As COVID-19 continues to spread, disruption to business is inevitable. This will present challenges for many organisations, with changing approaches to work and day to day operations. This will also present opportunities for businesses to improve and implement best practices that will ensure a resilient and reliable SQL Server environment. The best results can be achieved with preparation and a logical approach for utilising the people and technology in your business.
From a Database Administration perspective, here are the top 10 things you should be doing to prepare for COVID-19:
- Test remote access to all your database platforms, including related systems such as monitoring. Also ensure the second level/backup support and escalation contacts are up to date.
- Ensure your monitoring and alerting tools (e.g. SQL Beacon, SCOM, etc). are performing as expected, especially ensuring alerts are firing and being delivered as needed.
- Conduct High Availability/Disaster Recovery tests where possible to ensure that critical systems meet the required SLAs, as well as iron out any issues in the documented processes that may have cropped up since they were last tested.
- Proactive capacity planning reports should be run against all database environments to enable your teams to prepare for sudden or unexpected database growth and that there is sufficient capacity to deal with situations as they arise.
- Scheduled Health Checks should ideally be run on business-critical systems, and potential issues remediated with an action plan to meet necessary SLAs/OLAs.
- Perform an analysis of historical incidents or alerts to identify any trends and prepare a plan to be able to address them with a permanent fix where possible.
- Ensure SQL Server and Windows patching levels are as up to date as your environments allow; especially ensuring any critical security patches have been tested in lower environments and deployed to production as soon as practical.
- Enabling server and database audits will assist in keeping track of any new changes applied during this time and allow issues to be tracked back to a source more easily.
- A simple exception report can be sent to business owners encapsulating basic database performance metrics, any critical alerts or incidents or job failure. This report will help keep everyone in the loop and aware of what is happening in your environments.
- A change freeze or pause is an effective method of slowing the rate of changes going through your environment, as these changes can cause outages or performance degradation when there are insufficient staff available for testing or implementation. If a change freeze is not practical, then stringent change control should be adhered to, with any changes to the database environment fully documented for traceability in the case of incidents.
- As a bonus tip, ensure personal hygiene is always maintained!
These tips will help keep your Database systems in check and ensure a minimum of business disruption through the current pandemic.
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