Data Management

How Engineers Can Improve Database Reliability

Actian Corporation

January 16, 2024

database reliability

Database reliability is broadly defined as a database that performs consistently and correctly, without interruptions or failures, to ensure accurate and consistent data is readily available for all users. As your organization becomes increasingly data-driven and realizes the importance of using data for decision-making, stakeholders must be able to trust your data. Building trust and having confidence requires complete, accurate, and easily accessible data, which in turn requires a reliable database.

For data to be considered reliable, it should be timely, accurate, consistent, and recoverable. Yet as data processes become more complex, data sources expand, data volumes grow, and data errors have a more significant impact, more attention is given to data quality. It’s also why the role of the database reliability engineer (DBRE) becomes more important.

Preventing data loss and delivering uninterrupted data are increasingly important for modern businesses. Today’s data users expect to be able to access data at any time, from virtually any location. If that doesn’t happen, analysts and other business users lose trust in the database—and database downtime can be extremely expensive. Some estimates put the cost of downtime at approximately $9,000 per minute, with some large organizations losing hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour.

Enable a Highly Functioning and Reliable Database

It’s best to think of a DBRE as an enabler. That’s because the database reliability engineer enables a resilient, scalable, and functional database to meet the demands of users and data-intensive applications. Engineers can ensure database reliability by following a strategy that includes these essential components and capabilities:

  • Optimize Database Performance. Use tuning tools to gain maximum performance for fast, efficient processing of queries and transactions. Following best practices to optimize performance for your particular database keeps applications running correctly, provides good user experiences, uses resources effectively, and scales more efficiently.
  • Provide Fault Tolerance. Keep the database operating properly even when components fail. This ensures data is always available to enable business continuity. In addition to offering high availability, fault tolerance delivers uninterrupted database services while assisting with disaster recovery and data integrity. For some industries, fault tolerance may be needed to meet regulatory compliance requirements.
  • Replicate Data. Create and manage multiple copies of data in different locations or on different servers. Data replication ensures a reliable copy of data is available if another copy becomes damaged or inaccessible due to a failure—organizations can switch to the secondary or standby server to access the data. This offers high availability by making sure a single point of failure does not prevent data accessibility.
  • Have a Backup and Restore Strategy. Back up data regularly and store it in a secure location so you can quickly recover it if data is lost or corrupted. The data backup process can be automated, and the restoration process must be tested to ensure it works flawlessly when needed. Your backup and restore strategy is critical for protecting valuable data, meeting compliance regulations in some industries, and mitigating the risk of lost data, among other benefits.
  • Keep Data Secure. Make sure data is safe from breaches and unauthorized access, while making it readily available to anyone across the organization who needs it. Well-established database security protocols and access controls contribute to keeping data safe from internal and external threats.
  • Balance Workloads. Implement a load-balancing strategy to improve query throughput speed for faster response times, while also preventing a single server from becoming overloaded. Load balancing distributes workloads across multiple database services, which minimizes latency and better utilizes resources to handle more workloads faster.

Improve and Monitor Your Database

Once you have the technologies, processes, and strategy in place for a reliable database, the next step is to keep it running like a finely tuned machine. These approaches help sustain database reliability:

  • Use Database Metrics. Determine what database reliability looks like for your organization, then identify the metrics needed to ensure you’re meeting your baseline. You can implement database alerts to notify database administrators of issues, such as performance falling below an established metric. Having insights into metrics, including resource utilization and query response speed, allows you to make informed decisions about scaling, capacity planning, and resource allocation.
  • Monitor the Database. Track the database’s performance and usage to uncover any issues and to ensure it meets your performance goals. Monitoring efforts also help you proactively identify and prevent problems that could slow down the database or cause unexpected downtime.
  • Continually Use Optimization Techniques. Performance tuning, data partitioning, index optimization, caching, and other tasks work together to achieve a highly optimized database. Performing regular maintenance can also prevent issues that negatively impact the database. Consider database optimization a critical and ongoing process to maintain a responsive and reliable database.
  • Establish Data Quality Standards. Quality data is a must-have, which requires data that is timely, integrated, accurate, and consistent. Data quality tools and a data management strategy help maintain data quality to meet your compliance needs and usability standards.

Reliable Databases to Meet Your Business and IT Needs

Taking an engineering approach to improve database reliability gives you the data quality, availability, and performance needed to become a truly data-driven organization. A high-functioning, easy-to-use database encourages data integration to eliminate data silos and offer a single source of truth.

Actian offers a range of modern databases to meet your specific business and IT needs. These databases enable you to make confident, data-driven decisions that accelerate your organization’s growth. For example:

  • Actian Ingres offers powerful and scalable transactional processing capabilities.
  • Zen databases are a family of low-maintenance, high performance, and small footprint databases.
  • NoSQL has high-availability, replication, and agile development capabilities, and makes application development fast and easy.
  • OneDB gives you a fast, affordable path to the cloud with minimal risk.

We also have the Actian Data Platform, which is unique in its ability to collect, manage, and analyze data in real-time, with its transactional database, data integration, data quality, and data warehouse capabilities in an easy-to-use platform.

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About Actian Corporation

Actian is helping businesses build a bridge to a data-defined future. We’re doing this by delivering scalable cloud technologies while protecting customers’ investments in existing platforms. Our patented technology has enabled us to maintain a 10-20X performance edge against competitors large and small in the mission-critical data management market. The most data-intensive enterprises in financial services, retail, telecommunications, media, healthcare and manufacturing trust Actian to solve their toughest data challenges.