The challenges of ever-growing estates

Each year Redgate runs a survey to determine the state of database monitoring. This year, instead of one large report, we are publishing four insight reports, each on a different topic. The first came out this month: The real-world challenges of growing server estates.

The respondents reported several trends:

  • DBAs are managing more instances than before at 65% of organizations surveyed
  • Teams are growing – more organizations reported teams of three or four DBAs rather than one lone DBA
  • Organizations are mostly concerned about security, performance, and cloud migrations
  • Over the next 12 months, organizations expect to have trouble recruiting database professionals

DBAs are responsible for more data

It’s not surprising that data is growing, but the number of DBAs responsible for managing the data is not necessarily increasing enough to keep pace. The tools that DBAs use for monitoring and administration must be able to scale and evolve. The worst case is having no tools in place at all which might be adequate for one or two instances, but often means manually looking at each server at least daily for issues. Some DBAs rely on homegrown or downloaded scripts to monitor their servers. These can work, but it’s not easy to keep them up to date as they upgrade to new versions of the database platform or use more features.

DBA teams are growing

The respondents in previous years reported more single DBAs being responsible for the databases, so this increase in team size is good news. The difference between a lone DBA and even a two-person team is immense as duties such as on-call schedules can be shared. A standard set of tools, especially for monitoring, can help the team work together better and more efficiently.

Protecting data is job one

The top challenges for database administrators are not surprising as security and performance are arguably the most important aspects of the job. In the past few years, migrating to cloud platforms such as Azure and AWS brings a new way of working and new challenges. Protecting data has always been crucial, but with new regulations such as the GDPR or CCPA and the increase in data breaches, DBAs must protect sensitive data, not just in production, but in any downstream systems. Having a tool that can monitor both cloud hosted and on-premises databases can simplify administration of the estate for the DBA team.

Looking for DBAs

While security and protection of data is still the top concern for respondents, staffing and recruitment is the second most popular answer on the survey. With more organizations accepting remote employees, it might be easier to recruit DBAs outside their immediate area. In general, database administration is a growing field, and salaries are high. As long as data continues to grow, there will be a demand for DBAs. Having the right tools can free up their time to make them available for other projects and initiatives like DevOps.

Our survey shows that the workload of DBAs has increased as data grows in most organisations. Cloud and hybrid environments can also increase the complexity their jobs. Without tools to monitor growing database estates, DBAs may find they spend their time putting out fires instead of proactively working to prevent the fires in the first place.

To read more insights from The State of Database Monitoring Insights Report: The real-world challenges of growing server estates, get your free copy here.

Commentary Competition

Enjoyed the topic? Have a relevant anecdote? Disagree with the author? Leave your two cents on this post in the comments below, and our favourite response will win a $50 Amazon gift card. The competition closes two weeks from the date of publication, and the winner will be announced in the next Simple Talk newsletter.