One of the advantages of my position as Publisher of DM Review is that I have many opportunities to visit seminars, conferences and vendor sites. Consequently, I am keenly aware of enterprise requirements and the solutions vendors provide to meet those requirements. Occasionally, I encounter vendor solutions that I feel are very unique and valuable. In order to be sure that DM Review readers are aware of these products, I feature these tools in my Publisher's Insight.
The need to manage and control all of the distributed databases across the enterprise for e-commerce and e-business has made life extremely difficult for the DBA. BMC has introduced Web DBA which provides more flexibility and increases overall productivity in managing data across the enterprise. The introduction of Web DBA to assist the DBA should help all companies in their transition to e-commerce and e-business. As enterprises struggle to address the problem of scarce human resources available to staff enterprise data centers, Web DBA will prove invaluable.
Today's e-commerce systems require many databases distributed across a myriad of applications. The management of these databases limits the deployment of e-commerce capabilities. BMC Software's Web DBA allows database systems to be managed in a more productive and flexible manner. Further, the product permits the alternative of outsourcing part of the database administrator (DBA) function to specialized service providers.
The demands of e-commerce on enterprise systems have made databases both an essential system component and a major management headache. From large-scale ERP installations to departmental vertical applications, many new systems are packaged solutions with embedded databases. The vendors build their solutions upon one of the popular database systems. They promote their database flexibility and openness, but provide little assistance in managing yet one more database context.
The role of the DBA traditionally deals with the responsibility of managing databases from space allocation to index tuning. Over the past two decades, the DBA role has evolved from the glass-house environment of centralized computing. A few skilled individuals could manage a few large-scale databases. However, as databases have become distributed across multiple data centers and organizational units, DBA responsibilities are now stretched among more persons, many of whom do not have adequate skill sets.
Finding, hiring, training and retaining employees for the DBA role is now a major limitation for deploying e-commerce capability for most enterprises. In many situations, clerical personnel perform the tasks of backups, space allocations and status monitoring. Database vendors have improved the manageability of their engines by applying intelligent monitoring and tuning techniques. However, these efforts fall far short of solving the DBA problem.
In May of 2000, BMC Software, Inc. released Web DBA which provides Web-based management for distributed databases. The product currently supports Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server, with the product line expanding to support IBM DB2 UDB in the future.
"We have been enormously successful using Web DBA in beta testing and have already gained more control and access over our databases," said Bob Morrow, database administrator for International SEMATECH. "We manage numerous database environments. With its Web-based architecture, Web DBA will help us manage all of our day-to-day DBA tasks anytime, anywhere."
For a systems tool, Web DBA is unique in supporting a broad range of DBA tasks, all delivered via a thin-client Web browser. The architecture is the classic three-tier with Web DBA and the Web server residing on the middle tier. Linkage from Web DBA to the Oracle database is via JDBC. Although all three tiers could reside on the same platform, the value of Web DBA comes from a single DBA being able to manage multiple databases on remote platforms.
Some specific tasks supported by Web DBA are:
- Monitor real-time database activity for performance, user activity and much more.
- Browse and edit data including multimedia data.
- Generate and save DDL statements.
- Copy tables, etc., between schemas and databases.
- Edit and execute SQL scripts.
- Grant, revoke and assign database privileges and roles.
- Monitor and analyze statistics on tables, indices, storage, etc.
- Execute and edit (in next version) HTML reports.
- Browse and edit normal files used for database configuration.
- Navigate Oracle V$ tables.
As shown in Figure 1, Web DBA uses a typical three-tier Web architecture. Web DBA bundles the Apache Tomcat Web server for Windows NT or Windows 2000. For the client browser, both Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer are supported. Java support is required on both the client and Web server platforms. Access to the Oracle database engines uses JDBC.
The DBA E- Community
Another aspect of Web DBA is the DBAzine.com resource portal and the DBA discussion forum. DBAzine.com is a collection of useful articles and bookmarks for DBAs involved with Oracle, DB2 UDB, SQL Server and even IMS. Such resource portals are increasingly important for quality customer support and community building.
Figure 1: Architecture for BMC Web DBA
Managing the DBA Function
The Web DBA product is pushing the envelope for better productivity within the DBA function. In particular, productivity is enhanced by the ability of Web DBA to:
- Integrate a broad spectrum of DBA tasks into a single tool, thus allowing an individual to administer more databases effectively.
- Encapsulate complex DBA tasks into manageable scripts, thus simplifying time-consuming routine tasks and allowing less- skilled persons to be responsible for complex tasks.
- Administer the DBA tasks at locations remote from the database, thus allowing flexible staffing at physical facilities.
With Web-based tools such as Web DBA, new alternatives become available for managing the DBA function. One alternative would be to consolidate all DBA personnel into a central data center. A second alternative would be to outsource the DBA function to a service provider specializing in that area. This latter alternative presents some interesting business opportunities to DBA service providers who could manage hundreds and maybe thousands of databases. Service-level agreements focusing on security safeguards and reliability guarantees would be essential. Research by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) on application service providers indicates that database applications are some of the leading applications being outsourced. Suc-cessful outsourcing of the DBA function would be vastly preferable to clerical personnel administering the database for a critical CRM application.
Web DBA will enable organizations to manage any enterprise databases from any PC with a common Internet browser simply, quickly and effectively and meet the everyday challenges of database administration.
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