Database management

Database management services to support Coventry City Council


Marion Shanly tells us how WellData provided critical database management services to support Coventry City Council and its residents

The problem

Coventry City Council is a metropolitan authority which, like most local authorities in the UK, has enormous responsibilities in promoting the sustainable growth of their city while taking care of their most vulnerable residents.

Such a broad mandate requires a strong and robust database capable of handling the amount of information, often sensitive, that the Council requires for its day-to-day operations. However, the Coventry City Council Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle database set, which included hundreds of database versions running on different operating systems, lacked internal database management. As such, the databases were at significant risk of failure, with unimaginable consequences for the Council and its residents.

The solution

With limited funds and the challenges of employing more than one internal database administrator to provide the required 24/7 management of their database, the Board opted for outsourcing: April 2017, WellData was selected as a partner to ensure that databases were available, efficient and secure at all times.

In agreement with the Board, the scope of work of WellData included:

  • Manage and support the Council’s databases
  • Data extraction, translation, transfer, conversion, backup and recovery

Immediately, a Primary Database Administrator and a Secondary Database Administrator (DBA), both with over 15 years of experience and qualifications, were assigned to the project.

WellData then performed a full system audit covering the entire Board’s SQL server and Oracle domains. This was essential to analyze the state of the databases and identify the support activities necessary to bring reliability, efficiency and security to the database.

Once the foundations of the project were laid, WellData proceeded to the implementation:

  • Daily checks ready to use. These cover database capacity, corruption checks, availability, performance, index and statistics maintenance, backup status, jobs and error logs and are essential for proactively identify and implement all required measures.
  • Monitoring and reporting on space management measures to avoid severe impact on database performance and for corrective actions to be implemented.
  • Incident management through a warning system for database failures, service failures, database performance and other events. All incidents are immediately forwarded to the primary DBA for action.
  • Backup and restore through the production of tailor-made restoration plans and procedures.

Patch and update

Most importantly, the WellData team has worked proactively to ensure continuous improvements to the Council’s system as opportunities are identified and implemented, thereby ensuring that the SQL Server and Oracle domains of the Council leverage and reflect the industry best practices.

Ad hoc project

As part of the team’s commitment to ensuring that the Coventry City Council database runs on the latest and most up-to-date solutions, WellData led the 2019 migration of numerous SQL instances. Board server from physical servers to a virtualized cloud environment.

The reason for this decision was that the team soon realized that many instances were running on software and hardware versions that were nearing the end of their lifecycle. Something had to be done, and quickly.

To address the issue, and given the size of the migration required, WellData designed an implementation strategy that maximizes customer engagement and also incorporates skills upgrading opportunities on the board side. After all, WellData’s commitment is to be part of our client’s team, even from the outside.

A series of workshops were held with Coventry City Council employees from various relevant departments, including the IT infrastructure and the internal application support team. These workshops provided an opportunity to share knowledge and work collaboratively on migration, and they helped to maximize the success of the project by ensuring that the migration was carried out in accordance with the operational requirements of the Council.

Importantly, by disseminating knowledge to its employees, the Board was empowered to manage server instances independently, thereby minimizing the need for support tickets.

The results

The project was ultimately successful, and Coventry City Council now manages all SQL Server instances in virtualized environments, significantly optimizing costs. To date, the platform has been very stable and has not experienced any downtime (excluding pre-planned fixes).

In addition, to the systems that WellData has put in place as part of the management of the services offered to the Council, today:

  • All incidents are handled within 1 hour, with an average response time of 2 minutes.
  • All SLA incidents are resolved within an average of 17 minutes.
  • All service requests are answered within an hour, with an average response time of 30 minutes
  • All SLA service requests are resolved within 30 minutes.

The feedback

“Who would have thought that we didn’t need an on-premise DBA.

With the technical skills and service, WellData has it all covered remotely.

From managing our operational databases to getting involved in SQL design to move our SQL domain forward into the future. Work together to build relationships and improve the services that have benefited us and WellData.

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© 2019. This work is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND.

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