IT Bookworm Blog

Mar 5 2013   7:26PM GMT

Book excerpt: Database Administration

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

“This chapter is an excerpt from the 2nd Ed. of ‘Database Administration: The Complete Guide to DBA Practices and Procedures’ by Craig Mullins, published by Pearson/Addison-Wesley Professional, Oct. 2012, ISBN 9780321822949 Copyright 2013 Craig S. Mullins. For more info please visit: http://www.informit.com/store/database-administration-the-complete-guide-to-dba-practices-9780321822949

Creating the Database Environment

One of the primary tasks associated with the job of DBA is the process of choosing and installing a DBMS. Unfortunately, many business executives and IT professionals without database management background assume that once the DBMS is installed, the bulk of the work is done. The truth is, choosing and installing the DBMS is hardly the most difficult part of a DBA’s job. Establishing a usable database environment requires a great deal of skill, knowledge, and consideration. This chapter will outline the principles involved in establishing a usable database environment.

Defining the Organization’s DBMS Strategy

The process of choosing a suitable DBMS for enterprise database management is not as difficult as it used to be. The number of major DBMS vendors has dwindled due to industry consolidation and domination of the sector by a few very large players.

Yet, large and medium-size organizations typically run multiple DBMS products, from as few as two to as many as ten. For example, it is not uncommon for a large company to use IMS or IDMS and DB2 on the mainframe, Oracle and MySQL on several different UNIX servers, Microsoft SQL Server on Windows servers, as well as pockets of other DBMS products such as Sybase, Ingres, Adabas, and PostgreSQL on various platforms, not to mention single-user PC DBMS products such as Microsoft Access, Paradox, and FileMaker. Who chose to install all these DBMSs and why?

Unfortunately, often the answer is that not much thought and planning went into the decision-making process. Sometimes the decision to purchase and install a new DBMS is driven by a business need or a new application. This is reasonable if your organization has no DBMS and must purchase one for the first time. This is rarely the case, though. Regardless of whether a DBMS exists on-site, a new DBMS is often viewed as a requirement for a new application. Sometimes a new DBMS product is purchased and installed without first examining if the application could be successfully implemented using an existing DBMS. Or, more likely, the DBAs know the application can be implemented using an existing DBMS but lack the organizational power or support to reject a new DBMS proposal.

There are other reasons for the existence of multiple DBMS platforms in a single organization. Perhaps the company purchased a commercial off-the-shelf application package that does not run on any of the current DBMS platforms. Sometimes the decision to buy a new DBMS is driven by the desire to support the latest and greatest technology. For example, many mainframe shops moving from a hierarchic (IMS) or CODASYL (IDMS) database model to the relational model deployed DB2, resulting in an additional DBMS to learn and support. Then, when client/server computing became popular, additional DBMSs were implemented on UNIX, Linux, and Windows servers.

Once a DBMS is installed, removal can be difficult because of incompatibilities among the different DBMSs and the necessity of converting application code. Furthermore, when a new DBMS is installed, old applications and databases are usually not migrated to it. The old DBMS remains and must continue to be supported. This complicates the DBA’s job.

So what should be done? Well, the DBA group should be empowered to make the DBMS decisions for the organization. No business unit should be allowed to purchase a DBMS without the permission of the DBA group. This is a difficult provision to implement and even more difficult to enforce. Business politics often work against the DBA group because it frequently possesses less organizational power than other business executives.

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