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Network Databases? Is it time to change?

By Steve Jones,

In the two decades I've worked with SQL Server, there has been some advice that I've always given to people: don't backup to the network, and don't try to put a database on a file share. SQL Server hasn't dealt with either of those situations well for most of my career, and they've been a regular source of issues for clients and posters to the forums at SQLServerCentral. Network technology, while quickly improving, was still flaky enough that I always recommend that people keep their data and backups local as a guideline.

However technology evolves, and when it does, it's time for the advice to change. Lately I have seen more and more people making backups across the network that seem very reliable. Even the tendency of Ethernet protocols to delay packets when collisions occur is mitigated by the increasingly common 1Gbps and 10Gbps network speeds that many companies are using. While I might still be a little nervous about running backups across the network, that's my personal bias and I don't know if I would continue to recommend against those backups.

I was surprised, however, to see Kevin Farlee of Microsoft post a blog noting it might be time to reconsider the placement of data files on a network share. He outlines the improvements in technology and protocols that may make this a viable way to store our SQL Server databases in the future. It's an interesting argument though I suspect that it is slightly premature for most of us.

I do think that as networks become even more reliable, this is one way that we may better manage storage for data in the future, and perhaps see Shared Scalable Databases widely deployed as a way to scale out those read queries on other servers.

Steve Jones


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