Even though DBAs speak in an incomprehensible secret language and possess esoteric knowledge, managing databases is not alchemy, regardless of what your DBA team says. Managing databases and performing essential database tuning functions is actually a very straightforward business process, one that requires the same attention to strategies and tactics necessary for any other type of business success.
5-Step Strategy for Database Tuning
Database tuning doesn’t happen on it’s own. It requires a focus on the technology of databases and applications and business goals like customer service. There are a number of moving targets that DBAs must understand including overall business goals, growth strategies, industry best practices, and constantly changing technologies.
The following steps will help DBAs as they try to merge their job of managing databases with other business strategies, all with an eye toward effective database tuning.
- Understand the database design
It may seem too obvious to state a DBA must understand database design, and you may be right, but it’s importance can’t be overstated. DBAs must be intimately acquainted with the design of the databases that they are managing. Knowing how a relational database should work is not the same as knowing how your database works, especially if you didn’t build the database to begin with.
- Detect poor query performance early
Use database tuning activities and alerts to find poor performance before it becomes a problem, not after. Once a problem shows up and begins affecting end user performance, it is too late. Analyze performance monitoring data to see where queries can be rewritten or made more efficient. Recognize performance trends and act accordingly.
- Manage Storage
In addition to managing database structure and queries, DBAs must also manage the physical side of their databases including storage. Today’s databases generate massive amounts of data each day. Making sure there is enough storage, both active and backup, is a prime responsibility for DBAs.
- Manage Capacity
Managing capacity and managing storage may be considered to be the same, but they have enough differences to list them separately. Since we are discussing database tuning as a strategic task, consider managing capacity to be the strategy while managing storage is the tactic. In planning for capacity, a DBA must juggle many variables, including user traffic, data volumes, and indexing.
- Manage Change
Whether it is new hardware, new operating systems, new database versions, increased user demand, new business goals, new applications, or added features, DBAs must constantly manage change. Sometimes the change comes without warning like changing business needs or user demand, but DBAs shouldn’t underestimate how much impact database tuning can have on change. Consistent monitoring can spot valuable trends in user volumes and hardware capacity that DBAs can add to the business’s change management process.