The world is in the midst of a data revolution. The world’s data is expected to grow to 175 zettabytes by 2025, which is five times more than in 2010. As businesses increasingly operate in data-rich environments, scaling and managing this deluge of data effectively is a key concern. Planning the capacity of databases is an important step in reaching this goal. SQL Server capacity planning is especially true for organizations using editions of SQL Server and other database platforms.
Understanding Your Environment: Accommodating Workloads and Scaling
An intricate understanding of your application’s peak workload is a cornerstone of effective database capacity planning. This means breaking free from the idea that capacity planning only involves accommodating the most demanding season. A truly agile business keeps pace with the ebb and flow of workload throughout the month, week, and even daily. This meticulous level of planning ensures that your SQL Server database stands unwavering during a surge of demands, thereby ensuring uninterrupted performance.
For organizations fortunate enough to be cloud-based or leveraging virtualization, resource scaling isn’t a mere option—it’s a strategic advantage. The ability to scale resources up or down in direct response to workload fluctuations exemplifies business agility. This elastic approach to resource allocation can translate into significant financial savings. After all, why should you pay for resources that are not contributing to your current needs?
Measuring the Resource Needs and Health of Applications
Assessing resource needs—such as CPU usage, memory, disk space, and storage—is undeniably a vital component of capacity planning and performance optimization. Yet, defining and diagnosing the health of an application or database may just tip the scales in terms of importance. After all, if you’re in the dark about the current state of your application’s health or database’s health, how can you make an informed decision about what resources are necessary to improve the health in the new, right sized environment?
It’s a common practice today to track CPU usage, CPU memory allocation, and I/O operations (SQL Server resources) at the operating system level and some high-level metrics about the 3rd party applications like SQL Server. While these OS performance metrics are essential indicators, they don’t reveal the full narrative about how the application or database workload are actually performing.
The internal resource health or “pressure” of applications and database servers often takes precedence in terms of significance. For instance, if a database’s internal memory is having memory pressure and is constantly flushing memory to disk and the operation system’s memory is healthy, most tools will not recommend right sizing. That’s why capacity planning requires administrators and tools to look beyond the server’s resource needs and determine what resources would be required to increase the health of the application or database server.
The Future in Focus: Planning for Accelerated Growth
When mapping out the overall capacity needs for applications and database servers, it is imperative to adopt a forward-looking strategy. We must not only fulfill present requirements but also pre-emptively provision for anticipated data collection growth, increased transactional volume, and the overall expansion goals of the business. It’s about discerning the patterns of change and growth expected over the next one to three years, ensuring your infrastructure isn’t merely surviving but thriving amidst your evolving business landscape.
Data growth is a relentless reality for any business harnessing the power of databases / SQL server environment. As your customer base expands, as you innovate new services, and as your operational scope broadens, so too will your data volumes balloon.
As such, your capacity planning should not merely be reactionary—it should have the foresight to account for this growth, guaranteeing ample storage and robust processing capabilities to handle these burgeoning data volumes with finesse. A failure to strategize for this inevitability could result in resource scarcity, unexpected service interruptions, performance degradation, and ultimately, a ripple effect of negative impacts on your business operations and customer experience.
Moreover, as data scales, the code that manipulates and interacts with this data can also increase in complexity, causing additional resource consumption. As transactional volumes balloon, code that was once efficient could become a resource drain.
It is essential to regularly review and optimize code as part of a proactive capacity planning strategy, thereby ensuring smooth, efficient operations that keep pace with the growing demands of your business. With the right planning, you can ensure that your SQL Server version infrastructure is not only equipped to handle today’s challenges but is also primed for the future.
Key Considerations in SQL Server Capacity Planning: A Multi-Faceted Approach
In the labyrinthine world of capacity planning, several key considerations come into play before we start measure the peak volume metrics of the workload. Among them are understanding the nature of different environments, focusing on performance optimization, meticulously planning process schedules, and astutely selecting the appropriate server type. These factors, when addressed meticulously, form the bedrock of a solid capacity planning strategy.
