SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines is powered by the SQL IaaS Agent extension which provides many features that make managing your SQL Server easy. This blog will discuss new features and changes we’ve recently released in this extension.
Retiring Modes: SQL IaaS Agent extension traditionally used to have two modes, Lightweight and Full mode. In the Lightweight mode, customers were able to do license management, whereas the Full mode offers all the other manageability features. This differentiation of modes made it tough for customers to adopt the manageability features that the SQL IaaS agent extension offers. To address this, starting today there will be no management modes for SQL IaaS agent extension.
Going forward, customers register with the SQL IaaS Agent extension and enable the required features they would like for their SQL Server on Azure virtual machines. Based on the features selected, the SQL IaaS agent extension would assume only the permissions required on the SQL Server to enable those features.
If no features are enabled, there will be no Windows services installed. Upon enabling a specific feature, the extension will create Windows services to perform the tasks required by the feature. Licensing mode changes do not require any Windows services and can be managed from the SQL VM (virtual machines) portal immediately after the SQL IaaS Agent extension is enabled.
Announcing General Availability of AAD authentication for SQL Server on Azure VMs:
AAD authentication is one of the most important features that is introduced in SQL Server 2022. Enabling this feature is easy when you run your workload on Azure VMs.
Customers simply need to follow 3 steps to get this enabled.
Choose the managed identity they would like to use to enable AAD authentication. Both system and user-managed identities are supported.
Make sure the selected managed identity has the necessary permissions in AAD. Please follow the instructions mentioned here to give the required permission.
Click on Apply to enable AAD authentication.
With GA, Azure also will check whether required permissions were assigned to the managed identity selected before going ahead and starting the deployment, hence customers do not have to wait for the deployment to complete to validate whether the specified managed identity has the correct permissions.
Auto upgrade of the SQL IaaS Agent extension: SQL IaaS agent extension adds new features and improvements over time and customers currently get these features through lazy upgrades. A lazy upgrade occurs whenever a customer interacts with SQL VM portal or through CLI. Customers often want to keep extensions in all their VMs on the same version. This new auto upgrade option will keep all the SQL VMs on the same version of extension by upgrading extension to the latest version every month.
This is now a default feature for all the new VMs being deployed in Azure. VMs that are already deployed can take advantage of this by going to the SQL VM portal and going to SQL IaaS Agent Extension Settings page.