Silos, SQL Server, and Freeing Your Data with IT Automation

    It’s hard to imagine a world without Microsoft. The tech giant has not only given us .NET and PowerShell, but also SQL Server, Dynamics AX, Azure….

    With Microsoft offering a complete, vertical stack, IT teams have been able to develop solutions to a wide range of problems without having to leave the powerful Microsoft universe. So much so, that Microsoft is sometimes regarded as a territory not worth leaving.

    IT Silos

    Organizations frequently use multiple, incompatible IT tools with separate data stores. This is often driven by business silos and the barrage of cost-effective enterprise software available, but can also be the result of plain-old longevity: if a company has been around 20+ years, chances are they have resources based on a patchwork of programming frameworks and languages.

    The problem with a heterogeneous IT environment is the siloing it promotes, turning non-integrated databases into isolated “islands” that impede the flow of information. This fragmentation drives up operating costs and, as IT professionals must dedicate time to each silo, detracts from work on higher-value projects.

    Data silos are becoming more problematic as businesses continue their push into the era of digitalization. Businesses need agility, and that means the ability to apply the right tools, as needed, regardless of who the solution provider is.

    [Learn how Workload Automation brings control and visibility to data warehouses.]

    Problems with SQL Server

    Microsoft’s proprietary database management system can automate database management procedures, run jobs on multiple remote servers, and comes with built-in tasks for creating workflows from multiple job steps.

    However, SQL Server – and, by extension, Microsoft’s product stack – has one major limitation: it’s a production silo. SQL Server doesn’t integrate easily with non-SQL Server systems and applications, promoting the segregation of data.

    For the approximately 150,000 companies using SQL Server, this poses a significant problem: How do you stay abreast of rapid changes in technology if your underlying infrastructure is perpetuating a bunch of data silos?

    How to Fix Data Silos

    Data silos can’t remain isolated, data lakes come with their own problems, and, in any case, it's not always feasible for businesses to replace or deprecate the technology and databases they’ve spent time and money developing.

    At the moment, the clearest path forward from data silos is through integration.

    The best way to integrate SQL Server into your wider IT environment is by introducing a cross-silo, vendor-independent IT automation solution.

    IT Automation can break down silos by providing a single point of control for not just SQL Server and database administration jobs, but for virtually any kind of enterprise IT task. A cross-silo, architectural approach to IT Automation incorporates SQL Server functions into larger workflows, passing job parameters and data to non-SQL Server jobs and systems (and vice-versa).

    Enhancing SQL Server with an IT Automation solution is key to developing an agile IT environment that facilitates the flow of information and fosters innovation.

    I’ll leave you with 9 benefits (other than integration) that intelligent IT Automation can bring to SQL Server.

    9 Benefits of Adding Enterprise IT Automation to SQL Server
    1. Chaining jobs across multiple SQL Servers, allowing operators to coordinate and manage jobs without batch windows
    2. Central point of scheduling to easily automate and integrate SQL Server Agent tasks with other systems and business processes
    3. Invoke Stored Procedures from SQL Server or other databases directly as Job Steps within the Integrated Jobs Library and incorporate into any workflow within or outside of SQL Server
    4. Dynamically trigger SQL Server processes via an event-based architecture with support for actions including file, email, and web service triggers, database updates, and more
    5. Reduce errors and ensure data integrity by integrating file, resource, and variable constraints with SQL jobs, SSIS Packages (including Catalogs), and DTS for conditional workflow logic
    6. Pass variable & parameter information from SQL Server Jobs directly to Jobs on other servers, databases, or applications
    7. Simplify building workflows using a drag-and-drop approach rather than custom scripting
    8. Customizable and flexible alerting and monitoring of SQL Server Jobs along with support for audit trails to track object changes
    9. Ensure workflow completion within business deadlines with support for SLAs 

    [Get the FREE resource: How ActiveBatch expands the power of SQL Server]

    Brian McHugh

    Brian is a staff writer for the IT Automation without Boundaries blog, where he covers IT news, events, and thought leadership. He has written for several publications around the New York City-metro area, both in print and online, and received his B.A. in journalism from Rowan University. When he’s not writing about IT orchestration and modernization, he’s nose-deep in a good book or building Lego spaceships with his kids.

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