Using and Managing SQL Server Aliases

I know that not many people I have met in my SQL Server experience have used SQL Aliases.  In many ways it is one of the most useful features of SQL Server.   Roman Rehak wrote a great article about SQL Server Aliases.  You have to be registered to see the full article, but some of the highlights are discussed below.

Creating an alias all depends on which client tools are installed on the computer you are using.  Here are the common methods for running the SQL Client Configuration Tool:

  • If SQL Server 2000 client tools are installed, use the SQL Client Network Utility and select the Alias tab.
  • If SQL Server 2005 client tools are installed, use the SQL Server Configuration Manager and expand the SQL Native Client Configuration node to find the node for Aliases.
  • If you do not have any client tools installed, you can still get at the Client Network Utility by executing “cliconfg” from any command prompt.

Aliases are useful in the following scenarios:

  • Create an alias that is a friendlier name than the server name itself.
  • In a Development/QA/Production environment.  Using aliases allow you to keep the code base across your servers the same without having to change source code (sort of related to the last bullet).
  • Enforce the use of a particular protocol.  If you get the “Cannot generate SSPI context” error you can try creating an alias to force the use of the Named Pipes.
  • A distributed environment with multiple servers that reference each other using the Linked Servers feature.  You can define the linked servers with the aliases instead of the actual names.  This makes future moving of databases and such much easier since you will not need to chnage the linked server names in your code.
  • In a high-availability environment to allow you to quickly change the server without changing all your code (such as web applications and such).

I’m sure there are other useful reasons to use aliases, but that covers a few of them that show the power of the alias function.

If you have any other good ideas, please comment on the post.