Database servers are a cornerstone of modern businesses ranging from Google to 7-Eleven. When you run your credit card at a convenience or grocery store, your purchase is registered at a point of sale system backed by a database. Your credit card company registers the funds transfer into a database server containing your financial records. If you use a discount card, yet another database server comes into play. Databases enable businesses to track inventory, perform margin analysis, automate purchases, and identify customer trends—and to do all of this much more quickly and efficiently than ever before!
It has been a long time since I visited any business that did not rely on some type of database server if only to track purchases and expenses. But I constantly communicate with businesses that lack a plan to ensure these databases function properly on an ongoing basis.
SQL Hosting at Atlantic.Net data center helps your database remain a vital component of your business infrastructure, rather than a time-wasting black hole for IT resources.
We recently sat down with our engineering team to provide you a few tips on how we help accomplish just that:
Tip 1: Host in a Data Center
Simple power quality issues such as brownouts, blackouts or even a mere voltage fluctuation can result in your server powering down. SQL-based database systems are sensitive to these unanticipated shutdowns, resulting in errors in transaction logs and database instability. Hosting that same database server in a secure data center —where power quality is monitored every second of every day by trained engineers—helps ensure 100% uptime .
So when you are ready to start your business day, your SQL database will be ready to start as well!
Tip 2: Maximize IOPS
One vital performance metric for database systems is Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS). IOPS is important here as a measurement of how fast storage devices can read and write, which is the primary operation metric of database systems such as SQL.
Remember that in reading from and writing to a database, most hard disks must physically move, which takes time—especially if you need to read and write from separate physical areas of your disk. By making the read and write tasks concurrent you can speed up this process with almost no administrative effort.
Instead of a single disk array handling both your operating system and application, opt for two arrays to handle each task on separate disks. Choosing serial-attached SCSI drives with high RPMs for your database, and enterprise-level SATA drives, for your operating system will drastically improve read and write performance.
Tip 3: RAID: It does more than kill bugs
If you are a server administrator, you are probably familiar with the concept of a redundant array of independent disks (RAID). Using a RAID algorithm, administrators can spread a set of data across multiple drives. Depending on which RAID algorithm is used, RAID can provide redundancy (via mirroring), improve performance (via striping), or a combination of both.
At Atlantic.Net, we recommend the use of RAID 10 for SQL applications. RAID 10 uses mirroring and striping to provide significant protection against hardware failure while maximizing IOPS. Microsoft agrees with us.
Always use a hardware RAID card with a dedicated coprocessor when deploying SQL in a RAID environment; doing so will free your CPU to focus on cycle-intensive applications, as opposed to doing time-consuming RAID math.
Tip 4: Computers Only Want One Thing
Having various types of applications running on the same server typically makes servers less efficient.
We recommend segmenting services to get the best possible performance. For instance, run a web server on one set of boxes and a database server on another set, using dedicated appliances for firewalls and load balancing.
Tip 5: Cache
One way to prevent the need to physically move hard disks, and in the process improve performance, is to cache commonly used data in memory, thus reducing the amount of steps necessary to complete a database transaction. You could run one or more proxy servers, or even a caching application on your SQL server , to serve requests for cached data and significantly reduce the load on your SQL-based system. There are great open-source applications available to provide this functionality such as memcached, which can be obtained from Memcached.org.
Hardware-enabled write caching is also typically supported by hard disk or RAID controller cards. Hardware write caching may actually degrade I/O performance, though, depending on the block size, database software, RAID algorithm, and the type of controller being used. Additionally, when using certain types of tables combined with certain types of hardware-enabled write caching, an administrator can risk serious database recovery issues in the event of an unexpected application or server shutdown.
Database and SQL servers require high availability; therefore, ensuring 100% uptime is generally accepted as best practice for businesses. Availability is so critical that it can have a deep impact on productivity by negatively affecting staff members, users and operations throughout the organization. If you choose an in-house hosting solution for your SQL Server, it could mean little to no security, poor reliability and no scalability. Alternatively, hosting your SQL Server with a Service Provider can yield increased uptime, scalability and performance for your databases. SQL Hosting server solutions can even provide optimal performance by outsourcing server management to the service provider. For optimal server hosting, as well as the right SQL setup, choose a service provider that can maximize your productivity with a 100% uptime guarantee.
Give us a call at 1-800-521-5881 to discuss your upcoming SQL and our award winning SQL Hosting solutions.