SWC Virtual DBA Service: How SWC’s Virtual DBA Service helped the Chicago Botanic Garden

October 7, 2010   //   Business Intelligence, , , , , , ,

An interview with Laura Huska, Director of Information Systems at the Garden

Recently, Chicago IT service provider SWC had the pleasure of working with the Chicago Botanic Garden on several initiatives, including our Virtual DBA Service. (You may recall our recent post about SQL digital cholesterol and our Virtual DBA solution.)

Founded in 1890, the Chicago Botanic Garden was designed to promote the enjoyment, understanding and conservation of plants and the natural world. With world-renowned plant collections and displays, the Garden is one of the country’s most visited public gardens and a preeminent center for learning and scientific research.

Today we’re talking with Laura Huska, Director of Information Systems at the Garden to see how SWC’s Virtual DBA Service helped fill a need for the IT team at this respected institution.

Q: Tell us about your IT environment at CBG.
We have mostly a Microsoft-centric environment with several Apple servers as well. We recently migrated some of our core systems to a virtual environment. This past month, SWC completed an Exchange 2010 cluster to provide the high availability required by the Garden.

Q: What made you consider SWC’s Virtual DBA service?
The need for a Virtual DBA became apparent as we were in the process of consolidating three of our databases into one.  Our databases and ticketing system are the lifeblood of the Garden—losing access to that information would be devastating to our organization.

Some of my staff and I have taken SQL classes here and there, so we have some basic SQL knowledge, but not enough to program, configure and keep up with the latest best practices. I’ve been requesting a full-time DBA for years, but we’re a nonprofit and with the economy, it’s just not an option. That’s why SWC’s Virtual DBA program is wonderful for us.

Q: What were the results of your work with SWC’s Virtual DBA?
We’ve now improved processing and implemented best practices for all of our SQL databases. SWC has set up VDBA Email Heartbeat alerts which are emailed to my team each morning. They tell us whether the backup jobs failed or succeeded and alert us of issues on our SQL databases.

Q: Were there any quick wins after you started our Virtual DBA service?
Yes! We saw an increase in processing on most databases. And it gives our entire staff more peace of mind and confidence knowing for certain whether the SQL backups are succeeding or not. As I mentioned, our databases are the lifeblood of our organization. Without it…well, let’s not go there!

Q: What’s your impression of the Virtual DBA service and the SWC team?
It’s great for us. We can budget per project and we love the alerts. We can try to troubleshoot ourselves or call SWC—they know and understand our environment, which makes everything easier. The entire SWC team is just remarkable—responsive and proactive. When SQL issues arise, their response is almost immediate.

And they’re very cool about always showing us what they’re doing. Everything is documented, and it’s good to know that everyone on our team has the reference points they need for today and the future.

Q: How has the CBG staff and user community been affected by the implementation of VDBA?
Productivity has increased due to the fact that the databases are processing quicker.  My team feels more confident that the SQL databases are in a state of stability. And the whole staff really enjoys working with the SWC team across the board. We’ve got some of them here right now, as a matter of fact!

Q: Would you recommend VDBA and SWC to other organizations?
Absolutely, without a doubt! SWC has the most well-rounded, knowledgeable staff I have ever worked with in my 20 years in technology. I highly recommend them to any organization. And I do!