Editor's Note: Your Path to Cloud-Ready Data

SQL Server 2012 embodies a Hybrid IT approach built on a common data architecture that extends data across on-premises server and private and public cloud environments.

By Mitch Irsfeld

SQL Server 2012 is now generally available with new features that form the foundation of a cloud-ready information platform. And with this milestone, we’ve collected the resources you’ll need get you up to speed on the new capabilities, facilitate your evaluation and learn how you can extend data across your datacenter and private and public cloud environments.

Just starting your exploration of the new data platform? A good place to begin is the SQL Server 2012 What's New White Paper for an overview of the new features, benefits, and functionality. Also see the TechNet Wiki article What's New in SQL Server 2012, where you’ll find links to TechNet Library articles detailing the new features in SQL Server 2012.

For a more immersive experience, head on over to the SQL Server 2012 Virtual Launch Event, now available on at your convenience. Engage with experts, see the sessions, and harness the power of the SQL Server community.

In Particular

SQL Server 2012 means more deployment opportunities. The hybrid IT approach uses a common data architecture to span servers, appliances and the cloud. Not to mention new high-availability and business intelligence features, and tools for unifying SQL Server and SQL Azure cloud database development.

Be sure to check out the high-availability and disaster recovery capabilities in the AlwaysOn suite that provide redundancy within a datacenter and across datacenters to help enable fast application failover during planned and unplanned downtime. For an overview discussion of how to reduce planned and unplanned downtime, maximize application availability, and provide data protection using SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn high availability and disaster recovery solutions, check out the SQL Server AlwaysOn Solutions Guide.

Self-service analytics tools, dashboards and controls will reduce support requests and help monitor user activity and gather performance metrics. Read about the New Analysis Services and see how the SQL Server 2012 Business Intelligence capabilities like Power view and PowerPivot help unlock new insights.

With the advent of SQL Server 2012 comes the ability to create user-defined server roles, a huge step forward for self-service SQL management. TechNet Magazine published on article on SQL Server 2012 User-Defined Roles, in which author Denny Cherry steps through three ways to create user-defined roles.

Also new with SQL Server 2012 is the ability to set up partially contained databases, a database that is isolated from other databases and from the instance of SQL Server that hosts the database, but allows some features that cross the database boundary. This can ease some migration and consolidation issues since a partially contained database can store important information in the database so the database still has the information after it is moved. Denny Cherry penned another TechNet Magazine article, Sometimes Partial Is Preferable, which describes how to set up a partially contained database and create a contained user.

Evaluate and Learn

Once you’re ready to go hands-on with software, read up on the Hardware and Software Requirements for installing SQL Server 2012 and get the SQL Server 2012 Trial and the SQL Server 2012 Feature Pack, a collection of additional stand-alone tools and components.

Then head over to the Install SQL Server 2012 page on TechNet to read the latest about SQL Server install and upgrade and watch videos that show step-by-step installation of a SQL Server stand-alone or failover cluster instance.

If you’re past the evaluation stage and ready to plan for your upgrade, your first stop is the SQL Server 2012 Upgrade Advisor for guidance on using the tool that analyzes installed components from earlier versions of SQL Server, and then generates a report that identifies issues to fix either before or after you upgrade. If you’re looking to migrate from other database platforms, check out the SQL Server Migration Assistant.

To help you and your team get up to speed on the new SQL Server 2012 capabilities, the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) offers a series of free courses where you can learn at your own pace and gain community recognition for your progress. Here are a few more learning opportunities:

Of course, a great way to learn is from your colleagues, and there are number of entry points into the expert SQL Server Community on TechNet. Get your questions answered or follow the discussion on the SQL Server Forums. For more on why it’s important for DBAs to take part in the Forums, become MVPs and otherwise share with the community, Brad McGhee supplied TechNet Magazine with an excerpt from his book “How to Become an Exceptional DBA,” (Red Gate Books, 2008). Read Support the SQL Server Community to understand what you can bring to the SQL DBA community.

Thanks for reading,


Mitch Irsfeld

Mitch Irsfeld*, Editor of TechNet, is a veteran computer industry journalist and content developer who managed editorial staffs at several leading publications, includingInformationWeek, InternetWeek and CommunicationsWeek. He is also an editor for* TechNet Magazine and managing editor of the TechNet Flash newsletter.