Hybrid cloud: solving database headaches as remote working becomes the norm

Nick Harshbarger, SVP of Cloud Alliances at SentryOne by Nick Harshbarger, SVP of Cloud Alliances at SentryOne

Now more than ever, remote working is a key priority for most businesses, and for some more than others it will be causing difficulties. While some will be used to working from home and will have the infrastructure in place to manage this, many businesses are tackling remote working for the first time and at very short notice.

The cloud is now more popular than ever as it enables employees to access systems and applications from home that are normally only accessible in the office.

But embarking on a cloud journey now will be challenging for those that are yet to migrate anything onto the cloud – a hybrid solution, therefore, can provide the best of both worlds.

One of the pressures facing IT teams looking to switch to a hybrid environment is to ensure that the cloud works just as smoothly and efficiently as the on-premises environment.

With teams possibly using a mix of public cloud, on-premises computing and private cloud services, though they offer increased agility and scalability, these approaches have far-reaching consequences for data platforms.

To ensure that these are monitored and managed to the same standard as the on-premises databases, IT teams should consider which tools can best support this to keep their business running smoothly.

Ensuring cloud performance matches on-premises

For many organisations, moving their databases to the cloud is the ultimate goal, whether that’s to be 100% cloud-based or hybrid. It will make processes faster and smoother, allow more employees to work from home or anywhere remotely, and overall should be more cost-efficient.

However, many IT teams are concerned that doing so may disrupt data delivery during the transition, as well as their ability to validate their data and keep it safe from potential security breaches once it is in the cloud.

One of the biggest considerations in ongoing cloud migrations will be providing data professionals the same monitoring, actionable information, and performance tuning capabilities for a database management system workload; this should be regardless of what environment it’s being run in and where they are accessing it from.

This can help to minimise the risk of poor workload performance while giving businesses the confidence that it will be cost-effective.

The ability to successfully support a database management system both on-premises and in the cloud is a key consideration when companies look at choosing the best tools to support their dynamic, modern, hybrid data environment.

With this in mind, the ideal cloud database transition should be comprised of four steps:

  1. Evaluate a workload’s performance on-premises to ensure it’s ready for a cloud migration
  2. Optimise performance as needed, including proactively tuning the data engine to run better and faster
  3. Move the data to the cloud provider of your choice
  4. Monitor the database in the cloud to ensure it’s performing efficiently, including data testing and validation

Once databases have been successfully migrated to the cloud, there are many ways in which IT teams can manage these efficiently, and one that is proving increasingly popular is through application performance monitoring (APM) tools.


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However, while they are gathering supporters, overall it is most effective to have both APM and database performance monitoring (DPM) tools working together, as there are some occasions where DPM can add extra value.

APM + DPM = a match made in heaven

APM is quickly becoming a tool of choice for businesses looking to monitor a multitude of applications in different environments. APM platforms are widely extensible and plug into integrations from hundreds of commercial and open source components and services.

Whatever applications and services a business has deployed, an APM tool can help with monitoring at least one part of it.

However, for businesses that rely on mission-critical, data-centric applications to serve customers, DPM is arguably more important, but this is where APM tools can be very complementary.

Application performance problems can often be traced to issues at the data layer, which isn’t too surprising given that workloads that manage persistent state information are among the toughest to scale, particularly for applications that were not designed with distributed computing or remote workers in mind.

APM and DPM complement each other in multiple ways, including for incident management, for example. Together, these tools can enable the following stages to be completed smoother and quicker:

  1. Detection – APM tools can help detect problems as they start to develop before they get too serious, while the DPM tools can identify early warning signs within the data layer. Having both APM and DPM capabilities gives you the broadest picture of situations that need attention.
  2. Response – APM tools provide a comprehensive view of layered application stacks, and DPM can quickly prove whether or not the root of the issue is in the database. Once you know exactly where the problem is, you can work to resolve it.
  3. Remediation – DPM tools are irreplaceable when it comes to issues in the database layer, as this is their world. Having APM tools as well can tell you how many processes are blocked, which could combine to cause the identified issue.
  4. Analysis – One of the most useful aspects of DPM tools specifically is how they can help with analysis of the root cause through their reporting capabilities. This makes it much easier for database administrators (DBAs) to explain to stakeholders what the issue was and how it was resolved.
  5. Readiness – The final step is to implement improvements that reduce the risk of repeat incidents. DPM tools give you the ability to automate your response to some problems, helping to ensure that they are resolved quickly in future.

Migrating databases to the cloud will never be a simple, one-step process – but in today’s global climate it may need to be tackled sooner rather than later.

However, when businesses take the time to complete this process bit by bit and move everything over successfully, this part is done. The challenge after that is to ensure that the new cloud-based databases function just as well as those still on-premises.

This is where the focus of IT teams should be, and implementing third-party tools such as APM and DPM together can be the factor that helps businesses manage their new hybrid environments without any issues.

It will keep them driving forward into the future of cloud, even once we’re back to business as usual.

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