TABLE OF CONTENTS THE SHAREPOINT MVP GUIDE TO ACHIEVING HIGH AVAILABILITY FOR SHAREPOINT DATA. Introduction. Examining Third-Party Replication Models

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2 THE SHAREPOINT MVP GUIDE TO ACHIEVING HIGH AVAILABILITY TABLE OF CONTENTS 3 Introduction 14 Examining Third-Party Replication Models 4 Understanding Sharepoint High Availability Challenges With Sharepoint 15 Conclusion 5 Exploring Native High Availability Options With Sharepoint 16 About The Author 8 Using New SQL Server 2012 High Availability Options Such As Alwayson Availability Groups For Sharepoint 17 About Metalogix 2

3 1 THE SHAREPOINT MVP GUIDE TO ACHIEVING HIGH AVAILABILITY INTRODUCTION While the growth of SharePoint has broken down communication and collaboration barriers across the world, it has also exposed a major infrastructure challenge within the application the lack of a two-way data replication engine built into the tool. Because of this, organizations are faced with a choice either centralize their SharePoint data and have users access it across high-latency or low bandwidth links, or deal with a decentralized SharePoint content structure. While the first option degrades performance, the second often results in the duplication of data, outdated content, slow end-user performance, operations outages, regulatory risks, and discontented users. This ebook examines the various approaches taken by organizations as they endeavor to deal with the explosion of SharePoint content. We ll also explore content distribution options that ensure users experience real-time, up-to-date content in the most reliable, efficient manner. Finally, we ll take a look at some of the native out of the box Microsoft options, including those provided within SQL Server 2014, and compare these to third-party replication approaches. 3

4 THE 1SHAREPOINT MVP GUIDE TO ACHIEVING HIGH AVAILABILITY UNDERSTANDING SHAREPOINT HIGH AVAILABILITY CHALLENGES WITH SHAREPOINT SharePoint products and technologies have fast become a preferred method for advanced document management and a mission-critical application for full enterprise collaboration. As such, IT leaders, stakeholders and users expect fault tolerance and high availability as standard. However, the complexity and various operational tiers within SharePoint present several challenges to achieving this state. Building redundancy into SharePoint hardware alone does not ensure high availability, the SharePoint environment must also be architected to deliver data close to those who need to access it. Multiple copies of this data must also be provided to ensure failover in the event of an outage. However, SharePoint s native architecture and the inability of a single SharePoint farm to span multiple sites make this a challenge. 4

5 THE SHAREPOINT MVP GUIDE TO ACHIEVING HIGH AVAILABILITY 2 EXPLORING NATIVE HIGH AVAILABILITY OPTIONS WITH SHAREPOINT We touched on the limitations presented by the operational tiers within SharePoint above, but how does this impact native high availability within SharePoint? SharePoint operates at three very distinct layers, each with their own operational requirements, as illustrated in Figure 1. Figure 1: Three Layers of SharePoint infrastructure 5

6 3 THE SHAREPOINT IT S NOT MVP ABOUT GUIDE MIGRATION TO ACHIEVING IT S HIGH ABOUT AVAILABILITY CHANGE MANAGEMENT THE WEB TIER handles user traffic and runs on Internet Information Services (IIS). It feeds this traffic directly into the platform, allowing users to browse pages, upload and download documents, and view reports. To achieve high-availability at the Web tier, multiple Web role servers are typically deployed in a SharePoint farm. A load balancer distributes user requests to these servers to optimize response times and offer redundancy in the event of a server failure. The load balancers may be hardwarebased, but may also involve the use of a software load balancer such as Windows Network Load Balancing, (included in the Windows Server operating system). Windows Network Load Balancing can be a challenge to implement and is generally not recommended, particularly considering the inexpensive nature of hardware load balancers. THE MIDDLE SHAREPOINT LAYER is the Service Application tier. This tier stores shared services such as Search, the Managed Metadata Store, Excel Services, the User Profile Sync Service, and much more. This tier is the most diverse, because each Service Application has its own operational requirements and the majority of them have their own unique high-availability concerns. For the most part, high-availability at this tier can be achieved simply by running a service application on more than one server in a farm. Alternatively, SharePoint administrators can use the User Profile Sync Service Application and the Search Administration component, both of which require manual steps to recover from a server failure. As a general rule, if you set up at least two servers in a farm and turn on each service application on both servers, SharePoint will automatically use both servers. In the event of an outage, the second server will continue to operate, preserving the service application functionality for that farm. 6

