Looking For Alternatives to AlwaysOn Availability Groups?
Microsoft made announcements about its most widely anticipated availability options that is being introduced with SQL Server 2012. This changes include AlwaysOn Availability Groups which will only be available with the Enterprise Edition of SQL. The cost of SQL Server Enterprise is $27,496 for any server (that has up to 4 physical processors) vs. $7,172 for Standard Edition. To take advantage of “Read-Only” replica, the cost of the solution is doubled ($54,992) since you have to license both the source and the target server. With such a high price point, you begin to wonder if there are Alternatives to AlwaysOn Availability Groups. Keep reading. Because I’m going to introduce SteelEye DataKeeper Cluster Edition which probably gives you the best bang for your buck.
The good news is that Microsoft still allows you to build 2-node clusters using SQL Server Standard Edition. Since this is generally deployed in an active-passive configuration, you do not have to license the standby server. So for $7,172 you can build a pretty robust 2-node SQL cluster. That’s assuming you have an enterprise class SAN that you can use to store your cluster data.
What’s that you say, you don’t have a SAN? Or you’d rather build a solution that eliminates the SAN as a single point of failure. And instead allows you to use data replication to keep the data in sync between cluster nodes the way that AlwaysOn Availability Groups allows you to? Or perhaps you want to use take advantage of the speed offered by local attached SSD drives such as those offered by Fusion-IO, but yet don’t want to give up on availability?
The Greatness of SteelEye DataKeeper Cluster Edition
For the cost of a single copy of SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition and the very affordable addition of SteelEye DataKeeper Cluster Edition, you’ll be able to deploy 2-node SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition clusters with data replication. Best part? It’s about half the cost of a 2-node SQL Server Enterprise Edition AlwaysOn Availability Group. Furthermore, it’s about ¼ of the price of a AlwaysOn Availability Group with read-only targets.
If you find yourself answering yes to any of the following questions. Then perhaps, it’s a sign to seek Alternatives to AlwaysOn Availability Groups. Windows Server Failover Clustering and DataKeeper Cluster Edition may be a wiser choice.
- Am I concerned about the cost of SQL Server Enterprise Edition?
- Do I use replication or log shipping?
- Do I need to support Lync Server or other applications that use distributed transactions?
- Do I need to ensure that SQL Agent jobs such as database backups, optimizations, DTS and others continue to run regardless of the node in service?
- Do I need to ensure that SQL login accounts are kept in sync between cluster nodes?
- Do I want to minimize my administrative burden?
We’ve Done The Comparison
The following chart summarizes your SQL Server 2012 availability options. We’ve included the 3rd option which is to build a traditional SQL cluster using Windows Server Failover Clustering with DataKeeper Cluster Edition.
Failover Clustering with DataKeeper Cluster Edition is going to save you plenty of money. And, it also is going to help you overcome some of the inherent limitations of AlwaysOn Availability Groups.
About the only thing you can’t do with the DataKeeper solution is to have read-only targets. As I mentioned earlier, read-only targets requires a second SQL license, so to have that feature will cost you minimally $54,938. If you really must have read-only targets, you’ll be glad to know that you can mix AlwaysOn Failover Clusters with DataKeeper and AlwaysOn Availability Groups. Basically you would wind up with a 2-node SQL failover cluster with DataKeeper and a single standalone SQL Server acting as a read-only target for an AlwaysOn Availability Group. In that case, you would still need two copies of SQL Server Enterprise Edition – one for the cluster and one for the read-only target.
Essentially, do check out possible Alternatives to AlwaysOn Availability Groups to save costs and improve work processes. I demonstrated this solution at Tech-Ed 2011 in Atlanta last year and got a lot of really positive feedback. This particular demonstration shows a 2-node multisite cluster. However, fret not the same concept can be applied to single site clusters.
Reproduced with permission from https://clusteringformeremortals.com/2012/04/05/sql-server-2012-standard-edition-availability-options/