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I have two database instances (Instance A, Instance B) of SQL Server, each one hosted on a separate VM using windows server 2012. Instance A has SQL Server 2008 R2, instance B has Sql server 2012. I'm not a DBA, and I'm completely lost as to how to provide high availability for both of these instances.

Ideally, I'd like someone to point me in the right direction to a solution that allows these instances to automatically fail over gracefully if we have problems, preferably at the instance level, since I have a bunch of databases in each instance. I have enough hardware to host these instances somewhere else on the network, and several gigabits of network bandwidth to get this done.

Please go ahead and assume that I am an idiot.

Mew your cat into the sun, brother!

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closed as too broad by Kin, Max Vernon, Jon Seigel, Paul White, ypercubeᵀᴹ Sep 7 '13 at 0:01

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

You want to failover the entire database instance (along with other databases) or just specific pair of databases? This is a very broad question and will be closed out as its primarily opinion based - Log shipping (database level and cheap, but requires manual intervention to failover), Mirroring (database level and requires identical hardware and has automatic failover capablities), clustering is at instance level (comparatively hard to set up) and Availablity groups (New in 2012, breed of Clustering and Mirroring). This is just a simple overview in layman's term. – Kin Sep 6 '13 at 19:12
Do your research & let us know where we can help you. – Kin Sep 6 '13 at 19:13
If you want to stay with virtual machines, all you need is a 2-node Windows cluster where you can fail the VMs back and forth. This is even better than SQL Server failover clustering because you can live migrate them for planned maintenance with zero downtime. Setting that up is a sysadmin task. – Jon Seigel Sep 6 '13 at 21:19
Thanks Jon! I'll see what I can do, but our sysadmin is currently swamped, and I'd rather not add to his workload right now. I'm going to try and set up failover clustering for those instances. – Oliver Gitte Sep 9 '13 at 18:01
Hi Oliver, 'on hold' and 'closed' are the same thing :) – Jack Douglas Sep 10 '13 at 6:52
up vote 1 down vote accepted

It sounds like Failover Clustering is what you may be looking for. You can have the instance failover (though there will be a period of disconnect for end-users, but that is typically minimal while the passive node becomes active and SQL Server starts up). SQL Server Failover Cluster Instances (FCI) are the way to achieve high availability at the instance level.

It is noteworthy, that this technology sits on top of WSFC respectively, and you will require shared storage (this will be different if you are on SQL Server 2012 implementing AlwaysOn Availability Groups, but that is not instance-wide failover).

Failover Cluster Instances are a robust technology within themselves, much more that can be directed through a Stack Exchange answer, so my recommendation is to use the above link and if you have any more specific questions feel free to ask them on a separate question.

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Thank you, it seems like failover clustering is what I want to do. I'm going to go ahead and see if I can feasibly set that up. Thanks! – Oliver Gitte Sep 9 '13 at 17:56

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