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Focusing on fundamentals key for success with cloud-based database management

With cloud-based databases skyrocketing in popularity, the responsibility of database administrators also skyrockets. Not only are they managing more databases, they still have to manage other servers, virtualized environments and adjust to new compliance regulations.

The good news, managing cloud-based databases can potentially offer benefits such as cost savings and agility, but more importantly, the promise of easier and less time-consuming management.

While cloud-based databases can cure a lot of headaches, DBAs can’t overlook fundamental database best practices. It can be tempting to be more relaxed with cloud database management, but if DBAs don’t properly follow best practices, serious consequences can follow.

Common examples include data breaches or admin-error with exposed databases. And with 75 percent of databases expected to be cloud-based in three years, according to Gartner, today’s DBAs should continue to keep best practices in mind.

To keep database slip ups from happening, DBA’s should follow these top three best practices:

1. Automate what you can

There is a lot involved in maintaining and managing databases on a daily basis – from routine health checks to performance and resource monitoring to data protection and disaster recovery. Automating mundane, time-heavy tasks can free up DBAs to focus on more strategic responsibilities, while also ensuring that everything works as it should. If you don’t have to worry about the mundane, day-to-day tasks, you can spend more time ensuring safety measures are in place to protect data and prevent data leaks.

With data regulations such as GDPR (and the impending CCPA, among other emerging regulations), it’s even more important for DBAs to incorporate automation to ease the management burden. Monitoring databases in real time, to both notify others of potential security or compliance issues and to have time to evaluate compliance risk to ensure appropriate controls is a huge benefit.

2. Enable database collaboration across the organization

With the increasingly diverse amount of database environments across teams and departments, fostering DBA team collaboration must be top of mind. It’s easy for departments to function within silos, but as organizational data stewards, DBAs are primed to take the lead in creating a collaborative culture to stay connected to the data, including knowing where the data resides, where it came from, who has access to it, and where that data is going.

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Silos across different teams that use varied databases can cause serious errors when important policies, standards, or maintenance changes aren’t openly discussed and planned. Instead, DBAs should work with DevOps and data protection teams across departments to maintain a consistent watch on databases and ensure everyone remains in lockstep as databases are adjusted – and that appropriate changes are communicated.

Better collaboration will ultimately lead to stronger performance – and even more streamlined end-user experiences. DBAs will also have more knowledge and understanding about the databases they maintain, and will be able to share this knowledge with developers who can then further improve on system performance.

3. Know what data your databases are storing

Just as automation is an important part to ensuring compliance with regulations like GDPR, so too is knowing what data is being stored in your database. If your applications are storing certain types of data in the database, absent appropriate controls, your organization can and will face some serious fines. DBAs need to ensure they have the right visibility and are getting the right insight into where potentially sensitive data resides, so they ensure they’re meeting compliance requirements and are managing risk appropriately.

On top of that, the basics; employ data encryption, in flight and at rest, so data is protected even if a breach should occur. Don’t forget about a robust solution for key management, beware of sensitive data leaking into test databases, and ensure adequate data masking is in place when you’re testing your code with data sampled from production.

Database auditing is also a good practice in understanding what data is in your database. Most database vendors have auditing capabilities but the problem is, under data some compliance regulations, you have to be able to show an auditor that you’re tracking what happens to data, specifically personal data. Auditing is a potentially expensive process thus DBAs need to be smart about what they audit and how they audit.

Follow the Fundamentals

Cloud-based databases have clear advantages, from cost-savings to elimination of physical infrastructure, but if you’re not properly taking care of your database then you can’t expect to fully benefit from it. No matter where you’re managing your data, following best practices is critical to ensuring databases are operating efficiently, cost effectively, and securely.

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