Riding Shotgun with Your Data

Historically money and valuables have been locked away in safes to keep them secure and prevent theft. When the valuables are out of the safe, such as being used or transferred, risk of loss goes up. In the 1800’s when stagecoaches were used in the United States to transport gold, silver and cash, they had a person “riding shotgun” to help protect the valuables outside of the safe.

Encryption in today’s world is a well-established way to help keep data secure, especially when “at rest” or stored. However, to unlock the real value of data, businesses need to use it and “interact” with it in some way. This is where the operational risk can arise such as someone leaving the door open, abusing data access privileges, or not knowing where and what kind of data is being accessed. To help customers protect data and reduce this operational risk, Oracle recently introduced Oracle Data Safe,which you might say allows them to “ride shotgun” on their cloud databases.

I spoke recently with Vipin Samar who is in charge of database security for Oracle. He’s an expert on database security and has been working to protect some of the world’s most sensitive information. He recently launched Oracle Data Safe, a new cloud security service that helps customers automate security for their cloud databases.

Fred: What are some of the challenges that companies face considering that they have valuable and sensitive data that must be used in their business yet face potential liability and financial loss if any of this data is breached?

Vipin: Data is now recognized as one of the most valuable assets businesses have. But when its security is compromised, it can become a great liability, as we’ve seen in some of the recent and very public data breaches. Organizations are in a catch-22 situation as they have to use their sensitive data to operate their business, but they must reduce the risk of that data being breached or misused.

Fred: When it comes to understanding threats and risks with cloud databases, what are customers most concerned about? Is it with the cloud infrastructure, the cloud provider, the database, or something else?

Vipin: When I talk with customers about moving their databases to the cloud, I hear several concerns. First, they express concern about the underlying infrastructure with network, virtual images, operating systems, and databases. Oracle addresses these concerns with next generation cloud infrastructure along with automated security patching, and always on data encryption. The next concern is protection from the cloud provider — obviously that’s us. We address this with strong separation of duties for our cloud administrators and activity monitoring. Their last big area of concern is about how they can secure their own data, users, and configurations, something that only they can do. They are worried about privileged users with broad access to all data, not knowing where their sensitive data is, lack of clarity regarding security policies for their data, and maintaining secure configuration.

Fred: People working on cloud security are becoming familiar with the shared responsibility model which distinguishes who is responsible for what in the context of cloud security yet there remains confusion. What can a cloud provider do to help customers in those areas of security where the customer has responsibility?

Vipin: At some level, we can all empathize with what is happening. It is difficult for cloud customers to detect all security gaps and understand how to turn all the security knobs and levers with their own data and users. Note that they often turned to the cloud because they didn’t have time or expertise in the first place. The motivation for Data Safe was to provide automated and integrated security capabilities so that the customers can more easily meet their share of the security responsibilities.

Vipin talks much more about Data Safe and its capabilities in a recent blog post and you can view a demo here.


What a Free Oracle Database Means to These 4 Developers

What becomes a mighty oak starts as a tiny acorn. Software application development follows this same ageless pattern.

And that’s the idea behind Oracle offering a new “Always Free” version of Oracle’s database—to give ideas a place to take root, no matter how much noodling they need, with the potential to grow an idea into a useful app, or even a juggernaut.

Launched at Oracle OpenWorld in September, the Always Free version of Oracle’s Autonomous Database has quickly taken root in the database development community, with more than four times more trial users signed up in the first month compared to previous months. Some are experts looking to create proofs of concept, while others are taking the opportunity to get their feet wet.

“OK, I’m thinking of going zero knowledge to a personal dive app with APEX and the Always Free database,” tweeted Debra Lilley (right), who’s an expert in business applications but hasn’t done much hands-on database development. Her modest goal is to build an online log for her scuba diving excursions.

That’s the kind of low-risk experimentation that can lead to all kinds of new applications, says Brendan Tierney (below), a database and machine learning expert from Ireland. “It’s a very easy way for people to build up a test environment and start playing around and expanding and sharing their knowledge,” he says.

