Microsoft SQL Server on Stratus ftserver Systems

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1 W H I T E P A P E R Microsoft SQL Server on Stratus ftserver Systems Security, scalability and reliability at its best Uptime that approaches six nines Significant cost savings for your business Only from Stratus and Microsoft by Stratus Technologies December, 2011 Uptime. All the time.

2 1 Abstract Stratus fault-tolerant ftserver systems running Microsoft SQL Server database software, offer unmatched platform availability and simplicity of operation. These attributes combined with low acquisition and operational costs make this the ideal solution for critical distributed and mid-sized database applications. The ftserver/sql Server advantage is especially apparent when compared against Oracle high-availability solutions. Microsoft SQL Server Microsoft s feature-rich, enterprise-class SQL Server database software offers the industry s best performance, availability, security, manageability and affordability. SQL Server takes full advantage of the latest 64-bit, multi-core, multi-processing hardware found in ftserver systems. TPC results, including the latest TPC-E and TPC-H benchmarks, show that SQL Server can fully support the transaction rates, size and simultaneous user counts required by the most demanding database applications deployed in the largest global enterprises. In addition, integrated performance monitoring and analysis tools enable each unique hardware and application environment to be fine tuned for maximum performance. SQL Server database software includes an extensive list of superior features at costs far below competing products such as Oracle. A graphical management interface and powerful scripting capabilities ensure exceptional manageability and are fully integrated with standard Windows management tools. Robust security features include: password policy enforcement, granular permissions, event auditing and enterprise-class data encryption and key management. Fault-tolerant ftserver systems ensure the highest level of database protection for missioncritical SQL Server deployments. End users of the ftserver family benefit from a collaborative effort between Stratus and Microsoft that began ten years ago with the vision of creating business-critical solutions that delivered better than percent uptime for both the hardware and operating system. That strategic relationship continues today as the two companies work closely together to further expand their technologies and market reach in support of mission-critical applications. Stratus ftserver family Equipped with Intel Xeon hex-core processors, QuickPath Interconnect technology, up to 96GB memory and 8TB of physical storage, Stratus fifth-generation ftserver systems have never been so right for critical heavy-duty workloads like SQL Server database solutions. These servers deliver automatic out of the box uptime that approaches six nines a number that translates to less than 32 seconds of downtime annually. Engineered from the ground up to prevent downtime and data loss, fault-tolerant hardware and driver hardening technology shields the operating system, middleware and application software from hardware faults and the impact of transient errors. These advancements alleviate the risk of database corruption and the toll it takes on business operations and revenue. Contained in a single, integrated system package, ftserver platforms eliminate the additional components and complexity inherent to failover clustering. Their single-system software image requires only a single copy (and single license) of all software. Every model is certified for Microsoft Windows and runs standard copies of all Windows software. The ftserver architecture also addresses planned downtime. Active Upgrade software enables hardware upgrades and maintenance to be performed online. Software patches and upgrades can be applied to one half

3 2 of the system while the other half continues to run the production application, eliminating most planned software downtime. Figure 1: An unbeatable choice: the ftserver / SQL Server database solution Customers can have confidence in SQL Server on ftserver for local provisioning of database servers with exceptional uptime, rapid asynchronous data mirroring for disaster recovery, rolling upgradestyle patch management with minimal operational impact, and for any database application where underlying hardware with near-six nines availability is the preferred choice. Single-system configuration Affordability Availability Performance Security - Claude Lorenson Director SQL Server Marketing Microsoft Corp Manageability SQL Server availability options Database solutions place high demands on your hardware infrastructure. Availability options for SQL Server address a varying spectrum of user requirements. These include Microsoft Failover Clustering, fault-tolerant servers, and built-in data replication that can be used for long-distance disaster tolerance. When business needs dictate continuous uptime, trouble-free performance, and simplicity of operation, fault-tolerant Stratus servers are your best choice. Microsoft Failover Clustering While clustering technology is common in enterprise data centers with extensive IT support, it remains a difficult choice for distributed locations and small to midsized companies. Along with complex installation, testing and operational requirements, high-availability clusters require two or more servers, fault-tolerant shared storage, redundant storage connections and redundant, high-speed cluster interconnects. In addition, system failover incurs downtime, loss of uncommitted transactions and risk of data corruption. These factors place additional constraints on IT resources, time and budgets issues that may be impossible to overcome in these environments. Fault-tolerant servers ftserver systems resolve these challenges. Every model combines the latest generation of Intel processors, Microsoft software and internal mirrored disks in a single, easy-to-use platform that automatically delivers the industry s highest level of uptime. Stratus uptime assurance technology is unique in the industry. Fault-tolerant hardware includes duplicated components CPUs, memory, disks, and I/O interfaces that are contained within a single 4U footprint. These partner components operate in lockstep, processing the same instructions at the same time. Should a component fail, Stratus fault-tolerant architecture ensures that server operation and

