In the new Pro SQL Server 2012 Practices chapter 9 is all about SQL Server compliance and auditing. Written by a friend of mine Jonathan Gardner (B|T) who is based out of New Orleans, LA. So if you don’t hold that against him I think you can find some great information about working with SQL Server Auditing features. This chapter in particular sits well with me because I don’t know if DBA’s understand how helpful a good Audit can be. When I first heard the feature name, the first thing that came to my mind was a feature that would assist administrators who are working within one of the current audit guidelines. Audits like Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), HIPAA or PCI DSS. Now, granted it can do that. But it can do so much more as well. I have even tied in an Audit to my dbUtilties database, but that is more for another time.
The second thing that came to mind is the all too often heard question that I get when I am talking about features with SQL Server, and that is “Is this only available in Enterprise Edition?” Jonathan has been careful to include not only how to set up and configure your Audit, but letting us know about the changes with 2012. So if you think that you need a copy of Enterprise Edition to make the relevant to you and the organization you work with, I think you are in for a surprise.
The chapter starts with a review on what some of the common audits are and how they impact you as an administrator, then walks though some of the configurations options that you will want to know about. He then walks you through setting up and audit. The chapter then comes full circle by ending with some tips on auditing I had not considered before. There is even a section that shows audit group areas that it a must have if you are working with the HIPAA audit.
The more I consider the audit features with SQL Server I am not sure I can think of a reason that someone might not want to use it. I see the benefits in many areas including trouble shooting. Jonathan does a great job of presenting the information and the chapter is a great addition to the book.