Developers who sign up for a cloud account under the new Always Free program receive access to:

  • 2 instances of Oracle Autonomous Database, with 20 GB of storage
  • 2 Oracle Cloud Infrastructure virtual machines
  • 100 GB of block storage, 10 GB of object storage, and 10 GB of archive
  • Added services such as load balancer, monitoring, notifications, and outbound data transfer

Users also get access to a host of free tools for building applications, such as Oracle Application Express, as well as drivers for popular programming languages, REST services for publishing data, and even a popular notebook for doing data science. The Always Free program works alongside a program of free credits that developers can spend on an extended list of cloud services.

The kicker for developers, says Tierney, is that the database “is autonomous, so you don’t need to worry about administration,” he says. Once a user sets up a login and requests a cloud database, the autonomous database can deploy, tune, patch, back up, and secure itself with no human intervention, so a developer can tinker with these resources without calling in an IT support team. “You can just start using it for what you want to use it for.”

Heli Helskyaho is a database and data modeling expert in Finland who wants to use the free Oracle Database and cloud infrastructure as a way to sell new ideas into her company—without having to shell out cash up front. “If I want to use machine learning on data in our on-premises database, I first have to buy the machine learning option, and of course I don’t buy it because it’s expensive,” she says.

The free autonomous database is the same feature-rich Oracle Database that big banks, telecoms, researchers, and many other organizations use to run some of the world’s most demanding data workloads.

That means the free autonomous database service has “all the coolest enterprise options-built in,” Helskyaho says. “So if I can build something for free in autonomous using machine learning and I find something from our data that’s useful,” like a way to know when a customer is preparing to leave her company, “then that would be proof that [the machine learning option] is worth buying.”

Tariq Farooq (below) runs a technology incubator with offices in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the US, and he sees the Always Free autonomous database as a great way to connect the young developers he hires to the most popular enterprise database.

“Autonomous essentially brings the world’s prevalent enterprise database to the fore for kids in Pakistan or Kenya or California or wherever,” he says. “Free autonomous [database] paired up with tools like APEX…can be an enabler for those kids or organizations like ours to go out there and very rapidly spin out enterprise-ready applications.”

Farooq, whose company backs projects as diverse as auction sites and health care apps, sees possibilities for his young teams to turn ideas into products—because the Always Free database offers a seamless upgrade path to the paid and scalable platform. “We can do soft launches and tests and if things start trending in Asian markets, like India, which is a billion-plus market, we’re ready to grow,” he says.

But first, ideas must start small, like Debra Lilley’s scuba diving data log. “The APEX community really intrigues me,” Lilley says. “So when the announcement of the always free service mentioned using APEX I thought, “That’s it, I will have a go.’ And I thought I would try with data that really meant something to me, my scuba dive log.”

Big or small, the ideas are worth exploring—especially with the Always Free version of an autonomous database and cloud infrastructure at the ready—says Brendan Tierney. “Go use it. Embrace it,” he says, “It’s the only way you can really see what it does.”


Cloud Database Security—What Is There to Know?

Public Cloud Resident Data Is Sensitve

Here are some interesting facts that we’ve recently uncovered about cloud database security in the Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report 2019:

  • 73 percent of respondents feel the public cloud is more secure than what they can deliver in their own data center and are moving to the cloud
  • 71 percent of organizations indicated that a majority of this cloud data is sensitive—up from 50% last year
  • 30% cited the inability of existing network security controls to provide visibility into cloud-resident server workloads as a cloud security challenge
  • 92% of organizations are concerned about employees following cloud policies designed to protect this data

Download the Full Security Report

Concerns About Cloud Databases

This tells us that everywhere, organizations are seeing the merits of cloud databases and are making that move—but there are still many concerns about how secure they are. There are simply too many headlines out there about data breaches for organizations and their employees to be complacent.

