Improve SQL Server Usage Management and Efficiency

by Sep 6, 2023

If your organization deals with a high volume of customer data, telemetry, or other metrics, it’s likely you’ll have some substantial databases to manage. Many organizations start with modest data management requirements and then find that their early database schema and code cannot keep up with their growing data warehouse needs. 

More than simply expanding the available storage is not an adequate solution to these issues, as growing databases often have other inefficiencies that can lead to poor performance. Fortunately, there’s a better way. Tools such as Idera’s SQL Diagnostic Manager can help improve the performance and scalability of your databases.

Identifying Inefficiencies in SQL Servers

Poor database design, inefficient code, and lax database administration can cause many issues, especially as the volume of data being worked with grows or the volume of queries hitting a server increases. Issues that may have gone unnoticed on a small website or a database for a few dozen customers will become obvious as a business grows in size or a website sees a significant increase in traffic.

Common issues with SQL servers include the following:

  • Fragmented Indexes: One of the most common issues with databases set up by inexperienced DBAs (also known as “accidental DBAs”) is missing indexes. At many companies, someone who is a hobbyist coder or who has a little bit of database experience from a school or college course is tasked with updating a paper process by creating a database. In a rush to get things working, they either don’t think about indexes at all, don’t update the indexes, or create indexes from the wrong fields, leading to too many indexes or ones that are essentially useless for the queries being performed.
  • Inefficient Queries and Stored Procedures: Inefficient queries are another area where accidental DBAs often fall down. They’re not confident when it comes to writing SQL queries, so they’ll just “SELECT * FROM…” even if they only want one or two fields. This is something you can get away with for a small table from a database with a relatively low number of records, but the performance hit will become apparent as the database grows. Even experienced DBAs can often benefit from optimizing their T-SQL queries. While they have better habits than novice DBAs, there are still many optimizations that can be performed to reduce the number of queries carried out and the number of unnecessary conversions being performed on the data.
  • Insufficient Memory and Storage Allocation: SQL Server performance depends on numerous factors, including the CPU (and a number of cores), RAM, and storage configurations. SQL Server does an excellent job of dynamically managing memory usage and uses a buffer cache to load pages from the disk as required. To maximize performance, it’s a good idea to minimize disk I/O because this is usually the slowest link in the chain.

Strategies for Optimizing Databases Without Additional Storage

If you’d like to improve the performance of your databases without simply adding additional storage, try the following tips for database optimization:

  • Reorganize and rebuild indexes. Make sure your most frequently run read queries have an index associated with them. Resist the urge to simply add indexes for everything, however. Keep in mind that if you perform a write on a table or a column, the index will need to update. Re-evaluate your indexes and change them if your requirements or queries change significantly.
  • Optimize queries and stored procedures. Poorly designed queries that pull more data than required or that result in data being converted between types unnecessarily could significantly reduce the performance of your database. Examine your queries and consider if they could be optimized.
  • Tuning your server settings. Examine your server to ensure any available cache is big enough and that disk I/O operations are minimal. Consider your CPU/core allocations too. Where possible, ensure the hardware is not overloaded (for example, try not to run production and development databases on the same server with limited resources). Consider clustering to improve performance under load.
  • Use data compression and archiving strategies. If you have data that is rarely accessed, consider compressing it or archiving it to reduce the size of the database.

Introduction to Idera’s SQL Diagnostic Manager

If you have a lot of SQL servers to take care of, Idera’s SQL Diagnostic Manager could streamline the job for you and make it easier for you to monitor the performance of your servers, as well as help diagnose and troubleshoot issues. SQL Diagnostic Manager offers several invaluable features for DBAs, including:

  • Real-time performance monitoring. Get real-time updates on the health, performance, and availability of all your SQL Server instances, even if your organization has hundreds of them.
  • Alerting and notifications. Set alerts for key metrics and add those alerts to individual servers quickly and easily via the dashboard.
  • Query performance analysis. See which queries are taking the most time to run so that you can target those for optimization.
  • Storage and capacity planning. Get an at-a-glance overview of your database’s resource consumption so you can plan ahead when it comes to adding capacity.
  • Dashboard and reporting. See all the information you need in one handy dashboard. Customize the dashboard or configure multiple dashboards per instance based on your requirements. Use the reporting tool to generate detailed reports that cover query execution times, memory consumption, uptime, and more.
  • Get invaluable diagnostic data. Discover the top issues and most frequent or critical alerts at a glance. Get expert recommendations on how to improve the performance of your servers and databases.

The Secret Weapon for DBAs

Managing large or complex SQL Server deployments can be a minefield, even for experienced DBAs. Technical debt and shifting database requirements can make it hard to make informed decisions about your database configurations and schema. 

Idera’s SQL Diagnostic Manager is your new secret weapon for monitoring and evaluating your SQL Servers. Thanks to its sophisticated monitoring and reporting tools and its ability to recommend potential improvements, SQL Diagnostic Manager can save you time, highlight issues and help you keep your databases running well.

If you’d like to know more about what Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager can do for your organization, contact us today or sign up for a free trial.