Are you concerned that a catastrophe may take all your corporate data with it, and you didn't realize that database Disaster Recovery procedures hadn't been put in place, or were legacy procedures which had no relevance to your current environment??

Do your DBA's spend all of their time on basic maintenance and have no time to 'help' the user community?

Do you find it hard to hire and retain top quality DBA's??

Do you worry that your DBA's will leave because their work 'Is not very interesting'?

Do you wonder whether you are utilizing information out of the data contained within your databases?

Do you have manually intensive jobs just to get data from one database to another?

Do you have major database projects on the horizon and wonder how your database team is going to manage them along with their day-to-day jobs?

Do you hear your user-community complain that they wished they would get more help from the database experts in your company?

Do you hear your user-community complain that they always 'have to let IT know when there are problems - why don't IT know of the problems before us'?

Each company has their different challenges with databases, but they can all be solved quite easily - you just have to know what needs doing, and how to do it. Sound easy? It actually is....you just need to know where to focus. TeraDBA Consulting can help you in auditing your systems and processes and identifying a plan of attack for you to execute, or we can help you implement a scalable, and stable infrastructure and mentor your internal team in industry best practices. We can work side by side with your database team until your teams feel ready and able to cut back on our onsite assistance. Mind you, we will be there at the end of the phone from that point on if you need us......all you have to do is call.

TeraDBA Consultings' Database specialists have 'been there, and done that'. We're all certified on the major database platforms and have many, many years of experience in all facets of databases, some of which are detailed below:

Would you prefer to hear from your user community that your database team inspires confidence, commitment, customer service and reliable, efficient operations and can rightly be termed a Database Center of Excellence? Let TeraDBA Consulting help you get there !!

Database Center of Excellence

Some of the key areas in establishing a Database Center of Excellence are as follows:

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Enterprise-wide infrastructure

In building an infrastructure for your databases, there are a number of considerations that need to be addressed for your infrastructure to be an 'enterprise-wide' infrastructure.

An enterprise-wide infrastructure has many key components:

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Design of Terabyte Scale databases

The design of your databases is critical if the database is to be flexible, scalable, performant and allow the 'unlocking of its secrets' to be facilitated without the requirement of utilizing 'high-priced shaman's that will perform their magic' to extract the information contained within. It should be designed logically, simply and with consideration to its operability and business continuity.

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Operational management

Operational management of your corporate databases can be done efficiently where your DBA's can spend the majority of their time adding value to the business, or it can be done in such a way that your DBA's are continually 'scrambling' to keep your databases 'alive'. It all depends on your teams' attitude and a proactive, customer-centric point of view.

Some factors for consideration:

These are all factors in improving the operational management of your corporations' key asset, your databases.

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Migration of Databases from one hardware platform to another

In the current environment, skill and efficiency in migrating databases from one platform to another is absolutely vital. Most companies are taking long, hard looks at their compute environments. A large proportion of those companies are currently, or have plans in the near future, to change their underlying hardware platforms - generally to lower cost, building block architectures where incremental additions to compute resources are low cost and commodity items. But, we all know that its not as straightforward as copying files from one platform to another. You have the 'little endian' Vs 'big endian' issues to consider, you have uptime requirements to consider, you have the different flavor and peculiarities of the same database release on a different platform to consider, and you have the various alternatives of instantiating the data and then keeping the business running to consider when identifying the optimal solution for your needs.

TeraDBA Consultings' Database professionals have many years experience of migrating databases from one hardware platform to another - experience that ranges from migrating one database, to 200+ databases totaling 15 TB in size. We've been through the various issues and understand each one - that sort of experience is hard to find and can be painful to learn when 'learning on the job'.

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Migration of Data from one database vendor to another

Most companies have many legacy systems and spend valuable resources in man hours maintaining the myriad database vendors and releases in an operational aspect. More and more companies are seeing the cost advantages and real ROI in consolidating and standardizing into a minimal number of database vendors. It makes sense, and companies can see some real benefits arising from these activities, not just in cost differential but also in DBA support. When your DBA's are relieved from supporting, and keeping up their skills in outdated and legacy database systems, they are freed up to begin starting to add value to the corporation in their core competencies. Now they can start proactively looking at performance, now they can start sharing their considerable depth of knowledge to the user community and getting involved in those design meetings early on. Imagine the morale boost your DBA team will have when they start seeing the value that they can add....now that they have the time....and imagine how much better your corporations databases will perform with some active, rather than passive or reactive, management.

There are a number of issues that will/may confront you when migrating from one database vendor to another - better to call in the experts who have been there, and done that already. Don't put yourself, and your company, in the position of finding out 'after the fact' that 'ooops, this piece of data didn't quite migrate correctly' - don't risk your valuable corporate data.

