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Deploying SQL CLR assembly using Asymmetric key

In my opinion, One of the most complex part in deploying SQL CLR stored procedure is when you need to enable it for “External_Access” or “Unsafe”. The third option is “Safe” , this is pretty straight forward and I am not going to cover that in this blog.

External_Access privilege allows the assembly to access external resource like files, registry, environment variables etc. Where as Unsafe privilege allows the assembly to perform operations that are considered type-unsafe by the CLR verifier. Only members of the sysadmin fixed server role can create UNSAFE assemblies

So once you have decided that your assembly needs to be enabled for “External_Access” or “Unsafe”, you have two options. Either set Trustworthy Property of a database to ON or to sign your assembly with a certificate or Asymmetric key . The easiest way is to set the Trustworthy Property of a database to ON, but it’s not good from security prospective. The TRUSTWORTHY database property is used to indicate whether the instance of SQL Server trusts the database and the contents within it. But once you set it to ON , it might open up doors for malicious program. So the best way is to sign your assembly with a certificate or asymmetric key.

In this blog I am going to talk mainly about signing assembly with asymmetric key. But the process is same for signing with certificate except a few syntax where you need to refer to the certificate instead of the Asymmetric key.

Another situation when you can use asymmetric key is when you want to give permission to the assembly for a perticular resource, and you don’t want the user who calls the assembly to have access to it. Generally when a user calls a stored procedure or asembly, it runs in the context of that user, if it needs to access an external resource, it uses the user’s credential to acces it. As long as the user is logged into SQL server with windows authentication. Otherwise the SQL service account is used.

So here are the steps to Deploy your assembly into SQL server with External_Access privilege enabled. I am assuming that you already have the assembly created and the Trustworthy property of the database is set to OFF.

1) Generate a key for the Asembly dll from visual studio. You can go to Project>project properties> “Signing” tab and create the key. In my case I created the key with the same name as the dll and copied it to the same path where the dll exists (to keep it simple), otherwise you have to write a few lines of extra SQL Script to point to the key.


2) Create an asymmetric key. You can run the following script from SQL management studio to create it.

USE [Master]





-- You can change the path of the dll as per your need

This will create a asymmetric key with the name CLR_SP_Key.

3) Create a SQL server login with the above asymmetric key.

USE [Master]




You cannot use a existing login here. You need to create a new login and associate it with the key. In the 2nd step, we coupled our assembly with the asymmetric key and in this step we coupled the asymmetric key with a Login. So now when ever we execute this assembly, it will run under the context of this login and not under the login of the user who is calling it.

4) Grant External_Access privilege to the login we just created.

USE [Master]




Till this point we were doing all operations on the master database, now we will start using the database where we want to deploy the assembly.

5) Add a database user in the SQLCLR_DB Database for the Login





6) Now we need to deploy the assembly and grant it the External_Access privilege.






This step is equivalent to deploying the assembly from visual studio. Sometime when you do it from the Visual studio, it fails and when you run the above command you might get an error which says cannot find the file probably because the SQL service account doesn't have permission on that directory. This happens when the logged in user (in case of windows authentication) doesn’t have permission to access that dll. If you are logged in using SQL login that probably the SQL service account has permission to access the file and if you are deploying it from visual studio probably your windows login used doesn’t have the permission. Please provide the necessary access to the user.

7) The last step is to create a stored procedure and associate it with a perticular method in the assembly.



CREATE PROCEDURE dbo.Proc_CLR_SP AS EXTERNAL NAME [CLR_SP].[CLR_SP].[HelloWorld] --[Assembly Name].[Class Name].[Method Name]


Sometime the above script may throw an error:

Msg 6505, Level 16, State 2, Procedure Proc_CLR_SP, Line 1

Could not find Type 'CLR_SP' in assembly 'CLR_SP'.

In that case use the below format to refer to the method.

[Assembly Name].[ Assembly Name.Class Name].[Method Name]

I have also seen, that you sometime get the following error while creating the stored procedure:

Msg 6567, Level 16, State 2, Procedure spu_aa, Line 1

CREATE PROCEDURE failed because a CLR Procedure may only be defined on CLR methods that return either SqlInt32, System.Int32, void.

This happens when the method takes a parameter of type SQLString and the stored procedure you are creating is using varchar to map it instead of nvarchar.

You need to map SQLString of the SQL CLR assembly with nvarchar in SQL Server. Like this :

CREATE function dbo.Proc_CLR_SP


@name as nvarchar(200) ,

@name2 as nvarchar(200)


RETURNS nvarchar(200)

AS EXTERNAL NAME Assembly.class.method

Hope this blog will help you to deploy your SQL CLR assembly to SQL server successfully using asymmetric key.


Author : Snehadeep (MSFT), SQL Developer Engineer, Microsoft

Reviewed by : Jason (MSFT), SQL Escalation Services, Microsoft