Why Automation is Mandatory for Database Administrators

One of the promises of technology was that it would make our lives less complicated and afford the average person more free time to pursue the activities in which they were interested. Computers and mobile devices would take care of all our mundane tasks so we could concentrate on things that were more fun and exciting. 

While in some cases this may be true, the majority of us can attest to the fact that things didn’t work out exactly as planned. Rather than enabling us to have more free time, the flood of data available can make it seem as if we can never fully turn off and relax. Keeping up with our digital information streams can become a full-time job.

For database administrators, this situation is reflected in both their personal and professional lives. As technology continues to progress, the outlook for DBAs points towards increased complexity and demands on their time. The only way to keep up with the tremendous growth in data resources is by automating as many processes as possible.

Increased Workload on Multiple Platforms

Despite not adding much in the way of DBA headcount, database teams are expected to handle the ever-growing volume of data and assimilate new platforms introduced into the environment. Several trends are coming together to further complicate the jobs of administering enterprise data assets.

The volume and variety of data streams are making it increasingly difficult for database teams to administer systems efficiently. Corporate information resources are no longer nicely packaged and formatted for use in relational databases. Unstructured data requires new platforms, putting additional pressure on database teams. Most DBAs will need to be conversant in multiple platforms to be consistently productive.

Unfortunately, the increase in the complexity and demands of the DBA role have not been accompanied by similar growth in team staffing. Companies have put greater emphasis on the importance and value of their enterprise data and expect their database teams will handle it. The combination of more diverse work and a static workforce are driving the move to automate DBA tasks wherever possible. 

How Automation Helps DBAs

Automation removes the potential for human error that is the root cause of many unfortunate IT events. Once a process is successfully automated, it will never again be accidentally missed by busy DBAs whose focus is on other things. Automating tasks also returns time to team members who no longer have to devote time to babysitting routine activities and can concentrate on addressing more immediate issues. 

Some of the prime areas that lend themselves to automation are:

  • Performance management - The critical activity of finding, analyzing, and fixing performance problems can be automated to some degree.

  • Change management - Implementing required changes such as fix packs and security patches can be automated to make sure all systems are always up to date.

  • Backup and recovery - Automating system backups and certain restore operations ensures that data is protected and can keep test systems refreshed.

An IDERA Geek Sync Webcast presented by Craig S. Mullins goes into detail concerning the issues facing DBAs that make it essential for them to automate procedures wherever possible. He also looks at the areas of database administration that can achieve the greatest benefits through automation.

Automating SQL Server Administration

IDERA’s SQL Diagnostic Manager for SQL Server is a dedicated tool for SQL Server DBAs that can help in their effort to automate the environment. The application provides comprehensive SQL Server monitoring, diagnosing, and alerting that can be used to increase the level of automation across all SQL Servers.

SQL Diagnostic Manager can be configured to meet the needs of any SQL Server environment and works with physical, virtual, and cloud instances. Set alerts based on best practices and fine-tune them with thresholds to avoid alert fatigue. A maintenance mode can be set up to avoid false positives during planned outages.

Automation is made possible by SQL Diagnostic Manager’s ability to automatically respond to alerts with user-defined actions. The tool can detect failures and respond in a variety of ways. Admins can simply be notified of issues via email for minor issues if that’s all they want. SQL and PowerShell scripts can be executed in response to alerts to address more pressing problems as soon as they occur. 

Using this application brings far more than just a versatile monitoring solution. It can help alleviate some of the pressure on your database team by allowing them to automate responses to problems that would ordinarily take up some of their valuable time to fix. 

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