It seems as though SQL Server and relational databases in general are always one of the last technologies to move to new platforms. That was certainly true with virtualization. For the longest time, many businesses were reluctant to move their SQL Server workloads off physical servers and onto virtual machines (VMs). Many were afraid that VMs couldn’t provide enough performance to support resource-intensive SQL Server workloads. Others worried that virtualization wasn’t reliable enough for mission-critical workloads. Fast forward to today. Now it’s common for SQL Server to be virtualized. Furthermore, deploying SQL Server in a VM is the standard practice for most organizations.
Related: SQL Server Cloud Choices
Today, the private cloud is in much the same place that virtualization was about four or five years ago. The private cloud technology is just emerging; there are competing standards between Microsoft and VMware, and even questions about private cloud versus public cloud implementations. While cloud technologies continue to grow, most businesses are reluctant to move their database resources into the cloud. Some of their main concerns revolve around security, performance, and availability. Although these are valid issues for the public cloud, the private cloud is really another issue altogether. The private cloud avoids these issues by putting your organization in control of the underlying infrastructure.
So what benefits might you gain by moving SQL Server to a private cloud? The private cloud offers all the benefits that you get from virtualization, plus a level of flexibility and automation that virtualization alone can’t provide. Running SQL Server in the private cloud can deliver:
Fast application roll-out by deploying multiple VMs as a service
- Fast VM deployment, using VM service templates with prebuilt VMs
- Dynamic optimization of memory and configured scalability of application front-ends
- Dynamic balancing of VM workloads between hosts
- Self-service application deployment
- IT-controlled VM quotas
So how do you move SQL Server to the private cloud? If the SQL Server instance is running on a physical system, then you have some work to do to get it into the private cloud. The quickest path is probably to perform a P2V conversion. Microsoft’s System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) provides the built-in ability to perform P2V conversions. There are also several free standalone P2V conversion tools available. If the SQL Server instance is running on a VM, then you can use it directly as a part of a service template that you create. For new deployments, you can build up a VM service template image by using SQL Server’s Image Deployment setup option, in combination with sysprep for the Windows Server OS. Check out SQL Server 2008 R2 Sysprep Step by Step for more detailed information on creating SQL Server deployment images.
Just as you can virtualize SQL Server instances, you can turn SQL Server into an integral part of your private cloud.