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How To Mitigate SQL Server Costs

Reduce footprint by 8 to 15 X, save 30 to 60% on Microsoft licensing, and create highly available, mixed-version clusters with any SQL edition.

I had the opportunity to listen to Connor Cox, Product Manager at DH2i share his thoughts and observations about how enterprises can manage SQL server costs in light of budget restrictions during COVID-19.

Virtually all organizations are facing unmanageable growth of SQL Server environments. Organic growth, growth due to acquisitions, and the ease of virtualization. Heterogeneous growth is resulting in server sprawl with a lot of different versions with little consolidation or integration. More high availability and disaster recovery requirements as more people work from home for the foreseeable future. And tightening budgets as companies try to do more with less during COVID-19.

The costs of unbridled SQL server growth affects people and enterprises. The personal costs are the nights and weekends that administrators must spend attempting to manage the sprawling infrastructure. The less integration, the more administration, higher management cost, and less innovation. The overall enterprise costs are a function of more core licenses, four-core minimums for VMs which results in a lot of wasted/unused capacity, and the push to more enterprise editions and other Microsoft licensing traps.

The traditional approach to combating rampant growth has been the creation of large enterprise edition clusters with many nodes. These are expensive and all must be running the same version of SQL server which contributes to sprawl. Merging many databases into fewer instances reduces agility and flexibility while increasing risk if you need to make changes if the data is corrupted. Instance stacking where you take advantage of 50 SQL instances per license but then have difficulty moving and have the risk of putting 50 eggs in one basket. Virtualization doesn’t protect against guest updates and outages and exacerbates sprawl. While it’s easy to spin up VM’s, you end up with more OS’s to manage which leads to more overhead and more expensive licensing.

This is why DH2i has come out with DxEnterprise for SQL servers instance to encapsulate workloads and allow them to be moved between hosts with little to no downtime. Enterprises can run fewer instances while staying legal with safe instance stacking. An average customer will run 5 to 15 instances per OS with no additional licensing. This results in both physical and logical consolidation and costs savings as the result of having fewer cores.

This results in lower overhead and costs. There are unlimited node clusters on any edition. All versions can be pulled into one unified cluster. Instance-level availability is built-in and it’s easily extended to disaster recovery.

In a case study from Asante Health System, they were using large Windows Server Failover Clusters (WSFC) with 700 servers across three hospitals. Everything was enterprise edition and they were facing $400,000 in “true-up” charges from Microsoft. When they deployed DXEnterprise, they were able to consolidate 15 to 20 instances per server, achieve built-in high availability and disaster recovery, and ended up with only $20,000 in “true-up” expenses to Microsoft. In fact, they expanded their offering of electronic medical records (EMRs) outside their network as a new revenue source for the system.


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