With interest in delivering stateful applications using databases that run on top of containers on the rise many IT organizations are trying to figure out how to best go about providing this capability. To address that issue DH2i today unfurled a container-as-a-service (CaaS) offering for Microsoft SQL Server databases.
With Microsoft already signaling that containers are a major element of its overall enterprise strategy going forward, DH2i CEO Don Boxley says DH2i is moving faster to provide a framework for hosting a stateful Microsoft SQL database on a container, which in turn can be managed via DxEnterprise container management software developed by DH2i.
Hosted on servers managed by Rackspace, Boxley says the CaaS offering supports Windows Server 2008R2 through 2016, and can manage all SQL Server instances version 2005 to 2016 in any combination. Up to four instances of a Windows Server container stack can be hosted per virtual machine, adds Boxley.
Via the DH2i service IT organizations can containerize and stack any new or existing Windows Server application service, file share or SQL Server instance. Also included are built-in high availability and disaster recovery (DR) capabilities along with health and performance quality of service (QoS) and alerting management tools. It also provides support for portable NTFS storage container volume and disk management.
The significance of containers as it applies to Microsoft SQL Server is twofold. First of all Boxley says an IT organization can now spin up a Microsoft SQL Server workload in the cloud in a matter of hours versus weeks. In addition, DH2i CaaS provides access to InstanceMobility, a tool that allows them to move any SQL Server instance from any host, to any other host with near zero downtime.
The second major benefit is a reduced need for Microsoft SQL Server licenses. Boxley says that deploying Microsoft SQL Server on containers reduces database sprawl by reducing the number of operating system instances by a factor of three to four times.
Ultimately, Boxley envisions database administrators making use of DxEnterprise, which is built on a Windows container technology, to use the native Windows file system (NTFS) alongside shared or replicated storage technology to provide access to a pool of disk resources in the cluster. That capability enables consistent disk presentation no matter which host the container is active on. DxEnterprise can support any current version or edition of SQL Server and OS across any physical, virtual or hybrid infrastructure.
Obviously, DH2i is trying to steal a march on Microsoft by deploying a CaaS for Microsoft SQL Server before Microsoft makes broader use of Docker containers running on instances of Windows Server and Linux running on Microsoft Azure. While that may seem like the latest example of a small vendor challenging an industry behemoth, DH2i is clearly betting that the rapid adoption of containers will make many organizations impatient to host stateful container applications in the cloud. The challenge now is convincing DBAs that containers can be used for anything more robust than more ephemeral stateless applications that are often not nearly as mission critical as applications running on Microsoft SQL Server.