There is no science or formula to determine when exactly you need a comprehensive health check of your database environments – whether doing so for the first time, or as part of a periodic, ad hoc practice. Nor is it something where you simply wake up one day, and know you need one. It’s just not that simple. But there are a number of “leading indicators” and tangible business challenges that can act like signs that a database health check could be an extremely valuable exercise. It assures your critical database operations continue running at optimal efficiency, and mitigates any risks of performance problems or, worse, outages. The benefits are obvious, but knowing the right time to do a health check is not.
With data being at the heart of any successful modern business, keeping your databases running at peak performance is no longer an option; it’s an imperative. Just like how most people recognize that an annual visit to the doctors is the “right thing” to do (but far too few people, in fact, do so as a consistent practice), too many IT organizations are also remiss in practicing proactive, preventative performance management for their critical database environments.
Perhaps it’s no surprise, with all of the demands facing today’s IT enterprises (Cloud initiatives, Mobility requirements, Big Data Projects, IoT, ERP, etc.); but the most successful companies find a way to stay out in front of it, and make it a “must have” for their organization.
So, if you find yourself challenged in your ability to perform strategic health checks at regular intervals, you should still be on the lookout for signs that a database health check would likely be worthwhile for preventing near-term problems (and possible disasters).
Here are 8 common indicators that it may be time to engage in a comprehensive health check of your database enterprise:
- End-user experience is deteriorating, as application performance problems often lead back to the database.
- Data needs are outstripping your current capabilities.
- Large databases need more tuning, backup, recovery, and upgrade support than usual.
- Compliance or security policy is in question.
- Documentation is missing, incomplete, or confusing.
- Backup SLAs are the same for all applications, in spite of their importance to the business.
- Data is growing rapidly and you’re purchasing hardware (or provisioning added cloud compute capacity) reactively.
- Some database instances are unstable or performance is lagging.
If these issues (or similar ones) sound familiar, then a strategic database health check would likely benefit your organization. But just deciding you need a health check is the easy part!
It’s important that you define your objectives for doing so, select a competent 3rd party provider with which to engage, and plan accordingly. You must also be prepared to deliver on the proposed remediation plan recommended (as part of the health check) for improving the health, performance, and security of your database operations.
Finally, once you’ve endured the health check (and remediation) process – whether with an outside consulting firm or via internal resources – you should probably consider if it would be valuable to look for an expert managed services provider (often the firm that delivered the health check) to help provide ongoing production support of your database systems. This does not have to be an “all or nothing” consideration; perhaps you just engage them to assure that routine, preventative maintenance is delivered with greater consistency; and so that you continue to health check your databases at regular intervals (ideally, at least once per year). The most reputable database support providers will likely have this as part of their standard, best practices scope.
Hopefully, this helps to serve as a useful reference to consider whether (and when) a database health check is right for you. Of course, if there is additional guidance you need along the way, ManageForce is very capable of assisting anywhere along the spectrum – from assessing your needs, to end-to-end health check engagement, and production database support. Drop us a line if you think we can be of help!