Addressing Out of Control SQL Server Sprawl Effectively

by Jul 20, 2020

Data is the driving force in business these days. Organizations rely on their information resources to make informed decisions regarding all aspects of their operations. Productive use of data assets can provide huge competitive advantages over less-enlightened rivals. The challenge for an enterprise is to make the most of the opportunity afforded them by the abundance of information at its fingertips.

Accomplishing this goal requires a methodical and organized approach. Many organizations opt for a relational database management system (RDBMS) to store, access, and analyze their data. There are many choices of RDMBS on the market that enjoy some degree of popularity. One of the most-used options is Microsoft SQL Server which has become one of the leading solutions in relational database platforms.

Why is SQL Server so Popular?

Multiple factors explain the popularity of SQL Server and its widespread use in the business community. Here are some of the reasons that SQL Server is part of so many computing environments.

  • SQL Server has become an industry standard. As the use of the platform gained momentum and more database professionals were trained and gained experience with the product, its popularity snowballed. Companies were more likely to use SQL Server when faced with similarly functioning alternatives due to the large pool of talented DBAs available for hire.

  • Tight compatibility with Microsoft’s other popular products is another reason that many enterprises select SQL Server as their database of choice. Management who have become comfortable with Microsoft’s offerings are more inclined to use their relational database solution when the need arises.

  • SQL Server has a proven track record of reliability concerning database security. This critical aspect of a software solution is especially important when access to corporate data resources are at stake. A data breach can be devastating to any enterprise and a secure database platform is essential to minimize this type of security risk.

The Problem of SQL Server Sprawl

While SQL Server provides many advantages for organizations that adopt it as their database platform, it is not without potential pain points. One that can be responsible for several related problems is SQL Server sprawl. This is the term used to describe uncontrolled and uncoordinated growth in the SQL Server environment. This problem has been exacerbated by the rise of hybrid cloud and on-premises computing environments that contain multiple locations where new instances of SQL Server may be installed.

Two main issues result from SQL Server sprawl. Without proper supervision, they can lead to lost productivity and wasted financial resources.

  • Increased complexity in managing the environment is an outgrowth of server sprawl. More databases mean more work for your DBAs. The team’s focus will be taken away from value-added projects as they struggle to keep up with the delay activities required to keep the servers operating efficiently. Spending time administering to databases that should not even exist is a waste of human resources and negatively impacts the productivity of the entire team.

  • SQL Server licensing fees are the other big concern caused by server sprawl. As can be seen by the pricing structure for SQL Server 2019, it can be very expensive to pay for database instances that are not needed by an organization. Eliminating the unnecessary costs of a handful of databases can save enough for an enterprise to hire an additional team member. In cases where extensive sprawl has occurred, the financial implications of licensing extraneous servers can be a big hit to an enterprise’s bottom line.

Controlling SQL Server Sprawl

To address the problem of SQL Server sprawl, it is necessary to have the capability to track your inventory across all parts of the computing environment. This includes all of the on-premises physical and virtual instances as well as those that may be spread among several cloud providers. It can be a daunting task to keep a handle on a diversified collection of SQL Servers and avoid falling victim to excessive server proliferation.

IDERA’s SQL Inventory Manager offers database teams an excellent tool to assist with the job of controlling server sprawl. Here are some of the useful features built into this application that will contribute to lower licensing costs and increase productivity for your database team.

  • View your total SQL Server inventory to ascertain where instances are located and who owns them.
  • Auto-discovery of new server installations enable server inventory to be kept up to date.
  • Tags and custom fields can be defined to organize servers and databases.
  • Health checks can be performed on your SQL Servers to monitor capacity and performance.

SQL Inventory Manager can be run on Windows or Linux machines and supports all versions of SQL Server from 2000 through 2019. The tool is fully compatible with cloud virtual instances on Azure and AWS. It provides a comprehensive inventory tool that enables your team to identify servers that are no longer needed or can be retired to save licensing fees and DBA cycles. The application will soon pay for itself as your organization eliminates the unnecessary database instances that cost it money and affect productivity.