What To Do When You've Outgrown SQL Server?

January 14, 2023

Scaling SQL Server is a common challenge many organizations face as data grows. SQL Server, a relational database management system developed by Microsoft, is widely used for storing and managing data in a relational format. However, as data grows, SQL Server may reach its size limit, and customers may find themselves unexpectedly hitting it. In such cases, it is important to understand the options available for scaling SQL Server and managing large amounts of data. This blog will discuss several options for scaling SQL Server, including vertical scaling, horizontal scaling, MPP databases, DB sharding, and open-source MPP databases. We will also explore the benefits of these options and how they can help manage large amounts of data.

Vertical Database Scaling

When SQL Server reaches its size limit, vertical scaling is the first option to consider. Vertical scaling is increasing the hardware resources of the current server to handle a larger workload. This can include adding more memory, storage, or CPU power to the existing server. This option is often the simplest and quickest way to scale SQL Server, but it can also be the most expensive as it requires purchasing new hardware. However, vertical scaling has limits and may not be the best option for large datasets.

Horizontal Database Scaling

Another option to consider is horizontal scaling. Horizontal scaling involves adding more servers to distribute the load. This allows for better scalability and can handle larger workloads than vertical scaling. Horizontal scaling also allows for better fault tolerance; if one server goes down, the others can still handle the workload. However, horizontal scaling can be more complex to set up and manage than vertical scaling.
MPP (Massively Parallel Processing) databases are another option for scaling a relational database. However, you will likely need to change vendors and products but will still have the industry stand SQL and Relational Database features. MPP databases use multiple servers to process queries in parallel, allowing for faster performance on large datasets. This is particularly useful for data warehousing and business intelligence workloads. MPP databases can also be scaled horizontally, handling even larger workloads.

Database Sharding

Database sharding is another option for managing large amounts of data. This involves splitting an extensive database into smaller, more manageable chunks called shards. Each shard is then stored on a separate server, allowing for better scalability and fault tolerance. Database sharding can also improve query performance, as queries can be executed on a specific shard rather than the entire database. However, database sharding can be complex to set up and manage and may also require specialized skills.

Open-source MPP Databases

Open-source MPP databases, such as Greenplum and Hive, are another option for managing large amounts of data. These databases provide many of the same benefits as proprietary MPP databases but at a lower cost. Open-source MPP databases can be more flexible than proprietary databases, as they can be customized to meet specific needs. They can also be more cost-effective, as they do not require purchasing expensive licenses.
Regarding open-source MPP databases, Greenplum Database is an excellent option to consider. Greenplum Database is an open-source MPP database based on PostgreSQL that can run on-premise as well as in the cloud or in virtual or private cloud environments. This makes it a versatile option that can be used in various environments. Furthermore, Greenplum Database offers features similar to other popular data warehouse technologies such as Snowflake and Amazon Redshift. However, it has the added advantage of being able to run on-premise, giving organizations the flexibility to choose where they want to run their data warehouse. Additionally, Greenplum has been well-reviewed by industry experts, with users praising its scalability, performance, and ease of use.

Conclusion

As data grows, it is important to understand the options available for scaling SQL Server and managing large amounts of data. Organizations have several things to consider, including vertical scaling, horizontal scaling, MPP databases, database sharding, and open-source MPP databases. Among the open-source MPP databases, Greenplum Database is an excellent option; it is open-source and can run on-premise and in the cloud. This makes it a versatile option that can be used in various environments, and it’s a solid alternative to other popular data warehouse technologies such as Snowflake, and Amazon Redshift while solving the scaling problem you may experience with SQL Server. It’s essential to evaluate each option and determine which one is the best fit for your organization’s specific needs and requirements.

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