TL; DR: Red9, established in 2003, provides clients worldwide with database consulting and optimization services for Microsoft SQL Server. The company uses a comprehensive SQL Server Health Check to create a clear roadmap for improvement. From there, a continuous approach to performance tuning helps ensure ongoing reliability and speed. Red9’s expert team strives to help startups and Fortune 100 companies alike achieve their data goals with its vast knowledge of the strategic, architectural, and developmental facets of database maintenance.
Regular maintenance is an essential aspect of vehicle ownership. Fluid checks, air filter changes, tire rotations, and battery testing all help keep a car safe and running at its best. And an occasional detailing and waxing service goes a long way in removing grime and protecting paint jobs.
When this routine upkeep piles up, though, it can feel like a full-time job. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a mechanic to keep your car in great shape — that’s what auto shops are for.
Microsoft SQL Server maintenance isn’t all that different. Ongoing maintenance and tuning keep servers fast and reliable. But businesses don’t need to become experts in the strategy, architecture, development, and maintenance surrounding data operations — that’s what database experts are for.
And while many providers treat database administration as somewhat of a one-time service, others continuously make fine adjustments. Red9, for instance, takes a specialized approach to database consulting and optimization focused on a proprietary SQL server scaling framework, server health checks, and ongoing improvements.
“Some competitors deploy a little bit of software on your server and then rarely touch it at all — they just let it run,” said Mark Varnas, Principal SQL Server Consultant and DBA at Red9. “What differentiates us is we keep improving it, implementing lots of performance tuning, lots of stability fixes.”
In addition, the company’s comprehensive, 145-point SQL Server Health Check identifies weak spots and sets in place a roadmap for the future.
“With our ongoing improvements, your SQL Server will be more stable and faster than you ever thought possible,” Mark said.
Established in 2003 with Headquarters in Atlanta
Red9’s experience with SQL Server reaches back nearly two decades. During that time, Mark said, the database administration space evolved considerably.
“The threshold of when you need a full-time database administrator (DBA) has gone up,” he said. “Twenty years ago, companies with maybe 20 to 30 people on staff would need to have a designated SQL Server DBA on staff,” he said. “Now we manage clients who have 3,000 people on staff, and they still don’t have a full-time SQL Server DBA — they replaced that need with a fractional DBA.”
Mark attributes the change to smarter, more user-friendly database and cloud technologies. At the same time, cloud computing and mobile traffic are increasing the volume and complexity of data businesses need to drive business growth.
“Businesses have terabytes of data, but they don’t necessarily need a full-time database admin,” he said. “They need somebody senior to guide them to make the right choices.”
Today, the Atlanta-based company manages some of the world’s largest databases. Customers are located across Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Red9’s goal is to help these clients make strategic architectural decisions from the beginning. Poorly architected databases make SQL servers much more expensive. They also decrease productivity, frustrate users, and make developing new features a significant challenge. Red9 recently worked with a client to save them $300,00 per year through proper infrastructure.
“Making proper architectural decisions from the beginning is very important,” Mark said.
At Red9, database experts guide users through the design and architecture process, resulting in a streamlined, functional design built with future needs in mind.
The company also helps securely migrate existing on-premises databases to the cloud with minimal downtime. This service is particularly timely: Cloud computing adoption skyrocketed during the past year as businesses navigated the pandemic-related challenge of deploying on-premises.
“Migrations are one of the most frequently requested projects we take on,” Mark said.
Continuous Data Security and Server Optimization
Red9 offers an extensive list of services, from database migrations and assessments to consulting and support, among many others. But Mark said Red9 really stands apart in its performance tuning abilities.
Red9’s SQL Server performance tuning is a process that modifies T-SQL to make the server faster. Red9’s staff has more than 15 years of experience tuning SQL Servers for performance.
Tuning results vary based on the complexity of the query and previous tuning work. For example, Mark said he’s seen some T-SQL extensions run 20,000% faster after adjustments, while others run 50% faster.
In one case study, Red9 helped the automotive repair shop Service King alleviate regular SQL Server outages and performance issues. Unscheduled Windows cluster failovers caused 30 to 45-minute disruptions multiple times per day. Downtime meant agents could not check in on customers or perform administrative tasks. In addition, backups took more than 30 hours.
Among other performance improvements, Red9 reduced unscheduled Windows cluster failovers from roughly 90 per quarter to zero. The company also reduced backup duration and put a proper backup schedule in place for full, differential, and transactional backups.
“Red9 are the experts in large-scale MS SQL database environments,” said Tim Janssen, Application Manager at Service King Collision, in a customer testimonial. “They have mastered the understanding of complex, heavy load T-SQL transactions. If you would like to sleep better at night and know your database will be running well in the morning, then I would recommend finding a DBA with the kind of skill set Red9 has proven time and time again.”
Red9 reports on performance gains in great detail.
“I’ve been a SQL Server database admin for 20-plus years, and I haven’t seen anybody report performance gains as we do. We break it down with in-depth reporting on what we did and how it changed.”
An Improved and Comprehensive SQL Server Health Check
Red9’s in-depth SQL Server Health Check also helps the company stand apart from the competition.
“A lot of the health checks companies perform take somewhat of a sniper approach — just targeting the problem you have right now,” Mark said. “We take a step back and look at everything a SQL server depends on — the hardware, networking, RAM, CPU. Even instance types and storage, operating system settings, group policy, and Active Directory. You name it; we look at it.”
The Red9 team infused two decades of experience with SQL Server into the health check — which is part of the reason it is so all-encompassing. There is no impact on the availability or performance of the database during the investigation, which results in a plan to improve the SQL Server over time. And, surprisingly, the technology is accessible.
“SQL Server Health Check is included free of charge for any consulting or managed service client,” Mark said. “We’ve automated a lot of it so the process runs fairly quickly.”
Mark said Red9 recently revamped the SQL Server Health Check to deliver a faster turnaround.
“It used to take us about a week to deliver results that are now available within a day,” he said. “And we haven’t reduced the scope of it — we still look at all the surrounding points that SQL Server depends on.”