Codenamed "Denali" during development, Microsoft SQL 2012 offers enhancements to disaster recovery, flexibility, and performance to developers and administrators seeking to maintain a secure and efficient SharePoint 2010 site.

SQL 2012's disaster recovery is faster and more predictable than its predecessor. While prior versions required users to juggle mirroring, clustering, and log shipping to guard their data, AlwaysOn combines all three into a single feature. Furthermore, AlwaysOn features multi-subnet failover, allowing for rapid client connection and faster disaster recovery. In addition, Denali users can enable automatic failover on entire server farms and Cloud storage is now an option for administrators. This flexible architecture allows administrators the potential for greater scalability in either direction.

The new Database Recovery Advisor uses an improved user interface to aid in SharePoint data restoration. Users may use a visual timeline of backup history to choose from a host of time-stamped recovery points. If necessary, one can also employ SQL Server Management Studio's page restore dialogue to recover data page by page.

SQL 2012 also emphasizes efficiency. As it now will run on Windows Server Core, most patching will be consolidated into the core OS's updates, greatly reducing server downtime. Microsoft estimates as much as a 60 percent reduction in updates and server reboots, depending on the nature of the servers and the types of patches. In addition to the downtime reduction, AlwaysOn integrates Server Core's data encryption to guard all sensitive SharePoint data.

Reporting services also benefit from a speed increase, primarily in how SQL 2012 handles column query processing. The in-memory column store known as Apollo can increase processing by as much as 10 times, reduce input/output, and demand substantially less micromanagement.

Those enthused with the phrase "less micromanagement" will applaud Powershell 2.0's inclusion in SQL 2012; SharePoint 2010 users already enjoy familiarity with the scripting program. Its ability to automate common tasks like failover, data management, and other administrative tasks should easily streamline data monitoring.

Most upgrades to software efficiency necessitate improvements to the user interface, and SQL 2012 offers several. The SQL Reporting Services tool now creates cleaner, easier-to-read reports, and users can monitor all data alerts directly through SharePoint 2010. Administrators can also use SQL 2012's Analysis Services to talk to SharePoint 2010 staples like PowerPivot, Excel Services, and Reporting Services. Furthermore, supervisors requiring cross-farm reporting can do so in SQL Server Reporting Services 2012 with SharePoint 2010.

While the upgrades to security and flexibility are significant, SharePoint 2010's integration into SQL 2012's interface and program should give most architects and administrators what they need to excel in server farm management.