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Allen White

Are We Losing a Standard (Edition) Data Recovery Technology?

One of the coolest technologies Microsoft released with SQL Server 2005 was Database Mirroring, which provided the ability to have a failover copy of a database on another SQL Server instance, and have the ability to automatically failover to that copy should a problem occur with the primary database. What was even cooler was that this new technology was available on Standard Edition! Mom and Pop shops could afford to implement a high availability solution without paying an extra tens of thousands of dollars in license fees, and still have a service they could rely upon. This new technology was continued with SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2, with the same edition rules, and now lots of companies embrace it fully.

When we first started discussing Availability Groups, the new "Always On" technology that was introduced with SQL Server 2012 with Microsoft, the development team told us that it would "leverage" the clustering services technology built into the Windows Operating System. I was extremely upset with this decision because at that time, clustering services was only supported in the Enterprise Edition of Windows Server. (I was vocal enough about it that Michael Coles (blog) started calling me "Mr. Standard Edition".)

The good news about Windows Clustering Services is that it's now supported in Standard Edition on Windows Server 2012.

The bad news about Availability Groups is that it's only supported in Enterprise Edition of SQL Server 2012. Oh, and by the way, Database Mirroring is now deprecated.

Now, deprecated doesn't mean it's gone, just that it's scheduled to be removed from the product in a future release. (Isn't that comforting?)

Personally, I think that in the interest in competing with Oracle and DB2, Microsoft is abandoning the client base that got them to the point where they CAN compete with Oracle and DB2, and that isn't good, for the client base or for Microsoft. Customers have come to rely on Microsoft to put out a great product at a reasonable price. This focus on Enterprise Only for all mission-critical features puts SQL Server out of reach for startup businesses. (Yes, I know there's now Windows Azure SQL Database, but if you're in a place where your internet connectivity isn't always reliable you have no reasonably priced solution.)

My request to Microsoft is to please continue to support Database Mirroring, and remove the "deprecated" label from that technology. It works, it's reasonably easy to implement, and it provides some level of comfort that ensures that businesses can continue to operate if a server fails for any reason.


Published Monday, June 10, 2013 10:57 AM by AllenMWhite



AaronBertrand said:

I really don't believe Microsoft is going to leave these users out in the cold. By the time database mirroring is no longer available (three major releases from now - SQL Server 2018? 2019?), I am sure they will have found a way for Standard Edition customers to make some limited use of Availability Groups - say, exactly one replica. Much like they extended backup compression to Standard Edition in 2008 R2.

Just because they haven't announced exactly what will replace mirroring in 5-6 years does not mean they aren't thinking about it.

June 10, 2013 10:11 AM

Glenn Berry said:

I agree with Aaron. Even though DBM is deprecated, it still works just as before, and will for at least a couple of new versions of SQL Server after SQL Server 2014.

A small business could be using DBM with "SQL Server 2018" ten years from now if they needed to. I am sure Microsoft will have a viable replacement before then.

June 10, 2013 10:20 AM

AllenMWhite said:

Don't you guys remember Notification Services? Without a clearly defined roadmap we're all just hoping Microsoft does the right thing. When customers ask, and I have to say "well, it's deprecated, but it'll be around for a few releases yet," the level of confidence in the technology is pretty low. I'm simply asking for a well-defined path to the future that some random ISP can't interfere with.

June 10, 2013 10:35 AM

AaronBertrand said:

Panic when they do it. Notification Services was an exception - both because nobody was using it and also because they heard the feedback loud and clear - they did not follow deprecation policy, it wasn't appreciated, and I'll wait to panic until they do it again. I do think they learn from the loud feedback they get from certain poor decisions (unlike the Windows team, SQL Server was smart enough to not name the next version 2012 R2).

And besides, given how many people are still running SQL Server 2000, and who will still be running <= SQL Server 2014, 10-15 years from now, even if it were just completely removed, how many people would it hurt, really? At worst case it will just open the market for other people to develop technology that does something similar, but I really don't think it will come to that.

In any case, if they don't have an answer for you yet (because their plans aren't solidified), I don't know what magic you're expecting - again, just because they aren't sharing their plans doesn't mean they don't have any. If you really believe that Microsoft might screw all of their Standard Edition customers, then maybe you should tell *your* customers to change platforms.

June 10, 2013 10:40 AM

AaronBertrand said:

Obviously there was a smiley missing from that last sentence. :-)

June 10, 2013 10:44 AM

eccentricDBA said:

My issue with Standard Editions of Server and SQL Server is that Windows Server 2012 had changed their limit from 32 GB to 4 TB.  However, SQL Server went from "based on operating system limits" to having a 64 GB limit.

As I am looking at the limits right now and see Windows Server 2012 Essentials has a 64 GB limit also.  So I wonder the better pair would be SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition running on Server 2012 Essential Edition.  My only concern would be what features become lost with Essential Edition that a small business would need.

It seems that Azure it's really fitting the nitch for companies that need high availability at a lower cost which makes me wonder what the price breakdown would be to keep a server on premise instead of in the cloud.

June 10, 2013 10:57 AM

AaronBertrand said:


(1) 64GB *per instance*. You can have 50 instances of Standard Edition. Do you actually have servers with more than 64 GB of RAM right now?

(2) Cloud is obviously not a viable option for everyone.

June 10, 2013 11:22 AM

eccentricDBA said:


(1) Your right.  I forget about instances.  I have virutalized %80+ of my environment and usually stand up a new guest instead of a new instance. I give the application a cname to the instance and if I deem I can combine I migrate the application to another guest and update the cname.  My virutal servers definetly have more then 64 GB of memory and I have a few special purpose servers where I have ran into the issue with the 32 GB limitation of the Server OS.  These servers I had already had Enterprise SQL Server running on them.

(2) I agree. However, as I get more and more exposure to the cloud I see the value of it for Small Businesses.  It can be made private via vpn's and it's has redunency baked into it.  The two draw backs I would see would be related to cost or supporting a company with a large consumer base in one geographic location.

June 10, 2013 12:13 PM

Kurt Survance said:

Everyone who posted here is correct to some degree.  We are not going to lose standard edition mirroring tomorrow.  We also have the choice not to upgrade even after it has been removed from the product.  However, that does not preclude Allen's major point that MS seems to be abandoning the standard edition clients.  There wasn't much in 2008 R2 for them and there is not much in 2012 for them.

June 24, 2013 6:14 AM
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About AllenMWhite

Allen White is a consultant and mentor for Upsearch Technology Services in Northeast Ohio. He has worked as a Database Administrator, Architect and Developer for over 30 years, supporting both the Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server platforms over that period.

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