Here’s the thing with databases: their need to be updated and organized is so obvious, and that analogy of “databases are like libraries” is so fitting… yet there’s always that time when the terror arrives, and the questions are asked: where did everything go, and who organized this into a mess?
For those who haven’t heard the database library fable, here it is:
You find yourself in the beautiful forest that is your organization… which also has a library, or, somewhere it does.
The point is: you’re looking for a book, you find it, read through it, get some handy knowledge, and you put it back in its original place, or on a different shelf (or in the cart, or on a window ledge!).
Now the point is: after your graceful visit, someone in the library has the task of putting all the books back where they belong.
Questions: what happens if you put books back where they didn’t belong? What if that someone in the library never saw it and left it misplaced? What if days and months go by and you need to remember something from that book to wow new people?
Basically: what happens when you need to find any book?
Well, third point: the minute your library is left disorganized, every time you (or anyone) needs to find a book, the time needed to find it increases. Then either the book is found, or not.
Alright, that’s exactly what happens with a database that is not maintained.
A database left in cobwebs is where you make it slow for everyone to find something, until there’s so much information that it becomes impossible to find what you need in the allowed time.
Since this is an introductory post to DB maintenance, we’ll quickly mention two basic steps to address the issue:
- Increasing the size of memory and CPU in your server.
Of course, believing that you can build a better (i.e. “the right”) library by merely adding more shelves won’t solve the issue, but that’s the first excellent step because by doing so, it will surely be faster to know where things are… however,
- Doing recurring maintenance (“sorting the library often”), then backing things up. The reason is that without regular maintenance, while having an even bigger library, when a lot of information starts being requested in short periods of time, your system will not be able to support those requests.
Why are we focusing on this?
If you’re hosting your website or operational database (databases used to manage dynamic data in real-time) to a server, what most companies do is back up all the files in a server. However, what we’re talking about is backing up that backup. We’ll make it there, but our focus is to eventually discuss how you back up your backups.
And why now?
Because our experience shows that small businesses don’t do regular database maintenance and remember when it’s too late.
Reasons why this happens are many, but the most common is: “I thought someone else –the hosting company, my team– was doing it”, but it doesn’t usually go that way.
Another reason is price: database maintenance is perceived as expensive, which is possible, yet it doesn’t have to be.
We’ve discussed our take on pricing for custom software, and database maintenance follows that idea: if we’re doing it, the service will be tailored to the business, to our clients and to their needs.
Big data and database maintenance are relevant topics now, and will continue to be in 2015 for small businesses– they’re important and overlap in every business because as smarter strategies are built, more data is recovered (data which needs to be analyzed to continue strategizing), and as more data is collected, the more it needs to be organized and maintained.
We’ll write four articles on database maintenance over the next months, all focused in opportunities for small businesses. See you soon for more fables!