One of the biggest benefits that 2012 SQL Server brought to the table was high availability databases.
Although its pretty much mirroring with a few more functions – the added benefits are key ones.
Read Only Secondary Databases
One of the best feature of Always On Availability Groups is the fact that you can query the secondaries.
If you have a requirement for users to do reporting off your live production database, you can by implementing a read only copy and let them run their adhoc reports off the main server.
Most of us have seen a production server brought to its knees by some user that forgot a nolock or a where clause so it makes good sense to keep this kind of reporting as far away from your production db as you can!
You can’t do this with traditional mirroring, and log shipping was ok, but would kick out the users when restoring log files.
So for reporting, backups and so on, this is a much overdue, and useful feature.
What Do I Need To Implement High Availability Groups?
You will need at least SQL 2012 standard edition and 2 SQL instances so you can set up the primary DB on one, and the secondary on the other.
To find out more about AlwaysOn Availability Groups check out the MS site.