Virtualizing Microsoft SQL Server may provide benefits

2 July 2013

Many database administrators (DBAs) are starting to see virtualized machines as a viable solution to various enterprise technology challenges.

One of the biggest barriers to implementing technology is a lack of funding for IT infrastructure. At many organizations, CIOs and IT managers are tasked with finding cost-effective solutions for communications and collaboration. Enterprises that are on tight budgets can benefit from virtualizing a Microsoft SQL Server. Generally, several virtual machines can be placed on a single server, which reduces the need for IT hardware. 

According to Kovarus, there are also some operational benefits that come with SQL virtualization. The source reported that DBAs can reduce network downtime by creating virtual servers. Additionally, monitoring performance and addressing problems is much simpler, as all databases are in a central location, making it easier to pinpoint problematic process codes. 

For many IT professionals running Microsoft SQL Server, virtualization may require taking additional Microsoft certification courses. However, the benefits of virtual servers make investing in the technology a worthy expense. Also, by following a few simple tips, IT teams can make the virtualization process a breeze. 

Balance cores and virtual processors
According to SQL Server Pro, making sure that all virtual machines operate under a one-to-one core to processor ratio is important. Although it's not necessary to virtualize, it should keep performance rates high, especially when workloads become excessive. Configuring servers in this manner will provide more flexibility and processing power, which can be important for a company that constantly creates data. 

Fixed virtual hard disks for simple tasks
The source indicated that many enterprises elect to use dynamic virtual hard disks (VHDs) because they use less space than fixed VHDs. However, the performance levels for fixed VHDs are much better which means they can handle more critical processes. Also, dynamic VHDs tend to experience pauses when the disks need to be extended, which can reduce productivity and leave information on affected serves inaccessible until the issue has been resolved. 

Customize configurations
Most virtualization software offers a default setting that uses a single VHD to store the operating system, data sets and log files. However, the source noted that this can be a hindrance to performance and suggested that the OS, data and log files be placed on separate VHDs when SQL Server is virtualized. Taking this approach will ensure that databases operate smoothly, allowing them to be accessed at all times. 

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