If you have a very high load on your database, but no specifically massive tables you may want to look into a fully load balanced solution for your database. This solution falls somewhere between your normal replication solution, and a federation solution. It’s not truly a federation as no one table is spread across several servers; every server in the federation holds every record of every table.
When laid out on paper this type of replication looks very similar to the Pyramid Federation technique we talked about earlier. This type of setup is ideal for an OLTP environment. We use transactional replication to move the data from one server to another as quickly as possible (you’ll want a pretty fast distributor to handle this). Because all writes are done to a single server (to prevent any potential identity column issues) this solution requires the most code change at the application layer as all commands which write data to the database must go to one connection string which talks to the publisher, which all the reads go to the load balancer which reads data from the federation of subscribers.
Because the publisher and distributor are both single points of failure in this setup, it’s recommended that they both be clustered so that they can survive a hardware failure. There is no need to cluster the subscribers as they are redundant by the fact that there are several of them behind a load balancer.
This concludes my mini-series on database federation. I hope that you have found it useful. As always questions or comments are welcome in the comments section below. (There’s no alerts when a response it posted, it’s something that I’ve already brought up with the ITKE staff, so check back for a response.)