Thanks for posting this Steve & also for the discussion everyone.
I have re-opened the connect suggestion because I believe MS missed something significant in their response. Their recent response claims the implementation would be difficult due to excessive accounting requirements during backup, but no mention was made of the option to include a page level flag which would allow the backup process to identify NCIX pages without accounting. If such a page flag were included, this feature would be very efficient & relatively easy to implement. Hence, I've opened the connect suggestion for another attempt..
So please continue to vote (for or against)!
Re some of the other comments in this thread:
(a) Restore time would not necessarily be "longer" with this feature. Strictly speaking, the database would be available once the non-index data is restored, which means the restore would complete FASTER under this option, even though the indexes aren't rebuilt at that stage. Options could be provided allowing DBAs to delay recovery until after indexes are rebuilt (slower) or bring the database online immediately after the non-index data has beeen restoreed (faster). Indexes could be recreated online from there if the customer has Ent Edn or offline with Stdn Edn under the second option.
(b) There certainly would be energy savings from this. Whilst disk spindles do still spin, the heads don't move unless there is activity & backups do cause significant head movement. I'm no energy analyst, but I'm sure that the massive number of database backups that occur around the world every day are presently wasting a lot of energy on this.
(c) There are other major objectives of this idea other than just energy savings too - disk space savings are hugely important to many people / businesses & time savings are also a big factor (shortening maintenance activity is always a good thing)
(d) Someone mentioned that tlog sizes would grow as a result of the index removal. This isn't true - nothing would be recorded in the log at all, just some small meta data in the backup file to allow the restore process to know that NCIX pages aren't in the backup.