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SQL Server
Virtualizing Microsoft SQL on VMware vSphere

Upgrade to the Best Platform for Microsoft SQL Server Consolidation

Accelerate application lifecycles and improve application quality of service by consolidating your SQL Servers on the private cloud VMware vSphere. With vSphere, you can consolidate your SQL infrastructure by 4X to 20X and cut hardware and software costs by more than 50% while avoiding the painful compromises associated with traditional database consolidation. Run SQL on vSphere with the confidence that even large databases will perform well in virtual machines.

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SQL Needs a Better Consolidation Platform

Virtualizing SQL ServerIT departments have been undertaking database consolidation projects for many years, hoping to rein in the costs associated with rapidly increasing number and size of databases supporting a multitude of applications.

Unfortunately, conventional database consolidation solutions are painful and require significant tradeoffs. Whether consolidating multiple database instances on a shared OS image, or consolidating multiple logical databases on a shared database instance, you risk loss of configuration, fault, OS, and resource isolation. Traditional consolidation requires significant lead time and overhead to prepare all databases to run on the shared environment and can negatively impact database availability and performance.

Consolidate SQL on vSphere to Cut Costs by 50%

Free your databases from the constraints of static, dedicated infrastructure to:

Not only match, but exceed the performance of physical servers: More than 95% of database instances running on vSphere will match the performance achieved on physical servers. Each Virtual Machine can scale to 8 vCPUs and 256 GB of memory to support large IO intensive applications. In addition, vSphere maximizes the performance achieved from physical hosts by enabling multiple databases to efficiently share the large capacity of new multicore servers.

Reduce hardware and software costs by more than 50%: Databases are among the most over-provisioned applications in the datacenter, with average CPU utilization close to 5%. Because of this massive over-provisioning, databases have tremendous consolidation potential. On average, VMware customers are able to consolidate their databases by a ratio of 4X to 20X. By consolidating, you not only reduce your hardware footprint, but also consolidate your expensive database licenses and realize tremendous cost savings on software.

Accelerate Application Delivery and Guarantee QoS

Accelerate application delivery: Provision new databases on demand in a matter of minutes from pre-configured virtual appliances. Test multi-tier applications quickly and efficiently by easily cloning production databases. Automate release cycles and deploy standard, pre-configured databases at the click of a button, ensuring consistency across production databases and minimizing manual configuration overhead and configuration drift.

Guarantee application Quality of Service: Ensure application QoS by automatically providing the right levels of availability and scalability with VMware Application Services. Databases are very hard to size on physical servers. With VMware, right-size your databases by scaling dynamically to meet instantaneous throughput requirements. Leverage VMware High Availability, VMware Fault Tolerance, vMotion, Dynamic Resource Scheduling and Disaster Recovery to create robust availability with minimal configuration changes. These solutions can also be enhanced to provide higher levels of availability by combining them with more traditional clustering and replication options. With vSphere’s availability options you can:

  • Reduce planned downtime with VMware vMotion
  • Reduce unplanned downtime due to hardware failure or resource constraints
  • Implement simple and reliable SQL Server disaster recovery with vCenter Site Recovery Manager

Leverage full Microsoft support

Microsoft officially supports VMware ESX for running Microsoft Windows and major applications including Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, and SharePoint Server. VMware ESX was the first hypervisor to be validated under the Microsoft Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP), providing customers who run Windows Server and Microsoft applications with cooperative support from Microsoft and VMware. Customers can now run Exchange on vSphere with the peace of mind that they will receive the same level of support they received on physical servers.

New Microsoft licensing enables efficient use of vMotion, allowing customers to reassign licenses between physical servers as frequently as desired. This new licensing flexibility enables efficient use of vMotion for Windows Server and major applications including Exchange, SQL Server and SharePoint Server.

Consolidate SQL on vSphere

Traditional database consolidation requires painful application migrations, and rigorous processes for version control and continued application compatibility.

Virtualizing Microsoft SQL Server on VMware vSphere simultaneously consolidates databases and optimizes compute resources, whilemaintaining application flexibility by isolating each database in its own virtual machine. You can migrate SQL Servers in their current state without expensive and error-prone application migrations. We and our partners have demonstrated the capabilities of vSphere to run the most challenging SQL Server workloads with high performance databases. For smaller, departmental databases, vSphere offers high consolidation ratios and advanced resource scheduling features.

Achieve 10X Consolidation on Large Multicore Servers

Large multi-core servers have become the norm, but most SQL instances do not require 8 or more cores. With vSphere, smaller SQL databases can be consolidated easily to fully utilize large servers and achieve consolidation ratios of 10X or more.

Minimize Impact on Applications

Preserve your existing SQL Server configurations when you consolidate SQL Server using vSphere, by doing a "Physical to Virtual" (P2V) migration. No changes are required to the OS or SQL Server versions, no application migration is required. Even the IP address and server name remain unchanged.

Consolidate SQL Server Licenses

Realize significant cost savings on your software licenses. Once all the physical processors of a host have been licensed, you can deploy an unlimited number of SQL virtual machines (depending on the SQL edition that is licensed), consolidating licenses on a small number of physical processors.

Exceed the Performance of Physical Servers

Consolidate multiple resource-heavy SQL Server virtual machines on a single host without compromising performance or scalability.

vSphere 5.0 delivers the best performance out-of-the-box thanks to key enhancements such as:

  • Virtual machine scalability increased to 32 vCPU and 1TB of memory
  • VMware vSphere Disk IO scalability increased to more than 1,000,000 IOPS, enabling VMware ESX to support IO-intensive applications including large SQL databases
  • VMware vSphere network IO increased to 36 Gbps
  • Improved resource management for greater scalability of multi-CPU virtual machines

Scale Up SQL Server Performance

VMware vSphere 5.0 can match or exceed native performance for more than 99% of SQL instances. A recent TPC-E workload study demonstrated that in typical situations, virtual machines provide 90% to 98% of the native physical performance, even for larger 8 vCPU configurations.

