Still Using Custom Scripts for Monitoring?

By | In Database Administration, Remote DBA | December 12th, 2017

Databases are the core component of data-driven software, which means that they need to have as much uptime as possible. The only way to know whether your database is truly available and reliable, of course, is through constant monitoring of your database environment.

Many database administrators have traditionally used custom scripts to perform database monitoring, especially those without the budget for industrial-strength monitoring tools. Unfortunately, custom database monitoring scripts tend to be cumbersome and error-prone, which makes using them a questionable activity at best.

Instead of spending time creating custom monitoring scripts with thousands of lines of code, your database administrators can save their valuable time and effort for higher-level activities. Here’s a look at why using custom database monitoring scripts is so ill-advised–and why you should take advantage of automated monitoring tools instead.

The Problems with Custom Database Scripts

  • Custom scripts are error-prone: Thinking like a computer is difficult, especially when it’s an incredibly complex database filled with millions of records, and even the most scrupulous programmer is liable to slip up every once in a while. Bugs and typos in custom scripts can lie unnoticed for weeks or months before they finally have an impact, causing unexpected behavior and crashes.
  • Custom scripts have no support: When a custom monitoring script fails you–and it very likely will, judging by the above bullet point–you have no recourse except to try to fix the problem yourself. This is especially bad if the person who authored the script has long since departed the company.
  • Custom scripts are impenetrable: On a related note, custom scripts are typically written and maintained by one or two people. Because they’re created for a specific purpose and don’t usually see the light of day, custom scripts are often full of ugly hacks and spaghetti code that can be almost illegible for outsiders, which is a terrible programming practice.
  • Custom scripts are highly sensitive: Since they won’t go beyond the walls of your IT department, custom scripts are typically tailor-made for your individual environment, often to the point of fragility. When your environment changes, it can cause your scripts to fail in mysterious ways that need to be identified and fixed before you can move forward.

The Benefits of Automated Database Monitoring

According to a 2013 study by the Independent Oracle Users Group, between 38 and 59 percent of Oracle database administrators were still performing a variety of common tasks manually, including monitoring. These DBAs and companies were missing out on a number of major competitive advantages, including:

  • Better productivity: Tedious, manual, repetitive activities like those involved in database monitoring are perfect candidates for automation. Database administrators can use automation tools to more easily establish and maintain your IT infrastructure and reduce the time they spend on lower-level tasks.
  • Improved reliability: Automation software can identify serious performance issues even before your DBAs can and offer advice on how to correct them.
  • Lower costs: By preventing the need to hire additional employees, you can use your database administration staff and resources more effectively. Issues get identified and resolved faster, saving you time, money and effort.

With the costs of custom scripts so high and the benefits of automated monitoring so plentiful, you can’t afford not to take advantage of automation for your database monitoring and management. Database automation tools like Datavail Delta can continually monitor even the most complex IT environments, seamlessly detecting and responding to issues when they arise.

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Eric Russo
Senior Vice President of Database Services
Eric Russo is SVP of Database Services overseeing all of Datavail’s database practices including project and managed services for MS SQL, Oracle, Oracle EBS, MySQL, MongoDB, SharePoint and DB2. He is also the Product Owner for Datavail Delta, a database monitoring tool. He has 21 years’ experience in technology including 16 years in database management. His management success and style has attracted top DBAs from around the world to create one of the most talented and largest SQL Server teams. He has been with Datavail since 2008: previous to that his work experiences include DBA Manager at StrataVia, Senior Web Developer at Manifest Information Systems and SQL Server DBA at Clark County, Nevada.

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