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Ready for SQL Server Consolidation?

FAQ
When should I consider consolidating my SQL Server instances? What difficulties should I watch out for when consolidating? Ive consolidated many SQL Server instances, but my back-end storage is as complex as ever. Why, and what can I do about it? Ive run the numbers and this SQL Server consolidation could end up costing many thousands of dollars instead of saving me money. What happened? How can I get high availability with my SQL Server consolidation? How can I be sure that Melio works?

SQL Server Consolidation Seems Simple. Watch Out for Hidden Obstacles Many organizations rely on Microsoft SQL Server for database services across a broad range of applications. Its integration with a Windows environment makes it an attractive option, and because it does not scale out natively, database administrators (DBAs) can simply spin up additional SQL Server instances when needed. As a result, the SQL Server environment creates sprawl, complexity and risk. If you are like many DBAs, you have found that your infrastructure includes SQL Server instances that are unmanaged, have unknown contents, are not backed up, are underutilized and are perhaps wasting licenses. The answer to these challenges seems to be virtualization and consolidation of SQL Server instances. You have seen the success of server consolidation in other parts of the data center and are ready to bring the same benefits to your SQL Server environment: Simplified management High availability Decreased complexity and costs Improved server and storage utilization However, the simplicity of the first steps in a consolidation project can be deceptive. It is trivial to virtualize SQL Server on a hypervisor and run dozens or even hundreds of instances on powerful physical servers. But that is only the front end, or first phase. After completing that phase, many DBAs encounter serious obstacles related to high availability (HA), back-end storage configuration, costs and performance. These issues can quickly derail a project because they can increase risk, cost and complexity while decreasing storage utilization. If you are to realize the benefits of virtualization and meet your HA and performance service-level agreements (SLAs), SQL Server consolidation requires special attention to the storage back-end. The following questions expose the potential traps and help you plan and execute a successful SQL Server consolidation project. When should I consider consolidating my SQL Server instances? Today. Because SQL Server does not natively scale out, instances can quickly proliferate across the enterprise. Any business unit or group with a database and an IT person can spin up a SQL Server instance to meet its needs. The resulting SQL Server sprawl leads to myriad problems, including: Management complexity

2012 TechTarget

FAQ
When should I consider consolidating my SQL Server instances? What difficulties should I watch out for when consolidating? Ive consolidated many SQL Server instances, but my back-end storage is as complex as ever. Why, and what can I do about it? Ive run the numbers and this SQL Server consolidation could end up costing many thousands of dollars instead of saving me money. What happened? How can I get high availability with my SQL Server consolidation? How can I be sure that Melio works?

Increased costs, as multiple instances with multiple problems suck down IT staff time Risk, due to maintenance and patching difficulties Underutilized hardware resources Potential risk of licensing violations These difficulties can be resolved when you virtualize instances and consolidate them onto one or more centralized servers. What difficulties should I watch out for when consolidating? Because it is simple to virtualize SQL Server, consolidation projects appear deceptively simple. But be aware of difficulties that other database administrators have encountered: Storage complexity: SQL Server consolidation projects sometimes falter because DBAs overlook the storage implications of consolidation. While you can consolidate, say, 100 instances with relative ease, you will still have 100 physical LUNs on the back-end storage, each requiring the same maintenance and management you invested in them before consolidation. In this regard, the only thing consolidation has done for you is centralized SQL Server instances. HA obstacles: SQL Server Standard Edition allows you to cluster only two servers for HA. If you want more servers in your cluster, you will have to upgrade to SQL Server Enterprise Edition. Unexpected increase in costs: With the release of SQL Server 2012, Microsoft now charges licensing fees on a per-core basis. This means that if HA is important to your implementa-

tion, you will need more server hardware and double the licensing costs. Quality-of-service (QoS) issues: The back-end storage complexity left in the wake of SQL Server consolidation makes it difficult to move SQL Server workloads when a server is overtaxed. Consolidated environments also often lack controls that allow DBAs to prioritize workloads, forcing mission-critical applications to compete with less important ones for computing power. Ive consolidated many SQL Server instances, but my back-end storage is as complex as ever. Why, and what can I do about it? Your back-end storage remains complex and difficult to manage because consolidation itself does not touch the storage configuration. At first glance, consolidation appears to bring simplicityyou can consolidate multiple databases onto a single SQL Server instance or multiple instances on a single physical server, or you can deploy multiple SQL Server virtual machines (VMs) on a single server. However, each physical or virtual SQL Server instance will still have its own physical storage LUN after consolidation, so as far as the back-end is concerned, your environment is as distributed and complex as it was before consolidation. A clustered environment can exacerbate this problem because each LUN will also have to map to the failover server so that each VM can still access its storage during a failover. This means that if your consolidated environment has hundreds or even just dozens of SQL Server VMs, storage configuration and management is complex, time consuming and costly. The sheer volume and inefficiency of management tasks required to manage large numbers of LUNs often decrease storage utilization and undermine the simplicity and cost benefits you hoped consolidation would deliver. Ive run the numbers and this SQL Server con-

