Database automation and why you need it
Have you ever considered how you may simplify your life and make your tasks more manageable? Do you work with large databases and sensitive data? This #BeTechReady segment explains why you need and should utilize database automation. Ani, our Tbilisi DBA, provides all of the knowledge you need to get started with automation right away.
Database systems are important for each business, it doesn’t matter whether it’s big or small. It’s a collection of all the information within an organization, an incredibly powerful form of technology and a crucial element for every application.
We live in an age where everything develops too fast, especially the IT field. Consequently, the demands for administration are also increasing. As databases mostly contain sensitive information, they are complex and critical.
DBAs should deal with it, try to balance the administration functions and also make sure that the system is reliable, available, consistent, secure and optimized as much as possible, without unexpected hiccups.
Being a member of the DBA team is one of the most challenging jobs – you should be ready for everything, as a firefighter and try to be effective all the time. Sometimes it might be very stressful. Databases can be very large, with repetitive tasks, especially if the same job needs to be done across multiple database platforms.
Why Database automation?
Automation helps make complex and time-consuming working processes smooth and agile. Nobody wants to do the same, boring tasks repeatedly if they can be avoided.
DB automation is a good practice of database administrators and server administrators, who generally work together and are called DevOps. It can’t replace administrators; human intelligence is irreplaceable.
No machine or process can anticipate everything that can go wrong, but they can make life easier:
- As already mentioned, it can reduce the amount of time dedicated to banal everyday tasks and focus on important things;
- Improves an ability to handle a larger volume of requests;
- Decreases errors, which can be done during manual work;
- Produces stability;
- Increases the speed of development and operations.
What can be automated?
Almost everything that DBAs do daily, or weekly. Here’s the shortlist where automating administrative processes makes sense, which might seem too obvious for many:
- Backing up databases and verifying these backup files;
- Backing up archived logs;
- Creating schemas and tables;
- Truncating tables;
- Transfer databases with all their information or just a schema structure;
- Gathering audit messages;
- Gathering statistics on hosts;
- Managing user accounts;
- Node or cluster recovery;
- Alert log files;
- Health checks.
Where should you start?
To start the data automation process, at the beginning is needed to have a clear strategy to guide. It has some important components:
- Identification of issues – you should think about the ranges where you can get benefit from automation. The main question is: where do the administrators spend the most of their time doing manual work – create a list of potential duties;
- Prioritize this list – which of them has the biggest impact;
- Finish the job – implement prioritized data strategies.
Most common tools
There are many common open-source software tools which are used for enabling infrastructure as code, such as Ansible, Chef, Puppet, etc. The last two are agent-based and dev-focused. That means the client is known as an agent and the server is known as the master. They have a good developed graphical user interface (GUI), which is used for viewing, managing, and monitoring.
Ansible is agent-less and admin-focused, which means no additional software is required. It uses YAML syntax to perform tasks and is written in python. Numerous tasks are performed using scripts. They can manage your inventories in simple text files. Sensitive data can be stored in encrypted files. Unlike Puppet, Ansible’s GUI is less developed, at first, it was a command line-only tool.
Both, Ansible and Puppet have backups in case of failure, which means that availability will never be interrupted. They are highly scalable and can handle a big increase of nodes without any problem. However, we can say that scalability is generally easier in Ansible.
Also, some tools make it easier to manage an asset in the cloud, like – AWS CloudFormation. It’s a service that allows to manage and configure infrastructure as a code. Its common language is cloud environment. Resources are defined using a CloudFormation template, which is called by the defined API. Like Ansible, it supports YAML.
When choosing tools, don’t count on what’s the most popular tool you have heard of – all of them have their benefits and disadvantages. You must choose based on DB requirements. Each tool is different and requests knowledge of various bases. Also, each environment may request different configuration managers.
When the DB automation is done, a good practice is to monitor how the managed system works. A good example of this is – audit trails, which keep records of a sequence of events, operating system, application, and user actions in chronological order.
The server may have several audit trails, each devoted to a particular type of activity and can obtain valuable information and answers the questions like following:
- Who exactly accessed or changed data within systems?
- When was the data accessed or changed?
- How did a specific user get access to the data, etc.
In conclusion, database automation is a secret weapon which helps bring complex and monotonous tasks to speed. It provides a higher level of work in the development, deployment, maintenance and running of the automated processes. It helps to move quickly ahead and frees administrators to be more innovative while comfortably managing systems, to be more precise, SQL server automation is one of the best ways for DBAs to achieve more, in less time. Don’t forget – time is one of the most valuable assets – Be Outstanding.
Now that you have all the knowledge you need to get started with automation, how would you like to get started on your #SingularStory? Check out the available positions here and take the first step towards outstandingness.