SQL Server 2012 ConsultingSQL Server is Microsoft's flagship database management and analysis system and is tightly integrated with key Microsoft platforms such as SharePoint, Excel, Microsoft CRM, and Dynamics GP (Great Plains). SQL Server 2012, called "Denali" during its development, introduces a broad range of features that offer significant improvements in vital areas such as availability, security, performance, manageability, analytics, cloud readiness, scalability, collaboration, data discovery, and streamlined application development. With SQL Server 2012, Microsoft has consolidated the major editions of SQL Server from five to three, making it easier for organizations to select the appropriate version.

Progent can provide the expertise of Microsoft-certified engineers as well as experienced application developers, database administrators, project managers, network architects, disaster recovery experts, and security specialists to help you evaluate the potential benefits of SQL Server 2012 for your business, set up pilot systems at your datacenter or at Progent's lab, plan and carry out a smooth migration to SQL Server 2012 from earlier versions of SQL Server or from other RDBMS platforms, and design an efficient and secure IT infrastructure that helps you maximize the business benefit of SQL Server 2012.

Microsoft's AlwaysOn High-Availability Solution for SQL Server 2012
The headline innovation incorporated into SQL Server 2012 is Microsoft's AlwaysOn solution, which provides flexible and cost-effective system design options for insulating mission-critical application databases from downtime caused by scheduled maintenance or by network failures. Microsoft designed AlwaysOn technology to achieve or exceed the famous "five nines" availability, or 99.9999% uptime, which translates into just a few minutes of downtime per year. Microsoft's AlwaysOn technology utilizes two enhancements in SQL Server 2012 to eliminate the inefficiencies of SQL Server 2008's Failover Clustering Instances (FCIs) for high availability (HA) and SQL Server 2008's database mirroring mechanism for disaster recovery (DR). To provide a more effective and affordable HA/DR solution, SQL Server 2012 includes AlwaysOn Failover Cluster Instances and the new AlwaysOn Availability Groups.

AlwaysOn Failover Clustering Instances support multi-subnet clustering across geographically dispersed sites, allowing you to deploy so-called Stretch Clusters. This architecture offers both a high level of availability as well as the basis for an advanced disaster recovery solution. SQL Server 2012's AlwaysOn FCI feature also improves failure detection and provides more flexibility for configuring an optimal failover policy. In addition, SQL Server 2012 introduces an option for indirect checkpoints as an alternative to automatic checkpoints. This new feature allows you to specify the maximum permissible downtime for a database so you can more safely guarantee the recovery time of critical databases following a failover event.

SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Consulting

The AlwaysOn Availability Groups feature in SQL Server 2012 offers a significant enhancement to the database mirroring capability of SQL Server 2008 by allowing log-based data movement without shared disks and thereby enabling zero data loss in case of a fail over condition. AlwaysOn Availability Groups improve database availability as well as resource utilization by allowing you to define sets of user databases that fail over as a single logical unit and to create a set of primary and secondary availability replicas to host copies of each availability database. Availability Groups can have up to four secondary replicas and feature listeners for fast application failover over, automatic page repair to protect against page corruption, and the ability to force a Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC) quorum. To improve hardware utilization and productivity, secondary replicas can be used actively for read-intent applications and backup.

Other New and Enhanced Features of SQL Server 2012
Additional improvements to SQL Server 2012 cover self-service data analysis and business intelligence, collaboration, performance and capacity, manageability, and security. Important new features include:

