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By: Amtrax  06-Dec-2011

Expand your Business - the Power of Custom Software.

Your business is unique - and fitting an off-the-shelf software product to your unique requirements is often as expensive as a solution designed around your individual needs. In fact, if a few years' annual maintenance costs are taken into account, it may be more expensive.

So why not take ownership and control over your business-critical functionality?

At Amtrax, over the years we have worked with business and IT stakeholders on many projects. As a result, we are experienced in delivering fully tested software to match your timelines and budgets. Even if those timelines and budgets change within a dynamic business environment. Our substantial track record in delivering custom solutions is evident in the number of satisfied customers. Our team covers most of the mainstream technologies - including Microsoft and Open Source - with particular strength in web based deployment models.

Our combined balance of knowledge and experience allows us to develop systems using proven methodologies, tested in real world environments, and known to succeed.

Amtrax can help you move into the next step, pushing your organisation forward through the use of innovative, custom designed software.

Information - data - is the most important asset to any company, and making it available to the right people in a timely fashion is a core requirement.

With database design, development and DBA skills reaching back to the early 1990's, Amtrax are able to offer data analysis and design services, as well as tuning and maintenance of existing databases. Current skills cover a variety of databases including MSSQL, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Access, and others.

Why should you pay attention to your database?

Databases are recognized as valuable assets by organisations storing important information about business operations, customers, finances and much more. These large repositories of commercially sensitive information need to be taken seriously - just imagine losing 2 years of financial transactions because your database was poorly maintained. What if you are dealing with someone else's data, for example patient details? The problem just gets bigger.

The ramifications of inadequate database management practices can result in businesses falling over or at the very least cause drops in productivity. The results are pretty much always the same: lost money, lost business opportunities, and lost customers. Repeatedly, analysis of poorly performing systems shows us a poorly maintained database as the bottleneck, using substantially excessive memory & CPU. Databases need regular maintenance, and we can identify and configure to get the best out of your servers.The bottom-line is that database maintenance is important. But in itself, database maintenance has to be smart and strategic: you cannot simply take off your production database for a 10 hour check-up. Your customers will not tolerate such long delays - they expect to be able to access the system around the clock with almost instant responses

So what's the solution? Essentially, database management and maintenance should be a structured, well planned and executed exercise, causing minimal disruptions to system availability.

Database Management: key objectives:

  • Safety: Protect your database from unauthorized access, data leakage or data loss

  • Database integrity: Detect database inconsistencies and corrupt data caused by hardware or software errors. No good religiously backing up a corrupt database!

  • Business Compliance: Identify database structures, relationships and data that do not conform to business rules or are erroneous

  • Disaster recovery: Support disaster recovery planning through data and transaction log back-ups

  • Downtime: Minimize database downtime for maximum availability by scheduling maintenance during off-peak hours or consider having a second production database

  • Address the situation when your database has exhausted its resources and can no longer support new data structures or record new information about your business

  • Your database has a lot of data that is repeated but should appear only once within the system

  • Your database relies on legacy technology that slows downs your organization�s progress

  • You want to share your database with your employees, customers and trading partners

  • You database provides mission-critical information or must have robust availability with minimum downtime

Definition: A database maintenance plan is a set of specific, proactive tasks that need to be performed regularly on databases to ensure their adequate performance and availability.

The benefits of database maintenance are multiple, but can be summarised as:

Reduce the retrieval time from your database, especially when multiple users are querying the system, or printing reports.

Stability: well-managed systems are less likely to cause errors that could result in lost productivity or disruptions in the normal course of business.

Keep the space used by the database minimise - In particular, if you neglect your database log files, they will eventually consume all of the space on your disk

More often than I can count, I have seen a company install SQL Server databases without first creating any form of maintenance plan. These servers hum merrily along with no problem. That is, until there is a problem. At this point, query performance drops drastically or servers run out of disk space or, in extreme cases, databases become corrupt. And oh, by the way, nobody ever bothered to set up a backup plan, so there are no backups to restore. Oops.

