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Today we have the third edition of our blog series The Inside Scoop. In this installment we will look at vSphere Databases and more specifically some helpful tips for maintaining them.

In order to obtain some real world perspective, we met up with some of our Technical Support Engineers at our support center in Cork, Ireland and mainly asked them two questions:

  1. What are the most common issues they deal with concerning vSphere Databases?
  2. What advice do they have for ensuring that a vSphere Database is maintained?

Here is what they had to say….

Common Issues

The two most common issues that come into our Technical Support teams are:

  1. Database Corruption
  2. Database Performance

These are really the two biggest issues that customers encounter with their SQL databases in their vSphere environments.

Many a database administrator has nightmares about database corruption and when an incident comes along quite often many hours are spent by the DBA trying to rescue the situation. Sadly, database corruption is something that just happens; nobody plans to have it.

If you are or were a system administrator or a database administrator at some point during your career, chances are that there was probably a time when you learned the hard way about not having a recent database backup.

However it is not all doom and gloom when it comes to database corruption incidents. The impact and headaches of such a corruption incident can be minimized and reduced by simply applying and enforcing a policy of regular database backups. Taking regular database backups will not fix the corrupted database but at least your road to recovery will be a much better and less painful one.

Along with database corruption the other big generator for support requests is that of database performance. A database is like the heart of the environment and just like a heart, if it is in a bad or a poorly maintained condition then it is going to experience performance issues.

The vSphere database is what manages and runs the jobs and processes that take place within the environment in any given moment. The speed at which the vSphere environment can run effectively and efficiently is quite often determined by the health of the database. If your database is unhealthy, then chances are you will notice performance impacts within your environment.

What symptoms should I look out for?

Symptoms of database corruption would include the vCenter Server failing to start or crashing on particular tasks.

Symptoms for database performance related issues can be more varied, however some common ones include:

  • The vCenter Server taking a long time to start up
  • Tasks taking a long time to complete or are timing out

Some Helpful Database Maintenance Tips

When it comes to database corruption scenarios the best thing that you really can have is a recent backup. This will save a lot of time and heartache when it comes to restoring your environment and the more recent the backup the better as it will minimize the loss of data.

In regards to database performance issues, prevention really is the best cure and so here are some steps and measures which will help to reduce or prevent your environment from encountering poor database performance:

  1. Monitor scheduled database jobs to ensure they are running correctly – For more information, refer to KB article: Checking the status of vCenter Server performance rollup jobs (2012226)
  2. Collect Stats
  3. Rebuild Indexes – For more information, refer to KB article: Rebuilding indexes to improve the performance of SQL Server and Oracle vCenter Server databases (2009918)
  4. Delete old data – For more information, refer to KB article: Reducing the size of the vCenter Server database when the rollup scripts take a long time to run (1007453)
  5. Monitor Database Growth – For more information, refer to KB article:
    Determining where growth is occurring in the vCenter Server database (1028356)

A pdf document on vCenter Server Database Best Practices is available: VMware vCenter Server 5.1 Database Performance Improvements and Best Practices for Large-Scale Environments