The 5 Must Dos of Database Performance Management

Databases are complex, multifaceted, and vital to the health of every agency. They are the heart of every data center and arguably one of the most important components of an agency’s technology infrastructure, whether on-premises, in the cloud, or within a hybrid IT environment.

For these reasons, optimizing database performance is critical to enabling an optimized data center. There are five things a federal IT manager can do to meet this goal:

  1. Ensure that databases are healthy
  2. Gain visibility into data and metrics
  3. Put data and metrics in context
  4. Track optimization plans
  5. Create and maintain a performance baseline

Let’s look at each of these steps individually to understand how they all fit together:

Ensure database health

When it comes to databases, health and performance are actually two different things; databases must be healthy before they can be optimized. Think of professional athletes, who must be in great health before they can expect to perform at peak level.

Signifiers of database health include things like CPU utilization, I/O statistics, and memory pressure. Collectively, these metrics can indicate whether a database is capable of performing well.

Gain visibility

After validating the health of your databases, the next step is to begin the performance optimization process, ensuring that queries can execute quickly and throughput can be maximized. The first step in this process is to gain full visibility into the data and metrics needed to assess database performance.

Most database monitoring tools provide a good amount of data, but some pieces of information are more critical than others. For example, the ability to drill down into granular metrics like resource contention (maxed out CPU, memory, network, etc.) and a database’s workload (execution counts, reads and writes, replication, parsing statements, etc.) is key in helping to identify and mitigate the root cause of a performance problem.

Put data in context

Every federal IT professional brings a unique perspective to performance analysis based on their specific training, responsibilities, and experiences. Therefore, you should be sure that data delivered by your monitoring tool is structured and presented in a way that gives you and your team the real insights necessary to fix problems and optimize performance.  Specifically, the data should help quickly identify and resolve the root cause of performance issues, and not lead you down a “rat hole” of unnecessary, second-level research and analysis.

Track optimization plans

There are things your team will do to test and optimize performance —running optimization queries, for example. Make sure all queries and tests are tracked, and that results are carefully correlated with the tests being performed.

Why is this so important? Let’s say you’re trying to troubleshoot a problem. Your job will be twice as hard if you’re attempting to troubleshoot a problem without insight into what commands were executed by the optimizer. Unless the test is planned and tracked, it will be impossible to learn from the test and understand what caused the performance problem.

Create and maintain a performance baseline

It’s nearly impossible to tell when a database—or any other system, for that matter—is underperforming if you don’t have a daily baseline “normal” to measure against. But, how do you develop that baseline?

The best approach is to implement a comprehensive series of management and monitoring tools. That said, not all tools are alike. Be sure to invest in a tool that provides a dashboard—a single view—into database performance. Make sure you also have the ability to view down, up, and across; it should let you drill down into the database, across database technologies, and across deployment methods (including cloud).  And, finally, make sure the tools you choose allow you to establish a historical record of performance metrics.

All this information, coupled with the ability to create a baseline, will help ensure that your IT teams have the tools they need to optimize the health and performance of their database.

To learn more about a tool that can help ensure that your database is performing at optimal levels, watch the Federal Webinar: Getting to know SolarWinds® Database Performance Analyzer.

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