Monday, August 31, 2009

The Pro-Active DBA during the Economic Tsunami

As none of us are immune to the current financial crisis, and your development projects have probably come to a halt all around your respective work environments, I propose a list of pro-active steps to reduce long-term costs associated with the management of your SQL Server database systems below. Normally, I was just on holiday now and tried to get off the grid, but the apartment we rented in Rome, just off of Piazza Pasquino and in between Campo di Fiori and Piazza Navona, has no shortage of vibrant night-life/dining/drinking parties going on just one floor below 'till two in the morning!

Right, back to the crisis :) which I just evaded for a few weeks:
1. Archive by means of purging data from the largest, worst performing and space hogging database tables you possibly can. This will involve significant co-ordination with developers and application users of course, so by no means a quick step in reducing costs - in other words do not pull out the battle axe and truncate all! Seek to satisfy the lowest common denominator needs (within reason) and prepare a COBIT style change management (or ITIL equivalent) to ensure no steps have been left out. Follow up your 'great' purge with data file optimisation (indexes off to another disk if available) and then a one-off database shrink to seal the deal.
2. Mitigate the Data Explosion and Compress your largest tables in SQL 2005 Enterprise post SP2 , if your table has a Decimal datatype – or in SQL 2008 Enterprise or Developer, use Row and Page Compression.
3. For instances on 2005/8 Digg with activity monitor to narrow down what is hogging the system resources. Check the Procedural Cache and watch out for tables scans, etc., and optimise stored procedures by the use of temp tables when there are many joins involved.
4. Certify yourself, or upgrade your certification to maintain your competitive edge and for simple self-enrichment within the profession.
5. Run through Disaster Recovery Scenarios to ensure business continuity for your employer or client. Practice restoring onto your DRP environment with the appropriate restore scripts.
6. If you do not know your environment like the back of your hand yet, update server configuration documentation with various tools and create visual infrastructure documents (e.g. in Visio).
7. Kick up on the networking with LinkedIn and join groups from institutions you’ve been through, whether they be academic or professional.
8. Start Blogging, answer questions in groups and read up on the best professional magazines or books in the industry. Reach out to like-minded bloggers and support them.
9. When you’ve done all this…go on a holiday, you’ll probably deserve it by then, as for Italy, I can thoroughly recommend it J!

The scale of the columns still standing at the Senate in the Forum is impressive as you can see below.

The Scale in Rome is Impressive.

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