Review: SQL Server 2012 stands tall
Huge HA and indexing improvements top the list of great new features in Microsoft's latest database release
As we've come to expect from new SQL Server releases, SQL Server 2012 has so many new features that it's impossible even to mention them all. Nearly everyone is well served, from the BI-hungry users of Reporting Services to the IT folks who oversee query performance and uptime. SQL Server 2012 brings improvements across the board, with only a few disappointing exceptions.
Reporting Services adds a Web front end for data exploration and visualization called Power View. Analysis Services introduces a new semantic model, giving BI specialists more flexibility in building solutions. New column store indexing shifts query performance into high gear, while new Data Quality Services and improvements to Master Data Services round out the tools for taking care of company data.
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Of course, SQL Server 2012 also has a slew of new features that hit DBAs right where they live. I'll focus on these in this review, starting with some new capabilities that take high availability to a new level.
Higher high availability
Let's start with one of the largest efforts for this release, AlwaysOn. AlwaysOn is the new HA technology that will put database mirroring on the deprecation list. Being limited to a single target server for a mirror has been a nuisance since mirroring was implemented. Also, mirroring targets are completely useless until your primary database goes down, because they can't even be read from. AlwaysOn fills in both of these holes. You can easily configure many read-only copies of your primary database and use them for reporting while you're waiting for a disaster. And of course just like mirroring, you can set an AlwaysOn target to be completely synchronous with the primary or allow it to lag a little behind.