Verify the Integrity of Database

Maintain a Database's Indexes Over time, as indexes are subjected to data modifications (INSERTs, UPDATEs, and DELETEs), index fragmentation can occur in the form of gaps in data pages that create wasted empty space, and in a logical ordering of the data that no longer matches the physical ordering of the data.

Both forms of fragmentation are normal byproducts of data modifications but, unfortunately, both can hurt SQL Server's performance. Wasted space reduces the number of rows that can be stored in SQL Server's data cache, which can lead to increased disk I/O. The index page ordering problem also causes extra disk activity, as it often takes more work to find the data on disk and move it to the data cache, than if the pages were in physical order.

Maintain Index and Column Statistics The Query Optimizer uses index and column statistics as part of its evaluation process, as it tries to determine an optimal query execution plan. If the statistics are old, or incomplete, then the Query Optimizer might create an inefficient execution plan, which substantially slows down a query's performance

Remove Older Data from msdb The SQL Server msdb database stores historical data about various activities, such as details about backups, SQL Server Agent jobs, and Maintenance Plan execution. If left unattended, over time, the msdb database can grow to a considerable size, wasting disk space, and slowing down operations that use the msdb database

Backup Databases As obvious as this advice sounds, it is surprising how many SQL Servers we have seen that don't have proper backups. If your database becomes corrupt, and you don't have a restorable backup, then you will probably end up losing your data. It is critical that any maintenance plan makes provision for the following two types of backup:

Full database backups - backs up the data in the data (mdf) file(s) for that database. Full backups are the core of any disaster recovery plan.

Transaction log backups - backs up the data in the log (ldf) file(s) for that database

Remove Old BackupsWhile making database backups is important, you don't need to keep them forever. If fact, if you don't clean up older backup files, your SQL Server's hard drives will quickly fill up, causing all sorts of problems. Unneeded backups should be removed from a SQL Server on a regular basis

Need a single repository for your data? Not a problem.

Databases play an important role in business. But running disparate databases can become problematic: for example, some organisations may have separate databases for accounting purposes, customer management, and order tracking making it hard to obtain a single, integrated view of business data.

While building standalone databases may provide an effective solution to an immediate business problem, this approach is an ineffective long-term strategy: as the number of databases grows, so do data redundancies and inconsistencies.

In most cases, using multiple databases that could be logically combined together results in increased manual processing, longer data retrieval times, and slower decision making. Alongside these soft problems, there are also �hard� issues: each database requires maintenance and support, inflating IT investment. The negative impact on the bottom-line can also be felt in cases where database records cannot be easily collated together for analysis, resulting in lost business opportunities and customers.

The solution to the problem lies in integrating disparate databases to create a single view of organisational data, allowing for better accessibility to important information and lower on-going management costs. Essentially, data integration, also known as Enterprise Information Integration (EII), is a process of combining heterogeneous data sources under a single query interface, or database.

So what benefits can your business derive from data integration? A key advantage is that your organisation will save significant resources in IT. Multiple databases require separate interface programs to process user requests and more programmers and support personnel to implement and manage them. By consolidating data, you will no longer need redundant applications, saving you time and money.

Data integration will also minimise the amount of work that goes into reconciling inconsistent data across multiple data stores, making your data more timely, accurate and reliable. Having a single version of the truth in your business will prevent bad decisions from occurring because of conflicting information.

You should consider investing in a data integration solution, if:

  • You are running multiple databases but need an effective way of bringing them together

  • You are tired of having to manually reconcile data across different databases

  • You want to integrate with external data sources, such as databases managed by your trading partners

  • You want to improve the quality of your decision making and the accessibility of your business information


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06-Dec-2011

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We specialise in loan finance, hire purchase and accounting software, and systems for the transport industry in areas such as service scheduling, road user charges, freight management, job booking and fleet maintenance. We are agents for quality loan finance software, accounting and hire purchase software packages from Intersoft.