The role of the DBA in the Private Database Cloud

In DBA on September 11, 2011 at 08:55

Nowadays, you can buy almost any outsourcing services. However, you can not outsource the responsibility.

If your databases are in a cloud (Amazon, Microsoft, etc.) whose responsibility is it when all is down? Shared responsibility? But not only in IT, almost everywhere shared responsibility is often no one’s responsibility.

See, Google Docs was unavailable for a period on Wednesday. Yesterday (9 September 2011), Microsoft’s Office 365, the alternative to Google’s suite of online apps was also down.

Microsoft online services hit by major failure

These are all high profile failures. As DBAs, we might wonder what is best from database perspective: public or private cloud? I vote for database consolidation which is almost a synonym for the new modern concept of a database private cloud.

The best Cloud presentation I have listened to so far was this week’s “Database Consolidation onto Private Clouds” by William Hardie and Mark Townsend.

A consolidation poll shows that the database is the top non-mixed consolidation candidate.

Based on my experience, the most important benefits from consolidation are as follows:

Harmonized environment:
– Less time needed for database management
– Easier monitoring
– Less unexpected problems

Stronger security:
– Less cost:
– Less database licenses (paid per CPUs)
– Less storage needed
– Less memory and CPU needed
– Less computers needed

Better performance and availability:
– Standard parametrization and settings
– Regular common reorganization
– Proactive monitoring

And here are the poll results due to Oracle:

Once the databases are in the cloud, what is the role of the DBA? There are so many articles on the web about that. Read what Robin Schumacher has to say: Will the Cloud obsolete the DBA? Let me quote him: “But, in the end, will an organization be able to send their DBA packing just because they moved their database to the cloud? Not a chance.”

I agree. And on the contrary: DBAs will be even more valued and needed for three reasons:

1. The cloud will bring more challenges and need for DBA work to the enterprise.
2. After every new database release the complexity of the database engines grows quite significantly.
3. The importance and the size of the data grows faster than technology can handle it.

Just to make myself clear that DBAs will not become endangered species, I will mention that the affords needed to apply Grid Infrastructure Patch Set Update 12419353 (= GI PSU for Linux x86-64) are far away from simple.

The 236MB file which requires the 29MB OPatch utility version or later has a ReadMe file with cases and subcases which is far more complex than the ReadMe files of Oracle 10g. Have you ever seen bugs filed against the ReadMe? Here you go: Bug INCORRECT GI PSU PATCH 12419353 README ‘PATCH PREREQ’ INSTRUCTION.

I wonder when the Cloud DBA will have to apply in the future CI PSU (Cloud Infrastructure Patch Set Update) will the ReadMe come as a separate .zip file or in a small booklet 🙂

Finally, a very good slide from William Hardie and Mark Townsend on database cloud architecture!

  1. Hi Julian,

    Whilst patches are mentioned there is no focus on security. Most sites share servers anyway for databases and often using the same Oracle homes and same OSDBA or same software owner; all meaning thatr breach of one database is a breach of all databases. What happens when this transcends the cloud? consolidation taken to the limit is all databases in the world shared on one server or in one cloud. If you take cloud to the limit then you basically have to assume no responsibility for security because everyone will be breached. Its like the old addage, if everything is urgent then nothing is urgent.

    Something has to be done to make companies aware that security of data should be an important part of any decision to cloud or not to cloud!



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