The Hidden Costs of DIY Database Management

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Have you ever thought or said aloud, “How hard can it be?” in relation to a home improvement, auto or craft project? Then, several hundred dollars and more hours than you want to count later, you wonder why you didn’t call a professional. 

Well, professionals are expensive, but many times, do-it-yourself (DIY) projects can wind up costing you more than you imagined — in money and time. That’s often the case with SQL Server database management. You think experienced consultants are expensive, and they are, but how expensive compared to the hidden costs of lost data, repeated work and more? Let’s uncover the hidden costs of DIY database management in detail.

Three Reasons DIY Database Management Can Cost More Than Professional Consultation

You may be saying to yourself, “I know how to Google and use YouTube. I can take care of my database just fine.” You may be right, but here are some important considerations.

Experience and Training Equal Important Knowledge

Believe us, we know where you’re coming from. The Internet is a powerful tool, but it can’t always give you the equivalent of years of experience and training that will help you avoid pitfalls, and work efficiently and effectively. To put it another way, you don’t know what you don’t know. Or, you know just enough to be dangerous. Here are some examples. 

  • Index recommendations can come from many places, but knowing how to evaluate when to build a new one versus repurpose an old one can be tricky, and in some cases it’s really better to ignore the recommendation altogether due to the overhead it will add.
  • With the right permissions, building an availability group is just a few clicks away. Read our previous blog article to learn how this can go horribly wrong.
  • Many third-party backup tools claim to drastically accelerate recovery time, but the options are vague, and common defaults can actually cost you the ability to recover the way you want. Pro tip:  You almost NEVER want to check the box that says “truncate/clear transaction log after backup.”
  • Maintenance plans for your database are easy to configure. Click “next” a few times and boom, your databases are being backed up and checked for corruption. But what happens to new databases? What happens if one gets renamed? These are important considerations you can miss in DIY database management.  
  • Replication is the area where we see the most problems. The implications here are huge. We’ve seen clients complain that their processes grind to a halt every hour, and traced them back to bad replication settings.  

Professionals Have Tools You Don’t

Hidden Costs Of Diy Database Management

Remember those home improvement or auto repair projects that went awry? How many of them involved finding out you just didn’t have the tools you needed to get the job done? So then you had to borrow or rent them, or abandon the DIY project and hire a professional anyway. It happens frequently with database management, but sometimes people don’t even know which tools will help them, and that’s where a professional database management consultant comes in.

  • Enterprise monitoring tools are extremely expensive. Typically, they require an annual subscription payment per server. Our monitoring tools are included with most of our service packages and allow us to watch your entire environment for the most important issues reliably and affordably.
  • Performance monitoring tools can also add up quickly. Our status as a reseller allows us to provide discounted monthly subscriptions for excellent tools that can help you identify your performance problems, and our expertise can help you solve them.
  • Our repository of useful queries, developed and adapted with the help of the Internet and our 25 years of experience, makes us fast and efficient on projects, reducing the time needed to get things done.

Database Performance Depends on Good Architecture and Management

If you wanted to build your own house from scratch, and you had the right tools and enough knowledge about building to do it, you still might inadvertently build a house that’s not very energy efficient if you’re not a builder. The same is true for database architecture and management, and if you go too far down the DIY path, you can often create database performance issues that affect your bottom line. Let’s explore some of these examples.

  • Combining your online processing workload with your reporting workload can have drastic consequences, especially if you have inexperienced folks writing the reports. It’s generally better to separate these to make sure your business transactions aren’t impacted by a poorly crafted report.
  • Nested logic within your codebase can make database management difficult and can affect performance. We’ve seen queries that use views which join to other views, which in turn join to more views (some of which also use functions), which can nest 10 or more layers deep. Not only is this hard to troubleshoot, but it’s putting unnecessary strain on your database server when it tries to determine how to deliver the data you requested. Code reuse has its benefits, but it must be balanced with performance.
  • Multi-valued columns and XML columns can seem to be the right answer for some coding situations, but if you’re going to be using those columns to search on, you should know that they are incredibly inefficient and can cause performance problems.

Hiring Professional Database Management Help Can Be Cost-Effective

Hiring a professional database management consultant isn’t as expensive as you think it is. Beyond the hidden costs and pitfalls we’ve already mentioned, there are ways to control costs so that you can get the most out of your DBA pro. Also, keep in mind that most professionals will provide an hour or so for free consultation so you can at least describe your issues and get some information.

  1. Provide your budget and project information up-front. Gather all your financial information ahead of time, along with the specifics on your database management needs. Be open about what you need and what you can spend. That will help your DBA professional fashion a plan for how to help.
  2. Look into different cost structures and plans. Your DBA professional will likely have an hourly rate, but most professionals — SQL Tailor Consulting included — offer packages with discounts. Explore the amount of time you need and the length of time you’ll need your professional, and discuss how you can meet your goals most cost-effectively.
  3. Use your employees. You likely have an information technology staff to draw from. Maybe they don’t have the exact database management experience you need, but you can still put them to work in tandem with whoever you hire. Use your staff to carry out simple tasks and to meet with your consultant. This will keep your project on-track and help you stay within budget.
  4. Use your consultant’s time well. Meetings are important, but they can also be time and money pits if you invite your consultant to unnecessary ones. Remember that their time is money (to both of you), so conduct your internal meetings first to determine which meetings your consultant should attend. And make sure you have the right people available for your consultant to work with when the actual work needs to take place.
  5. Provide the right permissions. Think about all the access points your consultant will need, and work to make those available as soon as possible. There’s nothing worse than hiring someone to do something and then not providing the access they need to do it. It wastes both parties’ time. 

We hope you’ve understood the hidden costs of DIY database management.

Contact SQL Tailor Consulting Today

Whether you’ve already been doing your own database management and need some help, are on the precipice of a big project and don’t want to go it alone or just need some key information to help you manage your own databases, SQL Tailor is here to help. Give us a call at (248) 919-8086 for a free consultation. We’re sure we can work out a way to help you economically.

Picture of Joe Fleming (Farmington, MI)
Joe Fleming (Farmington, MI)

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