SQL University: Virtualization Basics

This week we’re going to talk about a topic that has been gaining steam in the last few years and as it has it has started impacting database administrator’s worlds more and more: virtualization. Why do I make this statement? Well since the economy currently sucks, shops are finding ways to consolidate and make their dollars stretch a little further. Back in the day when you had a new application you pretty much went out and bought yourself some new servers and went on your merry way. Now, when money’s tight, folks are a little less likely to go out and simply buy new equipment for each individual application. Not only is this option expensive, there are other factors to think about such as space (data center may not have capacity for new servers), electricity and cooling.

Enter virtualization. Virtualization allows you to consolidate this server sprawl issue by buying a physical server, filling it with tons of your typical resources such as CPU, memory and drives, and from this single box be able to create virtual servers on this single piece of hardware that look/act/feel like independent servers. This week we’re going to cover some basics of virtualization and stuff you need to know about if you’re going to be going that route in your shop.

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SQL Server 2012: Business Intelligence Edition

Well this was quite the little surprise this morning. Microsoft announced a new edition to the SQL Server lineup for 2012 – Business Intelligence edition. In addition to a new edition (funnily I don’t see Datacenter in that lineup) we also have a new licensing scheme for SQL Server. In SQL 2012 it looks like Microsoft is finally moving to the core-based licensing model. Ladies and gentlemen, start your grumbling! Okay, seriously, the new licensing scheme shouldn’t be that big of a shock to anyone. I think most of us have been expecting this for quite some time as it only makes sense as newer processors are coming with more and more cores.

As for the new edition of SQL Server, I think it’s an interesting move to say the least. As SQL Server adoption in the enterprise keeps going up, it kind of makes sense that they’d make a dedicated edition for the BI stack. The last few releases of SQL Server have been BI-feature heavy and when you’re architecting your setup, you should be setting up dedicated boxes (if possible) for the BI stack anyways. In my eyes this is a pretty smart move, although I’m sure some will disagree. With the separation of church and state Engine and BI you can now have a little more flexibility in your choices, especially regarding licensing.

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So what does the new licensing change mean for you? Should you be worried? Well if you’re not sure how your licenses are currently distributed or what you have out in your enterprise deployed right now, I HIGHLY suggest you download and use the MAP Toolkit. This free tool will not only discover instances in your enterprise (not only SQL Server!) but it will give you some really great detailed information including usage information (this is a must-use tool if you’re considering consolidation), editions, number of cores, etc. Run it against your environment and then have a chat with your local Microsoft rep about how the new changes might affect your existing infrastructure.

What are your thoughts on the new changes? Like it? Hate it? Don’t care? Let me hear it in the comments.

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