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Why SQL Server 2012 needs Windows Server 2012

By Jim Johnston,

Today’s organizations need the ability to seamlessly build, deploy and manage applications and services across on-premise and cloud computing environments. The Cloud OS platform with Windows Server® 2012,  and Microsoft® SQL Server® 2012, and Visual Studio 2012 work together to provide a consistent platform for private cloud environments.  For database applications, we have identified 3 (three) important scenarios where customers will benefit with this platform:

  1. Tackling mission critical OLTP workload SLAs and performance requirements
  2. Revolutionizing enterprise data warehousing
  3. Migrating large mission critical SQL Server workloads into Microsoft private cloud

For non-virtualized environments in an on-premises data center, Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012 provide the best platform for mission-critical workloads in these areas:

  1. Performance & Scalability:  SQL Server 2012 can consume the operating system maximum for both processors and memory.  Windows Server 2012 supports logical 640 processors (cores) over a max of 64 sockets and up to 4 TB of RAM, allowing SQL Server applications to scale to meet the demand of most mission critical applications. The new NIC Teaming feature in Windows Server 2012 allows 2 or more network adapters to behave as a single, virtual device.  This improves the reliability of the networking subsystem – if one NIC dies, the other continues to function – and allows the bandwidth available to each to be pooled for greater total network throughput for SQL Server data. With SMB improvements in Windows Server 2012, SQL Server can store database files on remote (SMB) file shares providing customers with many more deployment options for their database server storage. The new data de-duplication feature (called Shredding) in Windows Server 2012 provides compression on steroids and delivers 30-90% storage savings for FILESTREAM BLOBs and other external files in SQL Server applications.
  2. Availability:  SQL Server 2012 support for Windows Server Core is expected to eliminate the need for 50-60% of the OS-level patches.  With Windows Server 2012, the server admin can configure the SQL Server to run with full support for graphical interfaces and then switch to run in Server Core mode. Cluster Aware Updating automates SQL Server cluster node maintenance, making the process easier, faster, more consistent and more reliable with significantly less downtime. With dynamic quorum management, the cluster can dynamically reconfigure itself to keep running down to the last surviving node to allow a SQL Server AlwaysOn cluster to adjust the number of quorum votes dynamically that are required to keep running, while simplifying set up by as much as 80%.
  3. Shredded Storage: If you are migrating to SharePoint 2013, Shredded storage is a new data platform improvement in SharePoint 2013 related to the management of large binary objects (I.e. BLOBS such as Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations, Microsoft Word Documents, etc.). Rather than store entire copies of files, SQL Server shreds files into smaller chunks allowing for incremental changes to documents to be saved to the Database. For collaboration scenarios, Shredded storage will reduce network and storage I/O associated with saving edits to an existing document very efficiently. This does not come alone with SQL Server 2012 but also requires Microsoft Server 2012.

Organizations are also seeking private cloud-optimized IT infrastructure that can span behind your firewall to a public cloud behind a service provider’s firewall.  One key element to achieving this is having a common virtualization platform across private and public clouds.  This increases efficiency and performance across infrastructures, which is essential for database applications. Windows Server 2012 offers the best virtualization platform for SQL Server 2012. By working together, SQL Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 offers a seamlessly integrated, on-premise and cloud-ready information platform to meet the demands of today’s enterprise. 

There are some hidden dangers with trying to run SQL 2012 AlwaysOn in a Vmware environment.  Here is a brief list of restrictions:

For the mission critical SQL Server AlwaysOn scenario that makes use of Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC). When virtualizing these servers as Windows Server based clusters, VMware recommends turning off key features such as vMotion for VM mobility, DRS for dynamic resource allocation, Memory Overcommit, meaning sacrificed density, and finally, vSphere Fault Tolerance (FT).  Also, when using Fiber Channel for Guest Clusters, VMware restrict scale to just 5 nodes.

vSphere 5.1 Enterprise Plus, allows support up to 64 vCPUs. While SQL Server virtualization can be enabled to support 320 logical processors per host, vSphere 5.1 supports just half that number, restricting scalability and density. Also with an individual VM it is only able to utilize up to 1TB of memory or 2TB for vSphere 5.1 Enterprise Plus per virtual disk

Reference article: http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1037959

 The benefits of using SQL 2012 in a Hyper-V environment however overcomes these limitations such as:

  1. Better Scalability: Higher capacity vCPUs (up to 64), memory (up to 1 TB), and VM density (up to 8,000 per cluster)
  2. Better Performance: Hyper-V support on NUMA and fiber channel
  3. Better Availability: Faster & simultaneous live migration and dynamic quorum support in SQL Server AlwaysOn cluster
  4. Better Manageability: Same management tool (System Center) for SQL Server virtual machines in both private and public cloud

This information is gathered from the latest performance report from SQL Server 2012 running on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V.

Reference: Report for SQL Server 2012 running on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V

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