70-457 Reviewer #03, Planning an Installation of SQL Server 2012

Planning an installation on SQL Server 2012 is under the Install and Configure SQL Server objective which is 19% of the total examination for 70-457.

I will be writing all the important things to consider planning an installation for SQL Server 2012 in a nugget form to serve as a handy review notes for the certification exam. This topic can also be used as part of your review if you are going to take 70-462, Administering SQL Server 2012 Databases. As I have explained before 70-457 is an upgrade exam for all DBA with MCITP certification for SQL Server 2008.

Topics under Planning an Installation

  • Evaluate installation requirements
  • Designing an installation
  • Scale up versus scale out
  • Capacity planning
  • Designing new database
  • Identify standby database for reporting
  • Windows & service level security
  • Core mode installation
  • Benchmarking

My nuggets on each topic:

On evaluating your installation requirements

  • Identify the necessary components needed. Database Engine only? SSIS? SSRS? SSAS?
  • Which SQL Edition is needed to be installed
    • Standard Edition
    • Business Intelligence Edition
    • Enterprise Edition
    • Web/Development/Express Editions
  • Minimum hardware requirements. How much CPU? How much RAM? Disk requirements?
    • CPU requirement : 1.4Ghz or higher
    • Memory: 1G (512 for express edition)
    • Storage: atleast 1G for the system and data files
  • Consider virtualization requirements
  • Choosing which design? Instance components or shared components?
  • Operating system prerequisites;
    • .NET 3.5 SP1
    • .NET 4.0
    • Windows Powershell
    • IE7 or higher

Scale up vs Scale out

  • Scale up means increasing the current resources of your server.
  • Scale out means adding more servers to your current one.
  • In scale up, has larger impact in event of failure. In time of failure or downtime all services are down.
  • In scale out, there is lesser impact on failure or downtime.

Capacity planning

  • Small database that grow on demand can increase fragmentation
  • Fixed database size can reduce fragmentation
  • Auto-grow can cause file fragmentation
  • Auto-shrink can cause index fragmentation (I really think they should get rid of this.)

Designing new databases

  • Use RAID 1+0/5 for better performance and fault tolerance benefits.
  • Isolate the location of the log file to another physical disk. It is best to use RAID 10 for better write performance
  • Use filegroups. Place tables with most heavy writes on a RAID 10. Place tables with most heavy reads on RAID 5. The primary filegroup can be placed on RAID10 or RAID 5.
  • Place your tempDB on a RAID10 disk for better write performance.
  • Consider creating multiple tempDB files proportional to each logical CPU on your server to enable the SQL Server scheduler workers to loosely align to a file.

Identify standby database for reporting

  • Log shipping – this is just a warm standby, no automatic failover
  • Mirroring – this is considered a hot standby, will be deprecated in futures editions and will be replaced by the AlwaysOn feature
  • Replication
  • AlwaysOn

Server Core Mode Installation

  • Can be performed only on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP 1
  • All editions of SQL Server 2012 are supported
  • No GUI, only command line
  • Most secure way of installing SQL Server 2012

Service Security

  • Isolate services with separate service account. Advantage is that if a service account is compromised, only that specific service is compromised.
  • You can also use virtual accounts or managed service


  • Use SQLIO to determine your hardware I/O capabilities. This is a separate tool and can be downloaded here.
  • Use SQLIOSim utility to validate disk integrity. To download this utility and a deep dive, click here.

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