How CTO's can tame their databases and protect their business from chaos

In every organisation and in particular new ones, there seems to be a lack of experience and knowledge around databases.

Our experience shows that there is a huge shortage in skills around managing databases, database performance engineering, developing scalable backend database interactions and designing physical data modelling for performance.

Organisations will typically spend huge amounts of money and time to circumvent these shortages until they become simply too expensive to ignore.

Do your users complain that your system is slow and your developers seem to deploy software releases less and less frequently?

These symptoms could be a result of your company databases becoming more difficult to manage and more cumbersome to work with, making the company spin its wheels while competitors gain ground.

Here are some suggestions to help you overcome lack of skills in this area:

  • Adopt database management best practice. Industry best practices are not easy to come by. The “not invented here” approach can lead to ignoring best practices entirely. But databases have been around for decades, so it’s likely, that industry best practices exist that can solve most problems, offering your business the best and quickest route from where you are now to where you need to get to.
  • Instil a “look under the hood” culture. Nowadays, so much is hidden away from us. In most cases, we prefer this as we have too many other day-to-day problems to solve. However, learning how databases work under the hood can provide the skills to troubleshoot when things go wrong.
  • Find the ‘Top 3’ reasons that are holding your system back. People need to keep in mind that nowadays they almost always work with complex systems. Such systems rarely have just one root cause for any problem. It would be better to focus on the top 3 root causes that may cause severe performance issues and which cannot be explained when looking for a single root cause.
  • Database performance monitoring that makes sense. Monitoring that doesn’t give you the information you need to help maintain the system, is basically noise. You need a combination of metrics and logs to identify bottlenecks and determine changes that will result in faster database performance in order to get an understanding of how the system is managing under load when your application uses it.
  • If you can’t find the answer, seek help. There are experts available to help you with your specific database issues. It would be better to consult with one, rather than look to other products which may be more expensive down the line to move to and maintain. Installing a different product, learning how to use it, discovering it’s quirks and how much work is involved to move to it, will be more expensive and time consuming than bringing in an expert, who can advise on the original problem at a relatively small fixed cost.