Thanks to my colleague Ron Dunn for bringing this MSDN article to my attention:
The Microsoft.com Engineering Operations (MSCOM Ops) team is continuously searching for ways to improve the performance of its Web sites, which include Microsoft.com, the Web site for the MSDN® developer program, and TechNet. These Web sites are complex, distributed applications with Microsoft® SQL Server® database platforms that attract an enormous amount of traffic from users around the world. Site performance and user experience are two of the principal metrics that the team uses to evaluate its own success.
In late summer of 2008, MSCOM Ops initiated extensive replication performance testing, comparing SQL Server 2005 running on Windows Server® 2003 with SQL Server 2008 running on Windows Server 2008. By using both operating environments to replicate data between a server located in Tukwila, Washington, and another located in Blueridge, Virginia—a distance of approximately 3,000 miles—the team discovered that SQL Server 2008 running on Windows Server 2008 yielded up to 100 times faster performance without requiring any expensive wide area network (WAN) acceleration hardware.
Encouraged by these impressive results, the team decided to test replication of “live” content from its MSDN database in Redmond, Washington, to a remote data center in Dublin, Ireland. The performance enhancements in SQL Server 2008 running on Windows Server 2008 enabled the team to successfully replicate this content and demonstrate that WAN-based geo-replication is feasible in a real-world scenario. Further, the MSCOM Ops team used this capability to cut page-to-load times on its MSDN Web site by approximately 33 percent, resulting in a dramatic user experience improvement in Europe.
Now, in addition to providing an improved Web experience to people around the world, MSCOM Ops benefits from enhanced business continuity. And, with solid evidence of the feasibility of WAN-based geo-replication, MSCOM Ops plans to expand its implementation of this solution.
This white paper details the business challenges that prompted the MSCOM Ops team to explore WAN-based geo-replication, describes the testing the team performed, documents the test results, and conveys insights and conclusions based on these results.