Case Study: SQL Safe Backup

Woman's Hospital saves time and money with IDERA SQL Solutions

OVERVIEW

Woman’s Hospital is one of the first women's specialty hospitals in the nation, and is currently one of the largest in the United States. Its main campus is located Baton Rouge, LA, which includes the Center for Wellness, Child Development Center, Business and Technology Center, Graphic Services/Print Shop, Health Clinics and mobile mammography services. For the past seven years, Woman's has been named one of Modern Healthcare magazine's Top 100 Best Places to Work in Healthcare.

Woman’s employs more than 2,000 full-time, part-time, contract and PRN employees. As the hospital has grown through time, so has its datacenter. In total, Woman’s has 483 databases across 76 installations of SQL Server ranging from small size (1 MB) to large scale (500 GB) with a total footprint of 9.5 TB of data being managed by only one full-time database administrator (DBA).

The role of database administrator at Woman’s Hospital is to install SQL Server per accepted best practices, implement proper maintenance, evaluate performance, and consult with various departments on upcoming plans and implementations.

THE CHALLENGE

Woman’s Hospital faced two major challenges with their growing database sizes. One was the standard practice of backup and recovery of data to or from local drives, and archiving data into local tape drives, an issue where extended backup windows tend to slow down response times from an application. Large (200+ GB) databases were taking more than 5 hours to complete the backup process and another 4 to 5 hours to get the files to tape. In addition, the sizes of uncompressed backups were maxing out Woman’s tape archive system.

“We had more data than it could handle,” observed Robert Bishop, Database Administrator at Woman’s Hospital. Performance was also a big concern for Woman’s data repository system. As data from medical documentation grew to more than 400 GB of data with 100s of millions of rows, it became challenging to store, let alone create “real-time” reports on a patient.

SOLUTION

To address these challenges, Woman’s Hospital sought a solution to provide data compression and reduce backup windows, while improving the performance of storage procedures.

“IDERA was my product of choice based on their reputation, ease of use and my familiarity with the company. And when it came to cost, they were usually the winner,” said Bishop.

Bishop selected Idera SQL Safe Backup to maximize Woman’s backup file compression: “SQL Safe Backup allowed me to provide backup compression on SQL instances where compression was not an option, and directly backup to a single network share for ease of archiving to tape.”

Woman’s Hospital also purchased Idera SQL Doctor to overcome performance issues with growing data and to change their approach to writing stored procedures. With the query performance analyzer in SQL Doctor they were able to get a quick and easy glance at all issues that are normally not considered “best practices.” “The fact that it provides a one-stop glance at common T-SQL mistakes is part of the benefit of the application. I don’t have to execute DMV query after DMV query against different databases to find the problems,” said Bishop.

BENEFITS & OUTCOMES

By utilizing SQL Safe, on only five of its 76 SQL servers, Woman’s Hospital has been able to save almost 1 TB a day in storage space and cut average backup time by a third.

“Using a very conservative estimate of $0.50 per GB, that saves me $404,944 per year -- or almost half a million dollars -- and that’s on less than 10 percent of my servers,” said Bishop. “In the future, I hope to expand our use of SQL Safe Backup to other larger SQL Servers to reduce backup storage requirements, shorten backup windows, and save even more money on storage costs.”

In addition, SQL Doctor has allowed Women’s Hospital to identify common problems within specific stored procedures that can be a performance hindrance in T-SQL. “The best thing about IDERA products is the simplicity and ease of use, but most importantly the simple fact that they work perfectly,” Bishop concluded.

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