At the same time, the business benefits of moving to the cloud are so clear and many cloud databases offerings are so strong that it’s no longer really a matter of “if” but “when” companies are starting their cloud journey.

But the cyber security skills gap is a real problem. Some companies are turning to managed service providers, strategic partners, increased training, and of course accelerated recruiting.

What’s most exciting for us, of course, is the ability to help address these vulnerabilities automatically. Machine learning, automation, the speed at which we can execute security processes, and choosing a powerful database like the Autonomous Database with its self-securing abilities—all of these choices result in minimal downtime for customers. After all, it costs less to prevent these problems than to fix them.

In this article, we’re highlighting how users are turning to automation to remedy chronic patching problems. But be sure to download the full report to learn more about other emerging cyber security challenges, the risks businesses face as they embrace cloud services, and ways to educate lines of business about the real security risks the cloud can present (among the many benefits, of course).

The Importance of Patching in the Cloud

People know about the importance of patching. The value of penetration testing to find patches and expedited patching to close them is very well-understood.

But it’s never-ending.

And there are so many reasons why many organizations delay getting around to it, even as they know that they should. See the chart below for reasons why organizations have delayed applying a patch to a production system.

These reasons range from down-time impacting ability to meet SLAs (46%) to software compatibility (45%) to lack of approvals by SecOps, IT operations, or developers (40%).

What concerns do you have about applying a patch to a production system?

We also asked about the patching and server configurations challenges that organizations have experienced in the past 24 months:

Have you experienced any of the following patching and server configurations challenges in the last 24 months?

Automation in Databases Is the Future

And that’s why so many organizations are turning to automated patching. In fact, the use of automated patching is already widespread.

See our chart below—43% have already implemented automated patch management. And 46% plan to implement automated patch management in the next 12 to 24 months.

Deploy a solution that automates patch management for production environments

For many organizations, this is a no-brainer, with organizations choosing to automate patching to gain greater operational efficiencies (48%), reduce the window in which vulnerabilities can be exploited (29%), or to meet agreed-upon performance SLAs (17%).

Deploy an automated management solution

How Can the Autonomous Database Help Your Security?

This is just one of the reasons why the Oracle Autonomous Database is so exciting. After all, it’s self-driving, self-securing, and self-repairing.

Those self-securing abilities mean that Autonomous Database automatically encrypts all data, provides automatic security updates with no downtime (including patching!), and provides protection from both external attacks and malicious internal users. To learn more, watch the video to see how Oracle integrates automation to help deliver a self-securing data management platform.

In a recent Security report, KuppingerCole wrote, “On the whole, with the Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud, Oracle has created a unique offering for the most demanding database customers that combines enterprise-grade performance and scalability with the highest level of security and compliance for sensitive corporate data by eliminating human factor and replacing it with industry best practices powered by the company’s decade-long expertise and machine learning.” Oracle can offer so much precisely because of its decades of work in database security.

But to truly understand how the Autonomous Database and change the way you approach a cloud database and security, try the Autonomous Database today by signing up for a free database trial.


5 Database Management Predictions for 2019

With the release of 18c and the Autonomous Database, 2018 has been an incredible year for the database.

So what’s happening in 2019? We’ve gathered together our database predictions and in this article, we’re sharing five.

Download the Full Database Predictions Ebook

1. Database Maintenance Automation Will Accelerate

Many routine database management tasks have already been automated in the last few years. In future years, traditional, on-premises databases will be competing against cloud-native deployments. And increasingly, those cloud-native deployments will be autonomous databases with hands-free database management.

So what does this mean?

Responsibilities will evolve to less involvement of the physical environment and the actual database, but more involvement with managing and making use of the data. As it gets simpler to manage data, data itself will become more valuable as it becomes easier to use. This will be an exciting time as careers advance and adjust to the changing landscape. You can already see that today, with the popularity of jobs such as data scientist and data engineer.

