Keeping Your SQL Servers Healthy and Secure

It’s one of the DBA’s primary responsibilities to maintain the health and security of their SQL Servers. A typical SQL Server environment is continually evolving due to changing requirements or the addition of new instances. Cloud services have further complicated things, with many organizations using a hybrid approach that employs multiple locations to create its infrastructure. This just adds more diverse resources for a database team to contend with every day.

Performance is one of the characteristics that directly influence user satisfaction and can be the deciding factor in the success or failure of a database-powered application. Slow response time can result in customers searching for alternatives to your offering and lead to a financial hit to the enterprise. Systems that are primarily used internally also need to be kept at high levels of performance. While the costs of a poorly performing system may not be as apparent when it is used exclusively by employees, reduced productivity has financial ramifications that certainly add up.

So it quickly becomes apparent that system performance is one of the most important tasks that an enterprise’s DBAs perform. It is, however, not the only one. Equally important is protecting the security of the database by ensuring that it cannot be accessed by unauthorized users. New malware threats are constantly being introduced by malicious individuals who want to cause havoc or steal a company’s valuable data assets. Tightening up SQL Server security is the best defense for protecting your systems.

Addressing the Issues Behind Poor SQL Server Performance

There is no magic bullet that will suddenly turn a slow and unresponsive SQL Server instance into the shining star of your environment. It is possible that the problem server is ailing due to several conditions that, in combination, are dragging its performance down. As a DBA, your job is to address these issues and return the server to good health. But you need to find the problems before you can take action to resolve them.

Adopting a methodical approach to improving the performance of your SQL Servers is the best way to resolve the problem. Using an iterative process that involves these steps will usually produce tangible results.

  1. Obtain a baseline of the application’s current performance metrics. It’s essential to capture these details so you can make a comparison after changes have been made.
  2. Locate an issue or bottleneck that is affecting performance through monitoring and analysis of system metrics. You may be able to identify many areas, such as CPU usage, low available memory, or network problems that are impacting the ability of the system to serve its users.
  3. Make improvements that address a specific problem. Resist the temptation to make multiple changes at one time. Keeping it simple makes it much easier to see if the modification has had the intended effect.
  4. Take measurements for comparison against the baseline metrics gathered before the system changes were made.
  5. Review the satisfaction of application owners and users with the system’s modified performance. At this point, you will either move on to new pursuits or go back to step 2 and try to find other problems that are plaguing the system.

The ability to view historical performance trends is critical when trying to optimize your SQL Servers. Experienced IT professionals know that they need to be using the proper tools to achieve the results that are required to make the necessary performance tweaks.

Here Comes the Doctor

IDERA’s SQL Doctor provides visibility into all server instances and allows you to conduct real-time or scheduled health checks to identify performance bottlenecks. Report on long-running jobs, deadlocked sessions, and processor bottlenecks. The application even gives uses a prioritized list of performance improvement recommendations.  It offers an excellent solution when searching for the right software tool to help address performance and security issues with your SQL Servers.

This fact is illustrated by an IDERA case study that looks at how the consulting firm of Lake IT uses SQL Doctor to quickly address the concerns of their clients with SQL Server issues. As consultants, Lake IT is often called upon when SQL Server skills are lacking in an organization’s in-house technical team. SQL Doctor lets them become productive in a matter of minutes rather than hours after gaining access to their clients’ systems. Lake IT has made it an essential part of their consulting toolkit.

SQL Doctor is great when issues arise with your environment or as part of a proactive strategy involving periodic checkups just to see how things are going. Sometimes it’s better to see the doctor before it becomes absolutely necessary. Last time we checked, SQL Doctor was making house calls, no appointment necessary. We think your SQL Servers will feel much better after the visit.

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