DBAs in an Evolving and Demanding Landscape: Navigating New Challenges and Evaluating Solutions to Address Them


By Blog Squad posted 10-06-2020 08:41


Authored by Justin Ruiz & Sarah Tarter of Rubrik

DBAs are known for their masterful ability to untangle complex systems–but that’s not to say that the massive growth in database types and data and the ever-increasing need for business agility haven’t made their jobs more challenging. Given the range of applications DBAs must now support and the acceleration of database and data growth, today’s DBAs are tasked with managing terabytes, if not petabytes, of data across on-premises and cloud–and these numbers will continue to grow. In fact, IDC analysts estimate that data volume will more than double every two years.

So how can DBAs maintain protection and control over their environments, even as they evolve and the sheer volume of databases and data increases? How can they ensure rapid recovery of multi-terabyte databases in the event of a cyberattack? How are DBAs tackling increasing data governance regulations? And perhaps most top-of-mind, how can they minimize pain points associated with manual backups and scripting to free up time to focus on other strategic projects for the business?

To answer these questions, we’ll walk through the biggest threats today’s DBAs ought to keep their eye on.

What Are the Key Challenges Facing DBAs?

Managing and protecting a large number of databases at scale can be a challenge for any DBA. Adding to the pressure of their role, DBAs are expected to be in the know of the latest technology solutions, best practices for navigating database sprawl and data growth, operationalizing data for maximum ROI, and evolving requirements/regulations for storing and protecting large volumes of data. Some of the key data protection challenges that DBAs must prepare to face include:

  • Maintaining and managing existing backups: DBAs may be comfortable with building impeccable scripts, but the problem lies in maintaining and managing those across multiple databases, adapting to changes in topology, and ensuring compliance needs of the business are met indefinitely. Thus, DBAs would prefer to offload database backups to a central backup system so that they can focus on running the database to meet the business application needs.

  • Managing database sprawl: DBAs are now expected to manage a range of databases with different types of data and varying data sets. If current trends are any indication, the number of databases DBAs are tasked with managing will only continue to rise. Many DBAs now manage up to 50 SQL Server databases and report spending an average of four hours a day dealing with issues that may arise within these servers. With multiple databases to check on regularly, DBAs are at higher risk of making preventable errors.
  • Accounting for Cloud: Cloud-based initiatives are changing the roles of DBAs. Modern DBAs must be experts in managing cloud-based databases, as well as understand how to integrate the cloud with existing onsite operations and data management systems. For example, using a cloud-based system makes the process of backing up a database simpler than creating physical backups and storing them onsite. However, DBAs still have to plan for these backups and implement automation to ensure they happen regularly.

  • Serving the needs of secondary users: A typical day for a DBA doesn’t go by without a steady stream of requests from secondary users (developers, quality assurance teams, and analytics departments) who are looking to gain access to copies of production data for use cases such as testing, development, and ETL (extract, transform, load) workflows. The DBA needs to juggle managing the needs of different departments with protecting mission-critical databases serving the business.

  • Backup Admin and DBA Divide: Backup administrators often handle the complete protection lifecycle of an organization’s applications, from the backup and restore to the compliance and governance policies set forth by the business. While a DBA may be open to delegating backup tasks to the backup administrator, the responsibility still falls on the DBA to build and maintain scripts as the database environment changes. There is a high chance of human error due to multiple stakeholders being involved.

What Should DBAs Consider When Evaluating a Solution?

The unique circumstances presented by the current landscape intensify the need for DBAs to leverage solutions that quickly and efficiently help them address the above challenges. Third-party data protection solutions can save DBAs time, mitigate risks, and empower them with control they need.

When evaluating data protection services, DBAs should consider the following:

  1. Does the solution offer automated discovery and protection?

For organizations looking for a hands-off approach to database protection across their IT environment, automated  discovery and protection of databases through backup service  and a systematic approach to supporting compliance with SLAs. .. After an SLA policy has been mapped, databases will be automatically protected, replicated, and archived as they are discovered, freeing up management time to focus on other strategic initiatives.

  1. Does the solution offer flexible recovery options?

When it comes to backup and recovery, DBAs often take great interest in managing recoveries, which can be a delicate process.  What are the range of options the solution offers in the event of a database failure? Do those align well with your organization’s needs and business model? Ideally, in a recovery situation, DBAs are freed to devote their precious time to other demanding tasks without worrying about database backups or relinquishing restore control.

  1. Does the solution offer the level of access to self-service you want?

You want access to be able to complete certain tasks. Does the solution give you access to complete a variety of tasks, such as instant recovery, testing a patch or an upgrade, verifying data recoverability, running point-in-time queries and historical reports, and even just to meet ad hoc requests?

With the growing complexities DBAs face, equipping them with the tools they need to succeed is more critical now than ever.

About the Authors:

Justin Ruiz (Senior Product Marketing Manager) and Sarah Tarter (Global Campaigns Specialist) are with Rubrik, a company just named a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Data Center Backups and Recovery Solutions.