2012 TechTarget

FAQ
When should I consider consolidating my SQL Server instances? What difficulties should I watch out for when consolidating? Ive consolidated many SQL Server instances, but my back-end storage is as complex as ever. Why, and what can I do about it? Ive run the numbers and this SQL Server consolidation could end up costing many thousands of dollars instead of saving me money. What happened? How can I get high availability with my SQL Server consolidation? How can I be sure that Melio works?

solidation could end up costing many thousands of dollars instead of saving me money. What happened? The increase in costs typically comes from two directions: storage management and SQL Server licensing. Storage management: As you know, SQL Server consolidation does not automatically simplify storage management and can even increase storage complexity in some circumstances. In general, every dollar spent on IT infrastructure spawns 70 cents in management costs. So additional staff hours spent on managing all of those LUNs can quickly consume any savings your consolidation might deliver. SQL Server licensing: Licensing has become more complex and costly with the release of SQL Server 2012. Microsoft now charges licensing fees based on the number of cores utilized by SQL Server. If you want a highly available SQL Server environment, you will need at least two physical servers, effectively doubling both your hardware and licensing costs. Furthermore, SQL Server Standard Edition allows you to cluster only two servers for HA. If you want more servers in your cluster to ensure mission-critical uptime, you will have to upgrade to the more expensive SQL Server Enterprise Edition and, of course, add more servers, cores and licenses. How can I get high availability with my SQL Server consolidation? Fortunately, you can achieve HA without exponentially increasing your costs. Sanbolic Melio software solves the back-end storage complexity problem
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by consolidating many physical database LUNs onto one or a few virtual LUNs, which SQL Server instances can access in an active-active fashion. This means that you can quickly move database workloads from one server to another in case of server failure or performance degradation due to saturation. Furthermore, Melio eliminates the clustering limitation of SQL Server because with features such as cluster-wide VSS snapshots and synchronous and asynchronous mirroring, it supports unlimited clustering with any edition of SQL Server. This approach greatly simplifies the task of ensuring application availability. Melio also gives DBAs granular control over performance and QoS by shaping traffic and allowing you to set performance priorities that protect mission-critical application performance. This approach means you can prevent a single database workload from consuming too much processor power while forcing other workloads to run at a trickle.

How Does the Melio Enterprise Solution Work?


MELIO ENTERPRISE consolidates, protects and manages physical and virtual SQL workloads, enabling a more agile, efficient and scalable shared cluster of critical SQL database instances. By creating a centrally managed active-active cluster of SQL data and storage resources, the resulting host-resident solution brings high availability, non-disruptive failover or migration, dynamic expandability, load balancing and quality of service to a customers SQL database footprint. With Melio Enterprise, customers can efficiently deploy large, flexible and efficient SQL Server environments beyond what can be achieved with failover clustering or virtual servers alone.

2012 TechTarget

FAQ
When should I consider consolidating my SQL Server instances? What difficulties should I watch out for when consolidating? Ive consolidated many SQL Server instances, but my back-end storage is as complex as ever. Why, and what can I do about it? Ive run the numbers and this SQL Server consolidation could end up costing many thousands of dollars instead of saving me money. What happened? How can I get high availability with my SQL Server consolidation? How can I be sure that Melio works?

These two sets of capabilitiesHA and QoS controllet you consolidate your SQL Server environment and meet SLAs without risking the three obstacles that often derail consolidation projects: increased costs, lack of HA and degraded performance for important workloads. How can I be sure that Melio works? We could give you speeds and feeds and point you to case studies, but that would not convince you that Melio is right for your environment. There is only one way you can be sure: Download the free trial and give it a spin. Melios data management capabilities are a powerful complement to large SQL Server consolidation projects. Download your trial now and see for yourself why more than 700 customers globally have chosen Sanbolic over more costly and complex alternatives.

Download your free trial now.

2012 TechTarget