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How Your Small Business Can Benefit from Cloud Computing

There are over 30 million small businesses in the U.S., and without a doubt, they are the backbone of our economy. These businesses provide job opportunities and facilitate growth and innovation. However, small companies must be creative with their resources, as they don’t have the same financial cushion as their larger counterparts. 

One of the most difficult decisions that small businesses have to make is what technology to use. Some technologies aren’t necessary but others are. And cloud computing is one of them. If your business is considering migrating to the cloud, there are many benefits to consider. 

What is Cloud Computing? 

Cloud computing is the delivery of various services through the internet. It’s a great way for small businesses to rent computing power, reduce costs and increase productivity. 

Some companies have moved everything to the cloud, while others follow a hybrid approach that combines both a local server and cloud computing. Dedicated servers refer to physical hardware that serves only your company, while cloud servers are located in a third-party data center. 

What are the Advantages of Cloud Computing? 

Cloud computing is a major shift from how businesses traditionally think about IT resources. Here are the main benefits of adopting cloud computing like Microsoft Azure into your business. 

  • Reduced cost. Cloud computing eliminates the expense of buying hardware and software programs, running data centers, paying IT experts for managing infrastructure and more. Instead, everything is outsourced to the third-party data center.
  • Greater efficiency. Most cloud computing services are on demand, so the resources you need can be supplied when you need them. This gives your business the flexibility it needs. 
  • Enhanced productivity. Rather than having your IT staff deal with software patching, hardware setup and more, they can spend their time achieving more important business goals. 
  • Stronger security. Many cloud providers, including Microsoft Azure, offer a broad range of policies, technologies and controls that will make your business more secure. All data is maintained at a central location, which is better than having it spread across many devices. 
  • Improved reliability. Cloud computing makes everything easier – data backups, disaster recovery, business continuity and more. And, if your business grows and you need additional IT hardware, it’s quick and easy to scale up your cloud solution. 

Microsoft Azure and Cloud Computing 

Migrating to the cloud is a big decision, but it’s something worth considering for your small business. You don’t have to move everything to the cloud – you may find it best to follow a hybrid approach. To learn more about Microsoft Azure and how it can benefit your business, contact Arkware today.

 

How Do Indexes Affect Database Performance?

If you’re just learning the ropes of your database, one thing you’ll come across is indexing. Indexing is a great tool that allows you to be more efficient with your database. But not all databases need indexing and not every index will increase the query speed for the database. 

Let’s learn more about what indexing is and how it can improve the performance of your database.

What is Indexing? 

Indexes are used to quickly locate data without having to search every row in a database table. This is a huge time saver! 

To create an index, you need a few database columns. The first column is the Search Key that contains a copy of the primary key of the table. The second column is the Data Reference that contains a set of pointers. Together, these work together to create the structure of a single index. 

Here’s an example of how to use indexing. Let’s say you want to find a piece of information from your database. Instead of going line by line, you let the computer look through each row until the information is found. Keep in mind that if the data you’re looking for is at the end, the query will take a long time. Thankfully, you can sort alphabetically to help you run faster queries. 

What Types of Database Indexes Exist? 

There are two main types of database indexes: 

  • Clustered. Clustered indexes use the primary key to organize data. The reason to use a clustered index is to ensure that the primary key is stored in increasing order, which is also the same order that the table holds memory. Clustered indexes are automatically created when the primary key is set. 
  • Non-clustered indexes. Non-clustered indexes are data structures that improve the speed of data retrieval. Unlike clustered indexes, non-clustered indexes are created by data analysts or developers. 

When Should You Use Indexes?

The purpose of indexes is to speed up the performance of your database. You should use them any time you feel that they will make your database easier to use. If your database is small right now, you may not see as many opportunities to use indexes. But as your database grows, there’s no question that you will see benefits from indexing. 

To ensure that your indexes are performing properly, run a set of queries on your database, record the time it takes for those queries to finish and then begin creating your indexes. Continue rerunning your tests for continued improvements.

Now you know how indexes affect database performance – they greatly reduce query times. If you would like to learn more about how to use indexing, or you need an index built for your database, schedule a time to chat with Arkware.

 

What is a Database Query?

A query is a way of requesting information from a database. A query can be either a select query or an action query. A select query is a query for retrieving data, while an action query asks for additional actions to be performed on the data. 

However, you don’t just type in a random request and wait for the answer to be returned to you. You must write queries based on a set of pre-defined code so that the database can understand what you want. This code is called query language. 

The standard query language for database management is Structured Query Language or SQL. This is different from MySQL. SQL is a database language and MySQL is the software that uses this language. Although SQL is very popular, it is not the only language. Others you may come across are AQL, DMX and Datalog. 

How Does a Query Work? 

Let’s say you want to order a large coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. You pull up to the window and ask for a large coffee. The employee will understand your request and return with your hot beverage. A query works in the same way, except that it takes place through a database. You use SQL to make your request, and the database understands this language and will follow through with the request. 

There are a few other ways you can request data aside from placing queries. For example, you can use the available parameters that come with your software. Choose a parameter to get the desired input, and the system will guide you. However, these parameters are limited and not as flexible as writing your own queries. 

