Finally Microsoft has announced the latest release of SQL Server 2012 for customers in November 2012. We can download evaluation version of the SQL Server 2012
New features of SQL Server 2012
Lots of new features have been added in SQL server 2012 to make customer’s data more secure and reliable also to provide maximum uptime for SQL server database. SQL Server 2012 offers new functionality which provides both high availability as well as disaster recovery known as AlwaysOn.
Always On Availability Groups
1. AlwaysOn is the most highly anticipated feature added to the Database Engine that will make DBA life much easier to secure the database as well as recover database in case of any disaster.
2. This allow for multiple database to fail over as a single unit.
3. This will provide more redundancy and protection of data as it support four replicas including production server.
4. Out of four, two replicas are configured in the synchronous mode to ensure that data are up to date and other one is configured in asynchronous mode.
5. These replicas can reside either on same datacenter for high availability or another graphical location for data recovery.
6. Highest return of investment in hardware utilization as secondary replicas are active and readable also can be used for offload backup, reporting and for ruining ad hoc queries.
7. Can be deployed straight forward using SQL Server Management Studio.
AlwaysOn Failover Cluster Instances (FCI)
1. Instance-level protection using Windows Server Failover Clustering and shared storage.However, with SQL Server 2012 there are a tremendous number of enhancements to improve availability and reliability.
2. SQL Server 2012 provides support for multi-subnet failover cluster, these subnets can be either located in the same datacenter or another location.
3. Local Storage can be leveraged for the Tempdb database
4. Recovery times and startup is very after a failover transition
5. Finally, improved cluster health-detection policies can be leveraged, offering a stronger and more flexible failover.
Support for Windows Server Core
1. SQL Server 2012 supports windows server core for installation which requires less than 50-60 % reboots after patching servers.
2. Greater SQL Server Uptime and increased security in Windows Server Core operating system
1. SQL Server 2012 has introduced new feature of visual time line in SQL Server Management studio to simplify the database restore process.
2. The timeline can be useful for point in time recovery using database backup.
lots of more features has been discussed on Microsoft site : http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/datacenter/sql-server-2012-alwayson-high-availability-database-for-cloud-data-centers/5885