Wednesday, September 14, 2011

SafePeak: Faster SQL Server Applications, On the Ground and In the Cloud

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." -- legendary U.S. baseball catcher and malapropism master Yogi Berra (who also reportedly said "I really didn't say everything I said.")

What happens when a business application is a victim of its own success?
To deliver maximum business value, applications need users. But too many users, and applications can slow down or stop altogether. Which can mean anything from non-productive workers to suddenly former customers, depending on the applications.

For the millions of Microsoft Windows applications (including Web sites and SharePoint collaboration tool deployments) that rely upon Microsoft's SQL Server database software, there are a few alternative ways to speed up and scale out. One is to acquire more processing and storage capacity, but that gets expensive and difficult to manage quickly.

Another is traditional application caching -- extracting smaller, faster subset copies of the most-used data from larger, slower databases. But traditional caching methods can be difficult to implement without requiring changes to applications, databases or both. And analyzing and determining precisely where to apply caching and where not to apply it can take months. Also, some caching solutions are vulnerable to creating out-of-synch copies of critical data, especially in response to a system failure or disruption.

Another performance improvement method is called "database tuning." There are applications that purport to ease and speed this process. But there's no avoiding that it takes time to analyze current application performance, and money to engage the expertise necessary to decide precisely what to tune and how to tune it.

SafePeak ( offers an alternative with some compelling differences. First of all, it's software that runs on exactly the same types of hardware on which SQL Server and many of those database applications are running. SafePeak can even run on cloud-based virtual server instances or hosted servers. And SafePeak is designed specifically to be "plug-and-play" with all Windows and SQL Server environments, including custom-built, hosted and cloud-based applications.

Once SafePeak is installed and running, it basically "watches" and "listens to" an application for a couple of hours, and begins to learn and map the queries and dependencies that govern how that application accesses and uses data. SafePeak uses this information to cache data dynamically, in ways that speed performance significantly while avoiding inaccurate or out-of-synch copies of data.

SafePeak was also designed specifically to support business-critical applications that simply cannot fall victim to incorrect data. The solution is being used to make Web sites, SharePoint deployments and financial services, health care management and hospital knowledge management applications run faster and support more users.

The SafePeak management interface is Web-based and straightforward. In addition, the software generates considerable information about how SQL Server databases and applications perform "in real life." This information can help application and database administrators and their teams to identify and pursue additional opportunities to improve application performance, reliability and scalability.

If your company uses SQL Server databases and applications, including Web sites, SharePoint or Microsoft Dynamics, you should look closely at SafePeak. You can download a free trial of the software at the company's Web site, and begin test-driving it with your own applications. And if you're running most or all of your critical applications in the cloud or some other company's hosting facility, talk with your provider(s) about test-driving SafePeak for themselves. It won't solve all application performance challenges. But it can do a lot to improve performance of those applications reliant upon Microsoft SQL Server, rapidly, affordably and transparently -- wherever those applications may run.

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