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What is database monitoring, and why is it important?

What is database monitoring?

Database monitoring is a set of processes typically performed by database administrators (DBAs) to continuously observe and track the availability, performance and security of their databases. It includes the on-going collection, analysis and interpretation of various metrics and events related to the operations of your databases. By monitoring your databases, your organization can gain real-time insights into their health, identify potential issues and take proactive measures to ensure availability, maintain optimal performance and enhance security.

Why is database monitoring important?

In a nutshell, database monitoring is not just a nice-to-have but a must-have practice for any organization that values its data and relies on databases for its operations. fact, 72% of database administrators (DBAs) say that their most important responsibility is managing database performance. Optimizing database performance, maintaining high availability and bolstering security are the core reasons organizations need to monitor their databases. By implementing effective database monitoring strategies and leveraging the right tools, you can stay one step ahead, ensuring your databases operate at their best and provide a solid foundation for your business success.
Mobile: Why is database monitoring important?

Ensuring availability

Ensuring the availability of your database is a critical aspect of database monitoring. Downtime can be disastrous, resulting in monetary losses, a tarnished brand, and dissatisfied consumers. With effective monitoring, you can detect issues early on and take prompt action to minimize downtime. By setting up alerts and notifications for critical events, you can stay on top of potential problems and even implement failover and backup strategies to ensure business continuity.

Ensuring performance

Database monitoring is important because it allows you to keep a close eye on your database's performance. It helps you identify and address any performance bottlenecks, such as slow queries or insufficient system resources, that could impact your applications and users. By monitoring key metrics like CPU usage, memory consumption, and disk I/O, you can proactively optimize your database to ensure smooth operations and a seamless user experience.

Ensuring security

Security is paramount in today's data-driven world, and database monitoring plays a vital role in safeguarding your sensitive information. Monitoring helps you detect and prevent unauthorized access, ensuring that only authorized individuals can access and modify your database. It also enables you to monitor for unusual activities and potential security breaches, allowing you to respond quickly and mitigate risks. By implementing data encryption, access controls, and regular security audits, you can fortify your database against threats.

How do you monitor databases?

For database tracking to work well, you need to keep an eye on a few important areas of the database. The four levels below explain what to watch for and what areas can have the biggest effect on how well a database works. For a detailed look at these four levels and what metrics to review for each level, see the blog post Database monitoring: Why keeping an eye on these 4 levels is key.
Mobile: How do you monitor databases?

SQL Level

SQL queries are continuously submitted to database instances by your applications, which subsequently prepare and display the results to users. This level's bottlenecks are typically caused by poor SQL queries that add delay, handle errors incorrectly, and reduce throughput and concurrency. At this level, you should focus on things like optimizer statistics, execution plans, wild cards, filtering, implicit conversions, row-by-row processing and indexes.

Instance/Database Level

Every platform affects performance, whether you're managing traditional database systems like Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server, open source and NoSQL platforms like PostgreSQL, MySQL, or MongoDB, or any mix of the above. It's crucial to monitor your databases at the platform level since it gives you control over all the moving elements that keep your databases operating efficiently. At the instance level, keep an eye on I/O contention, locked objects, wait state analysis, parameters and files.

Infrastructure Level

Obviously, you’ll need to monitor the operating systems and hardware that support your database platforms and SQL. At the infrastructure level, monitor the relevant CPUs, memory, storage subsystems and network.

User/Session Level

In some cases, the session level (and the user level below it) might be more misleading than any other. The presence of user complaints is an indication of an issue that requires investigation. But suppose they're not whining about it. Just because your databases aren't causing you any problems right now doesn't mean that won't be the case tomorrow. Monitoring databases enables you to see issues long before they are detected by end users.

What should you look for in a database monitoring tool?

Here’s some of the key capabilities you should look for when evaluating a database monitoring tool.

User-Friendly Interface: The tool should have a user-friendly interface with intuitive dashboards that allow for easy tracking of critical performance metrics.

Real-Time Monitoring and Alerting: The tool should provide real-time monitoring capabilities, promptly alerting users of any performance issues or anomalies for immediate action and minimizing downtime.

Cross-Platform Support: The tool should support a wide range of database platforms, including but not limited to Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, and PostgreSQL, ensuring compatibility with diverse database environments.

Performance Analytics: The tool should offer powerful analytics capabilities, enabling users to gain insights into historical performance data, trends, and patterns for informed decision-making and optimized database performance.

Scalability: The tool should be scalable, capable of handling large-scale database environments without compromising performance or accuracy.

Resource Utilization Optimization: The tool should monitor database resources effectively, identifying bottlenecks and inefficiencies to optimize resource allocation, thereby enhancing overall performance and reducing costs.

Customizable Dashboards and Reports: The tool should allow users to customize dashboards and reports according to their specific requirements, enabling focused monitoring and streamlined reporting.

Security and Compliance Features: The tool should prioritize security and compliance, providing features for auditing, tracking user activity, and ensuring data protection to meet regulatory requirements.

Proactive Problem Resolution: The tool should have proactive monitoring capabilities, enabling users to identify and resolve potential issues before they impact database performance, ensuring uninterrupted operations.

Collaboration Support: The tool should facilitate collaboration among teams by providing centralized monitoring, shared access to data, and collaborative features, promoting effective communication and problem-solving.

Where can I get help for database monitoring?

Quest® offers solutions for monitoring all the major database platforms. We can help you trim problem resolution time by up to 75% and sharply reduce delays and downtime across your entire database infrastructure. Here’s where you can learn more.

See our database performance solutions in action