A 3-Legged SQL Server Management Approach

In the age of big data, efficiently managing relational databases, particularly SQL Server, may be the single most important issue facing a growing number of CIOs and data center managers. Throughout the enterprise IT community, and in the world of big data in particular, SQL Server is on a tear. Gartner projects that the market for relational database management systems will grow to $40 billion by 2018, with expanding instances of SQL Server growing nearly as fast as the big data opportunities they are expected to manage.

Fair to say that this is no accident. Microsoft continues to develop and integrate an ever-greater array of features into the SQL platform, with SQL Server 2016 poised to be its strongest version yet. These expanded capabilities should provide new opportunities for companies with the need to manage extreme volumes of data and a wide variety of data types, while at the same time needing to process that data faster than ever before.

For many CIOs and database managers, the release of SQL Server 2016 earlier this year will prompt a closer look into ongoing operations to determine whether or not their current SQL Server solutions—or the use of large database software from other vendors—are meeting their company’s big data needs. They will need to ensure the effectiveness of database workloads within the data center for today’s business goals and to plan now for future requirements.

This is not a simple analysis. The rapid growth of data environments has put a real strain on IT organizations as they strive to scale and operate these systems efficiently. IT decision makers are left asking how their database can scale with these demands, while at the same time continuing to pro-vide the best service for customers. Unfortunately, there are no simple answers.

There are, however, methodologies that can be put into place to help manage this process and provide valuable insight and information.

For IT professionals striving to better understand and utilize massive SQL workloads, an approach based on the following three legs may be just the ticket.

Automate Monitoring

Identifying, collecting, and analyzing SQL Server performance data at the drop of a hat is easier said than done. With the right performance monitoring tools in place, IT professionals can quickly monitor performance trends and use data analytics to quickly resolve incidents. Taking the time to develop and implement a finely tuned monitoring system could save companies a lot of hassle in the future; it can detect when a problem has occurred, and, better yet, help administrators be proactive by warning them about a problem before it occurs. At a minimum, administrators should check the SQL Server availability, critical maintenance jobs such as backups, and essential capacity issues on a regular basis.

Create Standards for Database Administrators

Remember, SQL Server is a relational database management system (RDBMS) designed for the enterprise environment; a single SQL Server can contain thousands of separate databases. Organization, when  managing  the  data  held in  SQL Server, is imperative. While technical requirements may not allow you to make everything identical, the closer, the better.

Companies should proactively create a clear understanding of what looks “right” by using configuration management to allow them to start from a repeatable standard. This will then allow any database administrator to easily scan through a system and notice configuration settings that are not standard. Again, it pays off to be proactive.

Use a Centralized Management Server

A SQL Server Centralized Management Server is a central, single database that holds a list of managed servers. Because this server is able to gather metadata from your other database servers, it improves oversight and reporting activities exponentially; it allows companies to create a single consolidated report on job status, saving significant time compared to analyzing separate reports from each system. It also enables generating and tracking of trend analysis and other key performance indicators that a company can tailor to its needs.

By implementing this three-legged approach, companies can consolidate information flow, thus reducing communication traffic, and decrease the number of incidents. The continuous review of these proactive best practices—monitoring, creating standards, and using centralized management—is vital to greater  efficiency and productivity for handling massive SQL Server workloads in the enterprise.