SQL Server 2012 SP1 CU2 package – what’s new and things to watch


In general the Cumulative Update packages deals with interim issues or a specific problem pertaining to specific feature in the product.

However the CU2 package for SQL Server 2012 SP1  has got some great and new features associated. They are:

  • Backup and Restore from SQL Server (native) to Windows Azure Blog storage
  • SysPrep includes SSAS, SSIS and majority of shared features

 

Backup and restore from native/on-premise instance to cloud-storage is a most-needed  for every DBA. CU2 includes: Windows Azure Blob storage is supported using T-SQL and SMO.  SQL Server Databases on an on premises instance of SQL Server or in a hosted environment such as an instance of SQL Server running in Windows Azure VMs can take advantage of this functionality.

The benefits include off-site storage (additional Disaster Recovery [DR]), so that the restore process can be easy to obtain the backup the instance. Additionally this option also classifies as GEO-replication of blob storage so that the backups, I will come to the costing point later. Also this backup option gives the opportunity to archive, as an alternative benefit. These backups are stored in Windows Azure (WA) platform and available with an archiving option. Also Microsoft claims that major benefit is no overhead of hardware management, that provides geo-replication for redundancy & hardware failure protection.

There is an option to perform backup to Windows Blob storage by creating attached disks (virtual) with a limit to the number of disks that needs to be attached to that WA virtual machine. Currently the limit 16 disks for XL (extra-large) instance or fewer smaller instances. However, when the option of direct-backup is opted to WA blog storage there is an option to bypass this 16-disk limit. 

When the backup file is stored in WA Blob Storage service that is available to restore to on-premise SQL Server instance or another instance of WA virtual machine without the need to attach/detach or VHD attach option.

The cost effective option can be known from this Windows Azure pricing calculator link. Also I recommend to read WA blog about small-print:

  • Storage: Charges are based on the space used and are calculated on a graduated scale and the level of redundancy. For more details, and up-to-date information, see the Data Management section of the Pricing Details article.
  • Data Transfers: Inbound data transfers to Windows Azure are free. Outbound transfers are charged for the bandwidth use and calculated based on a graduated region-specific scale. For more details, see the Data Transfers section of the Pricing Details article.
  • As previously mentioned, the URL is much like a backup device used today, but it is not a physical device, so there are some limitations.  For a full list of the supported options, see SQL Server Backup and Restore with Windows Azure Blob Storage Service.

However I also recommend to see Tutorial: Getting Started with SQL Server Backup and Restore to Windows Azure Blob Storage Service link that will help you to understand on how best you can build a strategy surrounding the Cloud Database services backup/restore option. Also few resources about Concepts/Script Examples along with Best Practices /Troubleshooting and first-things-first to know on Getting Started Tutorial.

 

Now the SYSPREP option which helps the DBAs and SysAdmins to prepare the images of SQL Server instance with desired features. Until SQL Server 2012 RTM only SQL Server services (core database engine) is supported to prepare the images, now from this CU pages both the SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) and SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS). It is simple to use the SysPrep functionality which can be invoked directly from SQL Server Installation Center and the following steps can be invoked:

 

Finally to obtain the number of builds that are released after SQL Server 2012 SP1 refer to KBA2772858.