In this information age, data makes the world go round. This is due to the fact that virtually every process, commercial or otherwise produces data that can be used as a means of receiving more insight into that process. The term ‘process’ may refer to manufacturing, sales, IT operations, Healthcare or financial services. In order to receive insight from the data these processes produce, the data must first be collected before they can be interacted with.
The collection of data is handled by database software applications while a data administrator is responsible for storing, managing, and organizing the collected data. Today, data administration plays a key role in almost every industry and it is responsible for producing some of the highest paying jobs in IT according to statistics from Robert Half. In this post, the strategic importance of database administration will be explored in detail.
So what exactly is database administration?
Although the introductory paragraphs paint a picture of what database administration is and highlights its importance in the IT industry, it does not define exactly what database administration is. Therefore, let’s get started with a definition. Database administration is the functions involved with managing and maintaining a database management system. The maintenance and management functions are handled by a database administrator who ensures that the database in the system is always available.
From the above definition, it is easy to see that three important parameters are involved with database administrative processes. And these parameters include; data, a database management system and a database administrator. Data, as we all know, is collected information while a database management system is a software application system that enables users to create, maintain and control access to a database. Examples of database systems are Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and IBM DB2. The database administrator is the user who controls and coordinates the database management system.
Lastly, databases are warehouses of information where large numbers of inter-related data can be stored or are stored. Databases can be categorized as relational databases, graph databases, and document databases. A relational database is one that is structured to recognize existing relationships among the information stored in the system. A graph database uses graphs to store and show/highlight information while a document database uses documents to store and represent information.
Benefits of Database Administration
Now that we have our definitions in place, this leaves us with the question of how important is database administration? In order to answer this question, the five most important benefits of data administration to businesses and other organizations will be highlighted. These benefits will be strategically spread across some industries to make them more relatable to you.
Enhances Decision-Making Processes
Effective data administration where data is well managed, access is available and qualify information is generated, provides the needed framework for making the right decisions. This can help organizations that deal with multiple production or operational processes receive insight from the data generated by each process. That insight can then be used to make quick decisions or even automate machines to take their own decisions.
A great example of where effective data administration can help ease the decision-making process for managers as well as machines is the manufacturing industry. Today, the manufacturing industry is in flux due to the development of Industry 4.0 processes where the end game is to develop smart factories that are fully automated. And in order to accomplish this, machines have to be integrated with smart devices which will produce the data needed to automate manufacturing processes.
But before any automation can occur, the data from client orders, available production materials, and the capacity of manufacturing machines must first be collected and analyzed. This is where data administration has an important role to play.
With the right database management system, the number of materials and the time taken to complete an order can be known with ease. This will in turn help manufacturers meet production deadlines, cut material waste, and make helpful decisions. And according to PWC, manufacturers are beginning to see the advantage of data administration and this has led to increased investment in database systems and administrative tools.
Increases Productivity of End-User
Making use of an excellent data management system can help increase productivity across the different departments of a business. This is due to the fact that the database administrator ensures that the data needed to make a decision is always available and can be speedily accessed. For example, the operations in e-commerce can be made to be a seamless activity for both the shopper and the business owner in multiple ways.
One of these ways, in which data administration and a functional database can help e-commerce owners prepare better for rush-hour shopping activities that may occur during Black Friday. A functional database can take into consideration the number of items in your inventory and match it to the incoming demand with ease. Database management tools can then be used to notify both the shop owners and prospective shoppers about the availability of an item. This will save the business owner valuable time which can be put to use elsewhere.
Also, e-commerce owners can plan better for a spike in traffic to their platforms due to increased demands with an effective database management system. The database administrator can program the system to intuitively access supporting IT infrastructure if customer requests exceed the capacity of the current infrastructure. All this is made possible from the insight gotten from collected data. Therefore, with an excellent data administrative framework in place, the e-commerce sector can drastically reduce downtime. This will, in turn, increase the productivity of the end-user.
Maintains Collected Data Integrity and Security
According to a Gartner report, the cybersecurity challenges the world would face in the coming years is expected to grow on a yearly basis. This means that the cybersecurity attacks such as the WannaCry Ransomware that hit the UK’s NHIS in 2018, would be nothing compared to what we will experience in 2019. And the Ryuk Ransomware attack that occurred while we rang in the New Year is a testament to the prior sentence.
Therefore, for organizations interested in keeping their data safe, an effective data administration policy must be initiated and implemented. A database system deployed with strict control over who can access the data in the system can play a role in limiting human errors which can lead to successful cyber-attacks. These access controls include implementing authentication and encryption that ensure sensitive customer data are safely kept.
An example of an industry they can benefit from effective data administration and the security it provides is the healthcare industry. Modern database systems already integrate authentication features that deny access to critical information from anyone without the required clearance. These databases also integrate auto backup and restore features to ensure that sensitive data is never lost in the event of a system crash or human errors.
Enhances Collaboration and Sharing among Multiple Stakeholders
database management systems are equipped to share the same data across multiple applications and end-users. This process is made possible by the administrator who can put a mechanism in place to allow users to access the same data while ensuring only one user can make any modification at a particular time. This simplifies the process of collaboration, sharing and working with the same data in some industries.
An example of such an industry is the construction industry where multiple parties work on one project. These parties may include; an architect, the engineers, quality control officers, and material suppliers. An effective database management system can be used to streamline the process to ensure the architect makes changes to building plans using the information the engineer provides. This sharing and collaboration process can also happen in real-time if the right data administration tools are used to drive collaboration.
