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Bringing the human element to database monitoring

20 May 2014 by José Guerreiro, Bull Service Assurance Center

The database is probably one of the most critical components of the information system. If it stops working, the organization’s whole activity grind to a halt. If there’s a incident, it’s vital to have all the skills you need to restore the situation as soon as possible. But in many medium-sized organizations, the number of databases simply doesn’t justify the use of a full-time DB administrator. Production managers are, by necessity, generalists who know their environments under normal conditions of use, but sometimes they’re unprepared when something unexpected or out of the ordinary happens. And with the business making increasing demands and systems constantly becoming more and more complex, the need for support that is both close at hand and expert is increasingly apparent.

By creating a closer integration between supervision and application support, Bull offers an innovative way of monitoring databases that specifically addresses these needs. This is a modular service, available at three levels: first, round-the-clock database monitoring from the Service Assurance Center Bull, with alerts; second, immediate diagnosis of possible incidents and regular recommendations based on trends analysis; and third, if the customer wants this, implementation of corrective measures. Bull offers this service on a subscription basis, and it applies to the main databases currently available: Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL… where Bull has all the relevant expertise.

Visibility, a proactive approach and cost control
With unified monitoring services offered ‘as a Service’, the customer remains firmly in control and responsible for database operation: for example, carrying out back-ups or installing patches. This approach can also complement an existing outsourcing arrangement. However, it offers much more than a traditional support service. Without threatening their usual work, operating teams benefit from being able to call in specialized reinforcements as soon as they need to in the case of an emergency: with the added bonus of a real human presence at their side. They way they approach their work and provide their analysis and advice, means that Bull experts become real partners of the operational teams, helping them to take a more proactive, business-oriented attitude to managing their databases.

The close relationship at the heart of the service beings with the selection of the most appropriate indicators. In line with Bull’s principles of unified monitoring, database surveillance is based on a set of parameters that explicitly make the link between technical performance and expected service levels. Among the many possible indicators, certain ones are commonly used to measure database performance: response time, availability, disk space, memory management, I/O distribution, file size, number of users… But, depending on the organization’s business activities, some less common measures may be appropriate. So Bull’s involvement begins with a meeting to understand how the site operates, how the databases are used, users’ expectations and so on, and to identify the best indicators to monitor and the appropriate alert thresholds.

An acclaimed service
The service is well regarded by the organizations that already use it. In a role than may be new, but which addresses a real need, Bull is very rapidly being seen as a player that get fully involved in operations. In the hospital sector, for example – where the increasingly widespread us of electronic patient records is increasing the pressure on databases – knowing that they can rely on a competent team, available 24 hours a day, is a great comfort to IT Operations Managers.

Value-added database monitoring, which may be a first step towards a comprehensive unified approach to IT monitoring, perfectly illustrates the essence of Bull Service Assurance: to guarantee performance right now and into the long term and ensure that IT resources are aligned with needs, whether in terms of the power supply and underlying layers of the infrastructure, or the middleware, services or ERP applications.

José is an expert of databases’ monitoring, support and assistance, whether they are open source or proprietary.

To know more : download our White paper ” Unified monitoring,or how to link IT performance to service level commitments”

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