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The economics of performance tuning

09 February,2016 by Tom Collins

DBAs need to keep up to date with their knowledge of how hardware and other supporting layers such as virtualisation, networks  affect the SQL Server performance. Although DBAs often argue to use an elegant solution , such as a redesign or using some advanced features, they come up against pragmatic management decisions

There are plenty of developers  and IT departments who avoid tuning queries. It can be a time consuming and costly part of the development cycle. The decision is taken to spend money on upgraded hardware.

I’ve seen various situations where an IT department will decide to purchase new servers rather than spending money on an experienced DBA who can tune a query. In a recent job – the  whole database design was not fit for purpose. Even Indexed views didn’t sort the problem.

There are many psychological factors at play in these scenarios. Going to senior management and explaining the database design has not scaled – is not something they want to hear about. Management decisions can be tricky – and I do think under certain circumstances purchasing new hardware is a justifiable decisions.

No one likes to be blamed about underperforming databases, and if something fundamental like the design is the root-cause, then it’s difficult to reverse. This probably means production downtime and resource cost.

Performance tuning versus new hardware.   Commodity hardware is getting cheaper. You may purchase a server for more RAM slots and it’s amazing how much CPU you get. This is the reality of tuning.

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Author: Tom Collins (


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