Introducing the controller on a SQL Server Big Data Clusters

Applies to: SQL Server 2019 (15.x)


The Microsoft SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters add-on will be retired. Support for SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters will end on February 28, 2025. All existing users of SQL Server 2019 with Software Assurance will be fully supported on the platform and the software will continue to be maintained through SQL Server cumulative updates until that time. For more information, see the announcement blog post and Big data options on the Microsoft SQL Server platform.

The controller hosts the core logic for deploying and managing a SQL Server big data cluster. It takes care of all interactions with Kubernetes, SQL Server instances that are part of the cluster and other components like HDFS and Spark.

The controller service provides the following core functionality:

  • Manage cluster lifecycle: cluster bootstrap & delete, update configurations
  • Manage master SQL Server instances
  • Manage compute, data, and storage pools
  • Expose monitoring tools to observe the state of the cluster
  • Expose troubleshooting tools to detect and repair unexpected issues
  • Manage cluster security:
    • Ensure secure cluster endpoints
    • Manage users and roles
    • Configure credentials for intra-cluster communication

Deploying the controller service

The controller is deployed and hosted in the same Kubernetes namespace where the customer wants to build out a big data cluster. This service is installed by a Kubernetes administrator during cluster bootstrap, using the azdata command-line utility. For more information, see Get started with SQL Server Big Data Clusters.

The buildout workflow will layout on top of Kubernetes a fully functional SQL Server big data cluster that includes all the components described in the Overview article. The bootstrap workflow first creates the controller service, and once this is deployed, the controller service will coordinate the installation and configuration of rest of the services part of master, compute, data, and storage pools.

Managing the cluster through the controller service

You can manage the cluster through the controller service using either azdata commands. If you deploy additional Kubernetes objects like pods into the same namespace, they are not managed or monitored by the controller service. You can also use kubectl commands to manage the cluster at the Kubernetes level. For more information, see Monitoring and troubleshoot SQL Server Big Data Clusters.

The controller and the Kubernetes objects (stateful sets, pods, secrets, etc.) created for a big data cluster reside in a dedicated Kubernetes namespace. The controller service will be granted permission by the Kubernetes cluster administrator to manage all resources within that namespace. The RBAC policy for this scenario is configured automatically as part of initial cluster deployment using azdata.


azdata is a command-line utility written in Python that enables cluster administrators to bootstrap and manage big data clusters via the REST APIs exposed by the controller service.

Controller service security

All communication to the controller service is conducted via a REST API over HTTPS. A self-signed certificate will be automatically generated for you at bootstrap time.

Authentication to the controller service endpoint is either using an Active Directory identity or based on username and password. These credentials are provisioned at cluster bootstrap time using the input for environment variables AZDATA_USERNAME and AZDATA_PASSWORD.


You must provide a password that is in compliance with SQL Server password complexity requirements.

Next steps

To learn more about the SQL Server Big Data Clusters, see the following resources: