What is a SQL Server Health Check?
SQL Server Out Of The Box
SQL Server is a great platform for getting database applications up and running quickly. It takes minimal effort to install SQL Server and creating a new database and tables can all be done using SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), SQL Server's graphical user tool.
Once tables are created it is very easy to populate the tables using SSMS to insert data, just like you would if you were using an Excel spreadsheet. Even the task of creating transact SQL (T-SQL) SQL Server's language to select, insert, delete or update records can all be generated from this graphical tool.
The ease of setting up a database environment has its benefits, but not knowing what is occurring in the background could be a potential disaster waiting to happen. Often database applications start off very small and therefore with minimal planning and effort, database performance is not an issue. Also, with faster hardware and the ability for 64 bit hardware to address lots of memory, performance issues are often masked. But performance should not be your only concern.
SQL Server Components That Should Be Reviewed
In addition to performance, SQL Server offers several options for configuration, monitoring, maintenance, recovery and tuning. Without knowing which features to turn on as well as not knowing the acceptable parameters it is quite difficult to know if you are doing things correctly.
At a minimum, all database installations should have the following options reviewed and configured properly:
- Database Backups
- Disk Configuration and Layout
- Memory Settings
- SQL Server Configuration Settings
- Database Configuration Settings
- Error Log Settings
- SQL Server Agent Settings
- High Availability Solution
- Disaster Recovery Procedures
- Security Settings within SQL Server and at the Operating System level
- Identification of worst performing code
- Identification of blocking issues
- Eliminating deadlocking issues
- Review of SQL Server features that are not being used
- Monitoring Procedures
- Naming Conventions
- Data Type Usage
- Data Archiving Procedures
- Code Rollout Procedures
- Proper Maintenance Routines
- And more...
These may or may not be items that you are familiar with, but they all are part of a successful database implementation.
Why Can't I Do This Myself
There are several articles that you can find on the internet that will you assist you with these items, but often articles are conflicting and without being an expert it is not always easy to determine what is the right approach. This is where having an expert review of your server(s) may be a better approach to know if you are taking full advantage of SQL Server's capabilities as well as making sure key aspects for both performance and eliminating downtime in your SQL Server environment are addressed. Some organizations refer to this as a SQL Server Health Check, but there are probably several other names for this service as well. Having a comprehensive review of your database server done all at once will help you identify any risks or optimization techniques to take your investment to the next level.
Keep in mind that you are the business expert and therefore you should focus on what's most important for your business to thrive. But just because you may not be a SQL Server expert doesn't mean that you should ignore the health of your SQL Server(s) that are also a key component to your business success. To learn more about Edgewood's Health Check offering, please see this page.
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