After we signed a Microsoft Premier Support agreement at work, one of the first things we did was a Microsoft Exchange Health Check. A Microsoft guru spends a few days onsite using advanced custom tools to gather all kinds of information. The first result is a thorough report on your successes and failures at system management, and the second result is a set of action plans to help get the problems corrected. The Microsoft person has all kinds of experience from other big companies, which makes it really easy to get a jump start on the fixes. They can assist with some of the tougher problems, and they can give advice on what they’d conquer first.
We decided to bring them in for a SQL Server Health Check due to some performance problems we’d been having with our data warehouse. I’d researched the problems several times and kept coming back to the same conclusions, but since there were some political problems involved with the team relationships, we figured it would be good to get a completely independent opinion from outside. After all, it’s in Microsoft’s best interest to make sure their products perform, regardless of who’s right or who’s wrong.
Microsoft sent Abraham Samuel, a guy with a lot of relevant experience on ETL work in data warehouses. I can’t say enough good stuff about his abilities: he asked all of the right questions, figured out all of the right answers to our questions, and presented it all well. We learned a lot, corrected a few simple problems already, and made plans to do our own examinations on the rest of our SQL Servers. This week, I’m embarking on a two week mini-project to knock those out.
Bottom line: I was right about my performance diagnosis, muhahaha. Gotta love that.
In a few months, we’ll probably get another SQL Health Check. We’ll check two servers – the data warehouse to make sure the fixes did the fixing, and our new sales force automation cluster to make sure I’ve carried those same recommendations over across more servers.
I would highly recommend that anyone with a Premier Support agreement get a SQL Health Check. Even if you’re not having problems with your database servers, you’ll walk away with a useful set of knowledge about how to verify that everything’s functioning as it should.
It’s much less overhead and expense than a visit to the Microsoft Technology Center.