Slow is still slow: database performance matters even in the cloud

By Janis Griffin on November 17, 2014

Lately, the big IT buzzword is cloud solutions.  In fact, if you believe all of the hype, most companies are moving en masse from on-premise solutions to cloud-based architectures. On the surface, the cloud-based solution certainly seems to be a more affordable solution that not only reduces the complexities of on-premise build-outs and maintenance, but it can provide security and redundancy (DR) as well.  Also, many cloud solutions support a ‘just-in-time’ growth advantage that promises to enable growth without adding any additional on-premise hardware, personnel, or costly expansions.

In fact, most Amazon EC2 or Azure installations tout that adding more computing power is just a simple task that can be done in a browser application.  They promise that only the cost changes—with no need to add more personnel, on-premise computers, storage, network, or power, and so on. Hype notwithstanding,  Gartner reports, “By year-end 2016, more than 50% of global companies will have stored customer-sensitive data in the public cloud, which is an increase from less than 5% in 2013.”

All of this makes for a very compelling argument to go all out for cloud.  However—and I think you knew there would be a big ‘however’—going all cloud doesn’t address SLOW PERFORMANCE!  Even in the cloud, end users can experience slow response times, especially in Web applications accessing cloud-based databases.  When this happens—and it will—how should IT respond?  Purchase more cloud, which increases their costs and diminishes their ROI? What happens to the ROI when the increase in Cloud resources really didn’t fix the issue of SLOW?

Often, poor database performance causes application slowdowns that can’t quickly be identified using traditional application/system monitoring tools. A TechValidate survey shows that for most organizations, databases cause poor application performance 71% of the time (TechValidate ID 806-5EA-807). In fact, Forrester analyst Mike Gualtieri states, “The database bottleneck is often the nastiest to solve.”

Also, a poorly tuned database will continue to consume resources as companies grow, workloads change and more data is consumed or captured. This issue will likely never be solved by just throwing more resources at it, whether the resources are in the cloud or not. What is required, regardless of your environment, is careful database performance analysis. SQL query tuning done right can significantly improve application performance and end-users response time experience, without more costly expenditures, whether physical or virtual. Third-party tools such as SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer can help the database team can accurately assess performance issues and perform root cause analysis for databases, whether running on-premise or in the cloud.

Cloud does offer advantages, but you must remember that slow is slow, regardless of where your database instance resides, and you must be able to accurately determine the issues contributing to slow performance.


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