developers. The book assumes some experience of previous versions of SQL Server, it also optimistically suggests the book might be useful for those new to database administration.

Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.


Chapter 1 Setting up SQL Server 2019    

This chapter opens with an overview of the major components in SQL Server 2019, outlining their main purpose. The features examined include: 

  • Database Engine

  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)

  • SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS)

  • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)

  • Machine Learning Services (i.e. R, Python, and Java)

  • SQL Server Agent (A scheduling tool) 

Next, some of the more common pre-installation tasks are discussed, including memory needs, disk space, and software. The rest of the chapter is taken up with the installation process, on both Windows and Linux, discussing attended and unattended installation. Various setup screens are discussed, and important features highlighted. The chapter ends with a brief look at installing on containers – which can take advantage of existing environment setup.

I found the chapter quirky, the authors have a habit of selecting certain areas only for comment – I expected a more consistent and leveled approach. Additionally, at times the content reads like overhearing a conversation between SQL Server experts, the language used can be loose e.g. “As mentioned previously, it's obvious that SSAS has to be installed on its own computer. The only disadvantage is that separate installations of SQL Server services lead to separate licensing.” – Well no, there are many other disadvantages to having a separate installation, including hardware cost, maintenance, complexity, etc. What the authors say is largely correct, but the loose language should have been more qualified. Perhaps I’m being picky…

To get the most out of the book you need to be an admin already, else you won’t understand the selective content, incidental comments, and the sudden appearance of various tips, pitfalls etc. This is not a book for beginners.

The chapter is generally well written, with helpful diagrams and useful links. Unfortunately, a few of the subsequent chapters are marred by the poor use of English.

Chapter 2 Keeping Your SQL Server Environment Healthy    

This brief chapter highlights the importance of keeping your SQL Server software up to date. The differences between Service Packs, Cumulative Updates, and Security Updates are highlighted.

The chapter discusses some common configuration settings that affect your server’s health (e.g. Power Plan setting). The chapter ends with a discussion on the importance of taking a performance baseline, and suggests some tools/settings for monitoring (e.g. Performance Monitor). The use of Performance Monitor is given in greater detail in Chapter 6, but no cross reference is provided here.

I found this chapter a good read, but again selective in content (there is so much more to ensuring you have a healthy environment).

Chapter 3 Implementing Backup and Recovery 

Backup and recovery are the most important tasks for any DBA. This chapter opens with an overview of the system databases (e.g. msdb). This is followed with a discussion on how data is stored, covering filegroups, data files, and the transaction log. The new Accelerated Database Recovery (ADR) feature is outlined (it can rollback transactions very quickly!)

The chapter discusses the recovery model before looking at the backup process, covering backup types, differential backups, and the transaction log. The section ends with a review of some advanced backup features (e.g. filegroup backup).

The chapter continues with a look at the restore process, covering backup strategies, full and transaction log backups, point in time recovery, and restoring system databases.

I found this chapter the most worrying in the whole book. Much of the content intent is good, but some of the English usage is poor, and some of the examples provided are tortuous – both these factors lead to muddled explanations (e.g. COPY_ONLY option). Additionally, some of the explanations are incorrect (e.g. the two phase commit). Sometimes assertions are made without giving a satisfactory explanation.

Some of the English used is ‘awkward’ e.g. “A relational database is defined as a complex data type”, “The master database is the basis for correctly running the SQL Server service.”, “The database model” – should read “The model database”, “The resourcedb database” should read “the resource database”, and “It could lead to disk insufficiency as well,…” – is just bad English usage (unfortunately there are many more examples) .

This chapter needs to be edited by a someone with a good command of the English Language, and able to understand the technical details. That said, this chapter is an improvement on the same chapter in the first edition of this book!

In many ways, this is the most important chapter in the book, and is singularly the worst written chapter, muddled, incorrect, with poor English usage. This chapter could also be viewed as dangerous…

Chapter 4 Securing Your SQL Server 

The increasing reporting of security breaches and its impact on company reputation and profitability shows the importance of security.  This chapter opens with a review of the various SQL Server service accounts, discussing how and where they can be used.

Next, the chapter moves on to the various means that SQL Server uses for Authentication, Authorization, and auditing. Following on there’s a brief look at how SQL Server uses encryption, covering Transparent Data Encryption and the newer Always Encrypted functionality. There’s a helpful section on Data Discovery and Classification - important for your sensitive data. The chapter ends with a useful look at the in-built Vulnerability Assessment report – helpful for highlighting potential security concerns.

This chapter provides a useful overview of securing your SQL Server, generally explained well. It may have been helpful to include some best practices.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 24 November 2020 )