7 THE SHAREPOINT IT S NOT MVP ABOUT GUIDE MIGRATION TO ACHIEVING IT S HIGH ABOUT AVAILABILITY CHANGE MANAGEMENT 4 The Search service application brings with it its own level of complexity. Simply turning on the service on two servers will not provide for automatic highavailability. Instead, administrators must make use of the ability to create multiple Index Partitions, query components, and crawlers and split them across the servers running the service applications, similar to the scenario shown in Figure 2. The final operational tier within SharePoint is the DATA TIER, which runs on Microsoft SQL Server. SharePoint is highly dependent on this tier, as all information within a SharePoint site is stored in SQL Server databases. This information includes both content and most of the data stored by the various Service Applications. High-availability at this tier has traditionally taken place via traditional shared storage clustering models involving two or more SQL Servers that share a common set of databases, although the introduction of new SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 functionality has changed this model which we ll look at next. 7

8 THE SHAREPOINT IT S NOT MVP ABOUT GUIDE MIGRATION TO ACHIEVING IT S HIGH ABOUT AVAILABILITY CHANGE MANAGEMENT 5 USING SQL SERVER 2012/2014 HIGH AVAILABILITY OPTIONS High Availability Options for SQL Server 2012/2014 Potential Data Loss (RPO) Potential Recovery Time (RTO) Auto- Failover Additional Readable Copies Limitations for SharePoint High Availability AlwaysOn Availability Groups Synchronous (Dual-phase commit, no data loss, can t operate across WAN) AlwaysOn Availability Groups Asynchronous (Latency tolerant, cross WAN option, potential for data loss) None 5-7 Seconds Yes 0-2 Cannot work across low bandwidth/ high latency networks Seconds Minutes No 0-4 Cannot be used for SharePoint User Profile Sync Databases AlwaysOn Failover Cluster Instance (FCI) Traditional shared storage clustering NA 30 Seconds to several minutes (depending on disk failover) Yes N/A Cannot work across low bandwidth/ high latency networks. Only one copy of database files. Database Mirroring - High-safety (Synchronous) None 5-10 seconds Yes N/A Cannot work across low bandwidth/ high latency networks Database Mirroring - Highperformance (Asynchronous) Seconds If manually initiated can take minutes, if automated may take hours. No N/A Cannot be used for SharePoint User Profile Sync Databases SQL Log Shipping Minutes If manually initiated can take minutes, if automated may take hours. No Not during a restore Cannot be used for SharePoint Service Application and/or Config databases Traditional Backup and Restore Hours to Days Typically multiple hours, days, or weeks No Not during a restore Not a High Availability technology Table 1: Comparison of the High Availability Options for SQL Server 2012/2014 8

9 5 THE SHAREPOINT IT S NOT MVP ABOUT GUIDE MIGRATION TO ACHIEVING IT S HIGH ABOUT AVAILABILITY CHANGE MANAGEMENT The introduction of new features, such as AlwaysOn Availability, within SQL Server 2012, and later improved in SQL Server 2014, has had a big impact on the high availability state of SharePoint farms. The options included in these versions of SQL Server, shown in Table 1, are significantly more sophisticated than some of the prior options, and provide for some fascinating new design options for SharePoint environments. As indicated in Table 1, there are vastly different levels of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) across the various data tier options. Traditional backup and restore options, for example, may result in data loss that totals hours or days, and may take weeks to bring back online, while some of the options available with the new AlwaysOn features in SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 provide for zero data loss and failover within seconds. Given these variables, it s critical that organizations carefully review their preferred data tier availability options. The most significant new feature added in Microsoft SQL Server 2014 that changes the design paradigm for SharePoint administrators is a feature known as AlwaysOn Availability Groups (AOAGs). AOAG technology is a combination of SQL database mirroring technologies, where exact copies of databases can be made on other servers, combined with clustering technologies that allow for automated failover. By joining these technologies together, AOAGs enable SharePoint design architects to create multiple redundant copies of SharePoint databases, allowing for up to five total copies of the content. KEY FEATURES OF AOAGS FOR A SHAREPOINT ENVIRONMENT INCLUDE THE ABILITY TO Create synchronous replicas of SharePoint databases on up to three servers, with automatic failover between two of the replicas Create up to four asynchronous replicas of SharePoint content databases, so that content can be directed to remote sites Provide for automated failover of all SharePoint content in a farm within seconds 9

