AlwaysOn & High Availability

Always on and high availability, Enterprise & Standard edition. Well when I think about all of this the first thing that comes to mind is “Can’t we all get along?” That was one of my ex-husband’s favorite sayings, he might have/still does spend a fair amount of time not sober; however that isn’t what is relevant here.

There are changes on our forefront, probably something many of us don’t even know/care/think about until it impacts us. I am guessing; based on the information that I have gathered over the years most shops run on a reactive schedule and very few are running on a proactive plan and this is something that will bite you in the butt later.

From what we are given in SQL Server 2012 mirroring is depreciated. What does depreciated mean? Well it means that in a future version/edition of MS SQL mirroring will no longer be available. This is the text that I find where Microsoft describes what mirroring being deprecated means(2012 Deprecated List).

This feature will be removed in a future version of Microsoft SQL Server. Avoid using this feature in new development work, and plan to modify applications that currently use this feature. Use AlwaysOn Availability Groups instead. –MSDN

In my research for this blog post I have learned that items marked for deprecation are not actually gone until they are on the discontinued list (2012 Discontinued List). I mean I knew there was a deprecated list but didn’t know when/how I would know it was really gone. I was mostly curious about this based on this because my current company has a fascination for with(nolock) and I was wondering when this would die since it was deprecated in 2005. Now this is vague and I know many of us just ignore it until it happens, but in this particular case there is a huge impact for some.

For those of us running our shop in Enterprise Edition this doesn’t even matter because we have AlwaysOn Availability Groups for those running Standard Edition this is going to be a big problem. Because currently as we see in the features by edition mirroring goes away and AlwaysOn is not available for Standard Edition. (comparison of features).

Alright, alright you are confused right? I was but it really only took a few minutes to figure out what this was going to mean. IMO this means that essentially smaller type companies who use the standard edition are, what is the technical term for screwed? I guess this is the part of this blog post where I tell you that I am not paid by anyone and that this opinion is mine and I made it up all by myself. As I read this Microsoft is setting up Standard Edition to be nearly worthless, I mean log shipping is your option from mirroring? That if you don’t know is stinking slow. Having basically no High Availability in standard edition is going to limit it to a non-transaction system. Why should or would you care? I mean at this point let’s be honest, you are here because you are some sort of technical person. CEOs, VPs and the decision makers don’t read blog post they make decisions based on numbers and advise from other managers. I care because this would potentially mean that smaller shops would be forced to look for a alternate/cheaper option or they just would have no feasible means to keep things running.

What we know:

  • Mirroring is going away for everyone.
    • We don’t exactly know when.
  • Standard Edition currently does not support AlwaysOn Availability Groups and will need to rely on log shipping.
  • Some features are available to all of the editions but are limited, for instance clustering 2 node max with Standard.
  • 2014 feature support comparisons by Edition has not been released.

I don’t work for Microsoft but if you spent any time in my home you would think we did. We live with their products daily in every way possible I think. When MS makes a decision that I think is going to get a lot of grief I feel that they have just done it wrong. I just can’t believe that the decision is made to basically drop support for a very core piece of functionality. I am disappointed in this and hoping that there will be changes made that will give Standard Edition the support of AlwaysOn Availability Groups in some fashion. Maybe they need to buy Azure space, maybe there will be some limits, or maybe mirroring never goes away. It is not past the realm of possibility that licensing and editions get a dramatic change, see Office 2013. In that case this post could 1) be irrelevant or 2) add a voice to the pool of people impacted by this and possibly induce a change.

For now I will refrain from getting to terribly upset, but don’t get me wrong this is something that everyone should be monitoring I am sure we’ve not heard the end of this.

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