Another option is to use “query by example”, which shows you a set of code with some blank areas. In these areas, you can write and specify the fields and values of your data. Of course, writing queries from scratch gives you the most flexibility and is the best choice when you want to manipulate data. You will need some understanding of SQL, though. 

What If I Don’t Know SQL?

Learning SQL is not too difficult, even for those who aren’t comfortable with computer science. While this language is most commonly used among database developers, database administrators and others, you don’t need a career in SQL to use and learn this language. In fact, it’s often used by marketers and scientists, too. 

A basic crash course in SQL can give you the background you need to write queries. But not everyone has the time or desire to learn SQL, and it’s okay if you don’t. That’s what Arkware is here for! We can fill in the gaps so that you can use your database efficiently and effectively. To learn more about the database services we offer, contact us today for a free consultation. 

 

Top Ways to Increase Database Efficiency

How well your database performs depends largely on its efficiency. Many factors affect efficiency, including how data is modeled and how queries are structured. If your database isn’t as efficient as it could be, a few small tweaks can make all the difference. Below we’re going to cover the best ways to improve database performance for improved efficiency, accuracy and productivity. 

Check Your Server 

Start by checking your database server to ensure it has the proper hardware available. Evaluate the following: 

  • CPU. If you think your database is underperforming, it’s possible that you need to upgrade your CPU unit. Measure your CPU performance, monitor CPU ready times and make sure you are using two CPU cores.
  • Memory. Check the page faults per second. If you’re having thousands of page faults, you’re running out of memory and need to expand. 
  • Disk space. Databases require a lot of disk space so make sure you have enough space at all times. Run your database on dedicated hard disks for the best performance. 

Optimize Queries 

Most database issues come from poor queries. For the best results, use a query optimizer to optimize your queries. This will eliminate coding loops that can generate hundreds of unnecessary requests that will slow down your database. Query optimizers also save plenty of time, as you don’t have to go through and optimize them manually. 

Update Your Database Version

If you’re using the old version of your database, it’s time to upgrade. While some queries might run faster on older versions, this won’t help the overall functionality of your database. By updating your database and taking advantage of the latest software and features, you can ensure better overall performance. 

Minimize the Use of Images 

We typically don’t recommend storing images in your database because they’re large files that slow down performance. Instead, store references and metadata so that you can easily access the image files when you need them. 

Know When to Use Indexing 

Indexes are used to quickly and efficiently locate data without having to search through every row in a database. As your database grows larger, you’ll find yourself indexing more often. Because indexes dramatically speed up data retrieval, it’s important to assign the correct index for each table as well as understand the differences in index types – clustered and non-clustered.

Remove Unused Tables 

Over time, it’s common to have unused tables that you don’t need anymore. Eliminate them for improved efficiency. Having unused tables puts more stress on your database, as it has to run through all the tables to find the answer to the query. By removing unused tables, you can expect faster queries. 

These are some of the best ways to improve database efficiency for your business. If you need help with any of these steps, or you are considering upgrading to a new database program, contact Arkware today. We have customized solutions for all businesses and organizations. 

 

Importance of Maintaining a HIPAA Compliant Database

If you sell products and services that require personal health data and you’re doing business in the U.S., your database must be in full compliance with HIPAA, an important law that protects the privacy and security of health data. In this article, we’re going to cover what the HIPAA laws are and what you can do to ensure compliance for your business. 

HIPAA: What it is and Who it Applies To 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is a federal law that protects sensitive patient health information (PHI) from being shared without the person’s consent or knowledge. These national standards also reduce healthcare fraud and abuse, guarantee safety and privacy and assure health insurance portability (by eliminating pre-existing medical conditions).

Health care providers like doctors, dentists, pharmacies, hospitals, urgent care clinics and others must follow HIPAA laws if they transmit health information electronically. Even health apps that transmit and receive protected health information must follow HIPAA laws.

What is a HIPAA Compliant Database? 

To have a HIPAA compliant database, proper planning and configuration are required. Below are some of the requirements you need to know about: 

  • Complete data encryption. All health data must be encrypted in the database and in transit. This prevents a malicious party from accessing sensitive information. 
  • Unique user IDs. HIPAA requires unique user IDs for all users and prohibits the sharing of user logins. 
  • Authentication. Users who access sensitive information must be securely authenticated. 
  • Authorization. The database must control access to users by assigning different roles and privileges.
  • Audit Logs. All data usage must be stored in a separate infrastructure and archived according to HIPAA guidelines. 
  • Database backups. All backups must be fully encrypted and securely stored. 
  • HIPAA-trained support staff. Only trained personnel can address technical issues involving PHI.
  • Data disposal. When data is no longer needed, it must be disposed of properly such as by using high-security file wiping. 

What Happens if You’re Not in Compliance with HIPAA Laws? 

If your business fails to be in compliance with HIPAA laws, you could face serious financial or criminal penalties. In addition to this, your business could damage its reputation and lose business partners and customers. The best ways to ensure you are in compliance with HIPAA are by: 

  • Enlisting professional help from a lawyer or third party auditor 
  • Conduct an annual risk assessment
  • Ensure application and database security 
  • Educate employees about HIPAA 
  • Review agreements with other businesses 

Arkware specializes in the design and implementation of databases. If you have questions about your database being in compliance with the latest HIPAA regulations, contact us today. We can look over your database and offer recommendations on how to ensure compliance.