10 5 THE SHAREPOINT IT S NOT MVP ABOUT GUIDE MIGRATION TO ACHIEVING IT S HIGH ABOUT AVAILABILITY CHANGE MANAGEMENT AOAGs enable new high availability design options for SharePoint farms, as illustrated in Figure 3. 10

11 5 THE SHAREPOINT IT S NOT MVP ABOUT GUIDE MIGRATION TO ACHIEVING IT S HIGH ABOUT AVAILABILITY CHANGE MANAGEMENT Figure 3 illustrates a sample design for AOAGs that takes full advantage of all of the features of the technology. In this example, a primary datacenter is configured for automated high availability of the SharePoint data tier, with synchronous copies of all databases configured to automatically failover within seconds between the primary SQL server and the secondary replica. In addition, a third synchronous copy of the content is set for manual failover to a highly connected datacenter located close by. For synchronous AOAGs to work properly, the connectivity must be very high (1GB or greater) and the latency must be very low (1ms average latency or less). In this example, you ll notice two additional asynchronous replicas of content databases created in remote datacenters. These fourth and fifth replicas are limited to the content databases due to the fact that only the Secure Store database and the content databases of SharePoint are supported for asynchronous replicas. All other types of SharePoint database only support synchronous replicas. In this model, the first asynchronous replica is created in a remote site configured with a Read-Only SharePoint farm which allows users in that location to have a local readable copy of their SharePoint content. The final datacenter features an asynchronous copy that provides a failover location for SharePoint content in the event of a disaster. 11

12 5 THE SHAREPOINT IT S NOT MVP ABOUT GUIDE MIGRATION TO ACHIEVING IT S HIGH ABOUT AVAILABILITY CHANGE MANAGEMENT While this model illustrates how the SQL AOAGs can be used to improve some of the design options and provide for levels of local high availability that were previously unattainable the solution is less than ideal. The limitations of AOAGs include the following: COST: Using AOAGs with SharePoint requires an investment in the most expensive Enterprise editions of both SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, or Windows Server 2012 R2. LIMITED SUPPORT FOR UPS DATABASES: Microsoft does not support the failover of the User Profile Sync (UPS) databases from asynchronous database copies. Because of the UPS and asynchronous database limitation, it is recommended that SharePoint be deployed across two AlwaysOn Availability Groups. One group would be limited to those databases that support both asynchronous and synchronous copies, while the second would be reserved for the UPS databases that only support synchronous copies. This provides for enhanced design flexibility should any changes need to be made to the number and type of replicas. LIMITED SUPPORT FOR SQL REPLICA: Support for the addition of a SQL replica directly in Microsoft Azure is limited to the AlwaysOn Availability Group technology available with SQL Server 2014 Enterprise Edition. SQL Server 2012 does not include this capability. 12

