Today marks the General Availability of Windows Server 2012. Windows Server 2012 is a cornerstone of the Cloud OS, providing customers and partners with a modern platform for their applications.  It is the world’s first server that is “built from the cloud up”.

Windows Server 2012 expands the definition of a server operating system from the single server up to the datacenter and out to the cloud, while also incorporating breakthroughs across advanced storage, software-defined networking, virtualization and automation.  Windows Server 2012 delivers hundreds of new features that will help customers achieve a transformational leap in the speed, scale and power of their datacenters and applications.  In combination with Windows Azure and System Center 2012, Windows Server 2012 empowers customers to manage and deliver applications and services across private, hosted and public clouds.

 

Where can I learn more and download it?

Go to the  Windows Server 2012 online launch event and, more importantly, download and evaluate Windows Server 2012.

 

How does this affect SQL Server?

The first question I usually get is which versions of SQL Server are supported on Windows Server 2012. Bob Ward from the support team published a great blog post on this at  http://blogs.msdn.com/b/psssql/archive/2012/09/01/installing-sql-server-on-windows-8.aspx. From this post you can see the supported versions:

  • SQL Server 2005 and any previous version is NOT supported on Windows 8/Windows Server 2012
  • SQL Server 2008 is supported on Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 but requires a minimum of Service Pack 3
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 is supported on Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 but requires a minimum of Service Pack 1
  • SQL Server 2012 RTM is supported on Windows 8/Windows Server 2012

The next questions is about if there are any benefits in running SQL Server on Windows Server 2012, and the good news is that there is a better together story on this. There are many enhancements in Windows Server 2012 that have a positive effect on SQL Server’s performance, below are some of them.

Better Scaling

  • High capacity virtual processor and memory - Allowing SQL Server VM to use up to 64 virtual processors and 1 TB of memory (increase of 16X over previous Windows Server Hyper-V)
  • Increase cluster scalability - Allowing up to 4,000 SQL Server VMs per cluster (increase of 4X over previous Windows Server)
  • High capacity logical processor and memory - Allowing SQL Server to use up to 640 logical processors and 4 TB of memory
  • Increase cluster scalability - Supporting SQL Server cluster up to 64 nodes (increase 4X over previous Windows Server)

Better Performance

  • NUMA Support - Allowing the usage NUMA optimization (thread scheduler and memory allocation) in SQL Server VM
  • Fiber Channel Support - Allowing SQL Server VM to connect to Fiber Channel directly to support N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV), virtual SAN, and multipath IO (MPIO) to ensure continuous connectivity
  • New VHDX format - Allowing SQL Server VMs size up to 64 TB, better protection of data corruption during power failure. Improved overall manageability of dynamic VHDX without compromising performance and recoverability

Better Availability

  • Simultaneous Live Migration - Allowing simultaneous migration of as many SQL Server VMs as you want (e.g. not just 2 or 4)
  • Faster Live Migration - Allowing migration of multiple SQL Server VMs (with priority settings) in a clustered environment and using up to 10 GB of network bandwidth
  • Live Migration without cluster - Allowing Live Migration of SQL Server VM in a non-clustered environment where the VM’s storage is on the central share storage
  • Live Migration without shared storage - Allowing Live Migration of SQL Server VMs in a non-clustered environment where the VM’s storage is not shared
  • Cluster-Aware Updating (CAU) - Allowing updates to be applied automatically to the host operating system, or other system components, in clustered SQL Server while maintaining availability during the update process
  • Dynamic Quorum in Cluster - Dynamic quorum in allows SQL Server AlwaysOn cluster to adjust the number of quorum votes dynamically that are required to keep running.
  • Windows Server Core - Provides minimum installation of SQL Server that reduces the number of patches to the OS

Better Networking & DR options

  • QoS – Network Bandwidth Enforcing - Allowing bandwidth management (min and max) for multiple SQL Server services (VM, Storage, Live Migration, Cluster Shared Volume) into a network adapter
  • Extensible Switch and Network Virtualization - Providing isolation and security of multiple SQL Server VMs using policies and placement of SQL Server VMs based on workload using software-controlled network virtualization
  • Windows NIC Teaming - Load-balancing: increase bandwidth for SQL Server network traffic by configuring multiple NICs for load-balancing. Failover: maintain availability of SQL Server by configuring multiple NICs for hardware failover
  • Hyper-V Replica - Providing asynchronous disaster recovery solution to SQL Server VM that is easy to set up and manage

Better Storage Support

  • SMB support - Allowing SQL Server to store data files using remote shared folders that uses SMB protocol and removes the limitation on drive letters for large failover clusters
  • 4-KB Disk Sectors - Allows databases to be safely deployed on the newest generations of disk technology
  • Storage Spaces - Improving flexibility of SQL Server storage using Storage Pools that has resilient storage (mirroring and parity) and multi-tenancy isolation (ACLs) such as tier storage based on performance needs (e.g. SSD storage for performance critical databases)
  • Data Deduplication - Increase storage with less physical space for SQL Server using variable-size chunking and compression (great storage space saving in FILESTREAM applications such as SharePoint document storage)

 

 

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The above diagram depicts the areas in which Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 impact the performance, manageability, scalability of SQL Server 2012 in a positive way.