4 3 normal processing continues. Unlike clusters, there is no failover with ftserver systems. To users this means no processing interruptions or loss of critical data. Even data that is not yet written to disk is preserved. Hardened operating system drivers and the elimination of transient errors that can propagate to the OS or application extend Stratus comprehensive uptime protection from the hardware to the application layer. In datacenter environments where clustering infrastructure and expertise already exist, ftserver systems can function as critical nodes within a multi-node, Windows cluster. Fault-tolerant ftserver nodes ride through hardware failures. This makes them ideal host platforms for critical applications that cannot tolerate the failover time and loss of uncommitted data inherent in the failure of normal cluster nodes. Examples of database environments that are affected by downtime of even a few seconds include credit authorization, process monitoring and control, financial trading, real-time medical and security applications, and many others. Data replication While fault-tolerant servers or failover clustering can be used to protect against hardware or software failures, a site-related failure can still cause application disruption for extended periods. SQL Server includes built-in data replication that allows data to be sent to a disaster-recovery site in real time. This feature enables processing to continue with minimal disruption in the event of a primary site failure. Disaster and primary site configurations do not have to match. Businesses can elect to use fault-tolerant servers, failover clusters or standard servers based on application criticality and financial resources. Oracle high-availability Oracle has traditionally been a popular choice for critical database applications. Oracle offers two highavailability clustering solutions: Oracle Clusterware and RAC (Real Application Clusters). In a Clusterware configuration, only a single database instance is active at one time. Failure of the server running the active database requires a cold start of the database software on a second server. In addition to Clusterware, there are several third-party clustering solutions including Microsoft Failover Clustering that can be used to provide traditional failover clustering for Oracle database. Oracle positions RAC as its premier high-availability database solution. RAC offers both high-availability and scalable performance along with faster failover times than Clusterware. RAC runs multiple active database copies on multiple servers simultaneously. If the server running one of the database instances fails, the other instances pick up the workload after a short delay typically less than one minute. While this results in faster recovery time, the benefits are quickly eclipsed by the high degree of complexity involved in installing and managing a RAC solution. RAC introduces additional performance considerations that require significant knowledge and experience to understand and address. Oracle 11g Standard and Enterprise editions include Clusterware. RAC is also included in Standard Edition but is a significant extra cost option for Enterprise Edition. Fault-tolerant SQL Server versus Oracle high-availability clustering The combination of ftserver systems and SQL Server provides many advantages compared to Oracle high-availability clustering: Automatic field-proven uptime of nearly six nines (~ %) with built-in protection against data loss or corruption Single-system plug-and-play simplicity Lower costs Easier installation and management Total application transparency Better development tools for in-house applications Superior security and patch management

