By Don Boxley, Co-founder and CEO, DH2i
When it comes to optimizing Microsoft SQL Server high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR), there’s a strong correlation between greater database transaction processing performance, business resiliency, and profitability—particularly for workloads like those in industries like financial services, though certainly other sectors as well.
The fact is that our world is connected yet fragile, which creates many challenges when it comes to database HA/DR—specifically with resilience, security, and scalability across on-premises sites, remote locations, and public clouds. Companies need a way to not only provide database resiliency within an availability zone or region, but also between zones and regions. With security concerns, enterprises must ensure data integrity with data constantly moving between isolated networks, such as availability zones and regions. And with scalability in mind, businesses need a way to both manage and scale the number of database instances in response to quickly changing behaviors and expectations.
An Unworkable “Either-Or”
The new class of cloud-based Microsoft SQL Server users needs a reliable way to take full advantage of SQL’s HA for local HA and its DR capabilities for remote data protection. But until recently, there’s been a primary challenge. If these businesses wanted to use SQL Server for both HA and DR on Linux, they had to either use a Pacemaker-based solution—which requires separate clusters for HA instances and Availability Groups and relies on virtual private networks (VPNs) for DR—or combine HA SQL Server instances with some other data replication solution—such as storage replication, block-level replication, full virtual machine replication, etc.—and VPNs for DR.
This database HA/DR challenge has a big impact on SQL Server. If you think about the problems when trying to implement a SQL Server AG cluster, Pacemaker clusters, and VPNs, the description that comes to mind is “science project” architecture. It fails recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) requirements, lacks scalability, has reliability exposure due to insufficient VPN security, and is also unsustainable from a financial perspective.
“Before and After” Use Case
Consider a “before and after” use case for a large financial services company. The “before” scenario at the fintech firm is the one described above, with a SQL Server AG, Pacemaker clusters, and VPNs. What we find is complex and brittle local HA and DR architecture, difficult cluster management with multiple incompatible clustering technologies, and worse yet, long system-outages (RTO) with manual failover management between clusters and datacenters. What’s more, there’s high network security exposure with VPN lateral network attack surfaces, as well as the need to maintain pricey infrastructure.
When the fintech company shifts gears, however, and implements multi-platform Smart Availability clustering software to run on top of SQL Server, the result is both faster transaction processing and better uptime. The key is to leverage Smart Availability software for SQL Server that can not only increase the performance of SQL Server AGs, but also simplify SQL Server workload management, respond to channel partner and end customer requirements for improved SQL Server database resilience, and offer Zero Trust security and scalability across private and public clouds as well as between on-premises and remote locations. In the case of a fintech company that needs to combine local HA and remote data protection, the organization can potentially decrease SQL Server costs by up to 50 percent.
Overcoming Traditional Challenges
Looking in more detail at the “after” use case in this regard, it features easy system management and evergreen infrastructure compatibility, starting with a simplified, standardized local HA and DR architecture with a single cluster. In addition to accelerated RPO via micro-tunnels for triple the SQL Server AG performance, Smart Availability software also allows for speedy (sub-15 second) RTO with easy, automatic failover management end-to-end.
In terms of data safeguards, some of the latest Smart Availability software even includes patented SDP technology for secure multi-site, multi-cloud network communications, offering a strong network security position by eliminating the VPN lateral network attack surface. And the point many fintech IT departments will appreciate the most: it offers a high ROI and reduces costs by eliminating replication of servers and multiple clustering technologies (Windows Server Failover Cluster or Pacemaker), SQL Server licenses, and VPNs.
While it’s certainly not new to have enterprise data management systems offering HA clustering, such technologies aren’t efficient in the cloud or between datacenters. New Smart Availability software addresses these challenges with its cross-cloud, hybrid IT, and datacenter to datacenter clustering technology. The software is particularly effective for Microsoft SQL Server, and allows organizations to run HA, distributed SQL Server clusters on Linux and Windows—without the complexity and performance limitations of traditional clustering, replication, and VPN technologies.
About the Author
Don Boxley, CEO and Co-Founder, DH2i. Don Boxley Jr is a DH2i co-founder and CEO. Prior to DH2i, Don held senior marketing roles at Hewlett-Packard where he was instrumental in sales and marketing strategies that resulted in significant revenue growth in the scale-out NAS business. Don spent more than 20 years in management positions for leading technology companies, including Hewlett-Packard, CoCreate Software, Iomega, TapeWorks Data Storage Systems and Colorado Memory Systems. Don earned his MBA from the Johnson School of Management, Cornell University.