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Where Can You Run SQL Server?

Author: Andy McDermid | 4 min read | December 26, 2014

If you want to run SQL Server, you’re no longer limited to having it operate from a box in a closet. You have a lot of choices, some of which we cover below.

Virtual Machines

Virtual machines, which are software abstractions of a hardware server, can be used to run SQL Server. In the InformationWeek 2014 State of Database Technology survey, this was the preferred running environment.

In reviewing the survey findings, Don Boxley Jr., a co-founder of the technology start-up DH2i Company, stated:

Given the widespread adoption of VMs in the datacenter, that doesn’t seem too surprising. Plain old bare metal is still holding its own, though, with over 50% of the respondents still using it. What is surprising to me is the lack of traction of the public cloud as a deployment platform. While over 28% of those surveyed are using the cloud, the bulk of the activity is centered on private and hybrid cloud deployments. Public cloud deployments represent only 5%.

Private and Hybrid Cloud

Private and hybrid cloud computing environments allow users to manage some resources in-house and others externally. These are proving to be popular options, because they allow database administrators to control data, create an optimized deployment designed to precisely meet their needs, and scale data solutions as needed.

Public Cloud

There are two ways in which the public cloud can be used to run SQL Server.

Public Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) allows a company to outsource the equipment used to run SQL server. Hardware (and therefore storage) is off-site, and connected to through a virtual machine or cloud interface.

Public Cloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) allows customers to rent virtualized servers and services for running existing applications or developing and testing new ones

Platform as a Service

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a way to rent everything you need to run SQL server—hardware, operating systems, storage, and network capacity—over the Internet. The customer rents virtualized servers and associated services to run existing applications or develop new ones.

Microsoft advocates for Platform as a Service use because, being web-based, it is widely available and broadly deployable. Companies can access hardware, operating systems, and other applications in the cloud. It also allows users to create multi-tenant applications. It’s already popular in the public sector. Microsoft says several North American public agencies—The City of Edmonton, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Office of Naval Research—and various local government agencies in India use Platform as a Service.

Microsoft has numerous offerings for Platform as a Service, including Windows Azure, Microsoft SQL Azure Database, AppFabric, Bing Maps for Enterprise, and Microsoft .NET. This last is targeted at developers wanting to write cloud-based applications.

Database as a Service

Forbes calls Database as a Service (DBaaS) “arguably the next big thing in IT,” with annual revenues from DBaaS providers increasing from $150 million in 2012 to $1.8 billion by 2016. The article explains:

The reason is simple. DBaaS is gaining converts because it enables businesses to deploy new databases quickly, securely, and cheaply. DBaaS lets you shift your organization from administering a complex collection of silos—each requiring their own care, feeding, and patching—to a business powered by an agile and flexible database cloud.

Its other merits are support for rapid provisioning and ability to enhance security.

Rates of Adoption

According to a January 2014 Information Week survey of 965 IT professionals, in which multiple responses were permitted, SQL Server is run on:

  • Bare Metal in private data center – 51 percent.
  • Virtualized in private data center – 63 percent.
  • Private Cloud – 14 percent.
  • Hybrid Cloud – 9 percent.
  • Public Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – 3 percent.
  • Public Cloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – 2 percent.
  • Hosted (DBaaS) – 6 percent.

And, in the future, these same respondents said they intend to run SQL Server on:

  • Bare Metal in private data center – 37 percent.
  • Virtualized in private data center – 67 percent.
  • Private Cloud – 25 percent.
  • Hybrid Cloud – 17 percent.
  • Public Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – 5 percent.
  • Public Cloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – 3 percent.
  • Hosted (DBaaS) – 6 percent

Some companies are using SQL Server on more than one platform, which is supported by the survey results.

For a more comprehensive discussion of related SQL Server issues that can help you more fully leverage the time and resources invested in your SQL Server, please download our white paper on the Top SQL Server Issues written by Andy McDermid, Datavail’s SQL Server principal database administrator.

Contact Datavail for more information on how we might best support you and your organization with custom solutions tailored to your specific SQL Server needs.

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