The Importance of Database Performance During the COVID-19 Crisis

by May 4, 2020

In the days before the COVID-19 pandemic began to sweep across the world, many people took information technology (IT) and databases for granted. The changes forced on society by this contagious virus may not have made the general population more aware of the importance of the underlying computing infrastructure that affects many areas of our lives. Even if not appreciated by the majority of users, databases and the professionals who keep them running are perhaps more important now than ever before.

Activities as diverse as working from home, searching for a coronavirus testing site, or finding a movie to stream with your family all rely on databases. At a bare minimum, setting up a remote work location requires interaction with databases that store login credentials, allowing users to access pertinent systems from home. Locating a nearby healthcare facility that can perform a test is critically important for individuals who think they have been exposed to the virus and will involve querying databases to find the best match. You may not realize it but when you browse Netflix for a new movie, a database is behind the lists displayed on your TV.

A common characteristic shared by these databases is that they are being used more extensively since the appearance of the pandemic. Database administrators are being challenged with maintaining the level of performance required to satisfy the increased demand. Let’s take look at some databases of prime importance these days whose utility is threatened by an unprecedented increase in usage.

Databases That Support Society’s Needs in the Pandemic

Here are some examples of databases that need to have their performance enhanced to accommodate the increased number of users accessing the systems. In each case, a database team is responsible for providing the performance and availability necessary to address the rise in the number of requests from its users.

  • ProQuest is a company that supports the world’s research and learning communities. They have recently made their new Coronavirus Research Database available to their users at no cost. The tool is designed to help clinicians, researchers, and nurses obtain comprehensive coverage of information relevant to COVID-19 as well as other coronavirus outbreaks in the past. As organizations become aware of the offering and begin to make use of it, the team behind the database will be required to ramp up its performance. Harried healthcare professionals need to have their queries addressed quickly so they can get on with their important work.

  • Aptean is another company offering free access to COVID-19 related information resources. GenomeQuest is the world’s largest intellectual property sequence database using proprietary, state-of-the-art comparison algorithms for in-depth search and analysis. The data resources provide genetic information and analytical tools that support efforts to diagnose and cure the disease. Researchers developing vaccines can also benefit from the information in GenomeQuest.

  • JSTOR is an enterprise that collaborates with the academic community to help libraries connect students and faculty with vital content in digital form. This saves the associated institutions money and shelf space that would be used for physical copies of the information. They have made extensive resources available to their participating institutions that have been affected by COVID-19 including public health journals and archives related to the virus.

When the databases powering these information resources were developed, it was with an eye toward the estimated level of usage they would require. As the virus spreads and its effects continue to ripple throughout our daily lives, there is a high probability that those original estimates are being exceeded. Maintaining adequate performance despite the increased workload is a challenge for the database teams at these organizations. These representative examples are replicated countless times by other databases that are keeping the world afloat.

Coping with Performance Demands

IDERA’s DBArtisan can help DBAs be more productive and maintain the expected levels of performance of their databases. It’s a versatile database administration tool that supports multiple platforms including SQL Server, Oracle, Db2, and Sybase. A unified interface allows a database team to increase productivity when tasked with bouncing around in multi-platform environments. With new data resources being introduced daily, a lot of time can be saved by eliminating the need to swap tools when performing administrative functions.

Some of the most relevant features of DBArtisan include robust performance analysis and proactive diagnostics to identify performance, capacity planning, and storage management issues so teams can address them before they impact users. Database monitoring allows alerts and notifications to keep database professionals advised on potential problems. The tool also contains an SQL debugger and profiler that can be used to tune code to alleviate performance bottlenecks.

As the world tries to cope with the impact of COVID-19, databases will continue to play an important role. Providing database teams with tools that make their jobs easier can only help society in general. No one wants to wait an inordinate amount of time for an application to respond or find that a critical database is unavailable. DBArtisan can help your organization keep its databases performing at peak efficiency despite an increase in the number of individuals who want to use them.