SQLCLR and system functionality in SQL Server 2008 – part 1

I was listening to a replay of the webcast recording on the HierarchyID by Michael Wang (thanks, Michael) and as he mentioned the considerations for the CLR-based type with respect to DDL, I thought it would be interesting to go back and see how this type showed up in the various facilities that we have for monitoring what SQLCLR is doing. These facilities are:

1. Ability to see assemblies registed in each database
2. Watch code-running appdomains (but not transient DDL-only appdomains) being created/torn down in SQL log
3. SQL Profiler event for Assembly.Load
4. Monitor memory and CLR-related processes using DMVs and perfmon

Before reporting the results obtained with SQL Server 2008 CTP4, we need a few clarifications. First, the way SQLCLR manages appdomains is an implementation detail and subject to change in future releases, service packs, or can even change before SQL Server 2008 ships. I'm just observing. Second, let's talk about what exactly the "sp_configure 'clr enabled', 0" does. You can also set this option using SQL Server Service Area Configuration utility. This option indicates whether or not its possible to run *user-written SQLCLR code*, that is, SQLCLR stored procedures, UDFs, trigger, UDTs, and UDAggs written by programmers.

The switch *does not*:

1. Keep SQLCLR from loading in SQL Server's process. This always loads the first time that you need it.
2. Prevent DBAs from using SQLCLR-related DDL, such as CREATE/ALTER/DROP ASSEMBLY, and define SQLCLR objects.
3. Prevent system functions that use SQLCLR from running. In SQL Server 2005, there were no SQLCLR system functions that I was aware of.

In SQL Server 2008, system functions that use SQLCLR that immediately come to mind include:
   a. The HierarchyID and upcoming spatial data types, Geometry and Geography
   b. Change Data Capture and the Dynamic Management Framework

So, its not that using system functions written in SQLCLR is "a trick" that bypasses an established control mechanism. The reality is that the mechanism was never defined to prevent SQLCLR loading, DDL, or system functions.

One things that will prevent SQLCLR from running is to enable lightweight pooling, or "fiber mode scheduling". This is also a configuration option, and its incompatible with SQLCLR. The CLR is not "fiber aware", although it may be implemented sometime in the future. A few other SQL Server system features are incompatible with fiber mode as well.

Other articles

Imagine feeling confident enough to handle whatever your database throws at you.

With training and consulting from SQLskills, you’ll be able to solve big problems, elevate your team’s capacity, and take control of your data career.