If your company has made the decision to use SQL Server, then it is no doubt a business-critical element of your company’s IT infrastructure. Whilst the thought of regular maintenance of your database systems may perhaps seem tedious, I prefer to categorise SQL Server health checks as an optimisation step and an opportunity to demonstrate the vital role IT plays in your business.
Vigilance is key in maintaining a healthy database. Poorly coded statements can cause chaos, as can just a single flaw in your application code. Slowed database performance; applications which have gradually slowed down over a period of time; or hardware that has been upgraded yet resulted in little or no improvement in query times are all indicators that your SQL Server needs some attention. If you recognise any of these signs, then it is best to remedy them now before they evolve into something bigger.
Things may actually even seem fine on the surface, but if there is something lingering out of view a regular health check should catch it. Routine checks 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 in the long run.
Here are 5 reasons (in no particular order) you may want to consider conducting a SQL Server health check now:
1. To ensure that the SQL Server is configured according to security best practice, minimising risk of data leaks or server compromise.
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.
SQL Server health checks are most effective when done regularly, so we suggest conducting one at least one every 12 months.
In terms of resources, think with needing one or more DBA. It is not uncommon these days to find you may need to outsource; external help may be beneficial so that your in-house team does not 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.
By Geoff Ballard, Chief Technical Officer at Ballard Chalmers
About the author
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 delivered throughout the world.