2. Database Security Will Become Ever More Important

Big surprise, right? Or maybe not. Unfortunately, we hear the headlines about security breaches all the time. Threats to security will become more common as other players realize the value of data and how they can turn it to their own advantage. And when we say more common, we mean it. A recent Oracle Threat Report predicts the number of security events will increase 100-fold by 2025.

It’s simply no longer possible for humans to detect, correlate, analyze, and then address all threats in a timely manner. So what can IT professionals do about this? Many of them are turning to autonomous solutions. Autonomous monitoring and auditing can identify many issues and threats against the database. It can monitor cloud service settings, notify DBAs of changes, and prevent configuration drift by allowing IT pros to restore approved settings at any time.

When you have an Autonomous Database that uses machine learning to detect threats and stop them, it’s just easier to rely on the security experts at Oracle while you explore ways to extract more value from data to help drive better business outcomes.

3. Standards for Database Reliability, Availability, and Performance Will Go Up

Database reliability, availability, and performance have always been important and in 2019, they’ll continue to be so. Autonomous data management will take those capabilities to the next level. For example, the machine learning capabilities of Autonomous Database can automatically patch systems the moment vulnerabilities are discovered. Autonomous data management will improve uptime and also boost security.

This means that standards will get higher. In the past, we’ve sometimes been able to get away with blaming human error. But that excuse doesn’t really pass muster anymore when there’s an autonomous option.

However, even though software patches are applied automatically in the background and all actions are audited, DBAs will still have to monitor the unified audit trail logs and perform actions accordingly if necessary.

4. The Volume of Data Will Continue Exploding

With data growth—well, we’ve all seen the countless charts and graphs detailing the explosion of data from social media and video and IoT and thousands of other sources that weren’t common even 10 years ago.

That size of data isn’t a major factor when considering the productivity of DBAs, but it does matter when you think about the number of instances and variety of database brands and versions.

This is something that increasingly, DBAs are going to have to think about—how will they manage all of this data in an efficient way? It’ll be a strong factor for moving to the cloud, because most cloud databases can be provisioned in 40 minutes or fewer, versus weeks using the old on-premises methods.

5. Database Provisioning Will Become Even More Automated

In today’s world, 95 percent of DBAs still manually create and update databases. But automated database provisioning is becoming more popular as it improves with each new iteration. With the performance-tuning dimension that Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse already brings, and new automatic indexing features for the Autonomous Database, automated database provisioning will become even easier for DBAs.

As data grows and the need for data-driven analytics increases, DBAs will need to help businesses get data faster to meet business demands.


What do you see for data management in 2019, and what are you most excited about?

For us, it’s witnessing how machine learning combined with a modern, automated database is going to revolutionize the way we use data. 2018 has been a groundbreaking year for Oracle, and we’re looking forward to seeing more of the same in 2019.

If you want to try out the world’s most groundbreaking database technology, sign up for a free trial of Oracle Autonomous Database today or read the walkthrough of how Autonomous Data Warehouse works.

And to read through the other database management predictions with quotes from top DBAs, download the full ebook, “Database Management Predictions 2019.”


Oracle Autonomous Database at Openworld 2018

OpenWorld 2018—over 2500 sessions with customer and partner speakers from around the world, speaking about how they’ve found success—it’s the event of the year you don’t want to miss. But if you did, we’re providing a quick recap for you about Oracle Autonomous Database right here.

Autonomous Database Keynote

At the OpenWorld keynote, Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison spoke about his vision for a second-generation cloud that is purpose-built for enterprise—and is more technologically advanced and secure than any other cloud on the market.

While many first-generation clouds are built on technology that’s already decades old, Oracle’s Gen 2 Cloud is built with the technology of today. Its unique architecture and capabilities deliver unmatched security, performance, and cost savings. It’s also the technology that’s used to build Oracle Autonomous Database, the industry’s first and only self-driving database.

He debuted a new ad, too. Sit back, relax—and take Oracle Autonomous Database for a spin.

Larry Ellison also talked about new deployment options, including dedicated Exadata Cloud Infrastructure and Cloud at Customer.

