- Can Backup Administrators Get Excited About the Microsoft SQL 2012 Release?
By Alex Almeida, Sr. Technical Marketing Manager
Sometimes those DBAs seem like they get all the fun – don’t they? Backup Admins never get a chance to be excited about anything, and when they do, DBAs just yawn, or give us weird looks. And to hurt you even more, it seems that database application developers never really think fully about backup and recovery when they are architecting their platforms. This just makes your job that much harder while they seem to give the DBA as much time in the sun as possible. Well, I think the Microsoft SQL Server team has realized this and decided that enough was enough. It’s time for the Backup Admins to reap some benefits as well! Oh, and about those looks you get from the DBAs, trust me, they go away the minute you successfully perform a restore for them.
What I am referring to is one of the key features of the SQL 2012 (Codename “Denali”) release, called AlwaysOn Availability Groups (AAG). Availability Groups…. Availability Groups… where have I heard that before? Ah, yes! Microsoft Exchange! While named differently, they deliver essentially the same functionality with the exception of some very minor differences that we backup administrators don’t really need to worry about. (If you would like to learn more about Exchange Database Availability groups, see my previous blog post on the subject which also has a recorded demonstration.)
Like Exchange’s Database Availability Groups (DAG), the ability to be able to have multiple “passive copies” of your production database can have some unrealized advantages when it comes to managing backup workloads and their effect on transaction response time for your production database. With the ability for any node in an SQL Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC) Cluster to access and perform aggregated read-queries from the passive copies, we can completely isolate the burden of backup I/O from the production database volume and server. That standby replica, and corresponding SQL node servicing backup I/O, can even be in a different physical location from the primary replica. All options which allow greater flexibility in implementing your Database High Availability and Recovery architectures. When we start talking about numerous SQL database backups and the corresponding replica I/O spread across multiple sites and nodes of a SQL implementation, we begin to quickly see the real power and efficiencies EMC backup software and Purpose-Built Backup Appliances (PBBA) can provide by leveraging these new capabilities from Microsoft.
The day has finally come for Backup Administrators to get excited about Database Server Features!