In other situations, an effective database management process can be used to streamline the material delivery process just in time to meet the demand of the construction team. This will also enhance productivity and reduce waste as the supply will provide the exact amount of building materials needed in the right quantity and at the right time.
Predict Customer Behavioural Pattern to Enhance Sales
The ability to carry out any predictive analysis is made possible by database management systems and effective data administration policies. With the data collected from existing customers in a database, business owners can predict a client’s personal preferences and proceed to offer or stock items the customer is more likely to appreciate. As always, the database administrator will be required to set up and maintain the database while a data analyst may be required to extrapolate accurate predictions from the collected data.
An example of a business that uses its data and database in such a way is Netflix. The Netflix Keystone Data Pipeline is basically a database Netflix uses to streamline and manage the data produced by millions of subscribers on its platform. But Netflix has also found other ways to make this data count and one of these ways involves predicting the TV series and movies an audience will find captivating.
This predictive analysis has led to the diverse shows currently on the platform and the over 100million subscribers on Netflix. Predictive analysis has also played a role in determining the type of movies Netflix produces and this has lead to the creation of blockbusters such as Bird Box. Other e-commerce business he also applied predictive analytics to their database and have successfully increased sales.
Understanding the Roles and Responsibilities of a Database Administrator
The performance of a database management system is only as good as the Database Administrator (DBA) personnel handling it. This is why the database administrator is one of the most important pieces in the puzzle of database administration. Therefore, it is only right that a clear explanation of the duties of a database administrator is explained in detail.
The database administrator is tasked with the performance, security, and integrity of a database. This, in a nutshell, means the administrator will be involved with the planning and development of databases as well as handling any database-related issues that come up during the dispensation of his or her duties. Now, looking at the specifics associated with a database administrators role, we have:
- Map out Conceptual Designs for a Database – The planning of a database is the responsibility of the DBA and he or she will be responsible for coming up with conceptual ideas on the management system and parameters to be integrated into the system.
- Monitoring User Access – A DBA is tasked with ensuring that the data in a database management system is constant throughout its use and users can access this data in forms that suit particular needs. The administrator will also be responsible for defining how users can access a database. The database administrator will also be tasked with ensuring front-end users can access information without encountering any problems.
- Enhancing Data Security – A DBA is also expected to maintain the security of the database and that of the users making use of it. This task also includes making sure that the planned or designed database is compliant with the Data Protection Act. Lastly, in terms of security, the administrator is expected to develop a disaster recovery strategy that can protect the database management system in precarious security situations.
- Manage Storage and Back-up Solutions – The database administrator is also responsible for ensuring the storage and archiving features meet the capacity requirements of the organization. The DBA must also ensure that storage procedures are functioning properly and the data in these systems are correctly backed up.
- Collaborate with Stakeholders – A database administrator is also expected to have good interpersonal skills due to the fact that he or she will be expected to communicate with IT programmers, software developers, multimedia programmers and other individuals that maintain the IT infrastructures of an organization.
To accomplish the above tasks, a database administrator will require certain tools and applications to execute the roles and responsibilities attached to managing a database system. And in the next paragraphs, the tools required for database administration includes the following tools:
The Must-Have Tools for Database Administration
To be able to successfully deploy, manage, and maintain a database, with the aim of getting some of the benefits listed above, a database administrator must have some fundamental tools. And in this section, some of these tools will be outlined, as well as, what makes them fundamental tools for a successful data administration process. The must-have tools include:
Data Modelling Tools – Data modeling is the process of analyzing data objects to determine their relationship with other data objects. Data modeling is an important step when designing databases and to accomplish the task of designing a conceptual model of data relationships, data modeling tools are needed. There are diverse data modeling tools you can choose to work with and some of the better options include the following:
- Power Designer – Is a great modeling tool that was built to cater to both technical and non-technical audiences. It is equipped with an intuitive interface and supports a powerful metadata repository and multiple output formats.
- ER/Studio – This is a versatile data modeling tool that supports single and multiplatform environments. It can also be integrated into Big Data platforms with ease.
Performance Monitoring and Alerting Tools – Monitoring tools are also known as application monitoring tools and their purpose is to help the database administrator monitor the different applications the administrator intends to work with. This ensures that the database’s ability to collect and organize data remains intact. Examples of performance monitoring tools include the following:
- SolarWind SQL Server
- Sentry One and
- SQL Power Tools
SQL Editors – The structured query language is a domain-specific language used in programming and designed for managing data held in a relational database management system (RDBMS), or for stream processing in a relational data stream management system (RDSMS). Therefore, it is necessary that you have the required tools needed to write and edit SQL files or scripts. You can learn more about SQL editors in this article but some examples include:
- MySQL Workshop
Benchmarking Tools – In order to load test components or the entire database management system to determine how the system will perform in real-time, a benchmarking tool is required to execute the test. Therefore, an IT administrator is expected to know and have the best benchmarking tools for this process. Some options to consider include:
- Benchmark Factory
Backup and Recovery Tools – In order to mitigate the problems that arise from data losses, the database administrator is expected to put a backup and data restore process in place. This process involves archiving data in an accessible format and place which makes retrieval of lost data possible. Examples of Backup and database restoration tools include the following options:
- APEX SQL Backup
- SQL Backup Master
In summary, the benefits of database administration for your business processes are many and varied. They include receiving business insight, automating production factories, enhancing productivity and much more. This is why it is recommended that business owners should consider working with a database administrator who will be tasked with setting up a database system that will get your data to work for you!