Azure Arc November release - PASS announcements
Published Dec 06 2023 04:31 PM 2,266 Views
Microsoft

Hey folks 

In the November release of Arc data services which also happened to be the same week the PASS and Microsoft Ignite conferences happened, we announced the public preview releases of a bunch of new capabilities for SQL Server enabled by Azure Arc. Yes, that’s the new product name now. 

Here’s all the ones that shipped in the November release: 

  • Automated Backups with custom schedule 
  • Point-in-time restore  
  • Always On Availability Groups Inventory and real time status 
  • Performance Dashboard 
  • Support for Arc enabling SQL Server Failover Cluster Instances (this one shipped in October release, but listing it here as it didn’t get much coverage during the event, and many customers have asked for it) 

 

I’ll go over each one briefly. The documentation at aka.ms/arcdocs have been updated with all the details. 

 

Automated Backups with custom schedule: Automated backups, as a feature, has been available for Arc SQL Servers since April release. However, we only provided a “default” option. Enabling the automated backups would create a schedule that would initiate a weekly full backup, daily differential and 5-min transaction log backups. And we got a lot of feedback from customers that they want to see some flexibility in customizing this schedule. So, in the November release, you now have the option to create a custom schedule for your automated backups as follows: 

  • Full backups – every 1/2/3/4/5/6/7 days 
  • Differential backups – Every 12 or 24 hours 
  • Transaction log backups – incrementals of every 5 mins 

Do note that the schedule is still applied at the instance level, meaning the schedule will apply to ALL the user databases on the SQL Server.  You can enable backups and configure the schedule using either Azure portal or az CLI. More details at Manage automated backups for Azure Arc-enabled SQL Server from Azure portal - SQL Server enabled by ... 

Note about system databases: System databases are backed up on the same schedule as the full backup schedule.  

 

Point-in-time restore: Once the backups are enabled via Azure Arc, you can perform a point-in-time restore from these backups, either using Azure portal or az CLI. The experience is very similar to what we have for Azure SQL products. Today we only support restoring to a new database within the same Arc SQL Server. More details at Restore to a point-in-time - SQL Server enabled by Azure Arc | Microsoft Learn 

 

Always On Availability Groups Inventory and real time status: If you have any Always On Availability Groups configured on your SQL Server, Arc enabling those SQL Servers lets you view all the AGs in Azure portal and a real-time status of each of those AGs. The status view is very similar to the AG dashboard in SSMS for consistency. The AG list is updated every hour during the hourly uploads of usage payload. The AG status however is fetched on demand, when you browse to this page for the first time, or when you click on the Refresh button. More details at Always On availability groups inventory and status - SQL Server enabled by Azure Arc | Microsoft Lea... 

 

Performance Dashboards: Now you can see your perf metrics for your Arc enabled SQL Server, in Azure almost near real time. You dont need to do anything to enable/disable this. The Arc SQL extension automatically collects the DMV data sets and sends to Azure, and you can browse to your Arc SQL Server and click on the "Performance Dashboard" tab, and view these metrics. There's dozens of the most popular metrics already being exported by default. You can customize this view however you want. Go check it out. Its pretty cool.

 

 

Support for Arc enabling SQL Server Failover Cluster Instances: This has been a long standing ask from customers. It did take us a while to get this out as the implementation was a bit tricky due to how the FCI behaves. You have a single instance of a SQL Server that can fail between a bunch of Windows Failover Cluster nodes designated as possible owners. Now each of these nodes has an Arc SQL extension service running that needs to have the intelligence to (1) detect that the SQL instance its connecting to is an FCI, and then (2) determine whether the FCI is active on this node or a different one and (3) connect (using the network name connection) and do its thing. More details at View Always On failover cluster instances - SQL Server enabled by Azure Arc | Microsoft Learn 

 

All these features are in public preview at this time and will become Generally Available in the next few months. In the meantime, please test them out and share feedback using the feedback button in the portal.  

 

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‎Dec 06 2023 04:37 PM
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