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Scaling Out

By Steve Jones,

When I first heard about Service Broker coming in SQL Server 2005, I knew it would be slow to gain traction, and many people would not see the power of guaranteed messaging. However I thought over the next 3-4 years it would catch on as we companies looked to scale out their databases to multiple physical servers.

That hasn't really happened, and it seems Service Broker has not been widely adopted by many database developers. It surprises me since it seems like a fantastic way to move data between servers. I'm not sure if too many data professionals think a message means a substantial delay in the movement of data, or if they don't trust the architecture, but there don't seem to be many people using this feature in SQL Server.

They should, however, and I saw a great writeup on scaling out SQL Server with Service Broker. It talks about ways in which you might think about improving your application's performance, especially at larger scales, but implementing Service Broker as a part of your architecture. It has advantages over replication, and it makes sense to me that this could be an extremely flexible way to handle your peak loads.

However it isn't the solution to all problems. It has a steep learning curve, the tools have not advanced very far, and the documentation and descriptions can be confusing and incomplete. I had hoped that things would improve over time, but this feature seems to have been largely ignored. However Service Broker and messaging are great technologies, and I'd encourage you to spend some time learning about it, and look for places in your environment that it might solve scale problems.

Steve Jones

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