Case Study: SQL Diagnostic Manager for SQL Server

National Opinion Research Center saves over 200 percent on SQL Server management and administration with Idera

SQL Diagnostic Manager helps NORC keep tabs on SQL Server performance 24 x 7.

The National Opinion Research Center (NORC), a national research organization specializing in complex surveys, data collection, and empirical analyses, is keeping their SQL Servers running at peak performance and saving thousands of dollars on SQL Server monitoring with IDERA.

IDERA SQL Diagnostic Manager enables NORC’s Senior Database Systems Engineer, Rick Kelly, and team to more effectively monitor and manage the performance of their SQL Server databases enterprise-wide. At NORC, SQL Server plays a mission critical role and is integral to the opinion research they perform. SQL Server must run at optimum performance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — even minor downtime can critically effect a research project. Therefore, NORC relies on SQL Diagnostic Manager to help ensure that SQL Server is always running in top form.

Although NORC uses many types of databases, SQL Server plays a critical role in their business. The application that NORC uses to collect data for research projects runs on SQL Server. Also, much of the ll survey data that is collected is held in SQL Server databases. It is later amalgamated into a data warehouse, correlated with other data, and analyzed. NORC project managers also must continually access the SQL Server databases to check and report the progress of projects to clients.

Today, NORC keeps about 30 instances of SQL Server in operation and employs two full time DBAs. Just over a year ago, however, the SQL Server infrastructure at NORC had grown to the point that it needed a more structured, centralized management system. They had no full time DBAs on staff, SQL Server monitoring was done offshore in India, database management requests were handled by developers on a “when they could get to it” basis, and NORC was spending many thousands of dollars per month for very basic monitoring services. That is when Rick Kelly, Senior Database Systems Engineer, joined NORC.

“When I joined NORC, our first task was to get our SQL Servers under control so we could do away with our ineffective and expensive offshore monitoring. In fact, the offshore monitoring was so expensive, it was not cost effective to use on all of our SQL Servers. We realized that we needed a centralized management solution that was affordable enough for all of our SQL Servers, but that was also powerful enough to track performance and alert us immediately if there was a problem. When we saw what SQL Diagnostic Manager could do for us and the price, we didn’t hesitate. We got the product and had it running in just a few days,” said Rick.

“Now, not only is SQL Diagnostic Manager saving us many thousands of dollars a year on monitoring, it’s more robust than the offshore service we had and certainly a lot easier to use. I know we’re saving over $8,000 a month in services costs, but I can’t even begin to estimate the value of the administrative time that we are saving with SQL Diagnostic Manager. We were doing all of our reporting and monitoring manually and it was being done in off hours by developers. We had a never ending list of tasks and problems to be fixed. Now, with the help of SQL Diagnostic Manager, we’ve been able to fine tune our environment. Today things run very smoothly so we rarely get an alert. Even better, with SQL Diagnostic Manager in place, the DBA team is able to focus on proactive tasks and growing our SQL Server infrastructure.”

“SQL Server plays a mission critical role at NORC. Therefore, our business cannot tolerate any SQL Server downtime. In fact, if one of our SQL Server databases is down for even five minutes, executive management or a project leader calls me wanting to know what’s wrong. SQL Diagnostic Manager helps me pinpoint issues immediately and determine the root cause so that I can get it fixed as quickly as possible. If it wasn’t for SQL Diagnostic Manager, our DBA staff would get no sleep. We would have to spend every hour, of every day, of every week monitoring and worrying about our SQL Server databases. We wouldn’t be able to sleep at night because we’d be so worried about a database going down, we’d have to get up and check things every hour!!”

“In the year since we’ve had SQL Diagnostic Manager installed, we haven’t had any SQL Server downtime that we weren’t able to correct right away. We no longer get calls from end users saying “did you know the SQL Server is down?” In fact, using SQL Diagnostic Manager, we’re on top of it immediately and we now call the end user, usually before they even realize a problem has occurred.”

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