Posted by Mikhail Rodionov on June 21, 2018
SQL Server Always Encrypted feature explained

Talking about SQL Server 2016 features, it won’t be fair to leave Always Encrypted aside. This feature prevents your sensitive data from leaking out and enables to get more freedom for your data placement choices. Always Encrypted comes in handy, when, let’s say, you hire external vendors to administer your SQL server and do not want them to see your sensitive data, or when both your client and data are hosted in Azure. So, if you still do not use it, that’s high time to start!
Read the full article by Mikhail Rodionov to learn more about SQL Server Always Encrypted benefits and why and when you need it.

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Posted by Mikhail Rodionov on March 27, 2018
SQL AlwaysOn

I guess once you will read through this article you will also notice how this technology is shaped out of familiar building blocks, but what I also hope for is that you will get a grasp of what is AlwaysOn, and get a basic understanding of how it works. I will fully cover installation and configuration of SQL Server AlwaysOn environment (using new and shiny SQL Server 2017) in my next article while focusing on technology overview here.

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Posted by Dima Yaprincev on November 9, 2017
Microsoft SQL Server Failover Cluster Instance and Basic Availability Group features comparison


Microsoft SQL Server 2016 has a pretty decent feature set to achieve cost-effective high availability for your environment and build a reliable disaster recovery solution. Basic Availability Groups (BAGs) and Failover Cluster Instances (FCI) are included in SQL Server 2016 Standard Edition and serve to implement high redundancy level for business-critical databases. In this article, I would like to discuss some differences between these solutions and open the curtain on how it can be done with Software-Defined Storage like Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) and StarWind Virtual SAN (StarWind VSAN).

Failover Cluster Instance versus Basic Availability Group image

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Posted by Shashank Singh on October 17, 2017
Cost and License considerations between Always On Availability Groups and Always On Basic Availability Groups

Windows Server edition considerations

With Windows Server 2012 and above, Standard Edition now has full support for clustering, not just simple 2-node active/passive clusters, but fully configured clustering support.  Before Windows Server 2012, only Windows Server Enterprise Edition could support Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC). Starting from Windows Server 2012, clustering got a huge licensing cost reduction.

The cost of Windows Server 2012 Standard is almost the same as that of Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, but Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Edition has almost 26% price increase. There is no difference throughout feature support between Windows Server 2012 Standard and Datacenter edition; the major difference is that Standard only supports hosting of 2 virtual machines (by default), while in Datacenter this is unlimited. You can host more than 2 VMs on Standard, but that will imply an extra cost.


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Posted by Bogdan Savchenko on September 19, 2017
High Availability and Disaster Recovery with SQL Server AlwaysOn: FCI quick walk through


Greetings, fellow sysadmins and everyone who is still wondering how to make their SQL server highly available! You’re just in time since I’ve prepared for you detailed guidelines with pictures and explanations on how to achieve this goal by using the SQL Server AlwaysOn approach! The great thing is that we are also going to configure and review the full-fledged system with the disaster recovery scenarios implemented. I’ve decided to break this topic into 3 parts. First, we will go through the process of configuring AlwaysOn Failover Cluster Instance (FCI), the next part of this series will cover the deployment of a DR site for our cluster using AlwaysOn Availability Groups, and finally, we will learn more about how to achieve the same using 3rd party software.

shared storage configuration for Primary Data Center

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Posted by Mikhail Rodionov on July 21, 2017
SQL indexes 101

When it comes to SQL Server database indexes there is a wide scale of variation in depth of knowledge on this important topic among IT professionals leveraging SQL Server power while not necessarily being specialist DBA. Let’s discuss SQL server indexes a bit here with non-SQL DBAs/non-DB developers audience in mind covering why and how sides of the subject.

I still remember one of my interviews where I was asked something along the lines of “what comprises a database?” Being an experienced IT professional, I’ve instantly said something about rows and columns forming tables and entities within those, and something about relations between entities/tables and once I said my “that’s it without going into details too much” one of the interviewers said: “And what about indexes?”, “ah, yes indexes…” was my response. I think this is beginning of the scale of non-SQL professional knowledge about indexes – you are vaguely aware that they exist and have some vague idea about what they do.

Data in a table stored in a clustered index structure

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Posted by Nicolas Prigent on July 11, 2017
Upgrading System Center Orchestrator 2012 R2 to 2016

Microsoft System Center Orchestrator logo

Orchestrator is a workflow management solution for the data center. Orchestrator lets you automate the creation, monitoring, and deployment of resources in your environment. Orchestrator is also known as “SCORCH” or “SCO”. Orchestrator uses a drag and drop graphical interface to allow admins to define runbooks. A runbook is a compilation of routine procedures and operations that Orchestrator will run depending on your scheduling. Finally, Orchestrator is capable of managing multiple operating systems.

After reading this guide, you should have a basic understanding of how to upgrade/install Orchestrator.

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Posted by Nicolas Prigent on March 16, 2017
Installing System Center Configuration Manager 1610 (Current Branch) on Windows Server 2016 with SQL Server 2016. PART 2

Microsofr System Center Configuration Manager

Thanks to the previous part, we have SQL Server 2016 installed and configured. Before running the SCCM installation process, let’s remember the architecture we are implementing.

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Posted by Nicolas Prigent on March 14, 2017
Installing System Center Configuration Manager 1610 (Current Branch) on Windows Server 2016 with SQL Server 2016. PART1

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager

On November 17th  2016, Microsoft SCCM Team has released version 1610 for the Current Branch (CB) of System Center Configuration Manager that includes some great new features and product enhancements.

SCCM 1610 includes lots of new features and enhancements in Windows 10 and Office 365 management, application management, end user experience, client management and also includes new functionality in hybrid mode with Microsoft Intune.

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Posted by Mikhail Rodionov on March 10, 2017
Installing SharePoint 2016

Recently there was an article on StarWind Blog dedicated to Exchange 2016 installation written by Nicolas Prigent, so I decided that some folks might want to get something similar for SharePoint 2016, so here you are. Disclaimer: I did not touch on scripting SharePoint installation with PowerShell or any other advanced stuff, but I promise that you’ll find some interesting details beyond of “how do I click my way through setup wizard” information.

Microsoft’s SharePoint evolved quite dramatically in three previous major releases (2007, 2010, 2013) and now we have yet another version – SharePoint 2016. As usual, in this release, you can find additional functionality and loads of things to learn. But I think what you may be interested in it is just how to do a quick install to play with the latest version of SharePoint and test if it works well for your scenarios whatever they are. For example, in my case, I am going to test different scenarios of integration between K2 blackpearl and SharePoint 2016 among many other things. Disclaimer: if you in a mood to read somewhat dry and lengthy official installation guide – it exists and should be perused before doing production installation, but as the usual official documentation does not go as a pleasant easy read for the majority of people.

browser window with SharePoint Central Administration page

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