How Database Monitoring Can Help It Teams Adjust To The New Normal

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young man monitoring systems in data center

Uncovering Opportunities with Database DevOps Monitoring

For the past three years, Redgate Software has run the industry’s only survey that looks into SQL Server monitoring. The annual State of Database Monitoring provides unique insights into how companies and organizations monitor their estates, the technologies they work with, and the biggest challenges they face.

In the latest report – launched in April 2020 – the results not only track and benchmark monitoring in the SQL Server community, but encompass other relational database platforms like Oracle and MySQL as well.

The timing of the survey in the midst of the global pandemic also offers an invaluable glimpse into the changed business environment, with priorities shifting due to the effects of lockdowns, remote working and business continuity concerns.

The report does, however, show that there is hope for remote teams that are concerned about managing their IT systems, and indicates how database monitoring can help.

Addressing the new challenges

While performance monitoring and backups remain the most common responsibilities for database professionals in the latest report, managing security and user permissions have leapt to third and fourth place.

Connected with this, and possibly as a result of increased remote working and tasks becoming more widely distributed, the two biggest causes of problems with database management now come from human error (23%) and ad hoc user access (18%),

Perhaps more worrying, respondents stated that staffing and recruitment is the second biggest challenge in managing estates behind addressing performance issues. The report also found that a surprising 27% of respondents do not monitor databases and servers because they lack the knowledge to do so, whereas 10% of respondents lack the appropriate skills on the team and 7% have never even considered monitoring databases.

This is where the importance of an effective and configurable database monitoring solution like Redgate’s SQL Monitor comes into play because it can alert IT teams to errors as soon as they occur, through email, Slack, PagerDuty, SNMP traps, or any ticketing system using webhooks. Configuring the right set of alerts ensures that everyone is aware of the most critical issues in an environment as soon as they happen, rather than finding out after disaster strikes.

Migrating to the cloud is easier said than done

Like other IT industry surveys, the State of Database Monitoring report found that cloud adoption is growing rapidly. It showed that Microsoft Azure is the most popular cloud platform in 2020 and is now used by 54% of respondents, a huge 15 percentage point increase in use compared to 2019.

However, for all of its benefits, database professionals noted that cloud migrations are still difficult and accomplishing a migration with a distributed team will not make things any easier. It’s not just migrating to the cloud that’s the issue here, it’s also being able to monitor cloud-based servers alongside on-premises servers.

This was highlighted in the report, which found that while database teams are most concerned about improving performance in the year ahead (20%), migrating to and integrating with the cloud wasn’t far behind (18%). Interestingly, cloud-based working and performance both relate to the effect COVID-19 is having on businesses this year, with performance often suffering due to demand fluctuations, and the need to work remotely making cloud-based systems much more attractive.

We still don’t know exactly what will happen over the coming months or even years, but it’s clear that change and uncertainty will continue to be a challenge. Adopting remote monitoring tools can help simplify monitoring of the cloud because once a team is monitoring a remote database server, it doesn’t matter where the server is. This is particularly the case when the tools provide a global overview of every server, whether on-premises or in the cloud, on one central web-based interface.

The importance of database monitoring

The report showed that database monitoring is instrumental in helping database professionals. While 30% of respondents use in-house built tools to accomplish the task, 39% leverage paid-for-tools, Satisfaction with third-party monitoring tools is also consistently high, with 68% of respondents saying they’re happy with them, up by seven percentage points from 2019.

More importantly, respondents who used a third-party tool reported a 28% reduction in Mean Time To Detection (MTTD) of deployment issues, and a 22% reduction in Mean Time To Recovery (MTTR). By implementing automated database monitoring, organizations not only caught issues caused by deployments faster than those who had not, but were able to resolve them quicker by empowering seamless integration between development and database management teams.

Summary The current situation has made remote working and distributed teams commonplace in many businesses. Whether as a result of Covid-19 or because of the growing trend to migrate to the cloud, mixed server estates with some servers on-premises and others in the cloud are also becoming business as usual. All of which makes effective database monitoring more important than ever.

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