What is most valuable?
Apart from the standard SQL database-related features, the 2012 version enables the AlwaysOn functionality which enables two or more SQL Servers that can be clustered, with heartbeat across geographic locations along with high availability failover and 99.9999% uptime.
How has it helped my organization?
We have deployed three instances of the SQL Server, i.e., two at the primary datacenter and one at the disaster recovery facility. The AlwaysOn feature has ensured 100% database availability, even when one of the servers is down without any performance issues for the end user.
What needs improvement?
The Always ON (High Availability) functionality is support only with the MS SQL enterprise edition. It would be beneficial to many if this feature were also made available in the Standard Edition.
For how long have I used the solution?
I am using the SQL Server for more than 10 years and the 2012 version, I have been using since the last five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
There were no stability issues. If the initial configuration is done correctly, there are no issues. If the other servers are connected at remote locations, then the connectivity performance plays a vital role and it should be 10-15 ms for best results.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
There were no scalability issues.
How are customer service and technical support?
We have received excellent support from Microsoft and the local partners.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
In the earlier versions, we used log shipping to the other servers for the failover and replication requirements. With this version, all the servers are Active/Active and there is no issue related to the availability or failover.
How was the initial setup?
The basic installation is simple, whereas rest of the clustering requires an expert skill level for the configuration and deployment.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
When comparing the Standard Edition to the Enterprise, it is expensive but the performance and features meet with the ROI and TCO. Thus, overall, it minimizes the redundant servers, multiple backup copies, the risk of non-availability of the latest copy at the disaster recovery.
What other advice do I have?
The latest 2016 version has many more new features and functionalities, if you have the Enterprise Level Agreement and subscription model, you can upgrade to the latest version.
The Always ON (High Availability) functionality is support only with the MS SQL enterprise edition. It will be beneficial to many, if this feature is available in Standard Edition.