SQL Server High-Availability with Virtualisation

Virtualisation delivers many benefits for protecting SQL Server and applications. It enables each server and application to be configured as individual virtual machines and run on any available host within a resource pool. Availability characteristics can be matched to each virtual machine as dictated by application characteristics and business needs. Infrastructure components, such as Active Directory, DNS and DHCP, which support the SQL Server environment, have traditionally required separate servers and distinct availability solutions. However, virtualisation allows them to be implemented as virtual machines in a common resource pool and use the common availability solution that is used to address the entire virtualisation environment.

Virtualisation also makes disaster recovery easier to implement, more effective, and less costly. Virtual machines separate the software configuration from the underlying hardware, offering total flexibility, whereby one set of hardware can be used to provide disaster backup for multiple applications. Cost-effective configurations can be chosen strictly based on their disaster recovery role. Software configurations change over time and changes must be duplicated at the disaster site to ensure proper operation, which can be extremely time consuming and error prone in a physical environment. In a virtual environment, however, the configuration is contained within the virtual machine definition file. All that is needed to maintain configuration compatibility is to copy this file to the disaster site.

Appropriate testing prior to changing configurations is essential to avoid problems during hot fix installation or when moving to a new update release. Still, many companies cannot afford the additional hardware required for testing SQL Server and database applications in a traditional, physical environment. Virtualisation makes it easy to set up test and development environments without the need for additional hardware.

Protecting SQL Server and related applications requires addressing a variety of possible causes of both planned and unplanned downtime. Availability solutions that incorporate the latest virtualisation technologies offer the most comprehensive, easy-to-use and affordable way for businesses to safeguard the availability of mission-critical SQL Server and database applications.

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