DBA Corner

DBA Corner focuses on issues of interest to data architects, database analysts and database administrators. Issues addressed by the column include data modeling and database design, database implementation, DBA practices and procedures, performance management and tuning, application development, optimization techniques, data governance, regulatory compliance with regard to data, and industry trends.

Assuring optimal performance of database applications starts with coding properly formulated SQL. Poorly written SQL and application code is the cause of most performance problems. As much as 75% of poor relational performance is caused by "bad" SQL and application code. But writing efficient SQL statements can be tricky. This is especially so for programmers new to a relational database environment or those who have never been trained to properly write SQL.

Posted November 30, 2010

SQL is the lingua franca for modifying and reading database data and any DBA worth his (or her) paycheck should be proficient in writing SQL queries. But SQL is a flexible and feature-rich language, so there are always things that can be learned - even by senior technicians. As such, this month's column discusses several interesting SQL queries that you can put in your bag of tricks for future use.

Posted November 09, 2010

If you are a DBA, or a database performance analyst, chances are that you deal with performance-related issues regarding your database systems every day of the week. But have you ever stopped for a moment and tried to define what you mean when you say "database performance"? Doing so can be a worthwhile exercise, if only to organize your thoughts on the matter. Think about it; don't we need a firm definition of database performance before we can attempt to manage the performance of our databases?

Posted October 12, 2010

Database systems require data files to store the data under management. These files, or data sets, reside on storage media. So storage management should be a key part of the database operations required of a database administrator (DBA). Unfortunately, storage is sometimes relegated to an afterthought; after all, don't we have storage administrators who deal with our disk arrays? But this way of thinking is misguided. To succeed, database administration and storage administration need to cooperate and work together.

Posted September 07, 2010

What is the most difficult thing about acquiring enterprise software? If you are like most IT technicians, your first inclination was probably something related to cost justification. Let's face it, enterprise software typically is very expensive ... and eventually, something will need to bring costs more in line with value.

Posted August 10, 2010

In this issue's column I'll be providing a fundamental introduction to database and database management concepts. Many of you may think that they understand the basic concepts and fundamentals of database technology. But quite a few of you likely do not, so please do not skip over this. First of all, what is a database? DB2 is not a database; neither are Informix, Oracle and SQL Server. Each of these is a DBMS, or Database Management System. You can use DB2 (or Informix or SQL Server) to create a database, but DB2, in and of itself, is not a database.

Posted July 12, 2010

Before we go any further, let me briefly answer the question posed in this column's title: "No Way!" OK ... with that out of the way, let's discuss the issue ... Every so often, some industry pundit gets his opinions published by declaring that "Database administrators are obsolete" or that "we no longer need DBAs." Every time I hear this, it makes me shake my head sadly as I regard just how gullible IT publications can be.

Posted June 07, 2010

Have you heard about stream computing? Basically, it involves the ingestion of data - structured or unstructured - from arbitrary sources and the processing of it without necessarily persisting it. Any digitized data is fair game for stream computing. As the data streams it is analyzed and processed in a problem-specific manner. The "sweet spot" applications for stream computing are situations in which devices produce large amounts of instrumentation data on a regular basis. The data is difficult for humans to interpret easily and is likely to be too voluminous to be stored in a database somewhere. Examples of types of data that are well-suited for stream computing include healthcare, weather, telephony, stock trades, and so on.

Posted May 10, 2010

As you work to protect your data in this day-and-age of data breaches and regulatory compliance, technology and software solutions to data and database security spring to the top of most people's minds. This is to be expected because, after all, most of our data is stored on computers so technology and software are required to protect the data from unauthorized access. This is a good thing: Technology is a crucial component of protecting your valuable business data. But it is not the only thing.

Posted April 07, 2010

The continuing acceptance and growing usage of Linux as an enterprise computing platform has enlivened the open source community. The term "open source" refers to software that users are free to run, copy, distribute, study, change, and improve. Often "open source" gets misinterpreted to mean free software. This is understandable, but the open source concept of free is closer to liberty than it is to no charge.

