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One of the most talked about (and now frequently requested) feature in SQL Server 2012 is AlwaysOn Availability Groups. It brings SQL Server high availability and disaster recovery to a whole new level by allowing multiple copies of the database be highly available and potentially using them for read-only workloads and offloading management tasks such as backups. AlwaysOn Availability Groups allow you to fail over a group of databases as a single entity, unlike database mirroring where you can only do so one database at a time. This is very useful for applications that access multiple databases in a single SQL Server instance like SharePoint Server 2013. In fact, very recently, one of my customers had requested to configure SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups for their SharePoint 2013 farm. I am also seeing more and more SharePoint 2013 farms leveraging on the SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups for both high availability and disaster recovery.
This step-by-step has been created to help you get started in creating a SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Group for your mission-critical databases.
Windows Failover Cluster Feature Installation
Since AlwaysOn Availability Groups require a Windows Server Failover Cluster, we first need to add the Windows Failover Cluster Feature to all the machines running the SQL Server instances that we will configure as replicas. For the operating system, we will be using Windows Server 2012. To add the Failover Clustering feature:
Windows Failover Clustering Configuration for SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups
Prior to configuring the Windows Server Failover Cluster, it is assumed that you have the appropriate rights in Active Directory. For a complete listing of the different Active Directory permissions to create a Windows Server Failover Cluster, see Failover Cluster Step-by-Step Guide: Configuring Accounts in Active Directory. To configure Windows Failover Clustering,
Enable SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups Feature
Once the Windows Server Failover Cluster has been created, we can now proceed with enabling the AlwaysOn Availability Groups feature in SQL Server 2012. This needs to be done on all of the SQL Server instances that you will configure as replicas in your Availability Group. To enable the SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups feature,
Create and Configure SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups
Availability Groups can be created on existing databases or even a temporary one in preparation for application installation. If you intend to create an Availability Group for a new SharePoint 2013 farm, you will need to create a temporary database. This is so that the SharePoint 2013 farm will use the AlwaysOn Availability Group when creating the farm configuration and the admin content databases. After the SharePoint 2013 farm has been created, this database can be removed from the Availability Group configuration and deleted from the instance.
To create and configure a SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Group,
Congratulations! You have just created a SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups. You can now use the Availability Groups listener name in your application connection string. Keep in mind that you need to manually add new databases in the Availability Group even though your application has already been using the listener name. So, be sure to monitor the replicas in your Availability Groups to be alerted when new databases are created.