Microsoft’s SQL Server is one of the most widely-used relational database solutions on the planet. Due to its popularity, there are numerous examples of SQL Server environments that are run efficiently as well as some that illustrate less than optimal use of computing and human resources. The addition of public and hybrid cloud solutions to traditional terrestrial data centers complicates the management of these environments by presenting multiple fronts that may have different issues.
One of the reasons for SQL Server’s popularity is the ability to easily stand up new databases. Combined with the relative ease with which cloud resources can often be obtained by development teams, what at first appears to be an advantage of SQL Server can lead to an explosion of new instances know as server sprawl. It can start small with an extra development server set up on a Friday afternoon that was not properly decommissioned when the team finished with it. Over time, the problem grows until there are dozens of rogue instances dragging down the environment.
Conducting an inventory of your SQL Server environment can help you minimize the problem of server sprawl. In some cases, you may be able to simply eliminate databases that no longer serve any purpose. It is very easy for test and development systems to languish unused long after they have become obsolete. Other systems may lend themselves to consolidation, reducing the environment’s overall physical or virtual footprint in the process.
Problems Caused by Server Sprawl
There are two major problems that organizations face when they allow server sprawl to proliferate throughout their environment. Uncontrolled growth in the SQL Server environment ends up costing an enterprise time and money. The majority of companies using SQL Server users do not enjoy these kinds of excessive or unnecessary expenditures.
- More server instances mean more work for the DBAs responsible for maintaining them. Nothing illustrates wasted time like patching database servers that should have already been shut down. Having a database team spending time addressing the repercussions of server sprawl takes up valuable cycles that could be better spent in more productive activities.
- The financial costs of server sprawl can manifest themselves in several ways. Surprise licensing fees that result from an audit are never welcome by management. The bills from cloud providers may increase due to the computing requirements of unnecessary databases. Virtual systems make use of real, physical computing power that will have to be paid for by the organization.
Benefits of Consolidation
Consolidating your SQL Server environment offers several advantages that most organizations will welcome. Together, they provide a compelling reason for performing server inventories regularly.
- DBA productivity is increased by eliminating work performed on unnecessary SQL Server instances.
- A controlled server environment is easier to monitor and secure than one that includes unidentified and unused systems.
- Licensing fees for SQL Server and Windows will be reduced by shutting down systems that have been consolidated.
- The reduced hardware requirements will save money whether the database instances are located in a physical data center or the cloud.
Automating Your SQL Server Inventory
Manually performing an SQL Server inventory can be a labor-intensive activity that lends itself to errors that may negate the benefits of conducting it in the first place. Faulty information can be worse than no information at all, and a simple oversight during a manual inventory can lead to erroneous expectations. An automated solution will produce more consistent and valuable results.
SQL Inventory Manager is designed to help control and eliminate SQL Server sprawl by keeping you fully informed about your environment. It can also help manage servers with informative alerts that keep the team apprised of things like missed backups and databases that need a consistency check. Emails can be sent to the right parties so proper attention to these issues can be initiated. The tool gives you the functionality you need to identify your SQL Servers no matter where they live so you can decide if they deserve your continued support. It might be time to cut some of them off.
A trio of short videos is available on IDERA’s website that highlight the benefits of the application. They provide an overview of SQL Inventory Manager as well as more detailed information about viewing and using tags and how to get the most out of the tool’s custom inventory fields. They total about 15 minutes that will be time well-spent if you plan on using SQL Inventory Manager to get a grip on server sprawl and identify possibilities for consolidating your SQL Server environment. We suggest that you can’t go wrong by inventorying your SQL Servers.