Best Practices for Managing a Remote Database Service

Database Management

Most businesses rely on some type of database to manage their customer information and financial transactions. This data is typically stored locally on the same computer system that performs the business functions, such as accounting or payroll processing. When businesses choose to outsource specific tasks like accounting, order fulfillment and bookkeeping services, they no longer have a local database server and must find an alternative for managing their data. There are several ways to create a remote database service including cloud-based storage options such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft Office 365; however, most small-to-medium-sized companies (SMB) choose Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) which provides access to many Microsoft Office products along with email hosting all in one package that can be managed and accessed from any device.

Although moving data to a remote location can be done in several ways, if you choose BPOS as the service provider, there are some things you should keep in mind when migrating your local database server to the cloud. If not handled properly, this process could get very frustrating…very quickly! I’m not trying to discourage anyone from using this or any other type of hosting solution; however, it is important for business owners and IT managers to understand how these hosted services work so they can make informed decisions on what types of files and databases they will want to move their existing systems into the cloud and which ones they may want to keep locally for easier access and maximum performance. Fortunately, Microsoft provides great documentation on how to best migrate data into BPOS. However, it is still very important for the users of these services to understand how they work and how to move data in and out of them efficiently.

This article will help you navigate through some tips that I’ve learned when using Microsoft’s cloud-based business productivity tools.

  • This information has been gathered from my personal experience using BPOS over the past two years, as well as reviewing hundreds of online documents. I hope this guide will assist anyone who is looking to host their data in the cloud or migrate their existing systems into it.
  • Two things come to mind when you think about any type of remote database service—speed and access! Nowadays, most businesses are trying hard to increase productivity by leveraging the cloud and its various hosted services. The best way to increase productivity while decreasing costs is providing employees the ability to access their data from any location, at any time; however, there are some limitations that can affect speed and performance and which one you will experience depends on your connection (i.e., location and bandwidth).
  • There really isn’t a standard formula for determining what type of service you should have because many factors go into it such as how much data you have, how often users update the information in the database, etc. but I’m going to give you some guidance based on my experience using BPOS over the past two years so that when you need to change your service level later on down the road due to growth or increased use, you will understand what each service level means and how to leverage it for your business.
  • Just like with your local computer, when data is stored in the cloud there are two main components that affect speed and performance: CPU Speed and I/O (Input/Output) capabilities. The CPU number is a good indicator of how much compute power your virtual machine has and although it can be confusing at first because Microsoft refers to this as “co-resident” which only tells you how many users or VMs can use the same CPU simultaneously; however, if you take this further down into the documentation, it also says “the unit of measure for CPU is based on typical utilization” This means that when they say 1.5 cores, what they really mean is 1.5 GHz or one and half giga Hertz (1GHz = 1000MHz). Simply put, the higher the GHz, the more data it can process at any given time (i.e., faster speeds)! The I/O number is important because this tells you how much bandwidth your database has for communicating with other processes on that same virtual machine or among different virtual machines in the cloud; however, throughout my experience using BPOS, there never has been an issue with performance due to I/O bottlenecks so focus mainly on CPU speeds when choosing your service level.


Choosing the right service level can be difficult because there are many factors to take into consideration. I would recommend that you start with an entry-level service, such as S1 or S2, and then monitor your database usage over time to ensure it is running at optimal speeds for your business. If not, you will need to upgrade your account when necessary based on increased use or growth of content/data in the cloud.

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