Internet service provider LINKdotNET upgraded databases that support its mission-critical corporate services and hosted environments to Microsoft® SQL Server® 2005 and Windows Server® 2003. With the solution, LINKdotNET has sped database queries by 800 percent, improved data security, automated customer orders, and scaled to support rapid growth. The company also expects to reduce the number of hosted database server computers by 20 percent with Microsoft SQL Server 2008.
LINKdotNET provides, maintains, develops, and promotes Internet solutions and services for consumers, prominent companies, and government agencies. Along with maintaining hosted systems for its customers, the company also operates a corporate data center to support employees. Initially, LINKdotNET built its corporate and hosted databases on Microsoft® SQL Server® version 7.0 data management software. In addition, the company’s 500 employees used stand-alone systems to manually process customer orders.
||With SQL Server 2005, we’ve reduced our query time from around 45 seconds to 5 seconds.
MIS Technology Manager
By 2006, the company had grown significantly. More than 1,000 employees relied on numerous applications and 14 databases—running Microsoft SQL Server 2000—to support day-to-day tasks such as provisioning customer services and managing employee data. The company’s hosted data center also supported hundreds of organizations with more than 100 databases that ran SQL Server 2000.
The company’s exponential growth created system performance and availability issues on its corporate systems. Employees spent an increasing amount of time manually provisioning and managing customer services. In addition, LINKdotNET struggled to protect confidential employee information from unauthorized access by personnel. At first, LINKdotNET addressed its challenges by adding hardware and third-party software tools. However, the company wanted an integrated solution that could speed performance, simplify day-to-day tasks, and provide greater levels of security.
To address the challenges with its corporate databases, LINKdotNET decided to upgrade to Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition, and the Windows Server® 2003 Enterprise Edition operating system. By doing so, the company could use integrated tools to help protect confidential employee information, increase performance, boost scalability, and create business intelligence software. The company also decided to upgrade its hosted systems to SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition, as well as Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition.
In 2006, IT personnel upgraded the company’s 14 corporate databases to the new software. Engineers used SQL Server 2005 to encrypt confidential data and specify which employees could access which database files. This would prevent access to certain files even by database administrators. Developers also created a Web-based, order-delivery system with SQL Server Integration Services, data partitioning in SQL Server, and Microsoft ASP.NET in the Microsoft .NET Framework. The system interacts with applications to automate the provisioning and management of customer services. Employees can also use a dashboard to rapidly access aggregate customer data compiled by SQL Server and Crystal Reports.
At the same time, the IT staff upgraded the more than 100 databases supporting hosted customer environments to SQL Server 2005 and Windows Server 2003. To boost availability, data center engineers clustered the servers with built-in features in SQL Server and Windows Server. Engineers also set up automated reports with SQL Server, Crystal Reports, and Tableau software.
Today, employees conduct about 3,000 end-to-end transactions per day on corporate systems, and the hosted databases support 10,000−15,000 transactions per day. To further streamline operations, data center engineers will begin to upgrade databases to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 in the second quarter of 2009. They plan to use new features in SQL Server 2008 for data compression, data analysis, reporting, and system management.
By deploying SQL Server 2005 and Windows Server 2003 on its hosted and corporate systems, LINKdotNET has sped database queries by 800 percent; boosted employee productivity; increased database security and scalability; and cut data center costs.
- Speeds database queries on corporate systems by 800 percent. Today, employees can use the order-delivery application to quickly provision customer services or obtain information. “With SQL Server 2005, we’ve reduced our query time from around 45 seconds to 5 seconds,” explains Mohamed Zaki, MIS Technology Manager, LINKdotNET.
- Boosts productivity and system performance. The combination of new tools, an integrated development environment, and faster access to information has increased the productivity of employees working on corporate systems by 40 percent. “SQL Server 2005 is easier to administer because it provides integrated monitoring tools,” says Zaki. “Also, when our developers want to write an advanced feature for a database, they can use the .NET Framework, which is the same development environment they use for other tasks.”
The productivity of employees responsible for hosted systems has also increased with the new solution, and LINKdotNET expects it to increase by and additional 20 percent when the company upgrades to SQL Server 2008. ”The new management tools in SQL Server 2008 will make it easier for administrators to troubleshoot system issues, which will reduce the time required to diagnose and solve problems,” explains Joseph Milad, System Engineer Director, LINKdotNET. “After we deploy SQL Server 2008, we also expect our databases to support about 20 percent more simultaneous transactions.”
- Increases security and scalability. By upgrading hosted servers to SQL Server 2005, LINKdotNET has supported a 120 percent increase in customers. In addition, with the new solution LINKdotNET has better secured confidential employee information and supported a 260 percent growth in personnel. “In just a few years, we increased the number of employees from 500 to 1,800, but we used the same number of databases,” explains Zaki. “SQL Server easily scaled to accommodate our growth.”
- Reduces datacenter costs. By using features in SQL Server 2005, LINKdotNET was able to replace a third-party security tool that ran on corporate systems. The company will also realize additional savings on its hosted systems when it upgrades to SQL Server 2008. For example, LINKdotNET can replace Crystal Reports and Tableau Desktop with reporting tools in SQL Server 2008 and the company can consolidate the server computers that support hosted systems. “By using data compression features in SQL Server 2008, we are targeting a 20 percent reduction in the number of database server computers,” says Milad. “This means we can reduce the number of software licenses and utility costs—and increase customer revenue by 20 percent.”
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Document published June 2009