SQL Server 2012 on VMware vSphere

Microsoft recently released SQL Server 2012 to the wild just a couple of weeks ago. Even though this release is in its infancy, organizations and their database administrators should immediately begin to explore and plan for the adoption of this release into their corporate technology roadmap. Multiple features in this release are individually tremendous, and as a whole, can change the way a business thinks about database management. Database recovery and high availability were just revolutionized.

Prior to SQL Server 2012, SQL Server had multiple solutions for high availability and disaster recovery built in, but all had at least one major limitation. For example, failover clustering configuration and management is nontrivial in its complexity as well as its single point of failure shared disk requirement.  The shared disk configuration on VMware forced administrators to use Raw Device Mappings (RDMs) or in-guest disk presentation. Database mirroring creates fantastic failover and high availability features, but lacks a simple IP address that legacy applications can connect to and utilize the failover features.

Additional features are included in SQL Server 2012 that should make database administrators even happier. These new features range from offloading backups to different servers to reduce their performance impact, index improvements that dramatically simplify their management, self-contained databases that make migrations and transportability simpler, and tools and features to allow much more granular insight into processes and events inside the engine itself.

From our perspective, our best practices for installing and configuring SQL Server on a VMware vSphere environment have not changed much with this latest release, but as always we are actively evaluating the new features and working to refine our recommendations to make this version perform at top speed.

New features that Database Administrators Should Care About

In my opinion, SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn is the single best feature to come out of the SQL Server team in this release. Database recovery and availability were just revolutionized.

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