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I have some trouble finding my way in and distinguishing standard vs enterprise features in SQL Server 2016. What it boils down to: Does failover clustering support multiple databases in SQL Server 2016 Standard Edition?

Or put differently (perhaps?) is failover clustering always on the entire instance and all databases it contains?

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Please have a look at Features Supported by Various Editions of SQL Server.

Or put differently (perhaps?) is failover clustering always on the entire instance and all databases it contains?

No, AlwaysON Availability(AOAG) groups can be configured for specific set of databases. It is not necessary to include all databases which reside on instance. So suppose you have 7 databases on instance you can configure AOAG for 4 databases and leave aside 3 databases.

  • The unit of failover would be the AG group, this means when failover will happen all databases which are part of that AG will failover

  • One or multiple databases can be grouped within an Availability Group

  • One SQL Server instance can support multiple AGs. The Availability Group is the unit of failover
  • A specific database can be part of one Availability Group only and cannot be a part in multiple AGs

Please read more about AlwaysON Availability groups from this blog it has many links start with link "What is AlwaysON"

Basic AG would only support one database.

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  • The question of failover clustering, though, please include the other part of failover clustering which is an FCI as the question doesn't specifically ask about AOAGs. Aug 19 '16 at 22:39
  • @SeanGallardy Actually question should be closed IMHO,as it is really not clear what OP is asking. After few chats it seems he was interested in knowing about how many databases can be included in basic availability groups
    – Shanky
    Aug 20 '16 at 6:41
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Failover Clustering is at the instance level. SQL Server 2016 didn't change that. It's the way it's always been. So yes it is always at the entire instance level and all databases in that instance move to the other node when a failover occurs.

Availability Groups, on the other hand and as Shanky pointed out, is at the group level which can contain one or more databases on an instance and does not have to include all of the databases.

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