Improving Replication

Steve Jones, 2017-06-26

I really like replication as a technology. I think the ability to move data around to other systems, at a gross level, is extremely handy in many systems. While SSIS and other ETL tools are very flexible and powerful, they also require quite a bit of work to maintain. Being able to send a table (or a vertical/horizontal partition) to another system is just valuable.

This is why I'm constantly disappointed that SQL Server hasn't really bolstered their replication technologies to make it more robust.  Don't get me wrong, there have been improvements in various versions, and replication has come a long way since SQL Server 6.5, but as an overall subsystem in SQL Server, it has a long way to go. The tooling needs work, the reliability and robustness needs work. I find replication brittle, as do many others, and when there are code deployments needed, it seems that administrators often just script out the system, tear it down, make changes, and rebuild it.

That's not a great plan. In 2017, that shouldn't be the plan. I don't get why Microsoft hasn't made things better, after all, more replication options could mean more SQL Server instances installed to support disparate workloads. However, rather than complain, I'd like to give Microsoft ideas.

Today I'm curious. What would you do to improve replication? What would you like to see? Perhaps you want better monitoring of the process. Simpler setup, such as that available in Azure. Better bidirectional replication? Maybe an easier way to deploy changes? Let us know your ideas for improving SQL Server replication.

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