Categorized | Database Administration

Information Technology 6.7. Database Administration

Unfortunately, databases are not like any other application that you can install on your computer and, once installed, away you go in your beautiful balloon. They are being constantly updated―every time someone makes a purchase, your bookkeeper enters a transaction, or something happens on a project, information gets added to the attached database. With information coming from all sides, your databases tend to get broken. Keeping your database working properly is the function of database administration. So what does a database administrator do? How can your database get broken?

  • Database integrity―the information can get bad in your database. How? Well, records could be incomplete. Information can get mixed up, i.e., someone else’s email might be mixed in with another person’s record. Information can go missing. Information can be repeated―you might have the same person listed three times in your mailing database, meaning you spend three times as much on postage whenever you send out postcards.
  • Recoverability―your database, like anything else stored electronically, can get wiped out; because information is the most valuable thing your business may own, backing up your data is a key responsibility of database administration.
  • Security―of course, a big threat to your database is unwanted intruders. While setting up a secure database is an integral part of the development process, database administration is about keeping it secure. For instance, you may have an e-commerce database attached to your Web site. Who cares? Anyone who would like to obtain your customer’s credit card information, that’s who.
  • Performance―performance is an issue if a lot of information is coming into a database at the same time; database administration is about keeping the system capable of handling all performance demands. For your venture, this is only an issue if you expect high demands on your database (like YouTube or NetFlix).
  • Availability―like all computer systems, your database will be down sometimes. When the database is unavailable, it’s not doing anyone any good. Database administration is about keeping that downtime to a minimum.

Database administrators keep these problems from happening by performing the following tasks:

  • Software updates―a database administrator tests and keeps current all the software related to your database: security software, database management software, back up software, and all other software related to your database.
  • Security―a database administrator constantly monitors the security of your database, looking for any security breaches and fixing them.
  • Data cleaning―to maintain data integrity, a data administrator routinely “scrubs” the data to remove incomplete, fallacious, or repeated records.
  • Backups―the database administrator sets up and monitors the backup process and recovers lost data should the unthinkable happen.

Recovering a database from a backup is not for the newbie, unless it’s an offline database. Database recoveries, particularly a database with a high volume of transactions, are not like recovering lost files from a hard drive. Recovering a database means restoring the data from backups and then matching the timestamps on that data to data transaction logs to make sure that the data is consistent. Without these tests, there is no guarantee that the data is correct or free from errors introduced in the recovery process. It’s a long and complex process, so you want to carefully vet database recovery systems offered by your DBA. If your database is online and attached to a Web site, you want to carefully review the hosting service’s backup procedures. They may not be adequate if your database is valuable, i.e., it is storing customer orders and transactions. In that case, you will consider outsourcing database administration and backup to a vendor.

Virtual database administration usually consists of the following steps:

Initiation―the database administration vendor installs communications software so they can access and monitor the database and its performance. Often, virtual DBA’s will “tune-up” the system to increase performance.

Monitoring―the DBA vendor monitors the database performance as a set of statistics transmitted to their server.

Diagnosis―DBA vendor engineers view the trends and spot any issues that require intervention.

Action―significant problems require intervention and engineers take appropriate action to improve the performance or uptime of the database.

Virtual administrators also periodically update aspects of the database management system, security, and back-up procedures.

6.7.1. Virtual-DBA

http://www.virtual-dba.com

Virtual-DBA provides comprehensive, 24/7 remote database administration service and also provides dedicated services from database engineers. You can outsource all or part of your database administration; you can also use them solely for troubleshooting. Virtual DBA offers the following services:

  • Database maintenance
  • Database monitoring
  • Support
  • Consulting

Their engineers specialize in the following database management systems:

  • Oracle
  • DB2
  • UDB
  • Informix
  • SQL Server

Virtual DBA also offers consulting services in database design, development, performance optimization, data warehousing, business intelligence, migration, backup, recovery, and project management.

6.7.2. PICS

http://www.pics.com/remote-dba-services.html

PICS specializes in IT consulting and remote administration for medium- and large-sized businesses, but is also reasonably priced for small businesses. Database administration is only part of their service offerings, which includes:

  • Project management
  • Upgrades
  • Software development
  • Application support
  • Consulting
  • Training
  • Implementation
  • Application integrity
  • Application consulting
  • On-site database administration
  • Remote database administration

The PICS remote database administration services are designed for companies that cannot afford a DBA staff member; the service is designed to be an affordable alternative to a database staff. Remote DBA services include:

  • 24/7 database monitoring
  • File errors and disk space monitoring
  • Backup logs verification
  • Database tuning
  • Reporting and resolving critical system errors
  • Client & server script configuration
  • Backups and recovery
  • User/printer configurations

6.7.3. Firetower Tech

http://www.firetowertech.com

Firetower Tech specializes in affordable remote support for small, medium, and large businesses. In addition to remote database administration, they also provide services in operating system administration, server administration, and emergency support. They are, however, primarily a remote DBA service that provides full life cycle database support including:

  • Design
  • Installation
  • Patching
  • Migrations
  • Tuning
  • Monitoring
  • Partitioning
  • Backups

They are overwhelmingly an Oracle shop, i.e., they deal with high-performance, enterprise-class database management systems. Outside of Oracle, DBMS competencies also include:

  • SQL Server
  • DB2
  • Sybase.

6.7.4. Ntirety

http://www.ntirety.com

Ntirety solely concentrates on remote database administration for Oracle and SQL Server database management systems―remote DBA is the only service it offers to small, medium, and some large businesses. The service is mainly intended as a cost-effective alternative to having a database administrator on staff and works on a monthly fee, providing the following services:

  • Monitoring
  • Tuning
  • Enhancing reliability
  • Backups
  • Disaster recovery

Ntirety offers three levels of service with fees determined by the number and types of databases involved. Business Basic is designed specifically for small businesses with databases with a low transaction volume; while the database is monitored 24/7, the service will only respond to issues or problems during weekdays. Business Plus is designed for medium and large businesses while Mission Critical targets large businesses with high transaction volume databases.

6.7.5. Remote DBA Experts

http://www.remotedbaexperts.com

Based in Pittsburgh, Remote DBA Experts offer full database administration outsourcing, supplemental database support, database assessment, 24/7 database monitoring, database project work, and database mentoring. Proficient in a large variety of database management systems, including Oracle, DB2, UDB, SQL Server, Rdb, and others, they also have expertise in several operating systems including Windows, Unix, Linux, and MVS. They are, however, primarily positioned to service medium- and large-sized companies, so their services are something you should consider only if you have a high transaction volume database.

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One Response to “Information Technology 6.7. Database Administration”

  1. Brian Hines says:

    I have tried doing database, but not that deep though. What I have in my mine now is to go back from scratch and learn something new. Learn the best, DBM. If I could just do that.

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