SQL Server Consolidation: Plan for SQL Server 2008

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When you’re building a consolidation plan, stop to think about when each database will be migrated to a newer version of SQL Server.

With SQL Server 2008 coming fast, some content owners will want to move their databases to 2008 as soon as it comes out in order to take advantage of things like the resource governor. But if you’ve consolidated multiple database servers onto one, and just one of those databases can’t be moved to 2008, then everybody has to wait!

This is especially important when dealing with third party solutions, applications written by other companies who may not have an aggressive development policy on supporting new versions of Microsoft SQL Server. Even now, in calendar year 2008, I deal with apps that still don’t support SQL Server 2005.

In any consolidation plan, try to include a “Next Step” section that addresses how quickly (or slowly) the newly consolidated databases will be moved to the next version of SQL Server.

Taken in the opposite direction, this can even be a selling point for SQL Server 2000 consolidation projects. Imagine this conversation with an application owner:

The DBA: “Bob, I’m going to consolidate your databases next month.”

Bob the Lazy Application Owner: “No.”

The DBA: “Actually, yes, I am. We’re taking all of the apps that still aren’t certified for SQL 2005, and we’re moving them to a single server. Your server’s an ancient single-core box that gives me nothing but heartache, and I’m tired of managing several of these boat anchors. I’m going to consolidate them all onto a new multi-core server that can handle all of our SQL 2000 instances, and I’ll have less management to do.”

Bob: “Will it save me time?”

The DBA: “It won’t let you play more golf during business hours, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Bob: “Then we’re not doing it.”

The DBA: “That’s a shame, seeing as your manager already signed the consolidation project charter.”

Bob: “What?!?”

The DBA: “Yep. I showed her that the total hardware maintenance on these five old 2000 servers is over $20,000 per year, especially now that they’re long discontinued. Plus this will free up four sets of SQL Server Licensing, so the consolidation project will actually pay for itself on day one.”

Bob: “Why wasn’t I told about this?”

The DBA: “Because you didn’t attend the meeting. I sent you an invite, but your secretary called me the day of the meeting and said you had an offsite meeting. I think it was the week of the PGA Tour event here in town, come to think of it.”

Bob: “Oh. Consolidation it is, then.”

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