The system is slow; can someone reach out to the software vendor? Or, we must need new hardware. Many companies take the typical route of buying new hardware or pointing to the applications and when those efforts have been exhausted, the users are forced to perpetually drive in the slow lane. In reality, there can be several reasons for sluggish performance, but these areas often elude the expertise of the traditional IT Help Desk guy.
After the SW vendor has been peppered, and the hardware architecture has been reviewed, the next common culprit is often times the SQL Server. SQL Server is typically the most important server in any environment as it stores and serves data to almost everyone in the organization. Unbeknownst to many, it needs to be routinely updated and maintained to ensure proper performance levels are being met. The challenge is most organizations do not have the SQL expertise or budget to properly manage SQL Server. Lets face it, hiring a DBA for a small business is out of the question and would surely be overkill.
The good news is there are Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) that provide a whole host of services that can be offered on a As-a-Service basis. Networking, Active Directory, SQL Server services are all typically part MSP portfolio. The resources that provide these services are typically highly credentialed experts in their fields and can be contracted out for a fraction of the cost of a dedicated FTE. Think of them like bullpen aces that come in to save the day when the starting pitchers are getting knocked around. One note of caution, make sure the MSP follows industry Best Practices and is accredited with the SOC 2, Type 2 certification.
Now, back to SQL Server. MSP’s help small businesses maximize their SQL Server investment is by ensuring optimal performance through baseline health checks, setting up and monitoring regular automated maintenance jobs, and monthly patch reviews. Here is are some of the standard SQL Server services MSP’s can offer your business:
- SQL Server Baseline – run a series of queries to get a baseline of server settings, temp file configuration, Service Pack/Version support issues, and index fragmentation initial settings. To be used for later comparisons.
- SQL Server Security review – account settings – what access those accounts have (monthly).
- Review/Setup SQL Server Maintenance – Index rebuilds/tuning/de-fragmenting/recompile objects (weekly).
- Performance Summary – 3-4 times per month run a light trace and quickly analyze the results to maintain optimal performance.
- Ask a DBA: Light – Get 1 hour of DBA time to ask questions, vet out ideas, or general advice. If more time is needed, MSP’s will work with you to develop a custom program.
- Review VMware settings to make sure they’re optimal for SQL Server.
- Review Windows/Cluster settings to make sure they are optimal for SQL Server.
Additionally many MSP’s can perform project-based services based on your requirements.
- Performance Study – collect detailed trace information for a period of time to look for long running queries, give results, make recommendations, implement changes.
- Upgrade SQL Server – as Microsoft releases new versions of SQL Server, support for older versions are queued up for de-support. This can be cumbersome for organizations to monitor and is often overlooked. MSP’s can help keep you current and plan and perform your SQL Server upgrade.
Now, can your IT Help Desk guy give you that type of coverage and expertise? If the answer is yes, hold on for dear life and expect the “I need a raise” discussion in the near future. If not, try reaching out to a couple of Managed Service Providers…you will be glad you did.