Distinguishing Between Production and Non-production Environments
Every environment in your business ecosystem, from production to non-production, comes with its own set of service level agreements (SLAs) and performance level agreements (PLAs). For production environments, the key is to handle the transactional workload efficiently while meeting or exceeding the performance level objectives.
However, the approach for non-production workloads, typically used for functional testing, differs. Often, these are oversized due to developers’ requests or a set ratio of production. If they are strictly for functional testing, a strategic resizing could save significant resources without compromising functionality. Therefore, capacity planning should incorporate these distinctions and align resources appropriately to meet their individual needs.
Performance Optimization: The Power of Code Efficiency
Code optimization is another crucial aspect. In most database environments, the startling fact is that the top 1% of code consumes around 50% to 75% of all server resources. Hence, proactive code optimization can yield substantial gains.
By focusing on optimizing the top few statements, you can significantly improve system performance, ensuring your database runs efficiently and effectively. This aspect of capacity planning not only enhances performance but also reduces the Total Cost of Ownership over time.
Schedule Optimization: Timing Is Everything
The timing of processes is another factor that often gets overlooked. Traditionally, most tasks are scheduled on the hour or quarter-hour, causing a surge in resource demand. By shifting these schedules by mere minutes or seconds, we can reduce peak resource consumption and therefore, the required capacity. This seemingly small adjustment can result in a significant optimization of resources, enhancing system performance while reducing costs.
Tailoring Optimization for the Database Workload, Not Just Maintenance Workload
Database maintenance processes – backups, index and statistics maintenance, and integrity checks – are vital to the well-being and peak performance of SQL Server databases. They undoubtedly consume a substantial amount of system resources.
Therefore, understanding their impact and incorporating this knowledge into your SQL server capacity planning are crucial for seamless database operations. However, the guiding principle here should be to size the database server based on the database workload, not merely the maintenance processes.
Here’s an intriguing statistic – in many database servers, the average resource consumption over a 24-hour period exceeds that of core business hours. This spike is attributed to the various maintenance and management processes scheduled to run during off-peak hours, which are under our control but shouldn’t dictate our sizing decisions.
Backups are a necessity to protect your data. However, they can exert a heavy load on the system during their operation, particularly with large databases. Index and statistics maintenance tasks, essential for enhancing query performance, can also demand a hefty share of resources, notably CPU and I/O.
Integrity checks, designed to maintain data health and consistency, can be resource intensive as well. These checks run thorough scans of the database structures, looking for corruption signs or data inconsistencies. The bigger and more intricate the database, the more resources these integrity checks necessitate.
When optimizing your environment, it’s crucial to delve deeper than just the server’s resource consumption. Consider the non-application processes often governed by enterprise-wide policies. It’s worth considering that in many cases, letting the maintenance processes in non-production environments run longer or less frequently can be a feasible trade-off.
This approach could allow for significant downsizing of the broader environment without negatively impacting the application or database workloads. In essence, balance is key: a well-optimized environment accommodates both the maintenance processes and the database workload, without compromising on either.
Selecting the Right Server Type: Maximizing Throughput and Minimizing Costs
Finally, the choice of server type is a vital decision that can impact both your performance and budget. When migrating a database server to new hardware or the cloud, consider selecting servers with the highest clock speed or a high CPU benchmark (CPUMark) as listed on websites like CPU Benchmark. This selection not only boosts performance but also potentially reduces licensing costs. In essence, a careful selection of server type can increase transactional throughput and performance while keeping costs in check.
When it comes to SQL Server capacity planning, you may not have the team to do the work that needs to be done, and that’s where Fortified comes in. With our expert team of database administrators, we can help you with all of your needs. Whether you are looking for a 24/7 database managed service provider or if you are looking for assistance with you database project such as performance tuning, upgrades and migrations, or building efficiencies in your database, our team is here to help.
Connect with our sales team today to find out how Fortified can help you!