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Windows 2012 R2 & SQL 2014 CTP 1 on the cloud (Azure)

by Dan Thompson on June 29th, 2013

So I was really chuffed to find that I could take a look round a pre-built Windows Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 CTP 1 box today when I looked in the Azure gallery. This is a really great way to trial the new R2 edition of Windows 2012 and get used to it’s new features. The Virtual Machines up on Azure are so easy to get going with, you literally click new…VM…from gallery and pick the one which says SQL Server 2014 CTP1….a couple of minutes later your server is ready to RD to!

 

Windows Server 2012 R2

It looks like Microsoft listened! They have brought the start menu back:

StartButton

Presumably this means it’s coming back in for Windows 8.1 too? I hope so!

Startbutton_Hover

It’s got a cool hover animation, I’m really happy with it! This alone is a business case to upgrade all the servers to R2!!

One of the other features I wanted to take a look at was the IO throttling in Hyper-V, but I can’t take a look at that on the cloud, so I’ll have to take their word for it! Although, I can’t find much in the way of documentation about it yet. Obviously the main gripe for anyone who is using Hyper-V is when you want to extend a virtual hard disk. At the moment I have to power down the machine so I can access the drive exclusively, then resize it (which could take a while on a big disk) meanwhile you’re server is offline… Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2 now includes online extendibility for virtual hard drives. You can expand, or reduce a virtual disk size while the VM is still powered up.

Another cool feature is live migration compression. This boasts you can improve live migration performance by two. That might make it a more viable HA/DR solution for larger VMs now.

I’m not a virtualisation expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I really am excited about the technology. I really feel that Microsoft could (over time) become the dominant provider of cloud solutions and virtualisation. I often have discussions about this with our VMware-focused infrastructure guys who dislike any mention of Hyper-V at the moment!

 

SQL Server 2014

SQL 2014 then… So having read all the product documentation on CTP1, is there anything in there as a DBA lead that makes me want to upgrade our platforms from 2012 when it comes out? In short, no. When rumours of 2012 came out, and then the CTPs and eventually the unveiling of it, everyone knew this was something big. In contrast, 2014 doesn’t really offer us much in the way of features so far in CTP1. There’s in-memory tables granted, and you can have an additional secondary’s on your AGs from 4 to 8. But does that really appeal to the masses? I mean certainly, the idea of scaling out your read servers is a good one. Using AlwaysOn to create quick read-only secondary’s would be a quick scalability route, rather than say for example replicating out to a bunch of servers, but there are obvious licensing implications to scaling out your reads.

I’m not sure we will get up to using 4 read-only secondaries, let alone 8! That being said, at least it’s a nice option for those budget-rich companies with money burning a hole in their corporate pockets!