Dedicated Exadata

Ellison shared benchmark test results that highlighted the performance gap between Oracle and Amazon.

Database Performance Metrics

Larry Ellison said on stage, “We’re still 80 times faster than Amazon’s data warehouse.”

Autonomous Database Performance Metrics

And Andrew Mendelsohn, executive VP of Oracle Database said, “Oracle Autonomous Database has redefined data management. Our customers see significant advantages in using our cloud database services to take the complexity out of running a business-critical database while delivering unprecedented cost savings, security, and availability.”

Autonomous Database Truly Elastic

Autonomous Database in the Media

During OpenWorld, Monica Kumar, Oracle’s VP of Product Marketing for Database, also gave an interview with John Furrier of CUBEConversation about Autonomous Database. She highlighted how machine learning makes data management smarter in the cloud, and how companies can use that to get more value from their data with Oracle Autonomous Database.

Autonomous Database Customers and Awards

At the Oracle Excellence Awards, we presented awards to an extraordinary set of customers and partners who are using Oracle solutions to accelerate innovation and drive business transformation.

We heard from customers that are using Oracle Autonomous Database to increase agility, lower costs, and reduce IT complexity. These companies used Autonomous Database to speed access to data for business analysts and data scientists, and to take the load off their database administrators. Many of them are focusing on automation to improve their future capabilities.

For a leading oil and gas company, for example, their 24/7 business means that patching is difficult. But a self-patching system like Autonomous Database makes their processes drastically simpler, and they save costs too by not having to pay when they’re not using compute. They told us, “The elasticity is brilliant.”

A large newspaper company in Argentina is using Autonomous Database to improve their access to analytics. They moved to Oracle Autonomous Database so their line of business could control the analytics better, and get faster access to it.

Here was the full lineup of winners:

Data Warehouse and Big Data Leader of the Year

  • Cheolki Kim of Hyundai Home Shopping
  • Conny Björling of Skanska AB
  • Vicente Alencar Junior of Nextel
  • Benjamin Arnulf of The Hertz Corporation

Cloud Architect of the Year

  • Steven Chang of Kingold Group Co., Ltd
  • Erik Dvergsnes of AkerBP
  • Leonardo Simoes of UHG United Health Group
  • Dave Magnell of Sabre

CDO of the Year

  • V. Kalyana Rama of CONCOR
  • Luis Esteban of CaixaBank
  • Pablo Giudici of AGEA – Grupo Clarin
  • Steve Chamberlin of QMP Health


We’re committed to making Oracle Autonomous Database the best cloud database on the market. So far, we’re succeeding. In the next few weeks, we’ll continue to highlight Oracle Autonomous Database, Autonomous Data Warehouse, and what DBAs should know about our exciting product lineup.


Getting Started with Autonomous Database Security

Automatic encryption and patching are a solid beginning to the cloud database security journey.

By Tom Haunert

“Data is your most critical asset, but could become your biggest liability if not properly secured,” says Vipin Samar, senior vice president of Oracle Database Security, in the video Security for the Autonomous Warehouse Database Cloud. At what point is data properly secured? Oracle Magazine sat down with Samar to talk about data assets and liabilities, appropriate security for databases in the cloud, and more.

Oracle Magazine: How is the cloud changing the database security conversation?

Samar: When organizations make the decision to move to the cloud, their first questions are often about security. Is the cloud secure? Can they limit Oracle administrator access to their data in the cloud? Can they meet their compliance requirements in the cloud? These are typically the top three questions I hear.

Oracle Magazine: Oracle Database Cloud services all run with their data encrypted. Is that enough to keep data safe in the cloud?

Samar: We use encryption by default in Oracle Database Cloud services so that hackers do not get access to the raw data.

Encryption closes one particular part of the attack surface—where the hacker gets access to data blocks directly. But hackers can try many other techniques withoutaccess to the data blocks.

