Database management the easy – and professional – way

Database management the easy – and professional – way

SPONSORED FEATURE: That proverbial big red “Easy” button should never be dismissed when it comes to running critical IT processes like an enterprise database. Rest assured that this task has never been considered easy, nor simple. It takes skill, experience, and know-how for when a database crashes or simply goes offline without warning. Making such operations easy would initiate a large cheer from thousands of DB professionals in data centers around the globe.

Virtually all business enterprises rely on databases of one kind or another to host important data that runs inside daily operations or in nodes at the edge. Many companies also see significant strain on those repositories during seasonal and high traffic events that contribute to large portions of the owner’s annual revenue. These expected or unexpected traffic spikes are usually related to major events, such as holiday shopping, sales (November’s Black Friday is one well-known example), sporting events, streaming events and others.

In these cases, the database arguably becomes the center of the business, and its performance and availability is fundamental to everybody’s sales and marketing success. Many businesses don’t reach annual profitability unless they’re able to navigate the holiday season successfully – despite the inevitable up-and-down spikes.

However, provisioning, managing, and retaining the staff and other outside resources needed to operate and maintain databases as well as prepare for seasonal events can be an expensive undertaking that requires a specific, hard-to-find skillset – namely, in the person of a dedicated database administrator.

Most organizations will have a DBA on staff, but they may not necessarily have one with experience of handling this type of event. Do they know what to expect, or know how to find and diagnose issues in the database that could lead to potential problems, for example? There’s a difference between a DBA that can handle normal day-to-day operations and one who can be sufficiently proactive and forward-thinking to prepare and deal with the situation if, and when, things go haywire. Second, there’s a trade-off. Even if a company has staff with the know-how to find and fix potential problems, what is it giving up? Are they just pulling them away from other responsibilities?

And with the increased data volume of AI-connected workloads and their connected large language models (LLMs) continuing to rise, more and more pressure has been put on DB performance and availability in recent years. This requires up-to-date knowledge and ability from DBAs.

There is another option to all this that has been gaining traction during the last several years: outsourcing DB management to professionals who know this specialty inside out. This can provide several advantages over building, staffing and maintaining your own database (and even an entire datacenter) in terms of performance, availability, cost and efficiency.

What outsourced DB management can do for enterprises

Besides bringing genuine peace of mind to a database team, there are other important advantages which can be categorized as follows:

Access to specialized expertise: Outsourced database providers employ experienced DBAs who are up-to-date on the latest technologies and best practices, and able to work across multiple databases. This expertise can help optimize database performance, improve query response times, and minimize downtime during peak periods.
● Scalability: Outsourced providers can scale their resources to meet a user’s changing database needs, ensuring that your database can handle increasing workloads and data volumes without compromising performance during seasonal spikes in demand and large traffic spikes.
● Proactive optimization: Outsourced providers proactively monitor and optimize your database to maintain peak performance and identify potential issues before they cause problems whatever the calendar throws at you.

● 24/7 support: Outsourced providers offer 24/7 support to ensure that your database is always available and operational. This can be crucial for businesses that rely on their databases for critical operations.
● Disaster recovery: Outsourced providers have robust disaster recovery plans in place to protect your data from loss in the event of hardware failures, natural disasters or cyberattacks.
● High uptime: Outsourced providers have a proven track record of maintaining high uptime for their clients, ensuring that your database is always available when you need it.

● Reduced overhead: Outsourcing database management can reduce your IT overhead costs in terms of hiring, training and retaining qualified DBAs.
● Predictable expenses: Outsourced database providers typically offer fixed-fee contracts, providing predictable expenses and eliminating the uncertainty of in-house database management costs.
● Access to economies of scale: Outsourced providers benefit from economies of scale, allowing them to offer lower costs per unit than in-house solutions.

● Focus on core competencies: Outsourcing database management allows your internal IT team to focus on their core competencies, such as application development and user support.
● Improved workflow: Outsourcing can streamline your IT workflow by eliminating the burden of managing and maintaining databases.
● Reduced risk of errors: Outsourced providers have established processes and procedures to minimize the risk of errors that could impact your database performance or availability.

