Over 30 years on from its debut, Microsoft SQL Server remains one of the top three relational database platforms in the world.

In fact, SQL Server is so versatile in storing and retrieving data requested by other software applications, it sits at the heart of services we access every day via smartphone apps and web pages.

But managing databases is becoming a more complex proposition for database administrators and IT managers alike. As organisations go all-in on the cloud or adopt hybrid cloud platforms, the need for highly connected and scalable databases is growing.

Though, with new opportunities relating to cloud migration come a host of thorny challenges. Here are three challenges when managing database cost and complexity:

1) Avoiding licensing ‘bill shock’

From Microsoft's SQL Server Web edition, a great low-cost option for hosting websites, to SQL Server Enterprise edition, which can manage very large databases, there’s a version of SQL Server tailored to everyone’s needs.

But the variations in SQL Server licensing requirements can be overwhelming. The type of licences needed to run this powerful software can vary depending on the applications SQL Server is connecting to, the number of users it supports, and what sort of IT environment you are running it in.

The complexities of licensing often see organisations either pay too much for licences they don’t end up using or paying too little and facing an unexpected licensing bill further down the track. Regularly re-evaluating your entire organisation’s SQL Server needs is crucial. Do you have too many databases? Are you paying for functionality you aren’t using? Have you got a plan to scale up usage in a sustainable way as your business grows? If you don’t have clear answers to these questions, you could get a shock next time it comes to calculating your SQL Server licensing costs

2) Managing database service sprawl

Databases can be used to deliver services to your customers or internally to store and access the important data to keep your business running. As such, larger organisations tend to run multiple instances of SQL Server. Some of these are live databases, which are actively serving up data to applications connected to them all the time.

Databases might be used temporarily for specific projects or to user test applications. Before long, even mid-sized businesses can be hosting numerous instances of SQL Server, with no clear overview of ongoing database management.

This can lead to multiple problems. Database administrators can end up spending their time scrambling to keep up with technology upgrades and fixing compatibility issues. Databases can be neglected or forgotten, posing data security risks if permissions around who can access them are lax.

Ultimately, this all contributes to the ‘technical debt’ your organisation has to deal with — an accumulation of IT-related resources costing you unnecessary money and time to manage. You need to streamline your database usage so that you are maximising the use of SQL Server while ensuring your database environment isn’t overly complex.

3) Making the most of your data

With data-driven decision-making increasingly a priority, business intelligence and data analytics are must-have functions for any modern organisation. Those functions also rely on well-managed databases.

Every edition of SQL Server has the ability to feed into analytics applications that can reveal insights into how your business operates and shine a light on the needs of your customers. Overlooking this resource holds you back from fulfilling your organisation’s potential. Too often we see businesses failing to make the most of their data. They may keep sets of data siloed separately or fail to store data in a format that is accessible to a wide range of business intelligence applications.

By aligning your business intelligence needs with the goals of your organisation, you can then set about optimising your database usage, so you have the flows of data you need to make better decisions.

How Datacom can help

At Datacom, we know Microsoft SQL Server inside out. We can advise you on your database environment, help you migrate your existing database infrastructure to the cloud, and assist you in navigating the complex world of database licensing.

We even offer a simple managed service, providing ongoing support and maintenance of your databases and licensing, so you can focus on your core business.

Get in touch to find out how your business can utilise Microsoft SQL Server with Datacom’s database management solution.


Kevin is Microsoft-certified with more than 16 years' experience working exclusively with SQL Server across a range of different industries. He specialises in providing SQL consultancy, environment reviews, architectural designs, implementations, and on-premise/Azure migrations for Datacom's clients.

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