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Is virtualization a good choice for SQL Server ?. Denny Cherry mrdenny. About Me. Independent Consultant Founder of SQL Excursions Author or Coauthor of 5 books 8 + SQL Mag articles Dozens of other articles Microsoft MVP

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Is virtualization a good choice for sql server

Is virtualization a good choice for SQL Server?

Denny Cherry

About me
About Me

  • Independent Consultant

  • Founder of SQL Excursions

  • Author or Coauthor of 5 books

  • 8+ SQL Mag articles

  • Dozens of other articles

  • Microsoft MVP

  • Microsoft Certified Master


  • Major Platform Choices

  • Benefits

  • Pitfalls

  • Deciding Factors

  • Limits of Virtualization

  • Management Tools

  • Licensing

Major platform choices
Major Platform Choices

  • VMware

    • ESX 1-3.5

    • vSphere 4.0 – 4.1

      • VMware announced 4.1 will be the last version with a host console 7/30/2010

    • vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi) 4.0+

  • Hyper-V

    • V1 and v2 (v3 will be in Windows 8)


  • Hardware Costs

  • Instant Server Deployment

  • Free Server Redundancy

    • Live Migration – Hyper-V

    • vMotion - VMware

  • Easy System Upgrades

Balloon memory drivers
Balloon Memory Drivers

Used by host OS to request memory back from the guest OS

Prevents host of from paging physical memory to the hosts swap file

Should be enabled

Lock pages in memory should be disabled, unless enabled for a specific reason

Memory deduplication options
Memory DeduplicationOptions

  • Great for OS memory

  • Doesn’t work at all for SQL Server

    • Unless… multiple SQL Servers have the same pages in cache

Storage configuration options
Storage Configuration Options

  • IO is the same if the disks are physical or virtual

  • Use automatic tier adjusting technology if possible

    • On EMC Arrays – FAST

    • Dell Compellent Arrays

  • Keep OS, data, logs, tempdb on separate disks if possible

Storage deduplication
Storage Deduplication

Can greatly improve overall performance

By deduplicating OS virtual disks, we save much less data to the array

As less data is written to the array, less OS data is loaded into cache on the array


  • Shared CPU

  • Shared Memory

  • Slow Disk Access times

  • Another layer of Management

  • Storage Path Flooding

Deciding factors
Deciding Factors

  • Disk IO

    • IO Per Seconds

  • CPU Load

    • CPU Usage

    • Core Counts

    • Processor Queuing

  • Memory Usage

Virtualization limits
Virtualization Limits

  • By default vMotion or Instant Failover requires hosts have like CPUs models and matching instruction sets

  • Hyper-V doesn’t include memory de-duplication

    • It does now, introduced in Windows 2008 R2 SP1

Management tools
Management Tools

  • VMware requires vCenter to manage a cluster

  • Hyper-V has basic management tools included, including integration with Windows Failover Cluster Manager

  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) is strongly recommended for managing Production Environments

    • SCVMM can also manage ESX 3.5 or vSphere 4.0 Servers (requires vCenter server)

    • SCVMM integrates with System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) to drive SCVMM Performance Resource Optimization (PRO Tips)

    • SCVMM is required for Hyper-V Physical to Virtual (P2V) migrations.

Vcenter client
vCenter Client


  • CAL based licensing doesn’t change

    • 1 Server license per guest + CALs for users

  • CPU licensing

    • 1 license for physical CPU used

    • 1 2008 R2 DCE CPU license for each CPU in host

    • If you have SQL 2008 R1 with SA for hosts you are grandfathered into SQL 2008 R2.

  • Each guest needs a Windows license

Monitoring the guest
Monitoring the Guest

  • Guest CPU Load requires double checking against the host

  • Disk IO rates are accurate

  • Disk IO throughput should be confirmed with the host

  • Disk Latency should be confirmed with the host

Denny cherry

Denny Cherry