This week Paul, Kimberly, Erin, and Tim are at SQLIntersection in Arizona presenting, and one of the best things about presenting at conferences is the questions that get asked about SQL Server features.  Kimberly was asked a question about whether or not columnstore indexes could be used in a database that participates in an Availability Group or not and there is conflicting information available online. Since I have multiple 2012 and 2014 Availability Groups setup in my laptop for teaching our Immersion Events, I spent a little time testing and agreed to blog about the findings. 

Columnstore indexes can be created in any database participating in an Availability Group without a problem. If you create a nonclustered column store index, it can also be used on a readable secondary for queries. However, a clustered columnstore index can only be read on the primary database. If you try to query a clustered columnstore index on a readable secondary you will get error 35371,

Msg 35371, Level 16, State 1, Line 4
SNAPSHOT isolation level is not supported on a table which has a clustered columnstore index.

So as long as the columnstore index is nonclustered, it can still be read on the secondary, but keep in mind that the nonclustered columnstore index is not updateable through DML operations and has to either leverage partition switching or rebuilding the index to modify the data in the table. A good read on the differences can be found in the Books Online.

Update: SQL Server 2016 will support clustered columnstore indexes on readable secondaries as well.