The Future of Database Performance Monitoring: To the Cloud and Beyond

by   |   June 22, 2017 5:30 am   |   0 Comments

Patrick O’Keeffe, Executive Director of Software Engineering, Quest

Patrick O’Keeffe, Executive Director of Software Engineering, Quest

These days, it’s critical for database administrators (DBAs) to ensure their databases running in the cloud are always-on and performing at their peak. We now live in “the age of instant,” where customers, partners and other stakeholders no longer tolerate application or website downtime. Critical to avoiding downtime is ensuring consistent, optimized database performance on the back end at all times. Ensuring this level of performance starts with having the right tools in place to manage, monitor and detect issues in the database, or even better, detecting an issue before it becomes an “issue”.

But in a world driven by the cloud, how is database performance monitoring keeping up? Let’s explore two trends that I predict will drive innovation in database monitoring and management.

A Slow but Steady Race to the Cloud

There’s talk of the need for a hybrid approach in our industry – which is true – but it’s a bit more nuanced than that because any sort of cloud adoption is a gradual process. The minute organizations have to make the decision between cloud and on-premises data centers, there are a lot of other factors to keep in mind. While moving to the cloud may be cost effective, new technologies often bring new challenges and unearth some of the same lingering problems that have yet to be solved, all of which take time to address.

That being said, the benefits of cloud-hosted databases are clear, and organizations are beginning to notice. The biggest draw – of course – is cost. Performance management is cost management, and this is even more noticeable in the cloud when you’re being charged by the CPU cycle. If you’re able to make a query run twice as fast on the cloud, you can save 50 percent of what you spent on it – a clear ROI. Cloud databases also allow us to do new and innovative things, as well as approach existing tasks with much more ease than traditional data centers. For example, the cloud allows for more storage and no limitations in terms of users.

As organizations realize the benefits of cloud-hosted databases, we’ll see two different things happen simultaneously. The first is that more and more applications and companies will be born in the cloud, accelerating the cloud-first trend. On the flip side, we’ll see existing organizations that have traditionally hosted their databases in data centers begin to leverage the cloud in order to take advantage of cost efficiencies and opportunities for innovation – but they’ll take their time.

Take Netflix, for example: Netflix is the poster child of a successful AWS-first deployment, but it took a full seven years for the company to no longer rely on any of its data centers. Instead of simply dropping all of the same systems –  along with its existing problems and limitations – into AWS, Netflix took a ground-up, cloud-native approach in which it essentially rebuilt all of its technology and fundamentally changed the way the company operated.

The database performance monitoring industry may very well follow suit and migrate completely to the cloud, but as with Netflix, it certainly won’t happen overnight. There are still other factors to keep in mind as the larger technology landscape progresses.

Automation – Driving Data Democratization and Digital Transformation

We’re on the precipice of a major transformation driven by automation. Today we’re automating things that once could only be accomplished by the human mind – from manufacturing jobs to driverless cars. Database performance monitoring is, too, ripe for automation.

Think of the massive amount of information being generated by these systems. As the data democratization trend continues to catch on and DBAs are given great access to raw data in order to derive valuable insights for more data-driven decisions, it comes with a few drawbacks such as information overload. The reality is that these systems are simply generating too much data for one human to process and truly understand, especially when they are constantly pouring over spreadsheets of analytics.

Luckily, this has already been automated to some extent, but consider the value of machine learning for these processes – teaching systems to monitor databases and flag potential problems on its own. This would allow organizations to truly accelerate their workflow and free up time for DBAs to focus on more valuable and strategic tasks.

Like with the need for democratized access, automation will come with time, but it’s going to be a long evolution. It starts with the will within organizations to automate these processes, enabling them to fully embrace the digital transformation and reap the benefits.

The technology industry is so laser-focused on disruption that it’s often easy to overestimate the change that happens over a couple of years. This is also the case for the database performance monitoring industry – in reality, the big changes will be seen 10 to 15 years from now. This is largely because there are so many external factors and variants that determine the right path forward for each customer, and it takes time to iron out all the details. Are they using a SQL or NoSQL database? A traditional data center or a cloud-based model?

In short, yes, cloud technologies will continue to drive the industry forward, but database monitoring providers must be prepared to help pave that migration path and be open to adopting other emerging trends and ways of approaching their data, including a combination of data democratization, automation and, eventually, machine learning.


Patrick O’Keeffe is an Executive Director, Software Engineering at Quest, where he leads the worldwide software engineering team for the Information Management Business Unit. Patrick has over 20 years of experience in leading software engineering teams and is based in Austin, TX.


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