Take advantage of policy management today using a free SQL Server Express Edition (Yes, you do not need a paid version of SQL Server for basic PBM features)

Policy based management (PBM) is a major advancement of SQL 2008 over its preceding versions. This feature gives administrators a greater visibility and control on the entire infrastructure. Also you do not need to even have a paid version of SQL 2008 installation to get started with this feature.

I am going to describe the steps to use this feature even if you do not have immediate option to use this feature in a SQL 2008 instance.

First step is to download and install a free copy of SQL 2008 express editions from
http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/express.aspx.  In this edition, you will have the ability to use PDM on ad-hoc basic after creating the policy on any eligible SQL Server.

If you want to use it on multiple servers (this is true if you are using PDM in your daily life), you have to do take below steps:

  1. Create a server group on which you will evaluate the policy using SSMS 2008
  2. Righclick on the group and select evaluate polices
  3. Select the policy you want to evaluate from your SQL 2008 express instance
  4. Click on evaluate and you will be able to get the result.
I use this technique heavily even on old SQL servers (2000 onwards) to periodically evaluate if the established protocols are adhered in all servers. For example, if I want to ensure “Failed Login” is audited for a particular group of servers (this can be a business requirement for a group), I evaluate a policy (which is saved on my express edition instance and checks the audit level of SQL Server) on that particular group of servers. This gives me a clear view of the servers where “Failed Login” is not audited with out manually verifying them or using some third party tool.

Hopefully this note will help you to get started with PBM in SQL 2008. However please be advised that using PBM in an express edition limits your ability using this product in an efficient way. For example, you can not enable/schedule a policy in this edition.