SQL Server Performance in Consolidation Scenarios

Mutiple SQL Server virtual machines can be consolidated onto a shared ESXi host with minimal impact to individual virtual machines. vSphere ensures fair distribution of resources even with the most intensive workloads to achieve impressive aggregate throughput.

Improve Business Agility

Rapidly Provision SQL Servers with Virtual Machine Templates

On physical hardware, deploying a new SQL Server can take days or weeks to procure the hardware, install and configure the infrastructure, and install the associated applications and updates. Eliminating repetitive OS installation and patching tasks with virtual machine templates can speed deployment times. You can deploy new virtual machines with a core configuration in a matter of minutes, allowing rapid provisioning of applications into production.

Scale Dynamically with CPU and Memory Hot-Add

Databases are particularly difficult to size. Administrators are often forced to forecast capacity requirements for 3-5 years in the future and then translate that estimate into system specifications (CPU, memory, storage). Any sizing errors require the application to be re- provisioned, causing downtime and major disruption to the application. With the vSphere Hot-add feature, applications can be provisioned in a "future proof" manner. As applications grow over time and require more compute, memory, network, or storage resources, scale up virtual machines dynamically and on the fly, without disrupting the application or requiring complex re-provisioning.

Enhance Testing and Troubleshooting with Cloned Production Virtual Machines

Shorten time to resolution of critical issues and reduce their overall impact on the production environment with VMware-enabled testing and troubleshooting. Use live snapshots of virtual machines to instantly roll back to a previous known good configuration. Make an exact, independent copy of any virtual machine in your environment with cloning. The copy can then be installed in a test environment for offline testing and troubleshooting. Share virtual machines with third-parties such as consultants, other partners and vendors and eliminate the need to create a duplicate environment to reproduce problems. In complex application environments supported by SQL Server, this capability is especially valuable.

Improve Your Business Continuity

Protect all Applications with Simple High Availability

Simplify application availability by eliminating the need to use complex and expensive application-specific clustering solutions. VMware vMotion and DRS can reduce planned downtime and balance workloads dynamically while VMware HA can help recover SQL Servers in the case of host failure. At the application level, all Microsoft features and techniques are supported on vSphere, including database mirroring, failover clustering and log shipping, so you can use the best features from both VMware and Microsoft.

Provide Cost-Effective Disaster Recovery

Ensure fast, simple, and cost-effective recovery by automating the recovery process and eliminating the complexity of managing and testing customized recovery plans with VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager. Reduce costs by eliminating the need for dedicated hardware at the remote site.

Enjoy Full Microsoft Support

Microsoft officially supports Windows Server and Server products running on VMware ESX. This includes Windows Server 2000 SP4, Windows Server 2003 SP2 or later, and Windows Server 2008 and specialty roles provided by the operating system such as Active Directory or File Services. Major applications that are supported include Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, and SharePoint Server. Microsoft has published a complete list of supported applications, and continues to update it. Supported ESX configurations are also listed.

VMware ESX was the first hypervisor to be validated under the Microsoft Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP), providing customers who run Windows Server and Microsoft applications with cooperative support from Microsoft and VMware. Customers can now run Exchange on VMware with the peace of mind that they will receive the support they need.

Microsoft Adopts vMotion-Friendly Licensing

Microsoft licensing has recently been modified to allow customers to reassign licenses between physical servers as frequently as desired. In the past, licenses could only be reassigned once every 90 days, limiting the benefits of vMotion. The new licensing flexibility enables efficient use of vMotion for Windows Server and major applications including Exchange, SQL Server, and SharePoint Server.

Non SVVP-Validated Configurations

What happens if you are running a non SVVP-validated configuration of ESX and Microsoft products? Customers routinely tell us they still receive the Microsoft support benefits. Support options vary, however, depending on how customers purchase VMware and Microsoft products.

The following scenarios are common:

Scenario 1: VMware software was originally purchased through a server OEM

Server resellers including Dell, Fujitsu, Fujitsu-Siemens, HP, IBM, and Unisys offer end-to-end support for Microsoft software running on their servers and VMware if VMware products are purchased with the server hardware and are covered by a valid support agreement with the server reseller. This provides customers one-stop support via the server reseller if an issue arises. See Support for Microsoft Software in VMware Virtual Machines for more details.

Scenario 2: VMware software was originally purchased direct from VMware or a VMware authorized reseller and the customer has a valid Microsoft Premier-level support agreement

Microsoft states that it will use "commercially reasonable efforts" to support its products running on VMware virtual machines. Customers regularly tell us Microsoft's commercially reasonable efforts are effective and appropriate to maintain operations as planned. There may be confusion within Microsoft's field and channel organizations regarding the scope of support that can be provided, and in some cases, customers may perceive that "commercially reasonable efforts" will not meet their expectations. In general, Microsoft offers its large customers excellent support for their products running on VMware. Microsoft's policy states that after such efforts are exhausted, Microsoft support specialists may request that customers replicate the issue on a physical machine in order to proceed with the investigation. See Microsoft KB 897615 for more details.

Scenario 3: VMware software was originally purchased direct from VMware or a VMware authorized reseller and the customer does not have a Microsoft Premier-level support agreement

Microsoft's level of support for these customers can be more restrictive. Before providing support, Microsoft specialists may request that customers first replicate the issue on a physical machine per Microsoft KB 897615.