Case Study: SQL Diagnostic Manager for SQL Server

Chaucer PLC Streamlines SQL Server Monitoring

INDUSTRY

Chaucer Holdings PLC (www.chaucerplc.com) is a specialist insurance and reinsurance group listed on the London Stock Exchange. It provides the capital and expertise required to write business at Lloyd’s, the world’s leading insurance and reinsurance market. The core of its business is underwriting marine, non-marine and motor insurance and nuclear industry insurance.

BUSINESS CHALLENGE

The challenge for Chaucer’s IT department involved finding effective tools that would enable the Senior Database Administrator to monitor a large number of SQL servers and provide overview reports as well as exception reporting. The DBA needed automated solutions—including an auditing system for servers for compliance/regulatory purposes—that would save time and enhance productivity.

IDERA SOLUTION

A combination of IDERA tools provides performance monitoring and diagnostics, auditing and alerts for server changes, and backup and recovery solutions to help proactively manage and troubleshoot the SQL Server environment from a central console.

As a major reinsurance company in the United Kingdom, Chaucer PLC’s IT group must keep its SQL servers running at peak performance while also assuring compliance with industry regulations and complete backup of data. Chaucer has chosen several IDERA tools to deliver timely and effective solutions to these challenges.

Robert Proudfoot, senior database administrator, is responsible for managing the SQL database server production environment, as well as a development environment. “We need to be able to adequately determine whether a server has sufficient memory, is performing optimally or not, and where we need to look to address issues that affect our server stability and performance,” Proudfoot explained.

Proactive performance monitoring and alerts

“One of the standard problems for DBAs in the financial services industry is that we have day-to-day operations which utilize a fairly low percentage of our server’s resources. Then, at month-end or quarter-close, all of a sudden our server utilization goes up significantly because we’re running some quite large reports. Naturally we try and put in server hardware that’s going to cope with day-to-day demands but will also be able to manage an end-ofmonth performance surge. Too much capacity and you’re spending more money than you need to.

“From that point of view, I’ve been able to gain more insight into server utilization for everyday as well as peak or end of month demands. So I’ve been able to establish general usage and peak demand baseline landmarks. This allows me to balance the performance needs across servers and be more efficient when making decisions based on the information from IDERA tools.”

Proudfoot especially appreciates the email alerts from SQL Diagnostic Manager.

“Once I’ve managed to baseline my servers and find appropriate levels or metrics, I’m then able to instruct the diagnostic tool to send me an e-mail or in fact it can page me—something I did not have before. I automatically get an e-mail when one of my metric thresholds is exceeded so I can immediately react to a problem while it’s actually happening. Too often in the past I’d have to wait for my users to notify me that my application is not performing well. And then I’d have to dive in and have a look.”

Proudfoot noted that once he receives an e-mail he can use SQL Diagnostic Manager to look that up and resolve any issue and be far more proactive in the process. “So that’s been the real gem there from that side of things.”

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