Guest blogger: John S. Parker – NetApp Microsoft Alliance Engineering Teamparkerj

With Microsoft’s new release of SQL Server, there are a couple of things that I feel would be great to talk about.  The main topic that I want to discuss is SYSPREP. 

SYSPREP has been a great tool in the virtualized world for building golden copy images for your system.  The use of the golden copy helps to ensure standardization across the enterprise.  The release of SQL Server 2008R2 now supports building that golden copy for your SQL Servers.  Combine this ability to SYSPREP your SQL Server and you can build a bare metal build architecture that now contains your SQL Servers.  So we take this one step further and deploy this with Hyper-V and NetApp’s FlexClone Technology, now you can deploy hundreds of brand new SQL Server instances within minutes, no longer hours and days.  This ability to manage a golden copy and quickly deploy complete systems to include your golden SQL Server setup reduces the configuration and customization time for new database system. this reduction of configuration and customization will help you manage your entire SQL Server environment reducing configuration mistakes and delays.

NetApp participated in the TAP program testing the SYSPREP features with SQL Server 2008  R2.  As one of the testers I found it really simple to deploy an image of my golden setup with SYSPREP.  The process is simple, you run the setup program, select the Advanced feature and “Image preparation of a stand-alone SQL Server” option and the wizard takes you through the process for building your image.

The key things that I had to look out for was having enough disk space to hold the image and realizing that it was really just as simple as following the steps outlined in Books-Online.  Once you have your image then your set and your configuration ini file then you have everything you need to deploy your SQL environment. There is also the command prompt method where you enter all the configuration items but personally I like using a configuration ini file to ensure that each setup is like the rest.

The setup command looks like the following:

c:\sqlimage\setup.exe /ConfigurationFile=BellevueLabSQL.INI

This allows me to create a hands free setup and can be part of my bare metal provisioning process.  This method reduces the amount of time I spend creating and configuring systems in my lab.

So wrapping this up. I find that the SYSPREP tools with SQL Server 2008 R2 will help to make the deployment of new SQL Server instances fast, easy and with fewer configuration differences.  Then tying the entire provisioning process together now you can deploy your new systems in Hyper-V along with your SQL Server instance all in a single automated process.