With the growth of database software on the desktop and on server applications, it’s not surprising that business owner’s run into unexpected costs. When business owners plan ahead for these database problems they will likely have better estimates of costs. I worked with Access, Sybase, Oracle and other less known databases and learned the hard way.
Improper Server Size Causes Database Failure
When a database is set up and turned over to the user community, the systems staff usually set up back up procedures, but if no one pays attention to the data, chances are that sooner or later the data will fill the database. Repair of a database after a failure like this is time consuming for systems staff. Assuming there is a larger server available and no need for a rushed procurement, the recovery is still a painful experience. Systems staff must restore the server, sometimes reinstalling systems and database software and recover the last save point from a backup disk. Once that is complete the manual tasks begin, rebuild the missing records that occurred after the backup and validating the data is accurate.
Potential Cures: Assignment of a User who owns the data and pays attention, system reports that detail the amount of data growth compared to system resources, built in database compaction routines, and a migration plan for scaling up the data.
Off the Shelf Database Product Doesn’t Offer Load Function
Many companies have learned that off-the-shelf can mean maintenance savings in the long run and edict the requirement. But, there are software companies that do not want to take responsibility in any way for a customer’s data and avoid the problem by providing an executable with built in database and no function that allows historic data. Users love this kind of package because it often means overtime where they enter the data in, one at a time, record by record. But database owners need to be aware that this is not a one-time only situation. Every operating system or software update may require the same need for manual entry.
Potential cures: Negotiate with the company for the load program and wait to buy it until it arrives.
Formatting Data for Software Conversions
Make sure your computing staff is on the side of the software installation otherwise the effort may be doomed to failure. Staff untrained in the original system may have problems with original data that contains encoded dates, numbers and keys, uneven data boundaries, duplicate data rows and changing requirements for the use of the data. A program that compares rows may be required along with counts of fields and rows. Also, an error check routine that dumps rows that don’t load to a file for analysis helps.
Potential cures: Agree to the data requirements before the system goes in.
Automated Backup Tapes that Miss Data Due to Errors
Automated backup tapes that run at night unmonitored may look like they have been written correctly in the morning but actually fail to write. Missing one night of a backup can be costly if your database crashes after a day of changes. Manually re-entering data can be time consuming and hard to verify. More than one night of missing “change data” can be a serious problem. Putting key backups off site can also save huge expenses if there is a fire.
Potential Cures: Have regular random audits of your backup tapes to ensure they are working properly by someone other than the person responsible for doing them.
Business Managers that manage these four database problems in mind can be sure they will have fewer problems and spend less down time.