Running a command on a remote server with SQL Server

Another StackOverflow question: How do I run an OS command on a remote server, from within SQL Server? I answered as follows.

Something like rsh might do – have your local SQL instance invoke xp_cmdshell with an rsh command (or a batch file), connecting to the remote server and executing the command.

If you have SQL on the remote machine, it’d be far easier; call a stored procedure on that machine from the local machine, and let that stored procedure do the work (might need fiddling with proxy accounts and “execute as”).

A third option would be to create a .NET stored procedure, and do your socket programming or remote invocation from there – it runs in-process, so you get similar same performance and security benefits you’d get from writing it in T-SQL rather than hopping out to a cmdshell with all the mess that entails.

The rsh solution won the day.

Having said that, the rsh solution is not tied to SQL Server — rsh can be invoked from anything capable of running shell commands locally, even a batch file, or a Perl script.

Rsh is a feature Microsoft added to Windows a few versions ago, although a variety of it has been available in resource kits since NT 4.0. In simplest terms, it provides a remote command line, not unlike telnetting into a Unix server, only you get the Windows CMD prompt. Rsh allows the invoker to invoke a single command remotely, using command-line options, and without the need to write any further server-side code. This makes it suited to the quick-and-dirty route taken by the recipient of the above answer.