Database Health Checks? Your Mileage May Vary.

by Cornerstone Senior Staff Consultant

If your database had a “check engine” light, it would probably be on right now.  As you cruise down the information highway, you may not give a second thought to those wheel nuts or the transmission fluid, but the core technologies that keep your business critical systems may be sick.  The health of your database, like the health of your car, depends on careful maintenance and to keep all four wheels on the ground moving in the direction you dictate, certain things need to happen.

You may, or may not have a full time Oracle Database Administrator (DBA) on staff.  You may have a team of them or you may rely on “that IT person” who seems to keep the lights running – until suddenly everyone is in the dark, your customers included.  This is what we’d call “sub-optimal”.

Keeping the lights on can be a complex task worthy of legendary sagas; there are so many things that can go wrong with that system you depend on to service your client base.  Your DBA is responsible for making sure the system does not trip up because it doesn’t have enough storage to keep up with demand for your services or the system doesn’t crash for performance reasons.   The bottom line is that the DBA’s role is not a glamorous one; someone who toils in the information engine room and only enters the spotlight when things go horribly wrong.  Your DBA is likely overwhelmed and may not have time to proactively examine the environment to anticipate possible issues, heading off that multi-hour outage that is headed your way.

A database health check is like having your car serviced by the dealer.  You may not understand what they are going to do with those diagnostic checks and what all those error codes mean that your car’s computer disgorges – you just care that the “check engine” light is no longer illuminated and that the car doesn’t stall as you drive across three lanes of oncoming traffic.

Enough of the car analogies; a database health check will examine your current environment, database design, configuration, past performance behaviors and provide enough instrumentation that a seasoned DBA can review it and work on fixes that will address potential future issues.  Your health check should help you get the most out of that very expensive Oracle technology you invested in.  It will invariably produce a significant amount of information that requires some guidance to sift through – and that is where we can help.  Best yet, the health check is painless – non-disruptive and the extraction process can be done remotely.  We can send you the script to run or we can run them for you (VPN access required).  The output is a single zip file you can send back to us.

By carefully analyzing the health check output, we can put together a plan to address those design flaws, those implementation issues and head off potential performance problems that frustrate your customers – or deny them access to your application.  You may be pleasantly surprised at how few issues are highlighted; more likely you will be frightened about the hidden traps that have just been revealed; either way, we aim to help you through the process of mitigating risk, solving technical problems and keeping your applications available to a happy client base.

Would you rather have that “check engine” light on?

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