TeraDBA's database professionals have experience in the majority of database vendors out there. We have Oracle certified consultants and in fact, ex-Oracle consultants - imagine being able to get the quality of an ex-Oracle consultant to assist you with your various database migration issues. We also have Sybase certified consultants, and again, also have ex-Sybase consultants as part of our team. We have DB2 experience, Microsoft SQLServer experience, and consultants with many of the other 'smaller' database vendor experience. We even have consultants that are certified in BOTH Oracle and Sybase - imagine the benefits if you were migrating to/from Oracle to/from Sybase !!

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Business Continuity

Business Continuity to us means Disaster Recovery strategies. Whether your plans for Disaster Recovery involve simple backup and recovery scenarios, or whether they involve complex replication scenarios, we have the experience to determine the requirements, build the strategy to meet the requirements, implement the various facets of the strategy and then document, document, document followed closely by practice, practice and more practice. Many Business Continuity plans have heavy dependencies on underlying hardware systems - not only do our database professionals have the requisite skills from a database perspective, many have substantial training on those underlying hardware systems and participate heavily in systems design also.

At TeraDBA our consultants have the combined database and hardware skillsets. We are able to think 'outside the box' and recommend, design and implement strategies that blend the various capabilities (hardware and database) to come up with a fully functional, 'bigger picture' disaster recovery plan than one devised by folks who only know their 'ballpark'.

When you talk VLDB (Very Large DataBases), you talk different and unique requirements for Disaster Recovery, and for simple backup and recovery. VLDB's require specialized knowledge, and specialized design to ensure that your backups do not impact your day to day operations. Backups of VLDB's can swamp your I/O subsystems causing substantial performance degradation unless you're careful and design for it.

Many companies have 24*7 e-commerce systems that are off-line during maintenance windows each week for backups - believe it or not ! In today's database environment, this should, and needs to be, 'corrected'. If your database availability requirement is 24*7, then your database availability should BE 24*7 - not '24*7 except for 12 hours whilst we do maintenance or back it up' !! The majority of companies that are in this way are there because

  1. their DBA's don't have the time to 'fix the problem' and leave the legacy implementation in place,
  2. don't have the expertise or the enterprise-wide understanding of just what is possible and what is best practice in the industry,
  3. the underlying hardware infrastructure is a 'challenge',
  4. the underlying database infrastructure is a 'challenge',
  5. DBA's are falling behind on their skills due to lack of training and don't understand 'that new feature',
  6. senior IT management don't realize there are better options available than '24*7 except for that 12 hour maintenance window for backups every weekend''.

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Data Synchronization

Data Synchronization can mean many things - not only is it the how, why and what of varying replication implementations from the various database vendors, but it involves the strategy of how you get your corporate data accessible to those applications that need it, without creating nightmares for your data entry professionals. Too often applications are developed without the 'bigger picture' in mind, and either create local tables in their application-specific database that are also duplicated in many other application-specific databases. Or another 'solution' has been to create manually intensive 'jobs' that perform periodic extraction's of data and load that data into an application-specific database. Where that becomes a mess, and we've seen it, is when you have hundreds of data extraction jobs running on a periodic basis with other data extraction jobs executing on the results of the prior data extraction jobs. You guessed it, when one fails the domino effect is horrendous AND time consuming to 'replay' correctly. There are better ways of handling this !!

You just need to understand the 'bigger picture', and the technologies that are available to solve this are all out there. You, and your corporation, just need the incentive to 'clean up the mess' - but don't wait until that incentive happens to be the user community complaining to their bosses, who complain to their bosses, which eventually comes back to you. Be proactive now - turn your data into information that your corporation can use efficiently and effectively. After all, the backbone of every corporation is the data within that corporation - don't let your backbone remain a 'spaghetti tangle' ready to 'congeal into an unmanageable mess'.

TeraDBA Consultings' database professionals can help you 'untangle the mess' and obtain value from the information contained in your corporate databases.

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Data and Database Compliance

Data and Database Compliance are critical in today's regulated environment. Even something as simple as a DBA modifying a single piece of data in a financial database which is subsequently used in financial reporting, can get your CEO and CFO in 'very hot water' in today's Sarbanes-Oxley environment. Not 'locking down' a database that contains customer information including social security numbers and credit card numbers being stored in an unencrypted form can mean a disaster for your company if your systems are hacked from 'outside'. Sometimes they are even inappropriately accessed internally - intentionally or unintentionally, but it can destroy your reputation with your customers and end up costing you money from lost sales, lengthy court cases and expensive court rulings. What about your lost earnings that have arisen when one of your staff provides your valuable corporate data to a competitor, or worse, a criminal. You may think that 'sure, we have our databases protected' - Great. Do you have your development or test databases protected....? How did you instantiate those databases - probably from your production databases. Right? OK, you're now compromised for a number of the concerns raised here !! Do you have database links to your production databases? Have they been secured? In one scenario we encountered, the corporate SAP database was 'wide open' due to the way the database links had been set up. Can you afford not to be concerned?

Understanding what needs to be audited, how to audit, how you identify compromised information is key to a safe and secure data environment. Can you prove that your database hasn't been accessed inappropriately? You may need to, or it will end up costing you your reputation, business and financial viability.

