Managing Databases in the Face of the Global Pandemic

The COVID-19 virus that is currently plaguing the world has impacted virtually every aspect of our lives. Things we previously took for granted like going to a movie or eating at a restaurant are now strongly discouraged as we are urged to engage in social distancing to slow the spread of the disease. Many individuals cannot work because their businesses have been forced to close. Others are now working from home where at all possible.

IT professionals are in a unique position. The majority of DBAs and database developers have experience with working from home and remotely supporting their systems. In many cases, the same levels of job functionality and productivity can be achieved by working from home as when commuting to the office. Strictly from the perspective of maintaining database performance and availability, your database team has become virtualized. Just like virtual instances of SQL Server, they can still provide high-quality support even if they are not physically in the office.

Additional Concerns for Database Professionals

This is not to say that the workload database teams are experiencing hasn’t drastically changed. As hundreds of millions of people around the world stay at home, the demands on web-based applications and their databases are growing every day. Online shopping has replaced the usual trip to the grocery store or the mall. The increased volume of visitors to these websites threatens to overwhelm their capacity to provide adequate performance. This is also true of the databases that form the back-end of most websites.

Nowhere is this more evident and important than in the realm of healthcare. Databases are critical resources in hospitals and healthcare facilities. They are under severe stress as more patients present themselves for care. Epidemiologists make extensive use of databases for the information they need to make predictions and devise strategies to keep us safe. Companies that manufacture protective gear or other medical supplies have suddenly had to ramp up production or even change the focus of their product line.

Challenges to Providing Database Support

Here are some examples of issues that are affecting database teams struggling to maintain high performance and ensure system availability. As you will see, the challenges are coming from a variety of directions and will demand multiple methods to successfully address.

Performance

Computer modeling is a technique of obtaining informative insights by processing large quantities of data. Scientists in government and academia are using computer modeling of the coronavirus’s spread to help authorities charged with making pubic health decisions. The databases used in constructing these models need to provide high-performance and reliability. Models are only as good as their data resources.

Database performance is a critical component of creating viable computer models. It is also essential in healthcare systems that provide patient care. Slow or erroneous responses can result in serious consequences and cannot be tolerated in healthcare systems.

Capacity

The social distancing required as a response to the virus has led to an incredible increase in the number of first-time unemployment claims. The week of March 21st showed an increase of over 3.2 million individuals to the unemployment rolls. Some economists believe that over 40 million Americans will eventually have to take advantage of unemployment insurance in the wake of COVID-19.

Some state websites crashed under the increased demands of their populations. Other databases that are involved in the medical equipment supply chain will also experience unexpected growth in the number of orders they need to handle. As healthcare facilities scramble to find necessary supplies, their database applications will also run into capacity shortages.

Security

Security is always critically important when dealing with healthcare-related IT systems. The databases used on these systems often contain sensitive information and are expected to maintain compliance with various governmental guidelines regarding the data they store and process. Even in the best of times, securing the sensitive information inside their databases is a DBA’s consequential responsibility.

Unfortunately, malicious individuals and organized groups are using the COVID-19 pandemic in attempts to take advantage of the fear and confusion infusing the healthcare profession. Cyber attacks experienced by the healthcare sectors increased by 150% in the last several months. These attacks include one made on a hospital performing COVID-19 tests in the Czech Republic on March 13th that forced it to shut down its IT network.

Tools to Manage SQL Server Databases

SQL Server is an extremely popular relational database platform and forms the backbone of many applications that power the healthcare industry and the greater business world. Due to the escalating crisis, excessive demands can be put on an organization’s database administrators. Your team may be called upon to handle a variety of situations such as:

  • Meeting increased performance demands with limited resources;
  • Maintaining system availability;
  • Preventing security breaches and protecting sensitive data;
  • Working from home.

IDERA’s SQL Management Suite offers SQL Server database teams with a veritable Swiss army knife of software tools that provide efficient management and monitoring of SQL Server performance and security. The components of SQL Management Suite will assist teams to deliver high-quality support that focuses on the performance, compliance, and security of your SQL Server environment. Here are some of the ways your team can use these tools.

  • Monitoring database health, performance, and availability;
  • Locating and tracking sensitive data;
  • Auditing and creating evidence of regulatory compliance;
  • Identifying security vulnerabilities;
  • Managing backups and disaster recovery procedures.

Databases and IT systems will inevitably play a role in the ability of society to cope with and recover from COVID-19. These tools can help you ensure that your systems are running at peak efficiency as they contribute to the cause.

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