  • PowerPivot
    Microsoft SQL Server 2012 PowerPivot allows organizations to create a managed self-service business intelligence (BI) collaboration environment that uses the familiar Excel interface to perform advanced data analysis on high volumes of data from almost any source including relational databases, SSRS reports, Excel files, text files, and web data. PowerPivot also integrates with SharePoint to enable users to share sophisticated reports and analytical applications while supporting standard SharePoint features such as role-based security, compliance policies, workflows, scheduled refreshes, and user-defined alerts. New features of PowerPivot for Excel include Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Top N, Rank, Perspectives, plus a variety of financial and statistical calculations.
  • Power View
    Power View is a new self-service data analysis and presentation feature of the SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services (SSRS) Add-in for the Enterprise Edition of SharePoint Server 2010. With Power View, users at any level (not just developers or power users) can quickly and interactively create rich reports from data models based on PowerPivot workbooks published in a PowerPivot Gallery, or derived from tabular models deployed to SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services (SSAS) instances.
  • Improved Performance and Capacity
    SQL Server 2012's new xVelocity in-memory columnStore index is reported to deliver a 10x performance boost for typical data-warehouse and decision-support queries and provides the environment necessary to support Relational Online Analytical Processing (ROLAP). SQL Server 2012 also supports 15,000 partitions by default (compared to 1,000 in SQL Server 2008), parallel data warehouses can scale beyond 600 TB, and up to 256 logical cores are supported. In addition, indexes containing important data types can now be created, rebuilt, or dropped online to keep mission-critical database applications available at all times.
  • Contained Databases and Other Manageability Improvements
    SQL Server 2012's support for contained databases removes database dependencies such as user logins and other information on a single instance of the SQL Server Database Engine and makes it easier for administrators to move databases between SQL Server instances. Other manageability enhancements include improvements to SQL Server Management Studio, SQL Server Configuration Manager, and the Database Engine Tuning Advisor.
  • Security and Compliance
    Security enhancements for SQL Server 2012 include provisioning during setup for Managed Service Accounts and Virtual Accounts for Windows 7 or Window Server 2008 R2, 19 new permissions in the Database Engine, new user-defined server roles, the ability to define a default schema for a Windows group, extensive audit enhancements, support for additional hashing algorithms, and use of the newer AES encryption algorithm to replace 3DES for protecting the service master key (SMK).
  • SQL Server Analysis Services
    SQL Server 2012 includes new features and enhancements in Analysis Services covering server instance and server monitoring, tabular and multidimensional modeling, PowerPivot for Excel and SharePoint, programmability improvements for spatial features and DAX functions, and the ability of SQL Server Data Tools to run in the Visual Studio 2010 shell.
  • Monitoring with Operations Manager
    Microsoft System Center Operations Manager now supports health monitoring for SQL Server 2012 and incorporates new features for discovering and monitoring AlwaysOn availability groups, availability replicas, and availability databases for hundreds of computers plus health roll-up from availability database to availability replicas.
How Progent Can Help You Benefit from SQL Server 2012
Progent can provide affordable online or onsite expertise to help you with any aspect of SQL Server 2012 integration and support so you can minimize your total cost of ownership, maximize your return on investment, and optimize the business value of your information system. Services available from Progent for SQL Server 2012 include:
  • Develop a Business Case for SQL Server 2012: Progent offers the services of seasoned IT executives who have extensive backgrounds as Chief Information Officers for large public and private sector organizations. Progent's senior CIO consultants can help you develop a realistic analysis of the risks and benefits of moving to SQL Server 2012.
  • Project Management Services: You can outsource or co-source Progent's project management services for any and all phases of creating your SQL Server 2012 solution including requirements definition, system design and architecture, setting up pilots at your datacenter or at Progent's lab, design tuning, deployment and configuration, and training.
  • Data and Application Migration: Progent can provide the services of expert database consultants experienced in database development for all versions of Microsoft SQL Server and can also provide Oracle consulting, MySQL expertise, and Microsoft Access support, allowing you to move your data and applications efficiently to a SQL Server 2012 environment.
  • Integration with Other Microsoft Applications and Technology: Progent offers the support of Microsoft-certified engineers who can help you plan and implement the integration of SQL Server 2012 with key Microsoft applications and technologies by providing services such as SharePoint consulting, Office Excel and Office 365 Excel application programming, Exchange Server help, Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains) support, and Active Directory expertise.
  • Business Intelligence Reporting Expertise: Progent's BI reporting experts can help you use tools such as SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), Report Designer, and Report Builder for SQL Server 2012 to design business intelligence (BI) reports that consolidate data from multiple sources and present compelling presentations with deep insights and actionable information.
  • DBA Services: Progent's database administration consultants allow you to outsource or co-source DBA services for SQL Server 2012 which can include performance tuning, backup/recovery strategies, database security and compliance, managing database storage structures, client configuration and user account management, consolidating databases, plus upgrade and patch management.
  • Application Development: Progent's database application developers can help design, implement, and maintain line-of-business SQL Server-based applications and support every phase of an application's life cycle by providing services such as requirements analysis, specification of features/scope, conceptual, logical, and physical modeling, ETL development, T-SQL programming, partitioning strategies, plus replication and synchronization solutions.
  • Network Infrastructure Design: Progent's Cisco-certified CCIE network engineers can help you design, configure, and troubleshoot an efficient, secure, and resilient network infrastructure that supports local, remote and mobile users as well as geographically dispersed multiple datacenters.
  • Security and Compliance Consulting: Progent's network security engineers hold world-class security credentials including CISA, CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, CRISC, and GIAC, and Progent offers a wide range of services to help protect your SQL Server 2012 environment and achieve compliance with industry and government requirements.
  • Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning: Progent's disaster recovery consultants can help you design, implement and validate a transparent mutli-site backup and restore solution for your SQL Server 2012 environment that takes advantage of AlwaysOn technology to eliminate scheduled downtime and accelerate no-loss recovery in case of a network failure due to human error, software bugs, or a catastrophic event. Progent's business continuity planning experts can help you create and document a DR/BC plan that covers all aspects of business recovery including both IT issues and business logistics.
  • Proactive Server Monitoring: Progent's System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) consultants can help you configure Microsoft's Monitoring Pack for SQL Server 2012 on Operations Manager 2007 R2 or Operations Manager 2012 so you can automatically monitor the performance, availability, and configuration of SQL Server 2012, collect performance data for analysis, and utilize new default thresholds to alert IT administrators of looming problems before these issues can seriously impact productivity.
  • Virtualization Expertise: Progent's Hyper-V experts can help you design cost-effective ways to host SQL Server 2012 instances on virtual machines using Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and to take advantage of Hyper-V's Live Migration feature. Live Migration can significantly improve database availability by supporting zero-downtime migrations of virtual machines between physical hosts, allowing IT managers to perform maintenance on a SQL Server host without disrupting database applications.
  • Upgrading to SQL Server 2014: Progent's SQL Server 2014 consultants can help you assess the business advantage and technical challenges associated with upgrading from SQL Server 2012 to SQL Server 2014 and can help you follow leading practices in migrating your databases and applications to SQL Server 2014. Progent can also help you evaluate the benefits and limitations of moving some or all of your new SQL Server infrastructure to the cloud so that you can create a SQL Server solution that is the best fit for your current needs and for your plans for future growth.
  • Migrating to SQL Server 2016: Progent's SQL Server 2016 consultants can help you evaluate the business case for moving to SQL Server 2016 from SQL Server 2012, migrate your applications and data, optimize your network infrastructure to support a cloud or on-premises or hybrid deployment strategy, provide software development and DBA support services, and deliver online or onsite training customized for individuals or groups within your organization.
If you want to get in touch with Progent about consulting expertise for Microsoft SQL Server technology, phone 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.

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