Posted March 04, 2010

Have you ever read those inserts that your bank, credit card providers, insurance company, mutual fund company, and others slip inside your statements and bills? We all get them. You know, those flimsy pieces of paper, printed in small type and written in convoluted English. I have started collecting them - sort of like baseball cards. But I doubt they'll ever be valuable. They are entertaining, though ... and disheartening.

Posted February 09, 2010

My whole career has been based on managing data and producing information and, as such, I am intrigued with the issue of information overload - or the perception that there is too much information. A former boss called me an information bottom-feeder because I always seemed to have a nugget of information or two that applied to her projects and quests. You see, I'm of the opinion that you can never have enough information - at least regarding those things you care about.

Posted January 11, 2010

As per my regular custom, this final DBA Corner column of the year is a review of the most significant data and database-related events of the year. Of course, to meet my deadlines, it is October 2009 as I write this, so please excuse any significant news that may have happened late in the year!

Posted December 14, 2009

How many times have you been surfing the web only to encounter a form that requests a slew of personal information before you can continue on? You know what I'm talking about. A company markets a white paper or poll results or something else that intrigues you, so you click on the link, and bang, there you are. You don't have the information you wanted yet, but if you just fill out this form then you'll be redirected to the information.

Posted November 11, 2009

As my regular readers know, I am an avid reader, especially of technology books. And every now and then I review some of the more interesting database-related books in the DBA Corner column.

Posted October 13, 2009

If you use an IBM z Series mainframe you've undoubtedly heard about zIIPs and zAAPs and other specialty processors. But maybe you haven't yet truly examined what they are, what they do, and why they exist. So, with that in mind, let's take a brief journey into the world of specialty processors.

Posted September 14, 2009

As the U.S. markets strive for a recovery in 2009, many IT managers are cringing at the thought of managing their data through what may be a record year of mergers and acquisitions. Managing an ever-increasing mountain of data is not a simple task in the best of times, but doing so while combining formerly separate entities during an economic slowdown can be a monumental challenge.

Posted August 14, 2009

Protecting the data in our enterprise databases is extremely important. But what exactly does that mean? Oh, at one level we have the database authorization and roles built directly into the DBMS products. You know what I'm talking about: GRANT and REVOKE statements that can be used to authorize access to database objects, resources and statements. Many organizations have adopted policies and products to migrate this type of security out of the DBMS and into their operating system security software.

Posted July 13, 2009

Before we even begin this month's column I had better define what I mean by a "black box." Simply put, a black box is a database access program that sits in-between your application programs and the DBMS. It is designed so that all application programs call the black box for data instead of writing SQL statements that are embedded into a program. The general idea behind such a contraption is that it will simplify application development because programmers will not need to know how to write SQL. Instead, programmers call the black box to request data. SQL statements become calls-and every programmer knows how to code a call, right?

Posted June 15, 2009

The economy is a wreck and things will likely get worse before they improve. Unemployment is even worse; almost 600,000 jobs were lost in January 2009, sending the unemployment rate to 7.6%, the highest it has been in 16 years. So many data professionals are out there looking for their next challenge … and more probably will be job hunting before the year is out.

Posted May 15, 2009

Although the most important aspect of DBA tool selection is functionality and the way it satisfies your needs, the stability of the vendor that provides the product is also important

Posted April 15, 2009

Have you noticed that dynamic SQL is more popular today than ever before? There are a number of factors contributing to the success of dynamic SQL. Commercial off-the-shelf applications, such as SAP, Siebel, and PeopleSoft, utilize dynamic SQL exclusively. In many cases, too, dynamic SQL is the default choice for in-house application development.

Posted March 15, 2009

The optimizer is the heart and soul of a relational DBMS. It analyzes SQL statements and determines the most efficient access plan for satisfying each statement. The optimizer accomplishes this by parsing the SQL statement to determine which tables and columns must be accessed. It then queries system information and statistics stored in the system catalog and directory to determine the best method of accomplishing the tasks necessary to satisfy the request.

Posted February 15, 2009

Staffing the DBA organization is not a simple matter. Several non trivial considerations must be addressed, including the size of the DBA staff and the reporting structure for the DBAs.

Posted January 15, 2009

As per my regular custom, this final column of the year will take a look back at the most significant data and database-related events of the year.

Posted December 15, 2008

Posted November 15, 2008

Posted October 15, 2008

Posted September 15, 2008