DH2i, application virtualization and HA/DR for databases

Organizations often think about using virtualization to make their processing, storage and networks disaster tolerant. DH2i believes that deploying application virtualization is a better way to make databases highly available than using virtual machines.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor on

A group of folks from DH2i; including  Don Boxley, Founder and CEO; Carl Berglund, Sales Director; and Mindy Chase, Director of Marketing; stopped by to introduce DH2i DxConsole® HADR Edition for Microsoft® SQL Server and to discuss how their focus on infrastructure and application virtualization has resulted in organizations being able to deploy high availability/disaster tolerant solution for database-based applications that is both simple and cost-effective. I tend to agree that organizations often select a single type of virtualization technology, such as virtual machine software, a form of processing virtualization, and use it everywhere even though it may not be the best approach to solve a given type of problem.

How does DH2i descibe DH2i DxConsole® HADR Edition for Microsoft® SQL Server?

DH2i describes the benefits of their new product in the following way:

DxConsole HADR edition automates and orchestrates high availability and disaster recovery operations for SQL Server. Benefits include:

  • For the Business
    • Extend automated high availability disaster recovery services to all versions and editions of SQL Server across any combination of underlying OS's
    • Recover SQL Server instances into the cloud or recover instances on-premises in seconds through InstanceMobility
    • Build a hybrid SQL Server HADR infrastructure optimized for price/performance
    • Guarantee instance-level SLA contracts for performance & availability by intelligently tying SQL Server instance QoS to business value with automatic load balancing
    • Manage all your on-premises and cloud-based SQL Server instances with a single operational model - for an optimized SQL Server management infrastructure
    • Streamline SQL Server patch management by "pushing" updates or hot fixes to all managed SQL Server instances, on-premises and in the cloud, from a single point of control
    • Reduce software and support costs by at least 50%
    • Save as much as 80% on total cost of ownership of SQL Server over a three-year period
  • For the Technical Team
    • Monitor SQL Server health and performance with customizable alerting
    • Ensure the availability of SQL Server instances through automated failover to a replicated disaster recovery site or cloud
    • Deliver coordinated control of dependent applications or services
    • A single consistent application connection string to SQL Server instances regardless of where they are running
    • Facilitate SQL Server instance failover across subnets
    • Create DRaaS for all SQL Server instances to any target anywhere
    • Simple to implement and manage, i.e. low complexity
    • Address overall service delivery for SQL Server and dependencies seamlessly Make every instance highly available and resilient with a single HADR mechanism

What is application virtualization?

As pointed out in my O'Reilly Media book, Virtualization a Manager's Guide, applications can be "encapsulated" so that they can run in an artificial environment that makes it possible for applications written for one version of an operating system, say Windows XP, to happily execute on another version of the operating system, say Windows 7, 8 or 8.1. DH2i has taken this concept to encapsulate Microsoft SQL Server instances so that they can be re-hosted to run on a different machine. SQL requests can then be routed to one or more instances to keep them synchronized and available even though the original host has failed or has been given a new set of tasks to execute.

Snapshot analysis

Using virtual machine software to encapsulate an entire system is not always the best choice. Since this approach places everything in a virtual environment, including the operating system, database systems, application frameworks, applications, and even storage and network management tools, it can require too much memory, processing power, storage and even network bandwidth.

The knee-jerk reaction of using virtual machine software to address all virtualization needs reminds me a bit of Abraham Kaplan's Law of the Instrument. That is "Give a child a hammer and everything becomes a nail."

DH2i's use of application virtualization to enhance Microsoft SQL Server is a good example of this point. By encapsulating only the database it is possible to quickly and easily replicate the database across a number of systems for reliability and availability and even feed the same SQL requests to all of the instances to keep the databases in synchronization.

If your organization uses Microsoft's SQL Server, it would be good to meet DH2i and learn about what they're doing to enhance that product.

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