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SQL Server gets its first container management software

DH2i's DxEnterprise is the first application container management software designed for SQL Server. Containerization boosts mobility and reduces downtimes.

Each quarter, the editors at SearchSQLServer recognize a product in the Microsoft SQL Server ecosystem for innovation and market impact. The product selected this quarter is DxEnterprise by DH2i.

PRODUCT NAME: DxEnterprise by DH2i

RELEASE DATE: Feb. 10, 2015

What it does

DxEnterprise is the first application container management software designed for Windows Server, and as a result, it brings containerization to SQL Server. Containerization is an alternative to virtualization in which an application is encapsulated in a container with a virtual environment. Containerization can improve high availability and disaster recovery, as well as help with consolidation, building hybrid clouds and meeting service-level agreements.

Why it matters

DxEnterprise containerizes SQL Server instances (as well as Windows Server application services and file shares), separating the instance from the physical, virtual, or cloud server and making the instance extremely portable. DxEnterprise can move SQL Server instances from host to host with nothing more than a stop and start. DxEnterprise also reduces downtime by letting an administrator freeze nodes, take them out of circulation for updating, and quickly bring them back in.

The release of DxEnterprise has put DH2i in the spotlight. From May through July 2015, DxEnterprise won the Computer Technology Review MVP award for 2015, DH2i was named a Red Herring Global 100 finalist and the company was listed in Gartner's "Cool Vendors in Servers and Virtualization, 2015."

What users say

Asante is a not-for-profit healthcare system in southern Oregon. "We've had a SQL Server explosion," said Michael York, senior systems engineer at Asante. In the healthcare industry, York explained, many hospital networks use SQL Server, which leads to a proliferation of SQL Server instances and "all the costs are passed onto us with the licensing." So, for York, the main goal with DxEnterprise was to find a way around Microsoft's licensing policies.

One of those policies is that the cheaper standard edition of SQL Server can't make clusters of more than two nodes. Since containerization separates the instance from the server, SQL Server doesn't know when it should enforce its rule against larger clusters. Using DxEnterprise, York was able to consolidate onto three physical enterprise servers and, after installing the software on two servers, York said the investment paid for itself. "It's been making my life easier from the get-go," York said.

Meanwhile, Eversheds -- a UK-based global law firm -- has decreased downtime with DxEnterprise. With offices around the world, no matter what time of day or night, there is always someone working for the company, said Dean Bray, technical services manager at Eversheds. Bray is a longtime user of DH2i software and was already running DxTransfer and DxConsole when DxEnterprise was released, so the product seemed like a natural fit. "When you go out looking for new software, the real problem is the unknown," Bray said.

He was especially impressed by one of DxEnterprise's downtime elimination features: the ability to freeze one node, taking it out of the system so that he can uninstall and reinstall software without disrupting the sequence. This feature, Bray said, means he rarely has to take anything down for maintenance.


  • DxEnterprise saves on licensing costs.
  • It offers extreme instance portability.
  • The software can quickly free and unfreeze nodes.
  • It can be used for physical, virtual, hybrid and cloud servers.


DxEnterprise costs $1,500 per server core; for virtual machines, licensing can be done by the underlying core. DH2i also charges $360 per core, per year for support, including patches. There is also a free trial available.

Next Steps

Learn more about saving on SQL Server licensing fees with DxEnterprise

Find out what experts think will be the big factors in DxEnterprise's future

Dig Deeper on SQL Server High Availability, Scalability and Reliability