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Sql Server Tuning - What is SQL Server Tuning? An Introduction for Non-DBA's - What is SQL Tuning

performance future application dba’s

Are your applications running too slow, and you think SQL server tuning is in order? SQL server tuning is an important part of keeping any large-scale application running smoothly as it grows to accommodate more user load and performance demands. Ideally, your developers, DBA’s, and testers will have been working on this project with an eye towards future scalability requirements. But that doesn’t always happen – sometimes user load becomes more than expected, or the application simply exceeds its initial usage expectations. This is a brief guide to introduce non-DBA’s to the concept of SQL server tuning, its common practices, and its influencing factors. Use it both to get an idea of what’s required for present performance improvements, and also to plan out future projects so that there are minimal growing pains.

What is SQL Tuning

In brief, SQL tuning simply refers to DBA’s making improvements to the layout and indexing of existing databases in order to improve performance. It commonly becomes an issue when an application grows beyond its initial scope of users or performance load, and begins to slow down as a result. When you hear the term “SQL tuning”, you have to realize that it is more of an art than a science. There is no one set procedure that will fix the problem. Hundreds of different factors could be affecting your application’s performance, and it’s up to a skilled DBA to employ a variety of tactics to assess and improve the situation. Because of this, you will find a great variety of different techniques on for tuning processes on the internet – but that doesn’t mean that they will all work for you. In fact, the ones that will work for your unique situation are usually rather limited.

Best-Case Scenario (How to Do It Right)

Ideally, your development team should have been working closely with DBA’s and testers with a clear outline of the application’s usage goals. It is a good idea to include performance and load testing early on in the development process, so you have a real sense of your application’s performance limitations. If you include this testing early, it gives you much more time to troubleshoot potential problems and redefine expectations, if necessary. When planning out the potential usage of the application, look with an eye to the future. Imagine the best case scenario a few years down the line – how many users could you have by then? What other processes could affect your application? Even if the application is not built to those specifications to start with, ensure that you and your developers know what would be required to get it there. Make sure that it is built with an eye to future scalability, ensuring the least possible headaches when it does come time to upgrade. Without an eye to the eventual future usage, you could soon find your team scrambling all day to put out fires rather than working on valuable forward-facing projects.

The list of possible items to consider when looking at future scaling (or repairing present performance issues) is a long one indeed. DBA’s and developers should look at the operating system (both client and server side), the server’s configuration settings, the existing hardware that the software is running on, existing bandwidth, the number of clients and frequency of use, middleware, and any number of other factors. This is another area where a skilled DBA who intimately knows your current database configuration can come in very handy.

Further Information

Going into a comprehensive listing of possible performance issues and troubleshooting practices is beyond the scope of this article, but you can find very in-depth helps for many factors of SQL server tuning here at Database Journal.

That’s it for this introduction to SQL server tuning for the non-DBA. We hope you found this information to be helpful in understanding what it takes to do SQL server tuning, and how to plan projects to minimize strain while doing so.

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