Enhanced Microsoft SQL Server Business Continuity Benefits

As of the 1st of November, the Software Assurance rights for SQL Server users will be extended to include enhanced benefits to further improve customers’ high-availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) options.

Business continuity through the Microsoft SQL Server currently

With continuity being of paramount importance in any business critical system, and with a large proportion of these critical systems utilizing Microsoft SQL Server, many organizations have to consider licensing requirements to cover HA and DR scenarios.

One of the benefits of SQL Server historically has been the right to deploy an additional passive instance (an install of SQL which replicates the primary server but does not run any workloads) which could take over if the primary (“active”) server went down. Customers could then deploy a robust SQL service behind their critical systems without having to license additional servers. The announcement is positive news, allowing provisioning of more robust business continuity technologies that previously may have been cost prohibitive..

Three enhanced benefits in Software Assurance

The following benefits will be applicable to all releases of SQL Server.

Failover for High Availability

This is the existing Software Assurance right that allows a single passive instance of SQL to be deployed in a separate operating system environment (OSE) for high availability during a failover event. This historically could have been used for either HA or for DR.

Failover for Disaster Recovery

This new benefit allows a Software Assurance customer to deploy a passive instance of SQL server within a separate OSE for disaster recovery. This now sits in addition to the traditional Failover for High Availability. This now allows a customer to have a passive instance for HA and a passive for DR. In previous rights having two passive instances for both HA and DR would require additional licensing.

Failover for disaster recovery in Azure

This is another new benefit. The new Software Assurance benefit allows customers to deploy a passive SQL instance in a separate OSE within Azure. Previously a customer could not use their passive rights within Azure therefore could not cost efficiently utilise Azure for DR.

In addition to the HA and DR benefits, the following operations are allowed on the passive replicas:

● Database consistency checks
● Log backups
● Full backups
● Monitoring resource usage data

The impact on an organization’s software licensing

I would recommend that all customers undertake an analysis of their existing licensing to understand if they have access to these new rights. If so, they can now look to implement HA and DR provisions, which could ensure their business stays productive if the worst should happen to the SQL instance supporting their business-critical systems.

Understanding your existing deployments and where you potentially have previously licensed Azure based DR servers or required both a HA server and a DR server on-premise as these licenses can now be re-harvested and utilized for future projects.

If a customer is designing new infrastructure for systems, then I would recommend reviewing the build of any new system to ensure it incorporates these Software Assurance benefits as much as possible for cost efficiency and maximising investment in new infrastructure. This could mean ensuring both DR and HA servers are included in the estate, but could also mean utilizing Azure for DR to reduce the need to procure additional hardware to meet business continuity requirements.

Ben Simpson

Ben Simpson

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