Something that would have saved me many hours a few months ago is now available on Microsoft Azure: a ready-to-go AlwaysOn Availability Group in Azure, all ready to go based on baked-in templates.
This also includes an AG listener, which is something you couldn't do (at least easily) in Azure initially. This is an awesome feature for DBA’s who want to spin up test platforms and sandboxes for this awesome multi-instance feature in SQL Server, skipping the stuff we DBA’s don’t typically know much about: virtual networks, Windows cluster security and creating Active Directory domains.
If you have an MSDN account, you already have a monthly allowance of free Azure money linked to your account.
I can’t find a place to do this in Azure’s older manage.windowsazure.com site, but the new portal.azure.com has it pop up easily when you hit + New in the bottom left-hand corner. Popping up with the new items available, right now this is second on the list:
Slap on a few names, a user name, a password, and you’re almost done.
Review and click OK at the bottom of the “Review Settings” and “Optional Configuration” blades, and those sections will be marked complete. Hit Create when you’re all set.
Azure will get to work with your brand new sandbox for experimenting with one of the coolest new features that was introduced with SQL Server 2012 Enterprise and improved with SQL Server 2014 Enterprise.
In the notifications area, you’ll also see:
After the servers are created and online, connect to the SQL1 instance you’ve created.
The remote desktop connection prompt may load your own workstation’s domain info – this obviously isn’t needed. Change the username to, as according to my above example, shAG2014Aug\william and enter your password. (We set this up above.)
After remoting into SQL1, load up SQL Server 2014 Management Studio. You’ll see your new SQL 2014 Availability Group already up and running, replicating the empty AG2014-w1-ag-AlwaysOnTestDatabase test database.
How about that? Now you can failover to your heart’s desire, try out the readable secondary mirror, turn off Azure VM’s and see what happens, and tinker with the high performance asynchronous mode!
Remember that the initial codename for AlwaysOn Availability Groups was HADRON, and it was so perfect that the marketing and sales folks had to muck it up. HADRON was not only cool and sciencey, it was an acronym for:
- High Availability (failover at the database level)
- Disaster Recovery (remote backups)
- ONline (readable secondary nodes)
If you’re excited to learn what one of the best Enterprise Edition features of SQL Server 2012 or 2014 can do for your database environment, my colleagues and I at Sparkhound would be happy to discuss. Contact us now.