13 5 THE SHAREPOINT IT S NOT MVP ABOUT GUIDE MIGRATION TO ACHIEVING IT S HIGH ABOUT AVAILABILITY CHANGE MANAGEMENT EXAMINING THIRD-PARTY REPLICATION MODELS Because of the limitations inherent in SharePoint high availability options, Metalogix has observed that many organizations opt instead for approaches that use application-layer replication technologies to achieve their Service Level Agreements (SLAs). These technologies typically operate at the SharePoint application program interface (API) level to provide a complete SharePoint view and better capabilities to simplify the recovery process looking for new documents and content within a SharePoint site, and then sending that content to another active farm in a different location. Every time a document is added or modified in SharePoint, a copy of that document is then replicated to the multiple farms within the organization. In many cases, these multiple farms are then configured to take advantage of global load balancing modules that allow for a single URL to be used for all of the farms. That way, if a user clicks on a link to a SharePoint site, the load balancer determines what the closest replicated farm is and sends the user to that farm. Since all content is kept in sync via the third-party replication tools, this allows for a seamless experience for the end users. It also keeps content closer to the users, while allowing for multiple live copies of the content to exist in multiple locations. If a local farm is down due to an outage or maintenance, the load balancers can also send users to a different farm in a remote location, preserving availability. These options have been successfully implemented in various forms throughout the years, and are especially interesting from an architecture perspective as they provide for concepts unavailable with the out-of-the box tools available with SharePoint or SQL Server. 13

14 5 THE SHAREPOINT IT S NOT MVP ABOUT GUIDE MIGRATION TO ACHIEVING IT S HIGH ABOUT AVAILABILITY CHANGE MANAGEMENT CONCLUSION Designing a high availability environment within a SharePoint farm can be a complex process. SharePoint architects need to take into account availability at the Web tier, the Service Application tier, and the all-important Data tier. New options in SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014, including AlwaysOn Availability Groups can improve an architect s design options, while other organizations may choose to look at the flexibility and robust high availability models that are provided by third-party replication models instead. SharePoint is an enterprise-critical tool and proper thought and care should be put into the design and implementation of high availability for SharePoint farms. 14

15 5 THE SHAREPOINT IT S NOT MVP ABOUT GUIDE MIGRATION TO ACHIEVING IT S HIGH ABOUT AVAILABILITY CHANGE MANAGEMENT ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michael Noel, a SharePoint MVP, is an internationally recognized technology expert, best-selling author, and well known public speaker on a broad range of IT topics. He has authored several industry books that have been translated into over a dozen languages, with sales exceeding 500,000 copies worldwide. Significant titles include SharePoint 2013 Unleashed, Windows Server 2012 Unleashed, and Exchange Server 2013 Unleashed. Currently a partner at Convergent Computing in the San Francisco Bay Area, Michael s writings and extensive public speaking experience across over 100 countries and all seven continents leverage his real-world expertise helping organizations realize business value from Information Technology infrastructure. 15

16 5 THE SHAREPOINT IT S NOT MVP ABOUT GUIDE MIGRATION TO ACHIEVING IT S HIGH ABOUT AVAILABILITY CHANGE MANAGEMENT ABOUT METALOGIX Metalogix provides industry-recognized management tools for mission-critical collaboration platforms. These tools are engineered and supported by experts committed to the rapidly evolving deployment and operational success of our clients. Metalogix world-class tools and client service have proven to be the most effective way to manage increasingly complex, and exponentially growing metadata and content across collaboration platforms. For over a decade, Metalogix has developed the industry s best and most trusted management tools for SharePoint, Exchange, and Office 365, backed by our globally acknowledged live 24x7 support. Over 14,000 clients rely on Metalogix Tools every minute of every day to monitor, migrate, store, synchronize, archive, secure, and backup their collaboration platforms. Metalogix is a Microsoft Gold Partner, an EMC Select Partner, and a GSA provider. Our Client Service division of certified specialists is the winner of the prestigious NorthFace ScoreBoard Award for World Class Excellence in Customer Service. 16

17 EXPERIENCE AN ALWAYS-ON SHAREPOINT SOLUTION Eliminate business downtime, ensure SharePoint high availability, and maintain continuity of operations (COOP). See how Metalogix Replicator solves your high availability synchronization challenge by delivering quick access to SharePoint content wherever you are, whenever you need it. Synchronize Critical Operation Centers Fast, reliable SharePoint access for global workforce 17

18 MOST TRUSTED SUITE OF TOOLS SharePoint Monitoring SharePoint Migration & Management Multi-farm Sync & Replication Storage Optimization & Performance SharePoint Backup & Restore , File & SharePoint Archiving Security, Compliance & Administration 18

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