Below are two examples of varying size engagements where PFE’s have been involved. These focus on SQL server, but the approach and methodologies discussed here are leveraged across all technologies and PFE engineers,

Scenario 1: Covers a smaller engagement that naturally grew as the value was realised. It lead to a lot of knowledge transfer and many hours of readiness being provided to the SQL team at the customer. It’s also worth highlighting how this show cases Microsoft and 3rd parties working together, to deliver the best solution to the customer.

Scenario 2: This show cases a larger engagement where a dedicated support engineer (DSE) led to increased business continuity through a long term proactive engagement. The scenario covers some but not all of the work that a DSE can carry out and highlights the benefits of this work.

Scenario 1

Due to the type of customers we work with in the Premier space, this is a relatively short engagement (approximately 15 days’ worth of onsite time) where the customer has out sourced their IT management to a 3rd party.  Customer is in the process of architecting a solution to upgrade /migrate, consolidate and virtualise their SQL estate, creating a SQL farm in the process.

When I started on the account I was invited into an initial planning meeting where the architects presented their plans for performing the upgrade and migration.  Using my expertise and extensive prior experience in infrastructure design, I could quickly see the pitfalls in their design. At this point I took the opportunity to steer the design meeting in a more appropriate direction.

Using my experience gained from previous similar projects and my extensive SQL Server knowledge, I was able to help them reduce the complexity of the proposed solution. This in turn lead to an increase in the consolidation ratio, improved the high availability and reduced downtime from 24 hours to a few seconds. Once I had highlighted how some of the SQL Server 2012 functionality could also help them, they agreed to design the solution on the newer platform.

The project also involved knowledge transfer with both the end customer and the outsourcer. Both parties were able to learn more about SQL server 2012 and how to better support and administer the new solution.

Scenario 2:

This scenario covers examples of how a dedicated SQL Server support engineer can be of benefit to any given business. Having worked on a number of long term customer engagements, in each case gaining knowledge of the relevant environment, processes and culture. This knowledge that has been crucial in tailoring solutions that proactively prevent issues as well speedily resolving issues when they occur.

Increased availability through alignment to Best Practice: From reviewing components of a mission critical system to delivering a team presentation or working 1 to 1 with a customer, the goal is always to improve system health by aligning to best practice. For example while I was recently working onsite for a large high street name, I demonstrated the benefits of a free built-in backup compression feature of SQL Server. The customer went ahead and implemented the solution saving time and money. While the implementation was in progress I reviewed the current Disaster Recovery policies and offered several suggestions to offer better alignment to best practice. These measures ensued that if a disaster did occur they were now better prepared and significantly reduced the chances of effecting the business.

Reduced downtime through faster resolution: When a major issue occurs there is usually a process to go through that involves customers collecting diagnostics data and sending it to Microsoft for analysis. Time is of the essence here, getting the right information as quickly as possible is key to a speedy resolution.  When the disaster strikes is not the time to be learning tools and processes. Through a combination of team presentations and readiness I can provide a team with the knowledge and confidence to collect diagnostics data for the most common diagnostics tools.

Prevent future outages through Analysis of Previous Incidents: Reviewing previous Microsoft support cases looking for patterns and commonalities. Using this information to proactively review current systems to ensure no repeat incidents. In the past this has assisted customers with everything from significantly reduced downtime to planning team readiness

Follow up on managed offerings. Have you had a Risk Assessment? Maybe a Performance tuning clinic? You know what the issues are but it takes time to implement changes.  By using a structured methodology we can assist your various teams to remediate the issues identified by one of managed assessments.

Thanks and Regards,

SQL Server Premier Field Engineering Team