Case study: A Dysfunctional Database

Feb 2, 2023

It can be easy to forget or ignore database maintenance with all the other business critical tasks that demand the attention of your team on a day-to-day basis. This is why situations like the one we’re discussing in this case study are not isolated, they are happening or looming over businesses on an ongoing basis and pose a severe threat to the operations and reputation of an organization.


A little while ago, a client of ours, ‘Company A’, called on us to discuss some issues they were encountering around their database. After a brief scoping call to understand their pain, our advice was to invest in ongoing database management – DesTech’s Service Plan. This would allow their organization to offload their database monitoring and management, and function as insurance against any future issues the database may have. Company A was interested but could not justify the monthly fixed fee and elected to continue to maintain their databases in house.


Fast forward to a few months later and Company A is calling us in a panic with database performance issues. Unfortunately for Company A, priority on-demand support is only offered to DesTech Service Plan clients. Because they turned down our managed service offering and did not sign a Service Plan contract with us, they had to join the service queue until a resource was freed up to assist. When we had our senior database expert review their system, he was shocked at what he found. The database in question had some critical issues:

A. The first was that their SQL server was throwing away all its compiled code. It should be staying in memory for a long time to be reused, but if it’s thrown away it has to re-compile the code. This has a negative impact on performance as it has to work to do something ‘new’ when really it’s a process that’s been done before and should be easily replicated.
B. The second is perhaps even more worrying. The database was shrinking itself. Reclaiming space can make sense on a small disk (a laptop server for example) but on a corporate database like this one space really isn’t an issue. The database can be expanded when filling up rather than needing to free up additional space by fragmenting tables and indexes. This fragmentation leads to additional maintenance and reduces performance.
C. Finally, one drive contained all backups and the database replica, meaning that if something were to happen to that one drive, all the data would be lost, with no way to restore the database. This obviously poses an existential threat to the database.


Company A acknowledged that they could not fix these issues themselves, and with an important event taking place the coming weekend with one of their key clients, our immediate assistance was critical to them successfully supporting their customer. Our senior IT professionals were able to work swiftly to undo the damage that had been done and return the database to a functioning state that follows industry best practices.

The cost of a rushed, overtime operation like this is significant and costs far more than the monthly fee of our service plan. Beyond that, a database failure like the one that could have happened here would incur vast operational costs and have a massive negative effect on public trust and perception in a company. Suffice it to say that Company A has since signed off on a DesTech Service Plan and see no further concern with the monthly fee. With access to on-shore 24/7 support, proactive maintenance, and constant monitoring, there hasn’t been an issue like this since.

If your database is a constant cause of stress in your organization, has been neglected, or simply needs ongoing maintenance, a DesTech Service plan may be just what your organization needs. Click here to learn more, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.

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