Hosting a critical application in MS Windows

What software should I be using if I am trying to make sure a MS SQL application has high availability.  Is ESXi a suitable candidate to do that?  Would you elaborate the process to provide high availability for hosting a critical application?
tommym121Asked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
But you could also use Microsoft Clustering:-

How much downtime can you afford?

Possibly, VMware Technology may give your High Availability with the following:-

VMware vSphere Availability Features

VMware High Availability - Decrease Downtime and Reduce Risk
http://www.vmware.com/products/high-availability/overview.html

VMware High Availability (HA) Product Briefs
http://www.vmware.com/pdf/ha_datasheet.pdf
http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/VMware-High-Availability-DS-EN.pdf

VMware Fault Tolerance - Deliver 24 X 7 Availability
http://www.vmware.com/products/fault-tolerance/overview.html

VMware Fault Tolerance Product Brief
http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/VMware-Fault-Tolerance-FT-DS-EN.pdf

VMware vSphere Availability Guide ESX 4.1vSphere
http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsphere4/r41/vsp_41_availability.pdf

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coolsport00Commented:
What you need is a combination of things. VMware has "high availability", but that doesn't mean 'continuously' running. There is a brief downtime in the event a host the MS SQL VM is on goes down. What you need, in conjunction with VMware HA is FT, and/or Microsoft Clustering, both of which are compatible on VMware vSphere. @hanccocka has provided links that further explain the technologies. You will first need to determine SLAs and potential downtime you can have, then go with the solution that 1. fits in with your requirements, and 2. that fits into your budget.

Regards,
~coolsport00
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tommym121Author Commented:
It is a CRM system that is strategic to the entire company operations. we would like to have it on 24 hours.  It can be down for 30 min to an hour max. Ideally no downtime.

Even when we expand our operations and need hardware upgrade, we like to be able switch over to new hardware without any downtime if possible.
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coolsport00Commented:
Well, you can use HA & FT. If you decide to implement MSCS, here is the VMware guide for that:
http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsphere4/r41/vsp_41_mscs.pdf
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ImaCircularSawTechnical LeadCommented:
SQL Mirror on a seperate site with a witness server locally that can manage the quorum(sp?) and fail-over automatically.
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coolsport00Commented:
Since you actually can have "some" downtime, costs may determine what amt of downtime you can have. HA alone doesn't cover you in the event of a lost VM server. That is only for a ESX/i host failure. And the VM that is on the failed host will then be restarted on remaining working hosts in the HA Cluster. So, what you need is FT and/or MSCS as well.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
VMware vSphere HA will do what you need to do.

But note, if a host server fails, you will experience a downtime of between 1-2mins whilst the server is restarted.

If you require better availability you will need to use FT, but, remember with FT, if the OS fails because of a fault, the FT VM will also fail.
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coolsport00Commented:
HA will provide 'uptime RTO', but doesn't provide recoverability in the event of a corrupted VM. FT and/or MSCS helps with that since there is more than 1 VM (server) clustered for high availability. Another option is to only use HA, and have a current backup of the VM using Veeam Backup & Replication, vRanger, or other 3rd party VM backup tool.

~coolsport00
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Sebastian TalmonSystem Engineer Datacenter SolutionsCommented:

you could use mirroring/replication at the database-level - for an SQL Server, this is a very common scenario

maybe this document is a nice overview:
http://download.microsoft.com/download/d/9/4/d948f981-926e-40fa-a026-5bfcf076d9b9/replicationanddbm.docx
"SQL Server Replication: Providing High Availability using Database Mirroring"


As the replication takes place at the database level, an error in your Windows-Installation only affects the faulty machine and not the replication partner (or the SQL data)


(but using the HA or FT features in VMware is also a good idea - but I would prefer using the database-based replication / maybe together with VMware HA or FT)
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tommym121Author Commented:
Thanks for all the help. Very informative.  I will post more specific questions for your further assistance. Thank.s
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