Ugly Bug: SQL Server Online Index Rebuild sometimes happens offline without warning

I found a nasty bug in SQL Server and Azure SQL Managed Instance recently: sometimes an “online” index rebuild of a disk-based rowstore clustered index (basically a normal, everyday table) isn’t actually “online”. In fact, it’s very OFFLINE, and it blocks both read and write queries against the table for long periods.

If you manage to make it through a rebuild successfully, the problem goes away for future rebuilds of that clustered index – likely leaving you bruised and bewildered.

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Is the Azure SQL Managed Instance Business Critical Service Tier Worth the Cost?

The Business Critical service tier in Azure SQL Managed Instance is a lot more expensive than General Purpose. For the extra money, you get a different architecture.

Is it worth the extra cost? Spoiler: your mileage will vary, but probably not. Let’s talk about why.

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Azure SQL Managed Instance General Purpose Architecture and Performance/Cost Tradeoffs

Whether or not you use Azure SQL Managed Instance, you will likely be asked for an opinion on it eventually if you’re a SQL Server person.

While the architecture is documented, it can be a bit of a long read and some of the gotchas are spread out over different pages – so I’m drawing up the architecture of each service tier along with notable implications for the design on performance and cost. Here’s the scoop on General Purpose.

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Automatic Plan Correction Could be a Great Auto Tuning Feature for SQL Server- Here is What it Needs

I’ve written a bit about SQL Server’s Automatic Plan Correction feature before– I have an hour long free course with demos on Automatic Plan Correction here on the site.

Today I’m updating that course with a note: after using Automatic Plan Correction in anger for a good amount of time, I do not recommend enabling the feature. I’ve had it cause too many performance problems, and there are not a ton of options for an administrator when it’s causing those problems.

Meanwhile, becoming reliant on the feature for the places where it does help makes it difficult to disable the feature. You end up stuck with a very weird set of problems that are oddly similar to the problems the feature was designed to solve.

Further investment in the feature could solve these problems and make this a great tool for customers. Here’s a run down of what Automatic Plan Correction needs from a user who has suffered from it.

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Power BI Performance Tuning with Eugene Meidinger

Eugene Meidinger stops by the Dear SQL DBA Podcast to chat about Power BI Performance Tuning.

We talk about the various engines and languages used in Power BI and big-picture strategies for getting performance from the start. Eugene then talks about the community of tools and techniques that can be used to dig in and solve performance problems in Power BI.

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Microsoft is Breaking Database Compatibility Levels for SQL Server

According to Microsoft’s documentation, “Database compatibility level … allow[s] the SQL Server Database Engine to be upgraded while keeping the same functional status for connecting applications by maintaining the same pre-upgrade database compatibility level.”

But these days, the “functional status” of a database at a given compatibility level differs depending on whether you’re using SQL Server, Azure SQL Managed Instance, or Azure SQL Database – and in the hosted versions it may change anytime without notice. Surprise, your database behaves differently now!

The whole concept is breaking down, and this is bad news for users of both managed services and the boxed product.

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Getting around Error 40510 to configure Resource Governor in Azure SQL Managed Instance

One feature I’ve not appreciated enough in the past in SQL Server is Resource Governor.

Resource Governor allows you to fix problems with Memory Grants in a simple way, as Erik Darling recommends. It also lets you classify sessions into groups and limit the maximum number of simultaneous requests, and /or limit the degree of parallelism if you need more CPU for other workloads. While this will slow down the queries you classify into that group, this can be super useful, especially if you’re already using something like Snapshot isolation to prevent blocking or you are using a read-only replica.

In Azure SQL Managed Instance, you get to use Resource Governor, even in the General Purpose tier. This is awesome.

Just make sure you execute commands in the context of the master database, or you’ll get error 40510: Statement 'ALTER RESOURCE GOVERNOR' is not supported in this version of SQL Server.

It is supported! Just USE master; before running your commands.

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How Many Features are Missing from Azure SQL Managed Instance?

Spoiler: a large amount of features from SQL Server 2022 are missing from Azure SQL Managed Instance. Some major features are missing that were introduced in SQL Server 2019– and here we are just a few weeks away from 2024.

But Microsoft’s top-line marketing claims about Azure SQL Managed Instance remain that “it’s always up to date with the latest SQL features and functionality.”

Let’s dig into some of the documented highlights on missing features, so you can decide for yourself what to think of that statement.

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Lost Updates under Read Committed Snapshot Isolation (RCSI)

I shared an image on social media this week that describes how I feel about isolation levels in SQL Server (and its various flavors): the more concurrent sessions you have in a database reading and writing data at the same time, the more attractive it is to use version-based optimistic locking for scalability reasons.

There are two isolation levels in SQL Server that use optimistic locking for disk-based tables:

  1. Read Committed Snapshot Isolation (RCSI), which changes the implementation of the default Read Committed Isolation level and enables statement-based consistency.
  2. Snapshot Isolation, which provides high consistency for transactions (which often contain multiple statements). Snapshot Isolation also provides support for identifying update conflicts.

Many folks get pretty nervous about RCSI when they learn that certain timing effects can happen with data modifications that don’t happen under Read Committed. The irony is that RCSI does solve many OTHER timing risks in Read Committed, and overall is more consistent, so sticking with the pessimistic implementation of Read Committed is not a great solution, either.

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Automated Deployments and the Art of the Database with Database Michael J Swart

In this episode, Michael J Swart joins the Dear SQL DBA podcast to talk about databases, automation, and how he’s come to illustrate some of the coolest blog posts ever to be written about data.

Check out Michael’s art and blog posts at, and explore his posts by illustration at

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