I've recently been doing some research on the cloud and its suitability as a platform for running Microsoft SQL Server. The question I was trying to answer, objectively, was: Given the following platform choices, where do users like to run Microsoft SQL Server today?

  • Bare Metal – Tried and true native hardware server
  • Virtual Machines (VMs) – A software abstraction of a hardware server in which an operating system (OS) and program (e.g., SQL Server) can be installed and run
  • Private Cloud – The logical division of a service provider's public cloud to support the private computing needs of an end user
  • Hybrid Cloud – A cloud computing environment in which an end user provides and manages some resources on-premises and other resources externally
  • Public Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – A provision model in which an organization outsources the equipment used to support computing environment
  • Public Cloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – A way for customers to rent virtualized servers and services for running existing applications or developing and testing new ones
  • Hosted (DBaaS) – Database functionality delivered via a hosted service

I ran across some recent InformationWeek research, which provided an interesting answer to the question.

Database Environments

The first thing the analysis shows is that SQL Server users are deploying a variety of environments. How do we know that? The environment percentages add up to significantly more than 100% and, as noted, multiple responses were allowed for the question. That being said, for the 539 respondents using SQL Server, running SQL Server on-premises in a virtual machine was by far the preferred environment.

Related: 3 Reasons SQL Server is an Excellent Platform for Building Mission-Critical Business Solutions

Given the widespread adoption of VMs in the datacenter, that doesn't seem too surprising. Plain old bare metal is still holding its own, though, with over 50% of the respondents still using it. What is surprising to me is the lack of traction of the public cloud as a deployment platform. While over 28% of those surveyed are using the cloud, the bulk of the activity is centered on private and hybrid cloud deployments. Public cloud deployments represent only 5%.

That number doesn't change much in the future. . .

Future Database Environments

However, the combined private/hybrid cloud almost doubles to 42%, which is greater than future standalone bare metal usage. I think there are three reasons for this growth:

1. Total Information Control – 57% of those surveyed indicated that they use SQL Server to support a mission-critical business process(es). That means the data being managed is sensitive, the costs of data loss are high, and there may be geographic location or civil compliance requirements regulating the data. The private/hybrid cloud model gives organizations total control over where the data goes, how it is accessed, and how it is used at all times.

2. Total Cost Control – The private/hybrid cloud model gives organizations the ability to build and optimize the cloud that exactly meets their needs. This is different from the one-size-fits-all public cloud platform model.

3. Total Scalability Control – The private/hybrid cloud—and, to be fair, the public cloud as well—offers organizations the ability to scale performance on-demand, to rapidly respond to workload requirements.

One final thought: Notice the small change in on-premises VM use. This is consistent with most analysis that says most workloads that are going to be run on VMs already are. 

So does this match your experience? I'd love to continue this research and welcome your feedback.

Until next time. . .