Keeping Your Database Up To PAR Isn’t Enough In 2019

Ensuring the database is up to PAR (Performance, Availability, Recoverability) has long been the focus of database administrators everywhere. Although this is still true, it is no longer an accurate depiction of the full scope of a DBA’s responsibilities. Modern businesses operate as online data driven machines. The demand and value placed on data, coupled with the current cyber security concerns means that database administrators have to redefine their focus. This blog is intended for DBA’s looking to a add value in a modern IT world. I will mention technology implementations specific to Oracle databases, however the concepts mentioned in this blog post are applicable to any database platform.

Forget keeping the database up to PAR, CAMPS is what I today’s database administrators should focus on: capacity, availability, monitoring, performance, and security.

Capacity Planning

Capacity planning is the process of determining resource allocation needed for optimal database performance. Planning for adequate capacity requires the DBA to analyse database resources (disk, cpu, memory, network) on a routine basis. This will allow the DBA to understand the resource usage trends as well as forecast when more resources need to be allocated.

If capacity planning is ignored, the capacity of your IT infrastructure can negatively affect system reliability and underlying business performance. Furthermore, not understanding capacity thresholds may impact an organizations ability to scale and expand IT service capacity in a timely manner. A proactive approach towards resource allocation is better than a reactive approach. Here are some details on Oracle capacity planning review and recommendations.

High Availability

If modern economies rely on online data driven businesses, then it is the job of the database administrator to ensure the systems that support business application are highly available (HA) . The DBA’s must put measures in place to account for database HA that meet the businesses service level agreements (SLA). Oracle database has a suite of technologies implementations within its Maximum Availability Architecture (MAA) that can be leveraged to meet HA needs. By the way, I consider a backup and recovery strategies as part of availability. 

There’re severe business cost associated with failing to meet service levels: negatively impacts customer satisfaction, hurts brand image, hinders strategic decision making and impedes product development, as well as cost the business money through lost production and poor sales. 

You can refer to Oracle comprehensive set of database high availability capabilities for more details.

Enterprise Monitoring

None of the concepts discussed in in this blog would be possible without the ability to effectively monitor enterprise database systems. The database administrator is solely responsible for anything that concerns the database, therefor he/she must continuously monitor the database and set up notification strategies that will allow for proactive rather than reactive measures. The most well known monitoring utility for the Oracle database is Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM).

I’ve used OEM in almost every project and I’m really impressed by the enhancements allowing DBA’s to not only monitor the Oracle database but also it’s associated components. Check out Oracle’s suggestions for proactive database monitoring.

Performance Tuning

No database is immune to performance issue. Performance tuning is the ability to identify and resolve trouble areas (bottlenecks, waits, etc) causing database to perform slower than expected. Performance issues can originate as system loads, database loads, or external load. In all scenarios, the DBA must be able to identify the source of performance degradation and fix it if within his/her scope of duties. Traditional performance utilities such as AWR, ASH, iostat, or even more enhanced utilities such as SQL Tuning Advisor are readily available to DBA’s.

I highly recommend reading Oracle’s document on monitoring and tuning the database.

Security

Anyone who is running a business is also in ownership of any information regarding the business itself. This includes all kinds of sensitive data: information about the products or services offered by the company, business plans and financial plans, information about the customers. Likewise, organizations in the federal sector also have to protect sensitive data such as national security details, nuclear codes, super secret spies, etc. By the sole fact that data can generate future benefits, it becomes an asset. Any asset used for a business/organizations operation should remain secure and confidential – and such is the importance of data as an asset.

Modern organizations house such sensitive data within a database and the task of securing the data falls on the database administrator. Today’s Oracle DBA’s need to know how to secure data at various phases: data at rest, data in motion, data at the presentation layer. Aside from securing data, the DBA must also use industry best practices to address security concerns for user authentication, authorization, and access.

Leveraging technologies such as Transparent Data Encryption (TDE), Data Vault, configuring SSL authentication along with least privileges needed approach towards access are among some of the various things an Oracle DBA can do to address security concerns. Check out Oracle’s security checklist and recommendations for more information. 

Best Way To Execute CAMPS

Stay tuned, I will post another blog discussing how to effectively execute your redefined focus.