Hackers can impersonate users, they can steal an end user’s password, or they can exploit weaknesses in database applications. And they can do more—it’s a long list.

So encryption is one necessary tool, but it doesn’t address all possible security risks.

Oracle Magazine: How can organizations determine whether their databases are secure?

Samar: Many organizations don’t really know how secure their databases are, where their sensitive data is located, or how much data they have.

Oracle recently released the Oracle Database Security Assessment Tool feature of Oracle Database, which lets organizations answer these questions. The tool looks at various security configuration parameters, identifies gaps, and discovers missing security patches. It checks whether security measures such as encryption, auditing, and access control are deployed, and how those controls compare against best practices.

We take care of the security of the infrastructure including the database, and we automate it—leaving nothing to chance or human error.”

Additionally, it helps them discover where their sensitive data is located and how much data they have. Oracle Database Security Assessment Tool searches database metadata for more than 50 types of sensitive data including personally identifiable information, job data, health data, financial data, and information technology data. This helps businesses to understand the security risks for that data.

It also highlights findings and provides recommendations to assist with regulatory compliance. The findings and recommendations support both the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) and the Center for Internet Security (CIS) benchmark.

Oracle Magazine: Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud is described as the world’s first self-securing database cloud service. What does self-securing mean for this service?

Samar: Self-securing starts with the security of the Oracle Cloud infrastructure and database service. Security patches are automatically applied every quarter or as needed, narrowing the window of vulnerability. Patching includes the full stack: firmware, operating system [OS], clusterware, and database. There are no steps required from the customer side. We take care of the security of the infrastructure including the database, and we automate it—leaving nothing to chance or human error.

Next, we encrypt customer data everywhere: in motion, at rest, and in backups. The encryption keys are managed automatically, without requiring any customer intervention. And encryption cannot be turned off.

Administrator activity on Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud is logged centrally and monitored for any abnormal activities. We have enabled database auditing using predefined policies so that customers can view logs for any abnormal access.

Oracle Magazine: What’s needed to protect other attack surfaces?

Samar: Securing databases in the cloud is a shared responsibility, with Oracle securing the infrastructure and network; monitoring the OS and network activity; applying OS and database patches and upgrades; and providing encryption, appropriate separation of duties, and various certifications.

The customer organization still needs to secure its applications, users, and data. It needs to ensure that its applications can thwart attacks targeted at the company, that its users follow security best practices, and that its sensitive data is protected using appropriate controls. In some sense, these requirements are no different from those for an organization’s current on-premises databases, except that Oracle has already handled the security infrastructure part.

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Optimize queries in Cloudant

This article compiles insights from multiple people in regard to methods and experiences related to optimizing queries when operating Cloudant NoSQL DB. The knowledge contained here will help you have a more in-depth understanding of the most suitable queries for each applicable scenario, to provide the most efficient data query service for your application.


The Forgotten Link To The Cloud

Ilona Gabinsky

Principal Product Marketing Manager

Today we have guest blogger – Francisco Munoz Alvarez – an author and popular speaker at many Oracle conferences around the world.

Last year when presenting a session at Collaborate’17 in Las Vegas regarding Tips and Best Practices for DBAs, I went thru the evolution of the DBA profession and also gave a few tips of how a DBA can improve and be successful on his/her career.

After my session, many people approached me with questions regarding what will happen with the DBA profession with the introduction of Cloud to our life. Would the DBAs workload be fully automated and the DBA profession will disappear? Should I be afraid of the Cloud? Should I start looking for a new career? And many more questions like this, making me aware of an unexpected situation – the DBAs are blocking many possible Cloud endeavors for their organizations because they are scared of what it would bring to their future in the industry.

So, after discovering this unexpected situation I decided to write this post to express my overview on this so important topic!

