Tom Jenkins is the Managing Director at Dynamics Consultants. As well as having a strong product knowledge, his strategic knowledge of industry and the business landscape helps him to provide thought leadership to a range of vertical sectors.
No more native NAV database … so what do we use instead?
With NAV 2013 we finally see the demise of the native NAV database, so what are the database options now. Well, your choice is now limited to one, but it is a good one … Microsoft SQL Server.
You no longer get the compact NAV backup sets with the SQL Server option and there is a cost implication with the SQL Server option but that’s pretty much where the drawbacks end.
With SQL Server, you get the choice of failover clustering and always on resilience, fully automated backups with a range of strategy options and much faster backup and restore times, an industry standard database option with a host of built in and 3rd party reporting options and compatibility with SharePoint and Office is standard.
For smaller installations, NAV can be run on the free desktop version of SQL Server. The Standard version of SQL Server offering safe data backups and per processor/core licensing is the option of choice for SMEs that can live with an hour or so of downtime in a system failure scenario, and for larger enterprises requiring the highest levels of availability and failover protection, then the enterprise version would be the version of choice – however always-on high availability does come at a cost both in terms of hardware and SQL licenses. The cloud also brings us SQL Azure, a ‘pay-on-demand’ option from Microsoft, certainly worth considering if you have a widespread user base or wish to minimise in-house IT complexity.
Having a good database engine is not the end of the story though, you need to ensure that the hardware it runs on is up to the job. SQL Server is all about data access, so a fast raid array with adequate memory is a must for a SQL Server installation. There are many arguments about Raid 5 vs Raid 10, in the early days of Raid, Raid 5 was considered inferior to Raid 10, but in today’s age of high performance Raid controllers, the distinction is not so clear cut and your preference will be down to the proportion of reads to writes – and remember, your SQL Server may not just be used for NAV. Either way, you should try and ensure your log files are on a separate set of disks to the data files and backups should ‘always’ be to yet another set of disks – more on backups at a later date.
Reporting and development with SQL Server is also much improved. With SharePoint integrated reporting, SQL Server Analysis Services and SQL Server Reporting Services and the option of linking into NAV with data from other systems with linked tables. Other SQL Server features such as triggers and stored procedures can also be used by an experienced NAV and database developer for integration with 3rd party systems.
The leap from the proprietary NAV database to SQL Server is not as big as you may think, normally bundled in with an upgrade but can be done as a separate exercise with minimal upheaval.