Sheep jokes aside, we’re excited to announce the launch of our SQL Clone beta, which will be released on 28 November. We’ve spent the best part of 2016 gathering requirements, getting a technical preview into the wild, and listening to feedback from the 1,500 people who signed up to the early access program.
We’re now ready to jump further into the world of database provisioning with the launch of the beta which is a complete rewrite of our technical preview and our first step towards getting a V1.0 release to market by the end of the year.
We’re looking forward to launching at PASS Summit this October with a host of activities to support the launch including a speaker session on Faster Provisioning with SQL Clone with Grant Fritchey and Richard Macaskill, in room 401 on Thursday 27th at 3:15pm. We’ll also be holding a Redgate Rocks Party to celebrate on the Thursday evening. If you’re attending PASS this year, come and see us at the Redgate stand, and we’ll show you a demo of the beta – and give you a wristband for the party.
What is SQL Clone?
DBAs are all too familiar with the drain database provisioning can be on time and disk space. Developers want up-to-date, local environments to develop and test on, auditors want to make sure data is handled appropriately and doesn’t leave production, and DBAs want time to get on with more important tasks. That’s exactly why we’re building SQL Clone, which allows DBAs to create database copies almost instantly while using a tiny amount of disk space (approximately 40MB per database clone).
First, you create a data image of a live SQL Server database or a SQL Server backup. The data image is a full copy of the database at a point in time and contains the source data from which the clones will be derived. Then you can start creating clones from the data image. The provisioning time is just the seconds it takes to set up a local differencing file and mount the database.
The clones work just like normal SQL Server databases and can be connected to and edited with any program. Any edits made are specific to each clone and are persisted to the local differencing file, while the rest of the data is accessed using the shared data image. If you want to share or store your local changes, you can make a new image from a clone, which only requires storing your changes, not the whole database. You can read more about what SQL Clone is and why we’re building it in my previous blog post.
So what’s in the beta?
This launch represents early days for the beta as we continue to introduce innovative features in preparation for the V1.0 release. The current beta offers the following:
New User Interface
After a host of UX calls and design tweaks, this beta release takes on a completely new UI skin (based on our Data Platform Studio product design). The workflow is a step-by-step process, walking users through the creation of data images and clones, prompting users when clone agents need installing, and ensuring they select the correct source and destination for images and clone. This has been an important piece of work to ensure users find it intuitive and easy to get started.
Central Management System (The SQL Clone Server)
Feedback from the technical preview highlighted the need for a central management system, whereby users could control access and permissions setting such as who can create, clone, and delete images. We’ve created an on-premises platform which hosts a web app for SQL Clone’s main functions, and will be working through the access and permission settings in the lead-up to V1.0.
Because of the technology used by SQL Clone, an agent is required on the same machine as any SQL Servers used as sources for images, or destinations for clones. The agent installer is downloaded from the SQL Clone Server, and contains all the information required to establish a secure, trusted connection to the SQL Clone Server. All you need to do is choose which user account the service will run as, which is particularly useful if you want to use Windows Authentication when it connects to your databases.
To stay up to date with new features you can view the full roadmap for V1.0. We’ll be adding functionality incrementally to this beta and hope to include the following:
- Ability to delete clones
- View clone dependencies
- PowerShell cmdlets for automating the creation of data images and clones
- Remote agent updating
- View of the status of an operation in progress
- More fine-grained user permissions using Windows Authentication
- Audit view of past operations
We’d love to get you involved in the beta and would really value your feedback to help us improve SQL Clone further. So join the SQL Clone beta and keep us updated on how you are getting on, or if you have any questions, email the team.
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