Thursday, October 19, 2017

Your database needs you… to clean it

by Mike Kelly, CTO of Blue Medora

The clocks have gone back which means spring is officially here – and the time to do some spring-cleaning has come along with it. In the IT context, database maintenance should be a top priority more than just once a year, as it’s easy to neglect when it comes to the IT ‘to-do’ list.

To tackle this, below are some tips that will help aid in both spring-cleaning your database and looking after it for the long term, to guarantee optimal performance and efficiencies across your production environments.


Work out what you have

Keeping track of everything that has to do with a business’ databases is something that may be easier said than done, particularly with how quick and easy it is to create databases in this day and age.

It is simple for anyone to find a database that works for their company’s needs, create it and manage it independently – without anyone else in the company having any insight on the essential data and program performance.

If the developer then left the organisation, the company would be left with a database that no one has any understanding of, something that is far from ideal.

Having an inventory of the different databases and various types the company uses can aid in helping operations to run smoothly. Although it may not be easy to track down all of the information, it can make a huge difference when it comes down to managing and sustaining databases. By knowing everything that is going on, it becomes a lot easier to get the most out of the company’s databases.


Backups are more than a box ticking exercise

Merely having a backup is not enough. Constant testing is necessary to ensure the process is running correctly, otherwise when disaster hits, the business may not be as ready as initially thought. This happened to GitLab earlier this year.

GitLab suffered an unfortunate database loss, and despite having multiple backup processes in place, they were still unable to recover completely.

However, GitLab won’t be the last company that has experienced this; shockingly enough there are headlines about it all the time. Having a backup is an important first step, but organisations need to make sure their backups are working.

Testing them regularly and thoroughly can make sure that if the worst does come to the worst, the business is 100% prepared.


Ensure appropriate standards and procedures are set

Many database administrators will have their own unique ways of managing their databases. However, even if businesses work to a set of standards and procedures, they may not always be up-to-date, as databases in an organisation often change frequently.

Creating a ‘task force’ of people is one way to overcome and determine the appropriate standards and processes needed to manage databases in a company. By doing this, businesses can guarantee all teams are represented, giving an insight into each database and how it works.

By having each team establish and cement the different procedures will ensure that all databases are correctly looked after, and no data will be overlooked.


Keep up the good work all year round

An organised ‘spring clean might not be practical every month, which is where database monitoring can help. By applying a heterogeneous database monitoring solution, companies can ensure that their database will always run in a smooth and efficient way – all year round.

Implementing this solution gives businesses complete visibility of their different databases, regardless of platforms used. This then means that companies can identify and fix any problems in real-time, allowing optimum performance across production environments as a whole.

Having a good database monitoring system in place brings with it more benefits than keeping a regular check on the health and performance of databases.

It can also help businesses by maintaining environments throughout the year by aiding database administrators track any rogue or unknown databases that may appear, authenticating backups and reinforcing the agreed standards and procedures of the company.

Taking time to spring clean databases can lead to proactive upkeep of business’ databases for the long-term, which in turn drives better performance.