How You Can Make Your Database More Efficient

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How You Can Make Your Database More Efficient

Data is the lifeblood of your business, critical to its survival and success. It delivers insights into customers’ specific needs, helping you better understand them and deliver a more tailored user experience. 

With data playing such a key role in whether modern businesses sink or swim, it’s vitally important to optimize your database to ensure data is insightful, relevant, and actionable, providing the end user with the best possible experience.

A smooth-running database can deliver key differentiation between your business and competitors, so here’s some advice on how to improve database performance to be more efficient and deliver this cutting edge.

Keep the Customer in Mind When Optimizing Queries

When striving for database optimization, it’s important for IT professionals to keep the customer front and center. Without customers, you don’t have a business. Look to make improvements with the greatest positive impact for customers.

When deciding upon which changes to make, prioritize optimizing queries causing problems that are visible to the user, have a knock-on effect to other queries, or cause significant loads on the server. The final point is important, as optimizing a query generating a significant percentage of your database’s load can deliver real benefits, including having a positive impact on your organization’s bottom line.

Predict and Address Issues Before They Impact Operations

The best defense is a good offense, and this can certainly be applied to database performance. IT professionals who opt for a reactive approach to issues cropping up and impacting their business are always on their back foot, putting out fires instead of using this time to optimize operations.

Tools for database performance management can turn this reactivity into proactivity, with solutions offering intelligent recommendations based on best practices to enable faster troubleshooting and anomaly detection powered by machine learning. With these capabilities in place, IT professionals can predict, identify, and tackle issues before they begin to harm the business.

Be Prepared for Failure

To lean on a hoary old expression, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. For IT professionals, it’s vital to understand and prepare for the fact your database—no matter how it’s deployed and how smoothly you have it running—will one day fail.

It could fail because of version updates, configuration changes, application code changes or any number of other easily overlooked reasons. And while failure is sometimes an unavoidable fact of life, a lack of preparation to mitigate this failure can turn a slight issue into one bordering on catastrophic. Data loss, poor user experience, a loss of productivity—these are all potential outcomes of database failure, and the longer they last, the greater the damage to your business.

Disaster recovery preparation should never be far from an IT pro’s mind, with an evolving, ongoing process in place to ensure failure can be addressed quickly. This process should include setting up monitoring on all essential systems, testing in stages, introducing rollouts gradually, rolling back changes if necessary, and making sure you regularly create and test your backups. With these steps in place, you’ll be prepared for failure, and your organization will be better off for it.

Perform Regular Health Checks

In normal circumstances, an experienced runner could tackle 5 kilometers with relative ease. Ask the same runner to do so when suffering from a head cold, however, and that 5 kilometers may as well be 500. Put simply, performance means nothing without health. A healthy database will be able to perform and an unhealthy one won’t, so IT pros need to regularly ensure their databases are fighting fit.

For traditional single-node database systems, IT pros must keep a constant eye on metrics like CPU utilization, memory pressure, I/O statistics, locking/blocking, and network bandwidth. For modern globally distributed workloads, IT pros will want to focus on the four golden signals: latency, traffic, saturation, and error rate. Look after a database’s health, and performance optimization will follow.

Workloads are becoming increasingly distributed as organizations evolve, and IT professionals must ensure performance—whether their database is on-premises, cloud-based, or a combination of the two in a hybrid model—is equally smooth. Out of sight shouldn’t mean out of mind; optimizing databases no matter where they sit can help ensure the smooth running of operations.

Use Monitoring to Establish a Baseline

Without a baseline, you don’t know how to define “normal.” Normal is different for every organization, so IT professionals must establish a daily baseline for their databases’ performance so they can quickly identify any deviations from the norm.

Monitoring tools are key to doing this, allowing IT professionals to drill down into the database engine and across database platforms. Monitoring and management tools also help establish a historical record of performance metrics to establish trends and paint a clearer picture of your database performance.

Whether you’re working hard to better understand your metrics or embracing cross-platform solutions, the work of an IT pro striving to improve performance is never done. The list above, however, should offer an excellent start for driving this improvement and should enable you to maximize the potential of your database.