The set-based enterprise: a force multiplier for IT

Set-based enterprise (n.) – An environment in which you can administer multiple servers as if they were one server. Minion Enterprise makes your shop into a set-based enterprise, and you’re going to love it.

Set-based enterprise (n.) – An environment in which you can administer multiple servers as if they were one server.

Step by step vs. set-based operations

Quite a lot of both the real world and the world of programming are made up of step-by-step operations. Wash this plate, then wash that glass, then wash that spoon. First present the form to the user, then wait for feedback, then verify their login information, then present the welcome screen. This kind of step-by-step activity feels like the natural order of things.

The big paradigm shift when someone begins working with databases is learning the idea of set-based programming. No, it’s not a good idea to update row 1, then update row 2, then update row 3 and so on; this is aptly called “Row by Agonizing Row” (RBAR). It is far faster to update all the rows in one operation. That, in a nutshell, is set-based programming: handling a set of multiple records in a single operation.

Administering servers one by one

Nearly all of the IT administrative world is also made up of step-by-step operations. First check the patch level of Windows on Svr1. Then, look through the Svr2 logs for errors. Then maybe update backup schedules on Svr3, then on Svr4, then on Svr5. This is part of what makes server administration tedious, and prone to errors.

A small handful of solutions have tried to provide a way to manage multiple servers, but they have fallen far short of the mark. What we are left with is not row by agonizing row, but server by agonizing server (SBAS).

The set-based enterprise

Just as a relational database system provides a way to handle multiple records at once, an enterprise management system provides a way to handle multiple servers at once.  Once you add your, say, 30 servers to Minion Enterprise*, you can perform a huge number of operations on any or all of those servers from the central repository:

  • Check the patch level of Windows on all servers
  • Check the version of SQL Server on all instances
  • Set up error log searches to alert you for all production instances.
  • Update backup schedules on all instances related to an application.
  • Audit SQL security and AD security on all instances.
  • Research which databases have the most urgent missing index needs.

And on, and on.

Minion Enterprise creates a set-based enterprise, which becomes a force multiplier for the DBA team. Every action can now apply to a group of servers, or all servers. Audits become a matter of minutes, instead of days or weeks. The odds of catching a hole in security, a critical error, or missed maintenance increase exponentially.

The set-based enterprise transforms overwhelming into overseen, missed to managed. And you’re going to love it.

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*How to add a server to ME, so it can be managed: insert a record to the dbo.Servers table! (See online documentation, “Configure initial servers and settings” section.) Note that Minion Enterprise can easily manage hundreds or thousands of instances.

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