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Get Your SQL Server’s Health Checked

Vigilance

The thought of regular maintenance of your database may seem tedious, though I am sure that if your company has made the decision to use SQL Server then it is a business-critical element of your company’s IT infrastructure. I prefer to think of a health check as a way to optimise SQL Server and take the view that it is an opportunity to demonstrate the vital role IT plays in your business.

Poorly coded statements can cause chaos, as can just a single flaw in your app code. Slowed database performance; applications that have gradually slowed down over a period of time; or hardware that has been upgraded but resulted in little or no improvement in query times are all indicators that your SQL Server needs some attention. The fast pace of business can make it easy to tell yourself, “I’ll do it later when I have time,” but if you recognise any of these signs then it is best to remedy them now before they evolve into something bigger. It is vigilance that is the key to maintaining a healthy database.

Things could actually seem fine on the surface but there could be something lingering just out of view. A good health check will help you to diagnose and prevent problems before they happen. What can start out as the need for a quick remedy of something like performance monitoring can grow into a need for a costlier, more time consuming, in-depth remedy. So however tedious it may seem, regular maintenance is going to help you out in the long run.

Five Reasons

Here are 5 reasons (in no particular order) you may want to consider conducting a health check now on your SQL Server implementation:

  1. To ensure that the SQL Server is configured according to security best practice, minimising risk of data leaks or server compromise. Keep your company out of the headlines!
  2. To verify that the current SQL Server backup and disaster recovery strategy is operational, robust and meets the requirements of the business.
  3. To verify that there is regular maintenance in place for the server and databases so as to ensure that the server is operating optimally, and that databases are managed effectively with respect to areas such as index and data fragmentation. This includes replication if it is in use.
  4. To monitor the performance of the system with respect to caching, CPU utilisation, network traffic and disk I/O, and to ensure that the main database queries are sufficiently optimal.
  5. To verify that SQL Server and the operating system has been installed and configured according to best practice.

Your Team

In terms of resources, think with needing one or more DBA. It is not uncommon these days to find you will need to outsource. In fact, it may be more beneficial to bring in external help so that your in-house team doesn’t get overloaded. A health check can be easy, especially if you work with the right partner.

If you would like to discuss your SQL Server’s health with me, or anything SQL Server related, I would be happy to take your call. I’m not much into bragging but I have worked with it since 1.0 – there is honestly pretty much no scenario I haven’t encountered but feel free to challenge me!

And in case I still haven’t gotten my point across: Get your SQL Server’s health checked! They’re most effective when done regularly so think with conducting one at least one every 12 months.

By Geoff Ballard, Chief Technical Officer

Geoff Ballard

Geoff Ballard is Co-Founder of Ballard Chalmers and the company's CTO, directing technical strategy, overseeing technical consultants, managing larger development projects and ensuring technical delivery quality standards. Geoff has been a SQL Server consultant since the very first beta release by Microsoft and is a trainer and author in Microsoft technology, including courses which are delivered throughout the world.

Twitter: @Geoff_Ballard | LinkedIn: geoffballard

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Ballard Chalmers is one of the UK’s leading enterprise software engineering companies, specialising in development for the Microsoft Enterprise Application Platform. We are principally dedicated to software development and integration for the Microsoft Cloud, as well as on-premises and hybrid systems. Our expertise is in Microsoft .NET, SQL Server, BizTalk Server and SharePoint Server.

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