Automation vs. Autonomous

Let start this post by clearing some common confusions and misunderstandings. For the past 10 years of my career I have been recommending DBA’s to automate most (if not all) business as usual (BAU) work and to concentrate at becoming as much proactive as possible (If you cannot automate a BAU process, delegate it) because you have more important things to do! I am recommending this over and over because I am constantly watching DBA’s losing too much time with BAU work, consequently making them unable to expend time on career development (training and learning about new technologies), work at important projects such as per example Optimization, Security, Performance Tuning, High Availability, Migrations, Upgrades and also unable to work with new technologies that could seriously benefit the business and obtain the best ROI to company resources.

I would like to use the automotive industry as example to clarify the differences between Automation and Autonomous. I love to drive my car, I love to be behind the wheel and enjoy the experience. Recently I bought a new car that include many driver assistance technologies (Automation). It has Autonomous cruise control (that automatically adjusts the vehicle speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead, and even stop the car if necessary), Line Changing Alert, Collision alert (alert us if close to have a collision due to speed or proximity and breaks for you if required), Driving behavior alert (Check for fatigue and dangerous driving behaviors) Automatic Head Light and Windscreen Wiper, Parking assistance and much more. Many people could think that all these features would affect my driving experience, but remember, as the person at control (the driver) you can choose what options would be used and when, and also can be adjusted as per your driving requirements. So, it did not affect me at all, by the opposite, they made my driving easier and safer, furthermore allowing me to enjoy it even more.

We are also talking about fully autonomous cars (that would fully drive itself, you just need to tell the car where you are going) for long time and many companies are investing resources on this type of technologies (Toyota, Tesla, Google, Uber are only a few) and are constantly making public testing of it. We know this is the future, and we know that is coming, but not anytime too soon (like this year or the next) and when the time comes, the global population would adopt it gradually.

The Oracle Database world is very similar to the above example. Automation within database is a reality and well needed, autonomous databases are coming and we cannot stop it. So, let’s evolve and be prepared on time, we still have time until everyone starts adopting it gradually.

Cloud, the inevitable next step in the DBA DNA evolution!

The constant evolution of IT has, among other things, affected the role of a DBA. Today the DBA is not merely a Database Administrator anymore but is morphing more into the Database Architect role. If you want to become a successful DBA (Database Architect) and be more competitive in the market, you should have a different skill set than was normally required in the past. Now a day, you need to have a wide range of understanding in architectural design, Cloud, network, storage, licensing, versioning, automation, and much more – the more knowledge you have, the better opportunities you will find.

We know without doubt that our future involves automation and Cloud technologies, so why fight it? Why continue losing our time and energy against it?

Let’s take advantage of it now!

So, what is next?

First, learn to change yourself

If you want to become a successful professional, first you need to educate yourself to be successful! Your future success depends only in your attitude today. You control your career, nobody else!

Becoming a successful DBA is a combination of:

  • Your professional attitude, always think positive and always look for solutions instead to kill yourself in a cup of water.
  • Learn how to research, before do something, investigate, search in the internet, read manuals. You need to show that you know how to do a properly research and look for solutions for your problems yourself.
  • Be innovate, don’t wait for others to do your job, or because the other DBAs don’t care about the business you will do the same. Learn to innovate, learn to become a leader and make everyone follow your example with results. Think Different!
  • Learn to communicate properly; the best way to learn how to communicate effectively is learning to listen first. Listen, then analyse the context expressed and only than communicate an answer in a professional and honest way to your peers. Always treat everyone the same way you would like to be treated.

Albert Einstein said one time:

“If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution”

Second Learn to be Proactive

Why check the problems only when they are critical, or when is too late and the database is down, or the users are screaming?

Being proactive is the best approach to keep your DB healthy and to show your company, or your clients that you really care about them.

Many DBA’s expend most of their time being firefighters only, fixing problems and working on user’s requests all the time. They don’t do any proactive work; this mentality only will cause an overload of work to them, thousands of dollars of overtime, several hours without access to the data to the users, poor performance to the applications, and what is worse of all, several unhappy users thinking that you don’t have the knowledge needed to take care of their data.

