Need for Speed: Unleashing the Power of SQL Server with NetApp

By Dennis Clark Jr, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager, NetApp


Those that know me, know that I like fast cars and going fast. It’s something about the visceral emotions evoked from the feeling of power and speed. But as many will know, it actually takes quite a bit of work to make a car go fast. There’s no one component that will make it perform optimally. You need a balanced set of components, along with a healthy amount of performance tuning and testing.

The same holds true in the technology space. Increasing performance in the data center requires a balance of the right components, along with careful planning, testing and tuning. Nowhere is this more evident than in database systems. It doesn’t matter if it’s an online transaction processing (OLTP) or data warehouse application, you can be assured that it will push the performance limits of your infrastructure. The good news, we now have access to a host of database performance ‘parts’ that will make your database applications fly.


The Need for Speed

I had the opportunity to support Microsoft SQL Server in a past life and remember performance and performance tuning were always hotbeds for discussion. Attending 2013s SQL PASS, I continued to hear the same concerns. With respect to cars, I actually enjoy performance tuning; trying to eek out maximum performance, getting knee deep in grease and tools, booyah! For DBAs, I imagine the experience is not nearly the same. And now with greater pressure from the line of business (LOB) owners across not only OLTP but analytics and data warehouses, incremental tuning is no longer efficient nor is it yielding enough performance to even meet minimum service-level agreements (SLAs). Fortunately for those database ‘crew chiefs,’ there are exciting developments that I would consider both evolutionary and revolutionary.


Turbo-Charged SQL Server

SQL Server 2014 shipped with some killer new features that most definitely feed the need for speed (say that three times fast). Support for in-memory databases ensures that your current database scooter will break the land speed record. Microsoft claims 35x faster OLTP transactions and 340x data warehouse query performance gains. Along with that mind-blowing performance, SQL Server now also offers Buffer Pool Extension (BPE) to SSD’s for much faster paging. Of course there are all sorts of goodies that come with SQL Server 2014, like more powerful analytics and built-in access to Microsoft Azure. If you are chomping at the bit to see what we’ve been doing around SQL Server analytics to date, check out my previous blog on data warehouse nirvana. We also have SnapManager for SQL Server which automates and simplifies backup, recovery and database cloning for SQL Server 2014.


NetApp Power Adders

We’ve been working closely with Microsoft and testing SQL Server 2014 for some time now. We could have been satisfied with the excellent performance already delivered out of the box but with so many options and opportunities to increase performance with NetApp technology, we felt compelled to continue to push the performance envelope. One way we do this is with an extensive flash technology portfolio that increases SQL Server performance across the board. For starters, adding NetApp Flash Cache™ can significantly decrease disk utilization and increase IOPS by up to 45 percent. That will most definitely push you back in your seat! Then there’s the mind-numbing performance of NetApp’s EF550 Flash Array. This bad boy can accelerate your DB to more than 400,000 IOPS with submillisecond latency – and do it more efficiently, by cutting space utilization, power and cooling up to 95 percent. For those wanting to dig in further, I recently blogged on flash previously, and in greater detail.


Safety Equipment

If you’ve ever watched auto racing of any form, you’ll know that there’s a tremendous amount of effort put into safety and reliability. NetApp’s leading storage OS, clustered Data ONTAP, provides critical ‘safety’ components that ensure SQL Server doesn’t blow up on the proverbial track, leaving you and your business finishing in last place.


  • Nondisruptive operations means eliminating planned and unplanned downtime for continuous business availability
  • Multi-tenant and quality of service (QoS) workload management that allows you to reactively or proactively control the resources that can be consumed by each SQL Server workload for predictable performance
  • Scale capacity, performance, and operations on the fly, regardless of SQL Server application


The Finish Line

If you’re a DBA, you’re going to love SQL Server 2014 and all the value that NetApp brings to the table. Flat out, we make the database scream regardless of workload. If you’re in IT or a line of business owner, you’re going to see a dramatic effect on the bottom line with the ability to process more revenue-generating transactions while reducing administrative overhead – all with high availability and seamless scalability. Regardless of your role, NetApp delivers all the parts and tools you need to tune up your SQL Server infrastructure for maximum performance.


If you’re at Microsoft TechEd 2014, make sure you visit NetApp’s booth for in-person demos and consulting with our on-site gurus. 


Let the race begin.



Does Netapp have a target date for SMSQL support of SQL 2014?

Hi Eric, I believe it will be out next month.


Hello Dennis

Is there any update for SMSQL and SQL14?