5 4 Uptime Assurance technologies that protect against data corruption and loss Stratus uptime assurance technologies eliminate the downtime inherent in cluster failover. These fault-tolerant servers also eliminate the need for additional hardware, extensive testing and complex administrative procedures required by Oracle Clusterware and RAC implementations. Combined with SQL Server software reliability, ftserver platforms offer database availability advantages that are unmatched by Oracle clustering solutions. The same technologies that keep ftserver systems running at nearly six-nines uptime also address another potential vulnerability of database implementations corruption. While no computer system can prevent a transient error from occurring, Stratus Automated Uptime layer detects, isolates, and withstands transient errors as well as hard errors. In clusters and typical server configurations, these errors can be propagated to the operating system, middleware, or application software where they can cause silent data corruption. Stratus hardened device driver technology averts software failures caused by driver errors, another common cause of database corruption. This embedded open-driver technology allows qualified third-party device drivers to take advantage of hardened-driver capabilities without the need to modify existing driver code. Simple installation and management SQL Server provides sophisticated installation tools, consolidated administration with SQL Server Management Studio, a full GUI as well as scripting capability, and policy-based management that make SQL Server easier to install and manage than Oracle. ftserver systems provide a single-server installation and management model that eliminates the additional, complex and error-prone installation and management steps that are required by Oracle clustering. Built-in serviceability Every ftserver system comes equipped with built-in uptime assurance capabilities that take the guesswork out of troubleshooting and repair. The Automated Uptime layer diagnoses, isolates and reports hardware and software issues to Stratus worldwide services team who monitor your system 24/7 over our secure global ActiveService network. Unlike the typical break-fix support model, our people and practices are focused on detecting and resolving problems before they cause system downtime. Stratus combination of innovative diagnostic and repair technologies and proactive availability management enables Stratus service experts to resolve problems online 99 percent of the time. And, in cases where an on-site visit is required, our worldwide team is quickly there to help. This ensures mission-critical service and support for SQL Server database solutions. Stratus is a gold-certified Microsoft partner and takes first-call responsibility for the ftserver hardware and Windows operating system. Application transparency Application development for SQL Server applications can utilize Microsoft s industry-leading development tools including Visual Studio and ADO.net. And ftserver systems with SQL Server are totally transparent to applications, unlike Oracle RAC that introduces application design issues and custom APIs that can affect application design and development. Third-party applications may not work well with Oracle RAC if they were not specifically designed for RAC. Superior security SQL Server provides robust security features at no additional cost, compared to Oracle s extra cost Advanced Security option. The National Vulnerability Database, managed by the National Institute of Science and Technology, reports a significant number of vulnerabilities for Oracle, versus none for SQL Server. And Oracle s patch management process is so difficult that Computerworld reports that two-thirds of Oracle DBAs do not apply security patches.

6 5 Financial advantage The final, and for many users, the most significant advantage of ftserver systems and SQL Server compared to high-availability Oracle, is cost. For example, comparing a configuration consisting of a Stratus ftserver 4500 system with SQL Server Standard Edition to a two node cluster with Oracle Standard Edition shows the Oracle high-availability solution to be 70% more expensive. The difference is even greater when comparing configurations using the Enterprise Editions of SQL Server and Oracle. An Oracle Enterprise Edition high-availability cluster solution using Clusterware alone is 200% more expensive than an ftserver 6300 system with SQL Server Enterprise Edition. Using RAC, Oracle s recommended high-availability solution, will drive costs more than 300% higher than a Stratus/Microsoft solution. The cost difference becomes even more apparent when considering the many features that are included in SQL Server but are extra cost options in Oracle. For example, database mirroring, table and index partitioning, data warehousing and data mining, spatial data and development support, advanced security and Microsoft Office integration are all included in SQL Server Enterprise Edition. In contrast, all of these features are extra cost options in Oracle Enterprise Edition. Proven in deployments worldwide: ftserver based platforms Organizations throughout the world have selected the ftserver platform to run SQL Server databases. Electronic healthcare records (EHR), hospital information systems (HIS), E-911 emergency systems and manufacturing operations are just a few of the hundreds of critical SQL Server database applications running today on Stratus ftserver platforms. It s no wonder Microsoft lists Stratus as a top reason to choose SQL Server. From Microsoft s TOP 10 Reasons to Buy SQL Server #1 Microsoft DBAs run more mission critical databases, when compared to Oracle DBAs. #2 SQL Server delivers six nines ( %) uptime availability. Stratus Technologies protects your mission-critical databases from downtime and data loss with six nines uptime availability. Learn more Stratus, the Stratus logo, ftserver, the ftserver logo, the Stratus Technologies logo, and Active Upgrade are trademarks or registered trademarks of Stratus Technologies Bermuda Ltd. Microsoft SQL Server and Windows are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries/regions. Intel and Xeon are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation in the United States and other countries/regions. Oracle is a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective holders Stratus Technologies Bermuda Ltd. All rights reserved. X 1015-B

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