Home > Articles > Data > SQL Server

  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend

Steps Involved in Tuning

In this section, I'll provide some general guidelines that I hope you'll find helpful in your tuning efforts. Of course, each development environment is likely to have its own intricacies that won't be covered here; however, applying these principles to your specific environment will get you well on your way to drafting your own optimization strategy.

Step 1: Document Your Application

Before throwing the heavy artillery and many dollars into improving any of the areas mentioned earlier, step back and invest into a thorough study of the application. If you already have the documentation, chances are that such documents can be updated and/or revised. Very few applications remain static; the majority will require bug fixes and service packs after being deployed. Sadly, such efforts often remain undocumented.

Be sure to take notes about the overall application architecture, server configuration, network configuration, any settings of the software used, database schema, scheduled jobs, and any other factors that might affect performance—positively or negatively.

Step 2: Monitor the Application

Monitor the application over a certain period and determine any spikes or drops in performance over time. The length of monitoring depends on the nature of your software, number of users supported, and the type(s) of user activity. Any serious application will require at least two to four weeks of monitoring to come up with a trend analysis. Monitoring tools are available from various software vendors as well as third parties.

Be forewarned that many monitoring tools provide numerous counters you can record and analyze. The more counters you track, however, the more difficult it is to digest the wealth of collected data—it's easy to get carried away. I recommend determining the four or five most important counters, and analyzing only their values. If you don't have sufficient results, you can always go back and track another set of counters.

The type of monitoring you perform depends on the nature of the application. Most applications can benefit from tracking the number of concurrent users, number of transactions per unit of time, duration of the longest and shortest transactions, and the average response time.

Step 3: Determine Acceptable Performance

Get with your users and determine what level of performance they would consider acceptable. You can tune the application for the rest of your life, but whether the query takes two or four seconds to complete might not make a difference to the user. It's easier to get to the goal when you see the goal.

At times users might not be terribly concerned about having to wait a few seconds, but could be happier if you provide "eye candy"—a message indicating that the program is attempting to load a web page or a user interface screen. Designing such an attraction is much cheaper than rewriting the application, so be sure to document any requests of this nature.

It's well worth the effort to document the client hardware used to load your application. If your application's web pages include many pretty graphics, outdated client hardware might cause slow performance. Make sure that users utilize the approved type and version of the browser(s) for viewing web pages.

Keep in mind that the goal you set for your application must be achievable. If your user expects to retrieve a million records within a second, you should really rethink marketing to such a user.

Step 4: Do the Research

Regardless of how many dozens of years you've worked with information systems, it never hurts to do research. See if other companies have had similar issues and how they resolved similar problems. Attending your local user group meetings can be a great way to network and get to know your colleagues. Many professionals will be happy to discuss their tuning experiences with you over lunch. Consider learning from your colleagues, since it rarely pays to reinvent the wheel.

Step 5: Identify the Bottleneck(s)

Once you have input from your users and output from your monitoring tools, you can deduce the portions of the application that need to be optimized. If the entire application is slow and every screen takes several minutes to load, consider rewriting the software from scratch. It's more likely that certain portions of your application are performing fairly well, however, and others don't live up to the users' expectations.

Attempt to identify the application tier that's causing the most problems. Consider the hardware where your web and database servers are running. Is it time to upgrade these computers? If the server load has grown exponentially, you might need to invest in additional servers or consider implementing replication. If the hardware is fine, examine the network capabilities—if the client base has grown from a few to a few thousand, chances are that you need additional bandwidth.

If the infrastructure seems appropriate, it's time to examine the application architecture. Are complex business rules enforced in the database code? The application might benefit from implementing such business rules in the middle-tier components. If you consistently take snapshots of your data due to the reporting requirements, you might benefit from adding a separate, read-only database for reporting; or, better yet, you could build a data warehouse for all of your reporting needs. If you must provide 24/7 uptime, consider clustering your servers.

Once you've thought through the infrastructure and architecture and everything looks good, it's time to examine the data model and code.

Step 6: Define the Priorities

It would be nice if you could fight all the fires simultaneously, but the day won't stretch beyond 24 hours. Your budget will also be limited to a set number of dollars. Once you've identified the application's issues, you need to determine the order in which you can mitigate them.

Priorities are often dictated by the budget. If you have the bucks for the bigger, better, and faster servers, the answer is clear (at least for your executives). More often than not, though, it makes sense to invest in brainpower—in-house developers or outside consultants—to optimize the code or application design. Occasionally it might be more cost-effective to buy a third-party tool and replace the existing application altogether, or at least a portion of it.

Regardless of the direction, determine what's hurting you the most and what you can accomplish with the resources at hand.

It also helps to determine which steps you can perform in parallel. For instance, you can have one team of developers examining the front-end code, while other developers look through the middle-tier components. At the same time, the DBA team can examine the effectiveness of the data model and stored procedures.

Step 7: Take Action

Finally, it's time to implement the decisions you came up with in the previous steps. The next few articles of this series will discuss database-specific optimizations. Database optimizations might have nothing to do with the T-SQL code. There could be a regular maintenance task that can help the performance, or you could benefit from changes in SQL Server configuration.

If you need to tune other portions of your application, be sure to check out the rest of InformIT and get some fine ideas.

Step 8: Document the Resolution

Systems development works in cycles. It's very important to document the work you did today—for the issues you might run across next year. In addition, if you document what helped you in a particular situation, you'll have more knowledge and experience than when you started.

Once you document the problem and resolution, be sure to share it with other IT folks in the community and ask for comments. You'll be surprised by the number of people who will appreciate such sharing. They might also provide a thought-provoking comment that will help you make your solution 100 times more effective.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020