My observations are based upon the SQL Server 2012 Special Ops tour I attended in Boston. It is also based upon the one day Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Hands on Labs I attended at the Microsoft Technology Office in Waltham Ma.
SQL Server 2012 – First Thoughts
This version of SQL Server has compelling reasons why someone would want to upgrade. In other words it rocks. To quote one of the speakers in the room who shall remain nameless “For the first time the database product is on Par with major competitors”. This should give you a sense of just how good a release SQL Server 2012 is.
I have not been so excited about a SQL Server release since 2005. SQL Server 2005 was the difference between driving a racecar on the track versus a pickup truck as compared to SQL Server 2000 version of the database. Except for the ability to have backup compression in SQL Server 2008, it was not a very exciting Database release for Microsoft.
SQL Server 2012 Always On Technology
SQL Server 2012 now has Always On technology. This is where the database can keep a mirror copy/copies of the database that are constantly being refreshed. In the event of a failure of the Primary, it will seamlessly fail over to another copy. What’s really different is that, unlike the previous versions of SQL Server, you can use the copies to do real work. For example you could backup your production database off a copy. You could use one of the copies for a reporting server. This is huge.
SQL Server 2012 Always On Versus SQL Server Mirroring
This has significant advantages over traditional SQL Server Mirroring. In traditional mirroring
- You cannot manage groups of databases, so that when a single database failed they would all failover.
- There is only one Mirror of the database allowed
- The Mirror is not useable. Unless you are prepared to work with Snapshots.
SQL Server 2012 Always On Versus SQL Server Log Shipping
Log Shipping can be very complex to set up. The Biggest downfall is you cannot use the receiving database since it is in a recovery state as the transaction logs are being applied.
SQL Server Always On Versus SQL Server Clustering.
With SQL Server clustering you are dealing with a shared storage system that adds cost and complexity to the equation. With a 2 node SQL Server Active/Active Cluster unlike an Oracle RAC database, only one node can access a database at a particular time.
So when you compare SQL Server 2012 Always On technology to other current High Availability SQL Server options you can see why I think it rocks. This is a huge advancement for SQL Server.
SQL Server 2012 – Other Advancements.
Databases can now be grouped together. When a failure happens, the entire group of databases is treated as one. When one fails over they all fail over. This is very powerful when you have an application that uses more than one database in an instance.
File Streams took a huge step forward. The database and the O/S can now communicate with each other making it much easier and more transparent to keep both sides in sync. Additionally the 2 Gig file limit is no longer a limitation.
You now have the ability to connect directly to a database and be given permission that only works within that database without going through the overall SQL Server. If for any reason you need to a database, the permission moves with it from one server to another. The Server accounts are no longer needed or required. This takes security to a whole new level.
There is a new Column Store Index. This is really huge from a data warehouse perspective. By using the column store index, you eliminate the need to do Page I/O Latching. In other words you now avoid the need to go out to the disk. You are only doing I/O latching in memory. This provides a huge performance enhancement of 10X plus!
SQL Server 2012 now supports server level security roles. No longer do we need to create the same role in multiple databases. Can we say “Security management on Steroids?”
This release of SQL Server is the most compelling release to come out in 7 years. This is a real winner. The Always On capability and Column Store Index alone represent significant improvement over previous versions.
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