The rise of hybrid IT and the accelerated adoption of cloud-native apps have evolved traditional database design, management and monitoring. Workloads are rapidly shifting to the cloud and application performance is heavily dependent on the performance of the underlying database. Meanwhile, the global COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to make significant changes in the last year. Although it was and is a necessity, the transition to remote work and many organizations’ rapid pivots in strategy posed significant challenges for the technology professionals tasked with supporting new employee demands and shifting business priorities.
As a result, organizations are increasingly acknowledging the importance of database performance management and strategy to ensure their most valuable asset: Data. SolarWinds recently revealed the findings of The SolarWinds Query Report 2021: Database Priorities and Pitfalls, which examines the current state of database management, evaluates the primary challenges database professionals face today and outlines how database professionals can best overcome these challenges.
The North American results are based on responses to an online survey fielded in February 2021, which included participation from 331 technology professionals responsible for database performance management in the U.S. and Canada from public and private sector small, mid-size and enterprise organizations.
Among many other key findings, this year’s report revealed the following:
Database design and management are evolving in tandem with increased complexity, and IT professionals are on the verge of a significant shift in strategy that embraces cloud database-as-a-service (DBaaS) platforms as critical database performance success factors.
- Though nearly 80% of the respondents said Microsoft SQL Server is the most critical platform in use today, there’s a relatively even split between the second, third, and fourth most-used platforms: cloud DBaaS (54%), Oracle (47%) and MySQL (43%).
- As tech pros keep pace with advances in database platforms and indicate an intended shift toward cloud DBaaS adoption (33% of the respondents ranked cloud DBaaS as the number-one priority database platform to adopt over the next three years), the new mix of traditional/cloud DBaaS platforms will also require new skills.
- Complexity increased in response to COVID-19 and the transition to remote work over the past year, according to 31% of respondents, who cited increased data demands from users, increased volume of data and security/compliance issues (such as GDPR) as the top three drivers of added complexity.
The industry’s acknowledgment of cloud DBaaS platforms as critical success factors for database performance is now underway. When it comes to cloud migration (especially amidst a pandemic dramatically accelerating planning and execution of cloud computing and digital transformation), database professionals should start with a basic data and code cleanse and ensure only what’s truly needed is being migrated to reduce complexity and overall cost (we know cloud computing costs can add up). A comprehensive, successful migration strategy should also include a detailed assessment of the data estate—what dependencies or complex coding features exist? Remember, everything interconnected with a database has to go with it to the cloud, so taking these preliminary steps will help organizations avoid surprises down the road.
Database Security/Compliance Influence Priorities
The cloud and security/compliance are key factors influencing priorities and resource allocation in 2021 and beyond.
- Nearly 60% of tech pros surveyed stated that of the data/systems currently managed within their organization, less than 25% are in the cloud. But this is expected to change, as 36% of respondents reported integrating cloud DBaaS is one of their organization’s top priorities in 2021.
- Two-fifths of the respondents anticipated bigger budget allocations in 2021 (compared to 2020) for cloud services and security/compliance (42% and 39%, respectively).
Managing database platforms is a big undertaking—a balancing act between proactive and reactive responses. But tech pros must make sure they’re covering all their bases, especially when it comes to security and compliance (and, on occasion, cost and licensing). Time and time again, we see these four big-ticket items pushed to the bottom of the priority list, and falling at one of these hurdles can do a great deal of damage. The new generation of legal compliance has real teeth if you fail to comply with the law. A simple cost-benefit analysis can be the proof point you need to highlight the potential impact of not upskilling in one of these areas and can give you a reason to move it back to the top of the priority list.
Database professionals devote more than a third of their day to database maintenance. This constrains both time and opportunity for activities such as innovation and upskilling in response to increased complexity and data-driven initiatives.
- Maintenance work accounts for a greater portion of database professionals’ time when compared to other tasks. One-third of the tech pros surveyed stated one of the top areas where they spend the most time as a database/data/tech pro is maintenance (33%) and database development (22%).
Daily database maintenance consumes time tech pros could otherwise be spending on things like upskilling or innovating new ways of working. For example, nearly half of those polled stated performance/query tuning was one of the top three skills/tools they believed they could develop/improve to better manage increasing database complexities, followed by security management and data engineering (45% and 41%, respectively). One of the best ways to work smarter, not harder: Mitigate downtime spent on maintenance and enable efficiency is to implement appropriate automation and monitoring tools. When implemented properly, automation and monitoring solutions can improve overall performance and eventually lead to reduced costs. Additionally, they can free up tech pros’ time, allowing them to focus on more proactive database performance management.
The report reveals just how quickly the database architecture and operations tech pros are managing in today’s organizations are changing—and the web of management complexity accompanying this change. With application availability and performance as critical business drivers, the database has long been the linchpin of today’s IT environments. However, against the headwinds of increasingly diversified platforms and reduced resources, tech pros must be equipped to do more than reactive maintenance in environments that keep adding more databases with each passing day.
Tech pros must capitalize on the opportunity ahead to maximize the performance potential of cloud-hosted databases and ensure the successful optimization of their organizations’ data.