How to get the most out of your database

By Thomas LaRock
Thomas LaRock, Head Geek at SolarWinds, shares his insights into optimising your database's performance...

When refined, data has the potential to fuel the success of your business. Data helps you better understand your customers, offering insights into their requirements, and data helps your organisation provide an all-round better user experience. 

In short, data is critical to the success of any business. And optimising database performance is paramount to keeping customers happy and helping your company stay ahead of the competition. 

Here are some ways to get the most out of your database. 

Examine your database health

Health comes before performance. It’s the difference between being healthy enough to run a four-minute mile and actually running a four-minute mile. Therefore, before you start looking to optimise database performance, you need to ensure it’s healthy. This means looking at things like CPU utilisation, I/O statistics, memory pressure, network bandwidth, and locking/blocking. These metrics can help you keep your database running as efficiently as possible. 

Embrace cross-platform solutions

More and more organisations are embracing cross-platform database solutions, offering the ability to deliver comprehensive applications regardless of database type or the location of actual data. This increases the challenges facing IT professionals, but it also offers a host of benefits, helping companies avoid revenue losses and damages to reputation caused by poor user experiences or business decisions based on incorrect data. 

Ensure your database in the cloud is up to scratch

As more IT organisations shift an increasing number of workloads to the cloud, it’s important to ensure database performance in the cloud is on par with the performance in your data center. IT professionals and business leaders need to strike a balance to make their data perform at its best, whether earthed, in the cloud, or in hybrid models, and optimising databases across the board. 

Create a performance baseline

Measuring the performance of your database is difficult to do effectively without a daily baseline “normal” to measure against. Implementing a comprehensive series of database management and monitoring tools is the best way to create a baseline. These tools allow you to drill down into the database engine, across database platforms, and across deployment methods. They also make it possible to establish a historical record of performance metrics. 

Understand your metrics

Optimising the performance of your database ensures queries will execute quickly and throughput can be maximised. To do this, you need to understand the data you’re working with, drilling down into granular metrics such as resource contention. Your database’s workload will be key in identifying and mitigating the root cause of performance issues. Getting it right makes a huge difference to your organisation and customers.

Select the right queries to optimise  

Database optimisation is all about making the right changes which make the biggest difference to your customer. But it’s worth considering where you’re making those changes. Look to optimise queries that cause user-visible problems, impact other queries, or cause significant loads to the server. This will prove beneficial, as optimising a query that generates a significant percentage of your database’s overall load can make a huge difference to your organisation’s bottom line.  

Predict and identify potential issues before they disrupt the business

Keeping your database in tip-top condition makes a huge difference to your organisation. Tools such as SolarWinds® database performance management solutions provide intelligent recommendations based on best practices for faster troubleshooting. With anomaly detection fueled by machine learning, it’s easy to identify potential issues before they’ve really made an impact on your business. 

Streamline your database deployments with continuous delivery

Continuous delivery is one of DevOps most foundational technical processes, and a key pillar when it comes to improving software, delivery, and operational (SDO) performance. The benefits of continuous delivery are clear to see, including the ability to push faster fixes and determine outcomes in less time, more agility, and the ability to continually learn. Put simply, embracing continuous delivery is a great way to future-proof your business.  

Be prepared for failure 

Whether your database is large, small, earthed, or cloud-based, it will always have the potential to fail. There are plenty of reasons this can happen, from application code changes, to database version upgrades, to configuration changes. This can result in a host of outcomes, including data loss, a loss of productivity, poor user experience or other systems failing. 

While sometimes it’s simply not possible to avoid such failure, you can do your best to be prepared. Disaster recovery preparation is an ongoing process and should never stop. It includes setting up monitoring on all essential systems, carrying out testing in stages, introducing rollouts gradually, being able to roll back if necessary and making sure you create backups regularly.  


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