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Service Principal Names for SQL Server

Service Principal Names (SPN) get used for Kerberos authentication.  SQL Server require that all instances have SPNs configured, if not Kerberos authentication fails.  By default starting with Windows 2008 all communication between clients and SQL Server is first attempted on Kerberos.  If it fails, it falls back to NTLM.  Often if you have Kerberos issues you might also have SSPI error messages in your SQL Server errorlog.

So question can be asked, if it falls back to NTLM and I can get my work done.  Why do I care?  Simple answer is delegation.  With incorrect configured Kerberos, delegation cannot be completed and logins fail.  For example on delegation, read my post on Login failed for user ‘NT AUTHORITY\ANONYMOUS LOGON’ with SQL Server Reporting Services.

So what SPNs we need? Simple answer two SPN per SQL Server instance.

  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName[:Port] Domain\SQLServerServiceAccount
  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName.FQDN[:Port] Domain\SQLServerServiceAccount

Depending on your configuration, SPNs can look different.  We can manage SPNs two ways; 1) using SETSPN utility 2) using Activity Tool call EDITADIS.  Most people rely on SETSPN, as other tool is for Active Directory administrators.  And they (AD Admins) don’t like it when we mess around with their stuff; like we don’t like it when they mess around with our stuff ;-).  So lets talk about various forms of SPNs you can create.

Example #1: Default Instance, Default Port (1433), Using Domain Service Account

  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName Domain\SQLServerServiceAccount
  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName.FQDN Domain\SQLServerServiceAccount

Example #2: Default Instance, Non-Default Port, Using Domain Service Account
Example #3: Named Instance, Static Non-Default Port, Using Domain Service Account

  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName:Port Domain\SQLServerServiceAccount
  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName.FQDN:Port Domain\SQLServerServiceAccount

Example #4: Default Instance, Default Port (1433), Using Computer Account *

  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName Domain\ServerName$
  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName.FQDN Domain\ServerName$

Example #5: Default Instance, Non-Default Port, Using Computer Account *
Example #6: Named Instance, Static Non-Default Port, Using Computer Account *

  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName:Port Domain\ServerName$
  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName.FQDN:Port Domain\ServerName$

Example #7: Named Instance, Dynamic Non-Default Port, Using Domain Service Account **

  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName:InstanceName Domain\SQLServerServiceAccount
  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName.FQDN:InstanceName Domain\SQLServerServiceAccount

Example #8: Named Instance, Dynamic Non-Default Port, Using Computer Account *

  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName:InstanceName Domain\ServerName$
  • MSSQLSvc/SQLServerName.FQDN:InstanceName Domain\ServerName$

* An instance is consider using computer account when it is running under built in accounts, such as Network Services.
** Generally we do not recommend dynamic port as managing SPN manually can be difficult.  Also for us to use InstanceName, the SQL Server Browser service must be running.

So after reading this you are going that’s TOO MUCH TO REMEMBER!

I agree, that is why SQL Server can create and destroy this SPNs by itself without user interaction. However in order to do this, we must grant SQL Server Service Account or Computer Account permissions to Read/Write SPN Property on itself (Reference).

Now there is one scenario where we do not want to grant this permission and mange the SPN manually.  Please reference KB2443457. Copied the issue from KB for completeness.

  1. The Sqlcluster instance is active on Node A and registered the SQL SPN in domain controller A during start up..
  2. The Sqlcluster instance fails over to Node B when Node A is shutdown normally.
  3. The Sqlcluster instance deregistered its SPN from domain controller A during the shutdown process on Node A.
  4. The SPN is removed from domain controller A but the change has not yet been replicated to domain controller B.
  5. When starting up on Node B, the Sqlcluster instance tries to register the SQL SPN with domain controller B. Since, the SPN still exists Node B does not register the SPN.
  6. After some time, domain controller A replicates the deletion of the SPN (from step 3) to domain controller B as part of Active Directory replication. The end result is that no valid SPN exists for the SQL instance in the domain and hence you see connection issues to the Sqlcluster instance.

Blog post cross posted on …

  • SQLCAN (WordPress), Link.
  • SQLCAN (MSDN), Link.
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