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Database Security Roles in msdb

All databases have a standard set of “fixed” database security roles which have been available since SQL Server 2000 and hopefully, even if you are new to SQL Server, you are familiar with this set:

  • db_accessadmin
  • db_backupoperator
  • db_datareader
  • db_datawriter
  • db_ddladmin
  • db_denydatareader
  • db_denydatawriter
  • db_owner
  • db_securityadmin

Back in the day, the msdb database was primarily used for managing backups, SQLAgent jobs, and DTS packages. And, other than the TargetServersRole role for multi-server job management via a master server and target servers, there were no other database roles defined for helping establish a separation of duties security model for tasks controlled via msdb

In SQL Server 2005 some long awaited new roles were added to msdb (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms188283(SQL.90).aspx) which help with segregating permissions for managing SQLAgent Jobs, DTS\SSIS, Database Mirroring, and Database Mail (the replacement for SQL Mail):

  • DatabaseMailUserRole
  • db_dtsadmin – renamed in later versions as db_ssisadmin
  • db_dtsltduser -renamed in later versions as db_ssisltduser
  • db_dtsoperator – renamed in later versions as db_ssisoperator
  • dbm_monitor – does not appear until database mirroring is implemented
  • SQLAgentUserRole
  • SQLAgentReaderRole
  • SQLAgentOperatorRole

Then, in SQL Server 2008 even more roles appeared as msdb took on increased importance in the management of new features such as the CMS (Central Management Server), PBM (Policy Based Management), Data Collection, and MDW (Management Data Warehouse).

Thus, the following new roles may be found in SQL Server 2008+:

In SQL 2008 R2 one more set of roles was added for the Server Utility (UCP) feature:

  • UtilityCMRReader
  • UtilityIMRReader
  • UtilityIMRWriter

The above UCP roles are primarily assigned via the Server Utility configuration wizard and Utility Explorer Security tab. The “Utility Reader role” referenced in the Security tab is equivalent to the UtilityCMRReader role. As you may notice, certain service and administrator accounts are automatically in this role and cannot be changed (grayed out).

And, now in SQL Server 2012, believe it or not, there are no new roles in msdb!  So, if you haven’t kept up with all the changes in msdb in the past few versions, this is your chance to catch up and make sure that you are fully utilizing these features and roles as needed in your environment. For a recap of all the features which utilize msdb, you can also refer to an earlier post I wrote – “What’s in Your msdb?”.


What’s in Your msdb?

So, what’s in your wallet msdb?

If you’ve been working with Microsoft SQL Server anytime at all you can name the system databases fairly quickly – master, model, msdb, and tempdb. Almost rolls off your tongue as smoothly as Tenaha, Timpson, Bobo, and Blair (if you don’t know that reference, click here for some interesting Texas folklore). I’ve been working with SQL Server since 4.21 and the system db names have not changed from release to release. But, what did change drastically over all those releases are the contents – especially for msdb. Have you taken a look lately? I did and here is what I found.

Lots of new tables, lots of new views, and lots of new roles – well, just lots of new objects period! I always investigate what’s changed in master with every release, but it seems I’ve been delinquent in thoroughly examining msdb changes. It appears every new feature being added to the SQL Server database engine is being “managed” from the msdb database.

The objects supporting SQLAgent have always been in msdb – jobs, operators, alerts; along with the objects supporting database backup and recovery sets. Then DTS came along which later morphed into SSIS – guess where those objects are stored?  Maintenance plans, log shipping, and database mirroring also join the party in msdb. And, oh yeah – SQLMail which became DatabaseMail…

Now with SQL 2008 and R2, you can add to the list – CMS (Central Management Server), Data Collector, PBM (Policy Based Management), DAC (Data Tier Applications), UCP (Utility Control Point)… but “Wait!” you say. “Don’t the Data Collector and UCP have their own databases?”  Well, yes, they do – typically MDW and UMDW respectively. But, those databases only hold the collection results – the management and configuration of those features is all contained in msdb.

Here’s what the SQL Server 2008 R2 BOL says about msdb:

The msdb database is used by SQL Server Agent for scheduling alerts and jobs and by other features such as Service Broker and Database Mail.

After seeing this, I had to laugh, I totally missed Service Broker in my list, but then I’ve never implemented it. On the other hand, look at all the features using msdb that BOL just lumped into “other features”!  Bottom line – the BOL description really sells msdb short on its importance to so many features.  AND, the default recovery mode for msdb is Simple. Before SQL 2008 I would have said that a daily full backup was typically sufficient. You didn’t usually make too many changes to jobs such that you couldn’t easily recreate a day’s work if you lost it restoring to the prior day. And, best practice said to take a backup after making modifications which impacted it anyway… but now, with so many features tied to msdb – do you really know when you are making changes to msdb? Considering all that is now dependent upon msdb – is your backup and restore strategy for msdb adequate?

However, before I go examine my msdb recovery strategy, I’m thinking of opening a Connect suggestion – rename msdb to KitchenSinkDB. Do you think I could get some votes for that? 😉