How To Build & Run Low Maintenance Databases?

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When it comes to enterprise database administration, it may cost more to maintain a matured software application than developing one in the first place. This is particularly the case while we maintain database systems made on conventional relational database management systems. To keep the application up and running with the database support, both DBAs and developers need to spend a considerable amount of time and effort on the major maintenance tasks as:

  • Fixing the bugs and deploying fixes.
  • Change database functionality based on the changing requirements.
  • Cleaning the data
  • Handling concurrency issues and troubleshooting the deadlocks
  • Speed up query performance.

Suppose a database system we develop experiences any such challenges related to the above in the production scenario. In that case, it can adversely affect the entire team’s morale and confidence of the users. Adding to it, database errors may also add up to the raw cost. When the users encounter any issues related to the database and need to deal with inconsistencies in applications, they will not be able to execute their functions effectively. However, this is avoidable.

Also Read: Enterprise Database Management 

Having Maintainable Codes

If a database application is meant to offer long-term solutions for your problems, it should be maintainable. To achieve this, you have to adopt some development best practices to ensure that the system you build is robust and flexible to reduce any maintenance overhead. This is very much possible in the case of agile development environments. In this model of development, we always have room for the next release. On the other hand, it will become difficult to justify spending the whole day on an interesting challenge to fine-tune the queries or troubleshoot some deadlocks while the pressure is on for next day deployment. Some other standard steps towards building more maintainable databases as below.

Insulate Your Database with a Well-Structured Interface

While running a database application, you need not expose the views and tables to the users. Instead, you may use well-woven APIs of the stored procedures, which will let us change the procedures and underlying tables without breaking the applications. Putting in a little extra effort to wrap DML statementsin the given procedure may prove to be solid insurance against any changes in the future by making such changes much easier to accomplish. For any support regarding database administration and remote DB management, you can approach the expert consultants of RemoteDBA.com.

Automate the Database Testing

If you want to ensure longevity for a system built upon an RDBMS, it is necessary to adopt rigorous automated database testing. Automated tests will let you reduce the number of bugs in the future. Automation testing will also let us make changes in the system much easier later and significantly reduce maintenance costs. When it comes to the history of technology, we can see that those who are the strongest and fastest now need not be the long-term survivors, but it may be those who are most adaptable to the changes surviving longer. So, without the automation testing harness, it will be difficult for the relational database management systems to survive in the long run by adapting to changing environments.

Follow up-to-date Database Design

Database design is the fundamental task of database administration, on top of which we built the DBMS. If we get it done right, then as the requirements change, we can save a lot of time and developmental effort. By getting the fundamentals of database design right, we can save a significant amount in maintenance costs. So, here the vital thing to take care of is selecting the right one. Consider your requirements and based on that make the selection.

If you fail to keep the design up to datewhile there is a change in the system, you must use some workarounds or kludges to get things done right. These workarounds may slow down the process of system changes and increase the complexity of the processes, and hurt the performance, which may all end up in increased maintenance cost.

In other terms, developing a database further against its fundamental schema can be very challenging, slow, and painful, like running a marathon in one-size small dress shoes. Our shoes must change as the requirement changes, and so the database design also should flexibly adapt as the requirement changes. So, to keep a low maintenance cost, we must have a high-quality design that should rightly reflect the requirements and be able to adjust to the changing needs in the future.

A database development project is no different from any other kind of development. If we are looking for a long-term solution that is easy to maintain, the basic design should be properly made. Without adopting any shortcuts or cutting corners, it isn’t easy to refactor the databases, especially those which are large. So, we may find it so tempting to look for an easy workaround is possible than spending more time and effort to set it right at the first point. But, these easy workarounds may make your database systems much slower and brittle and cost higher in terms of maintenance.

Defensive Table Design

In many cases, it is easy to design the database tables defensively. With this design, they are less likely to need any change in the future as it is very easy to flex them based on the changing needs. In the defensive approach, we may not squeeze every bit of performance from the system right at the beginning. Instead, we may sacrifice some of the non-critical performance elements to avoid any expensive refactoring.

Even when we try to practice everything possible to avoid any database refactoring, sometimes we have to. Based on the changing requirements in hand, sometimes we may have to go for absolutely changing the database design. In the traditional approach, we may have to shut down the system or migrate the data to another structure, which can be risky. If the need for refactoring is inevitable, you may take a more gradual refactoring approach without shutting down the system.


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