An Insider’s Guide to Modern Database Management Best Practices

With data being the lifeblood of your business, it’s crucial for every organization to keep well-managed databases. Having the right database management skills and the diligence of following best practices for the proper maintenance and optimization of its databases strongly impacts the overall health of an entire organization.  The knowledge and skills your organization’s database administrators must possess are crucial in facilitating the health, availability, and performance of a database. Since DBAs are required to consistently optimize database performance and handle any situation that may arise, they must be diligent in following best practices for database management.

The Evolving Role of the DBA in the Era of Database Automation

With the shift to the cloud, the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, databases are rapidly transforming to operate autonomously, and the role of the database administrator is evolving along with it. This transformation is driving the role of the modern DBA to become more strategic; turning DBAs more into  “data engineers” or “data professionals,” which are relatively new terms. For organizations to successfully adapt to this new era of automation, it’s critical for them to recognize that the modern DBA has become more of an “architect” than an administrator. Regardless of how the cloud, AI, and newer technologies change the precise processes of databases, the core tasks of your DBAs are still vital to the health of your Oracle, SQL Server, and/or NoSQL database environments. What is changing is how tasks are performed and the newer technologies with which they are delivered.  These newly automated tasks are now freeing DBAs from routine, manual maintenance tasks and shifting their role to where they have the ability to focus on opportunities to better architect, upgrade, scale, secure, and optimize their costs and consumption of resources. While adapting to these new dynamics during this transformative time of database automation, your DBAs still need to remain focused on following best practices for maintaining the overall health of a database system.

What Your Organization Needs to Consider First

There are five key components that your organization first needs to consider when it comes to managing its enterprise databases; in order for your DBAs to maximize optimization and efficiency and keep up to speed with best practices for its database management.

  • The cost or the budgeted amount an organization decides to allocate to the management of its databases
  • The use case or application – with respect to considering scalability, uptime, security, and other such requirements
  • The type of databases and expertise an organization may have (e.g. Oracle, SQL Server, NoSQL, MySQL, etc.)
  • The amount of staff on-hand and the level of resources that are available for the management of your databases (e.g. In-house DBAs or external staff; consultants and/or Managed Services Providers); Staff who has the proper skill set not only for the routine blocking and tackling of databases, but for managing change and having strategic insight during this era of the cloud, AI, machine learning technologies, and database automation
  • The deployment approach and strategy (e.g. on-premises, private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud)

Set Business Goals

While taking into consideration these five key factors an organization must be conscious of, it’s important to outline what your overall business goals are within your organization and your database management team. First things first, your organization needs to know how much it’s willing to spend on its database management, which encompasses the specific types of databases (Oracle, SQL Server, NoSQL, MySQL, etc.), the amount of staff and level of expertise on-hand, and the specific deployment strategy that’s best-suited for your enterprise databases.  For example, an organization must strategically designate how much it’s willing to invest in its database management team: (In-house, Consultant, or MSP). Depending on the size of the company and the amount of data, your DBA may only specialize in one or two areas of managing and optimizing your databases. It’s vital for your DBAs to know what the plan is with the data that’s being collected and to focus solely on the information that’s relevant towards the overall business goals; so as to guarantee your organization’s database management stays well-organized and continues to run smoothly. (e.g. It’s important to emphasize that your databases don’t become overcrowded with data that is obsolete to your organization).  Knowing what your business goals are helping to keep only the data that is useful to your organization, in turn simplifying the upkeep and management of your databases. Following this best practice of setting business goals with keeping these five overarching components in mind helps keep your databases running smoothly.  This makes it easier for your DBAs to stay on top of their assigned tasks and to effectively manage your databases on a day-to-day basis.

Be Careful of the Accidental DBA

It’s crucial that an organization’s IT department isn’t spread too thin and to be careful of the accidental DBA.  An example of this term would be an under-qualified IT team member (through no fault of his/her own) who is left in charge of managing the company’s most critical data.  This IT person may be assigned to this responsibility simply because he or she has been deemed to have the most bandwidth for this huge undertaking of an organization. This accidental DBA could very well have a “good enough” database management knowledge base but is still far from being an expert in the field of database management. While this solution may keep things running, for the time being, your databases still need and deserve more than “good enough” management for the long run and overall health of your organization.

Establish Policies and Procedures, Have Monitoring Tools and Alerts in Place, & Focus on the Quality of the Data

Establishing policies and procedures around your database environments is a must when following best practices.  This includes having maintenance plans in place to keep indexes and statistics current, routinely checking databases for corruption, and deleting history files that no longer serve a purpose for your organization (e.g. backup history, output files, mail history, etc.)  Also, data should be checked periodically for accuracy since data that is deemed outdated can be irrelevant to your business. Having monitoring tools and alerts in place for the forewarning of potential or current problems is vital to the operation of your enterprise databases. These need to be established by your DBA in order to keep your databases running smoothly and efficiently. If an issue does happen to arise, having alerts in place is critical to bringing awareness to your DBA so that the issue may be addressed properly and in a timely manner. In this era of workloads being increasingly hosted not only on-premises but within multiple cloud facilities, it’s imperative that you have processes and disciplines in place to assure that you’ve established your monitoring and escalation strategies for any and all environments (not just your legacy on-premises solutions). It’s important for your DBAs to focus on disciplines that preserve the integrity of the data, as well as to be trained on strategies that properly collect and organize the data.  Having properly trained staff with the right skill set in this era of database automation, as well as having the appropriate database management strategies in place prevents data from being logged incorrectly.  This, in turn, helps to avoid issues that could likely arise down the road and complicate your entire database environment. It’s important to make data quality a top priority in database management because companies’ critical decision-making comes from the intelligence provided by their key data; making it imperative for their data to be clean, reliable, and organized.

Ensure Data Protection and Security, & Establish Strong Backup and Disaster Recovery Procedures

Data protection and security are top priorities when it comes to your organization’s database management. This is key in following best practices so that your organization does not collapse from a data breach by having unknown sources gain access to your data and endanger the critical information of your databases.  Having a strategic plan in place in case there is a breach is vital if or when a potential breach was to occur. What’s even more crucial in this era of cloud, multi-cloud, and deployment strategies is to ensure that your security disciplines are architected (and rigorously managed) in any and all areas of your infrastructure approach/location (on-premises, private cloud, public cloud, etc.). Accidents do happen, therefore in following best practices it’s critical to establish strong backup and disaster recovery procedures to prevent a loss of data that could be detrimental to your organization.  Oftentimes, companies perform multiple log file backups frequently throughout the day. A recommended best practice is developing a comprehensive maintenance plan that automates your backup processes. With your databases being the foundation of your business, it’s vital that you have skilled and experienced database administrators who are dedicated to following best practices for your database management and continuing to shift in their daily tasks in order to broaden and advance their skill sets (architecting, orchestrating, etc.). With the introduction of advanced technologies and database trends, your DBAs must align in their evolving roles and gain strategic insight; to keep pace in this transitional era of autonomous databases in order to continue following best practices for database management. Getting the most value out of your database management strategy while having the skills and best practices your organization needs is essential to the growth and overall success of your business. From hiring an in-house DBA to a consultant, or partnering with a Managed Services Provider, you have options when it comes to the right database management support for your business. Not only does Centrilogic handle the more mundane administrative tasks of your physical database, we have a team of experts who focus on the augmentation of your existing organization by providing advanced training and expertise in today’s dynamic environment of the cloud, newer technologies, and autonomous databases. If you’d like to learn more about how Centrilogic can help your organization get the most out of your database management support, feel free to contact one of our experts here.