Tailored, multi-database support

According to industry analyst and knowledge base DB-Engines, these companies represent the top five in global market share as of November 2023: Oracle (54.2 percent), Microsoft (30.2 percent), Amazon (10.4 percent), IBM (2.2 percent) and SAP (1.8 percent). Oracle owns SQL and MySQL alongside its own conventional proprietary databases, which it has been selling and maintaining for more than a generation.

And while each of these big companies serves a respectable number of customers around the globe, none of them focuses with a keen intensity on open source databases the way Percona (13th in world market share) does. Nor do they have the technology-agnostic expertise to support more than a handful of those databases concurrently. In most cases their remit is limited to their own proposition, and customers sometimes report being unable to get all the help they need, quickly and cost efficiently. In contrast Percona has service level agreements (SLAs) designed to help its customers work through a high-traffic event from start to finish, covering customized and tailored multi-database solutions, with a dedicated expert on hand to better understand the specific needs of the business.

What Percona brings to the discussion

Open source databases, led by MySQL, PostgreSQL and MongoDB, are at the leading edge of the field and are constantly being updated and improved by the worldwide open source community on a 24/7 basis. Raleigh, N.C.-based Percona, with 17 years of experience in this market, doesn’t care what make or brand of database a company may be using, whether it’s legacy or new. It can manage a full range of database environments, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB and MongoDB; the cloud platforms of Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine; and Amazon’s DBaaS offering of RDS and Aurora. That takes in a good-size chunk of the database market.

Currently the company provides open-source database software, support and services. Percona’s software can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud or in hybrid environments, explains the company’s product evangelist David Stokes.

“We are the database folks,” says Stokes. “We all have backgrounds in one or more databases. The folks with operational backgrounds have worked with hundreds of thousands of servers. It’s like a race car mechanic; you can go from a Ferrari to a Dodge to a Porsche, and they know how to get around the track faster than anybody else, because that’s what they do. We keep the database running and keep the data churning. We keep operations going. And we have the background and the know-how to do that for just about any open source database out there.”

One key component of the proposition is Percona Monitoring and Management, which enables organizations to track and manage database traffic during peak events so they can be rectified before problems occur. It also provides 24x7x365 monitoring and alert/response; change/incident management; root cause analysis for problem resolution; automated reports; monitoring of service-level agreements (SLAs) and other functions.

“The Percona Monitoring and Management product is open source, and it installs very easily,” Stokes says. “It monitors your databases and the boxes underneath so you get performance information. It does everything – including alerts from your disk space to present rapidly that you need to add more disk space – to being able to analyze queries on the fly. It’s the ultimate database toolbox to know exactly what your database is doing at any point in time.”

How Percona Services helped Patreon

Patreon is a good example of the type of user that Percona serves. Patreon is a monetization platform that provides business tools for content creators to run a subscription service and sell digital products. It helps creators and artists earn a recurring income by providing rewards and perks to their subscribers, and it gives them the tools they need to acquire, manage and energize their paying patrons.

With a subscription-style payment model, fans pay their favorite creators a monthly fee in exchange for exclusive access, extra content or a closer look into their creative journey. Patreon is used by more than 150,000 creators and supported by more than 4 million patrons. Since its inception in 2013, creators have used Patreon to earn more than $1 billion, the company claims.

This is a complicated database environment, to say the least – especially when the DB is operating at high scale. Percona’s software and services keep Patreon running day in and day out (since February 2019) with virtually zero downtime.

Percona helps Patreon deal with the unknown on an ongoing basis, but there are also upcoming events and dates that need special attention and can be circled in advance on the calendar. For example, planning for large traffic events, or in Patreon’s case “Pay Days,” is critical as its primary service – and for the 100,000-plus creators who rely on the income generated by the service. It is important that this goes smoothly and meets the expectations of the millions of patrons who trust Patreon to get their membership funds to the creators on time.

Patreon uses a range of Percona managed, support, and consulting services to make the most of its database infrastructure. Moving from the DBaaS model and relying on Percona expertise enabled Patreon to fully realize the value of its databases, optimizing the company for peak performance, solving ongoing issues and achieving substantial financial savings.

Outsourcing database management is a strategic decision that can significantly improve the performance, availability, cost-effectiveness and overall efficiency of an enterprise’s database operations. By partnering with an experienced outsourced provider, enterprises can gain access to specialized expertise, proactive optimization, 24/7 support and predictable costs – not to mention peace of mind.

Sponsored by Percona.