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Storage architecture is key when virtualizing SQL Server

With a proper storage architecture, any performance issues when virtualizing SQL Server should dissipate.

While server virtualization has been around for quite a while, until quite recently a lot of business-critical enterprise applications, such as SQL Server, remained on physical hardware for a variety of reasons.

Virtualizing SQL Server With VMware: Doing IT Right, by Michael Corey, Jeff Szastak and Michael Webster, offers a complete look at how to virtualize many of these applications with a focus on SQL Server. Ranging from the business aspect and choosing the right hypervisor to storage decisions and network issues, this book covers all parts when making the jump from physical to virtual.

Chapter 6, titled "Architecting for Performance: Storage" and available for download here (PDF), dives into all of the details about storage when virtualizing SQL server. The authors refer to storage as more important than other members of the "IT Food Group" that includes disk, CPU, memory and network. To back up their claim, they go on to say more than 80% of performance related problems are connected to storage.

The authors describe the five key principles of database storage design, which includes keeping it standardized and simple (KISS) and is the starting point for the storage architecture. The next steps that follow are looking at the SQL Server database file layout and then determining number and size of database files.

Here's what the authors had to say about KISS, one of their five key principles of database storage design:

Having a standardized and simplified design will allow your environment and databases to be more manageable as the numbers scale while maintaining acceptable performance. If you have a small number of standardized templates that fit the majority of your database requirements and follow a building-block approach, this is very easy to scale and easy for your database administrators to manage.

The starting point for any storage architecture for SQL Server Databases is actually with our last design principle: KISS (Keep It Standardized and Simple). But all of the principles apply. We will determine the smallest number of templates that are required to virtualize the majority (95%) of database systems, and anything that falls outside this will be handled as an exception.

Editor's note: The chapter excerpt from Virtualizing SQL Server With VMware: Doing IT Right, is available courtesy of VMware Press, a publishing alliance between Pearson and VMware.

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