How to Build a SQL Server AlwaysOn Failover Cluster Instance with SIOS DataKeeper using Azure Resource Manager

The officially recommended way for building highly available SQL Server environments in Azure is AlwaysOn Availability Groups, see here. This approach has many benefits, e.g. failover for a discrete set of user databases, flexible failover policies and read-only secondaries, but it requires SQL Enterprise edition (as described in the feature matrix of SQL Server 2014).

If you don’t need these additional capabilities and you like saving some money, there is an alternative way to build a highly-available and very scalable 2-node cluster on top of AlwaysOn Failover Cluster Instances (FCI) using SQL Server Standard edition. ‘Hang on’, you might say, ‘doesn’t FCI require shared storage – is that possible at all in Azure?’ Actually it is, by leveraging SIOS DataKeeper from the Azure Marketplace in order to synchronize local disks attached to the cluster nodes.

This post will show you how to set up this environment in Azure Resource Manager step-by-step, using PowerShell 1.0 as well as the new Azure Portal.

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