One of my favorite additions to SQL Server 2012 is the Availability Groups, referred to as AlwaysOn. These things are awesome. It’s basically shared nothing clustering at a database-by-database level. You can set up a series of secondary machines that will enable you to failover a database in the event of an outage. This is a huge advantage in high availability and disaster recovery scenarios. We’re talking serious business continuity. Further, you can set up one of those secondary machines to allow for reads, meaning, you get a reporting database that allows you to offload read queries from a transactional machine. Another giant win. But wait, it gets better.
Now, with the capabilities that are coming with Azure Virtual Machines and Azure Virtual Networks you can go even further. It’s now possible to make it so that you have an off-site failover server for your mission critical databases, but one for which you don’t have purchase hardware and rack space. This is just absolutely huge and amazing. The capabilities for ensuring your business continuing without a hiccup in the event of serious catastrophes has just shot through the roof. Now how much would you pay? But wait, there’s still more.
There are going to be even more capabilities of this type built into the upcoming SQL Server 2014 that was announced last week at the TechEd North America conference. Lots of enhancements between Azure, Azure VMs and Azure SQL Databases are going to be a part of the new release of SQL Server. SLAM!
I’m taking a semi-joking tone here, but I’m actually quite serious. This is the kind of technology you want to put into place in order to keep your business up and running. The capabilities in this area just keep expanding and expanding and I’ve got to say, as a paranoid DBA, I think it’s wonderful.
So, enough praise, here’s my friendly suggestion for Microsoft (I know, no one there is going to read this and it won’t matter a lick, but I’ll put it out there anyway). All this exciting stuff requires an Enterprise license. There are smaller businesses out there that may not be able to afford that. But, those businesses need a method for ensuring their continuity as much as larger businesses, maybe even more so. What I’d like to see is the capability in the Standard edition of SQL Server 2014 to have a single failover secondary machine, Azure VM only, as a part of the product. This way, there are a ton of businesses that can take advantage of the cheap (look it up, it really is) Azure VM as a means of setting up an HA environment. The one down-side for Microsoft will absolutely be some businesses who choose to skip getting an Enterprise license and instead go with Standard because all they wanted was a little HA. And I can see how that could hurt the bottom line. But I suspect that would be more than offset by all the people paying for Azure VMs in order to ensure their business continuity. Plus, make it so that it’s not read capable. That will ensure that Enterprise still retains a very clear edge.
There it is. My suggestion. Not worth much, but I’d sure love to see it happen. And now back to our regularly scheduled programs.