In the dynamic world of information technology (IT), managing database changes is an essential capability.
Change is a constant that needs to be recognized, understood, and managed effectively. Lack of awareness regarding minor and major changes to the computing environment can have catastrophic results and negatively impact a business.
This is especially true of enterprise databases that support mission-critical applications and customer-facing eCommerce sites. Businesses cannot afford availability or performance issues with these systems. When problems do arise, as they eventually will, database administrators (DBAs) and support teams need to have a well-defined plan to identify and resolve them.
Identifying the Source of Unexpected Database Problems
When a business-critical database application that has been performing fine suddenly experiences an unplanned outage or serious performance degradation, it often initiates an all-hands-on-deck response from the company’s DBAs. Monitoring systems may or may not be able to quickly isolate the source of the problem to a specific database element.
Even if it is possible to obtain an accurate assessment of the problem’s origin, this information may not give any indication of why it suddenly made an unwelcome appearance. It’s up to the harried DBAs to promptly come up with an answer and a resolution that gets the system up and running again.
One of the first things a DBA should do in this situation is to see if any recent changes have been made that could have contributed to the problem. In a modern multi-platform environment, this type of information can be hard to get. As the seconds tick by and management starts to get involved, DBA stress levels are bound to reach unpleasant levels.
Finding Out What Changed
You will get a variety of answers if you ask DBAs the type of information and functionality they need to quickly address the problem. A majority of them will agree that identifying all changes made to the system in question is critically important.
With a reliable roadmap of changes, DBAs can identify updates that may be at the root of the database problem. They will be able to see if schema changes may have been made erroneously or if other modifications have impacted performance and availability.
A change management tool designed for databases can help address this and other situations where understanding and documenting changes is beneficial to an organization. Let’s look at instances where managing and documenting database changes can be extremely important.
Unexpected database issues
The ability to quickly identify impactful changes made to a database is essential when attempting to resolve performance or availability issues. Reviewing a change log can point out recently implemented configuration changes that are causing the problems. This provides DBAs with a viable starting point for diagnosing and fixing the given database.
Ideally, recent configuration changes can easily be rolled back to return systems to a stable state. Once the systems are available again, the underlying problems with the changes can be determined and rectified so the issues do not recur. A strategy that includes rolling back unsuccessful changes is essential when mission-critical systems are in scope.
Managing system updates and maintenance
A centralized archive of changes made to the database environment streamlines the process of performing updates and maintenance. DBAs can consult the archive to review changes made by other team members and avoid duplication of effort while learning lessons from past activities.
This type of change overview is very important in large and complex environments with designated production, test, and development databases. DBAs can verify the success of changes made to test and dev instances before rolling them out to production databases. Reviewing these changes minimizes the possibility of unexpected consequences when production systems are modified.
Providing evidence for compliance audits
Internal and external audits often result in findings that identify gaps in complying with regulatory standards. Resolving these findings requires changes that must be tracked and documented to serve as evidence for subsequent audits. The ability to produce this evidence during follow-up audits is necessary to demonstrate that the proper actions are being taken and avoid non-compliance penalties.
A Versatile Tool for Database Change Management
DB Change Manager provides database teams with a versatile tool for effective database change management across the Oracle, SQL Server, Db2, and Sybase platforms. It furnishes the features teams need to effectively track and manage database change across the environment.
The features offered by DB Change Manager include:
- Managing and tracking changes from a unified and intuitive user interface;
- Rapidly rolling out and reconciling database changes;
- Schema comparison and synchronization;
- Generating reports on database changes;
- Satisfying database audit requirements;
- Protecting sensitive information in the environment with data masking.
DB Change Manager is a valuable tool for managing change in complex multi-platform database environments. Its effective use saves DBAs time and helps ensure business-critical systems remain operational and performing up to expectations.
DB Change Manager can be obtained as a stand-alone product or as part of the DB PowerStudio database administration and developer toolsets.