Database Consultant Services – Capacity Planning And Upgrade

IT Technology Management

Introduction

Xpress Mart is a large company with a huge volume of data to manage. The company serves about 7.1 million customers per year, and it managed 800 employees at its Pittsburgh headquarter. After acquiring Dales Outlet stores, the company is now experiencing annual growth of 7%. The company which operates in the North East wishes to expand its operations to Midwest. Its database is experiencing a growth rate of 8.5% every year and it is anticipated to surpass the current storage space soon. In addition, the company main server is overloaded and thus lowering the performance quality by causing delays. The company is currently managing 4-terrabyte online transaction processing database which monitors 4 billion transactions for year. The system pulls information from every regional store daily. The company wishes to enhance its database operation by resolving the capacity issue and upgrading its server to SQL 2012. This paper evaluates the company’s database problem and designs a solution for Xpress Mart.

Assessing the Physical Storage

The initial stage before starting capacity planning and upgrade is to assess the current database capacity and the storage technology used by the company. This will be done by evaluating the size of the current hard drive, and the storage technology efficiency. This will assist deciding on possible solutions. This will be followed on projecting the database volume of the company in the next 10 years assuming that the rate of expansion will remain constant. This will assist on establishing how viable it is to expand the current storage space by adding an extra disk and maintain the current technology or to adopt a new technology all together. A 4-terabyte data can be considered as big data especially if the data keeps on growing. The projection will assist the database consultant to decide on the best solution for the company. In addition to this, the consultant will assess the current SQL2008 server based on its version and its CPU operation bits and the hardware specification in which the software has been installed. This will assist in establishing the preferred version of SQL server and establishing whether the current hardware satisfies the SQL Server 2012 hardware requirements. This includes the processing speed, the RAM capacity of the right version, and the hard drive space required. Basically the initial stage will involve a thorough survey of the system and its hardware to determine what is available and compare it with what is required. This will assist in identifying possible adjustment that can be made to enhance the upgrading process as well as capacity expansion (Thali, n.d.).

Foreseeable Issues during the Upgrade

Normally, there are a number of challenges that are encountered during any migration process or upgrade process. Some of these challenges are due to the major functionality difference between the old version and the new version. The challenges experienced during and after the upgrade is highly determined by the proficiency in which the upgrade has been carried out. Some of possible issues include unexpected downtime based on the criteria the switching on of the new database and the switching of the old database was done. The upgraded database may manage to run for a while before experiencing a bug which may make it crash or function in effectively. The users may also experience a number of changes brought about by the new server and the form of configuration done. This includes need for extensive security measures. Other possible issues include lack of some data due to errors in data transfer or configuration among other issues. Basically, the experienced issues will be guided by the efficiency of the data transfer. The higher level of efficiency results to low the chances of experiencing server or database problems (Jorgensen et al., 2012).

Business Growth influence on the Database Design

Database upgrade is basically meant to enhance the performance of the business. The new system is anticipated to solve the database performance quality and eliminate system delay or database delays. The current situation has basically been brought about by the constant expansion of the current database or of the business. Based on the provided information, the business is still growing and the database is anticipated to have a constant growth of 8.5% annually. This means that the aspect of data expansion must be considered in this design. The constant growth of the database is a clear indication that the adoption of a static or less flexible database design will soon result push the company into a similar situation as it is experiencing today. With this kind of growth, the database will grow to surpass any limited storage. Therefore, the new database design must consider the current level of database expansion. It must also project the company’s future based on the current growth. In this regard a more flexible design must be considered since it is more likely to manage enhance the company’s performance even in the future. The company currently has an online system that has a 4-terabyte database. This implies that, the company’s database will outgrow the possible available storage devices soon if the aspect of design is not considered. In this regard, design must be put in the forefront while making decision regarding the database configuration and other database modifications.

Proposed Changes

The company will shift from SQL 2008 server to SQL 2012 server by upgrading. In this case an upgrade wizard will be used to enhance the migration of the 2008 Server to 2012 server. The upgrading process starts by the installation of the prerequisite file on the system. The system configuration checker is then executed. After verification is done the setup program of SQL Server can lay 2012 bits. At this instance services are stopped to enhance the upgrade. The setup is then redirected to the new binaries and the services are stated in a single-user mode. Database resources are then attached and services are stopped again for a while, and later restarted. The process of upgrading databases then starts, SQL agent and replication upgrade scripts are then executed and finally the old binaries are uninstalled and the process of upgrading is completed. However, based on the current situation, the company may opt to change the server hardware to enhance a server that can accommodate a higher capacity, high processing speed and larger virtual space. If this is the case, then a side-by-side installation would be the best form of upgrade. In this case, the server 2012 is installed as a new installation and the data in the server 2008 is migrated after the installation. In this case, there will be no down time since the two servers will be running in parallel. The choice in this case will be determined by the assessment outcome (Jorgensen et al., 2012). The proposed changed is demonstrated in the figure below

Maintaining and Monitoring Database

Databases are the backbone of the datacenter and they have the most regulated and sensitive information of an organization. Therefore, database is a main target for advanced treats today. In this regard, database need to be closely monitored and be provided with layered protection to avoid the loss of crucial financial, customers and other transaction or business data. The company should consider employing automated monitoring tool for SQL server. One of the tools that can be employed for this purpose includes the SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor. This tool allows one to see all performance metrics of SQL server with historical and current data in a single consolidated dashboard. It points out the performance problems for the entire SQL Server setting by use of a single tool. Some of the recorded issues include Server lifecycle management, warranty status, and IT asset inventory, health of multi-vendor hardware where aspects such as memory, temperature, and fan functionality are reported. It also reports on the performance of virtual infrastructure, the performance of the disk, paging, memory, and CPU, the SQL agent job condition and SQL Server error logs, as well as the query performance, capacity, and database status. The monitor also checks on fragmentation index, connection of user, and checks for sloppy or expensive queries. It also analyses the waiting times of the query and understands other resources of infrastructure which could influence the SQL server. With this monitoring tool, the IT personnel will have an easy time diagnosing and fixing all possible problems before they interfere with the functionality of the server (Solarwinds, 2015).

 

References

Jorgensen, A., Wort, S., Forte, R., & Knight, B. (2012). Professional Microsoft SQL Server 2012 administration. John Wiley & Sons

Solarwinds (2015). SQL Server monitoring. Retrieved from < http://www.solarwinds.com/solutions/sql-server-monitor.aspx>

Thali. (n.d.). Plan and deploy a server infrastructure. Chapter 1. < https://www.thali.ch/404handler.aspx?aspxerrorpath=/files/Shop/Documents/014606_Extract.pdf>

 

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