Let’s mention a small example, you have the archive log area alert set to fire when it is 95% full, and this happens in the middle of the night, some DBA’s will take seriously the alert and solve the problem quickly, others will wait until the next day to take care of it because they are tired, or sleeping, or they are in a place without internet access at the moment the alert arrived. Will be a lot easier if they set a proactive alert to be fire when 75% or 85%, or even better, take a look in the general health status of the DB before leave their work shift, to try to detect and solve any possible problem before be a real problem and be awake in the middle of the night or during the weekend (Remember how important is your personal and family time). I’ll always recommend to DBA’s to run 2 checklists daily, one in the start of their shift and other before they leave their shift.

I know several DBA’s that complain all the time that they got so many calls when they are on call, but they don’t do anything to solve the root problem, they only expend their time to solve the symptoms.

So, let’s change our mentality, let stop being a firefighter and start to be a real hero!

Third, Educate and prepare yourself for the future

Finally, here are some things you should be concentrate at learning and improving your skills, as per example:

  • How to manage different RDBMS technologies (as per example: MySQL, SQL Server, DB2, etc).
  • How to manage NoSQL technologies (as per example: Cassandra, Druid, HBase, and MongoDB).
  • How to resolve unavailability issues.
  • Execute recovery test from current and old backups and document the process for your company DRP (Disaster and Recovery Plan).
  • Ensure your company RPO and RTO SLAs are being fulfilled by your high availability plan and backup and recovery strategy.
  • Gaining deep knowledge at performance tuning.
  • Learn how your applications work and how they interact with the database and middle layers.
  • Learn on how to review and implement security
  • Keep up with DB trends & technologies.
  • Use new technologies when applicable (as per example Kafka, Microservices, Containers, Virtualization)
  • Know how to perform storage and physical design.
  • Diagnose, troubleshoot and resolve any DB related problems.
  • Ensure that Oracle networking software is configured and running properly.
  • Mentor and train new DBA’s (This allow you to review and learn new things).
  • Learn about XML, Java, Python, PHP, HTML, and Linux, Unix, Windows Scripting.
  • Automate all BAU work or delegate it.
  • Implement Capacity Planning /Hardware Planning
  • Architect, Deploy and Maintain Cloud Environments
  • Improve your SQL and PL/SQL skills and Review SQL and PL/SQL codes in your environment.
  • Control and execute code promotions to production environments
  • Master Cloud technologies (IaaS, DBaaS, PaaS and SaaS)

Like you can easily see, as DBAs we have a lot of things to do and learn about, so stop losing time with BAU, because you have a lot of more important things to do and learn about.

Embrace the future, the Cloud wave, the change, and the evolution. Do not stay in the past anymore, it would only affect yourself and your career in the future!

Francisco’s Bio:

Francisco Munoz Alvarez is an author and popular speaker at many Oracle conferences around the world. He is also the President of CLOUG (Chilean Oracle Users Group), APACOUC (APAC Oracle Users Group Community, which is the umbrella organization for all of APAC), IAOUG (Independent Australia Oracle Users Group) and NZOUG (New Zealand Oracle Users Group. He also worked in the first team to introduce Oracle to South America (Oracle 6 and the beta version of Oracle 7). He was also the first Master Oracle 7 Database Administrator in South America, as well as the first Latin American Oracle professional to be awarded a double ACE (ACE in 2008 and ACE Director in 2009) by Oracle HQ. In 2010, he had the privilege to receive a prestigious Oracle Magazine Editor’s Choice Award as the Oracle Evangelist of the Year–a huge recognition for his outstanding achievements in the Oracle world that includes the creation and organization of the already famous OTN Tours that are the biggest Oracle evangelist events in the world.

Currently, Francisco works for Data Intensity, which is a global leader in data management consulting and services, as the Director of Innovation. He also maintains an Oracle blog (http://www.oraclenz.org) and you can always contact him through this or Twitter (@fcomunoz) regarding any questions about Oracle.

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