Poor Database Performance? Why Leasing a Data Caching System Can Provide Savings and Sanity

June 23, 2016

It's no secret that technology is the lifeline of most organizations and, without it

 

working properly, critical systems can stop a business, bringing on that old-fashioned, panic-stricken, heart-pounding feeling rendering yourself asking, “how can I fix this and how much will it cost the company?”

Most organizations are extremely careful with their IT spending budget, ensuring they’re optimizing their overhead. Let’s take a quick look at how a company’s financials typically run. A company’s capital expenditures (CapEx) are traditionally limited – typically reserved for the larger purchases of equipment made by organizations to help
with growth and/or tech-refresh cycles. On the flip side, a company’s operational expenses (OpEx) result from ongoing expenses to maintain the day-to-day operations of an organization. OpEx dollars are usually fully deductible for the year the expense occurs. *OpEx dollars are typically easier to obtain and allow you to solve technical issues when you have limited access to capital. In many cases, it is best to talk to your organization's financial advisers/accountants. 

More than likely, you can relate to this real-world scenario that happens more often than it should; You are the DBA or system admin of a critical application for your organization and get the dreaded phone call (always at the most inconvenient time - while you are watching your kid's soccer game, or while you are out to dinner for some special occasion). The user on the other end says something like, "We have to run the quarterly reports and the system is running slow [or not running at all]." You politely excuse yourself from said event and make your way the closest place where you can log in and review the system. You notice the system logs and reports tell the same reoccurring story: the LUNS associated with database file system continue to have "hot spots" and IO wait times. Frustrating, because you have asked for additional money to tech refresh the legacy array, but have been denied numerous times due to budget issues.  Before you call the end user, you carefully craft an e-mail to the upper leadership asking for some assistance to help purchase additional cached to remedy the performance issue. This time, the impact of the performance issue is so great that you actually get a response from your boss and the key business owners to use some of the operational dollars to remedy the situation - but not enough to purchase a new system.  Now what?

If you find your company among the budget-constrained majority, but need a fast solution, consider leasing your equipment. Just like when your car breaks down, you can a.) take it to the mechanic and remedy the issue or b.) spend more dollars and just buy a new one. In a perfect world we’d pick the latter, but we live in a Band-Aid society, and that’s not a bad thing.

Leasing equipment provides a fast, efficient, dollar-friendly alternative when getting a new system just isn’t in the cards. A recent customer of ours had a similar situation. They had a performance issue on a legacy application running on a Microsoft SQL Server application that would bottleneck every morning when all the employees would be connecting to the system. The degradation in performance would last throughout the day. After meetings with the CTO and IT director, we realized that it would not be cost prohibitive to purchase a new Array as they were going to be consolidating their environment to a new Data Center sometime in the near future. As an effective, temporary solution we partnered with Cirrus Data Solutions to give them a cache as service (CaaS) device that immediately relieved their performance bottleneck.  We were able to immediately ‘plug and play’ Cirrus’s Data Caching Server (DCS) device into the environment with minimal impact to production.  The results were seen immediately by the users. Load times for certain files that would normally take several minutes were now instantly available to use. This was a perfect example of when to use OpEx dollars to resolve a performance issue where funds were limited. This user was able to sign a six-month lease for the DCS, allowing them ample time to get through the operational emergency and giving them the freedom to purchase equipment later until there was a better understanding of the demand from the application and future data center plans.

Companies who are experiencing storage performance problems can benefit from this Cache-as- a-Service (CaaS) by paying a small monthly fee as an operational expense rather than having to allocate capital budget. For those customers trapped in the middle of a storage life cycle, this is an ideal solution to immediately address performance issues while waiting on your company's budget and going through the procurement process for a new storage farm. In addition to immediately accelerating existing storage, DCS also acts as a storage I/O analyzer, providing performance data critical for accurate planning in the next storage refresh. Deployment and future removal of the DCS can be performed without making any changes to the existing SAN (no zoning, LUN masking, or host driver changes) and therefore, can be implemented anytime without downtime.

Of course, we’re just scratching the surface here.  For more on the topic, as well as additional posts from our blog, be sure to subscribe. We promise they’re short and sweet – and most only require one cup of coffee.

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