TeraDBA Consultings database professionals can guide you along this path - we have experience in securing data, auditing data and data compliance.

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Access Control

Access control is more than database security, or system security. Access control is data security. Data security is key in most companies. If a company comments that access control is not a big issue for them, then those words are 'red flags'. It means that they don't understand the data contained within their databases, or the impact that unfettered access to that data can cause them. It can also mean that they don't understand how big a deal protecting the data is - they may have been told that the 'data is protected'. It is a big leap of faith to have confidence in data security assertions when there may not be a full understanding of the ins-and-outs of what needs to be protected and why. This analysis needs to be down to the column level, within tables, within every database - not just the production database, but any database that has any dependency, or any linkage to that production database whether it be a development database of the master, or a development database of a production database that is linked to the master.

TeraDBA Consultings Database professionals have experience in this area. Data security of the human genome VLDB's was where some of TeraDBA's consulting team were heavily involved - how serious would it have been during the race to sequence the human genome if data contained within these world-changing databases 'leaked out'.

Access control when it comes to your data, should be taken seriously, and we do.

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Cost Efficiencies and Improved ROI

There is a reason why many companies today are implementing consolidation and standardization initiatives. It's cost reduction.

Many companies inefficiently utilize the compute resources within their enterprise. Too many times we have seen a piece of expensive hardware running at an average of 5 - 15 % utilization sitting alongside another piece of hardware also running at 5 - 15 % utilization and on it goes. There are consolidation opportunities everywhere you look - if only you know how to look. How many companies know how to efficiently and effectively run 120+ database instances on two 8-CPU pieces of hardware - all with high performance characteristics, and high availability?

We do.

And that's not even considering the fact that many database vendors license their software on a per-CPU basis - Imagine the cost reductions possible in your organization.

Consolidation, done right, will reduce your hardware costs, reduce your software costs, reduce your manpower costs and increase your availability uptime - things like that get noticed at all levels of the organization.

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Data Integrity

How sure are you that the data contained within your corporate databases is not compromised? How often does your company validate the data within your databases? If the data contained within your companies' databases is the backbone of the company, shouldn't you be checking it more and ensuring that all the right procedures, process and controls are in place to ensure that good data goes in, and good data comes out?

TeraDBA Consultings database professionals have experience in this arena....the integrity of the data contained within corporate databases is a focus area of our team.

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Database Performance

We all know what it's like to get complaints from our internal user community about how 'our databases are running like dogs'. Pretty common occurrence - unless you review the performance of the database on a periodic basis and have baselines, and real time alerts to let you know when things aren't quite right. But what about your external customers? The customers that will try to get that data from within your databases or websites a couple of times, but then, you know, it's just not worth the aggravation or frustration for them - they will look elsewhere to get what they need. How many customers are you losing because you haven't 'heard' of those performance problems - because the external customer community won't complain - they'll just go elsewhere.

If it isn't urgent to fix your database performance problems today, it will be tomorrow. Analysts predict that a companies' data will grow by 30% a year - that's a doubling of your current size in 3 years time - will your databases still be able to perform without doing something proactively now?

Performance from a database perspective is handled at many levels - from design of the database, design of the application accessing the database, internal characteristics of the database, system impact, background maintenance or backup impact - we don't just offer the standard performance offerings - we will get into, under, over, within your database to tune it so that you get the most value out of the information within.

Database performance tuning comes from understanding the purpose and intent of the database so that optimal performance can be eked from within - our aim is to ensure that there are no more complaints from the user community, and to ensure that you are not losing customers due to the experience they are having that directly relates to the underlying database performance.

TeraDBA Consultings' database professional will not only find and fix the database performance problems that you have, but we will also mentor and train your in-house database professionals - by developing your in-house database professionals you not only improve their morale, but you improve the performance of every database they 'touch' from then on in. Talk about long-term benefits !

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Risk Assessment

TeraDBA Consultings' Database specialists have extensive experience in almost every major database vendor out there.

They've created Database Centers of Excellence, they've been members of Database Centers of Excellence, they're ex-consultants who've seen and corrected many of the mistakes that occur when enterprises don't understand the importance of their data, they know and have created many of the industry best practices that are out there today, and they've 'been there, and done that' as architects, operations staff, management, application developers, risk assessors, database design and many more.

We can come in and review your database infrastructure, identify the issues that you need to fix ASAP, identify short-term improvements that will give you immediate ROI, and put together a strategy and roadmap for what you need to do, and how you need to do it, to get to where you need to be to have a scalable, performant, reliable, secure database environment.

Remember, your data is your corporations backbone - make sure that its safe and secure ! And in today's environment of SOX, HIPAA, Basel II, 21CFR 11, California Senate Bill 1386, USA PATRIOT Act, GLBA can you afford not to be certain you have it all covered?

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Database Installs/Upgrades

We see it so many times - the underlying database infrastructure makes simple things like database installs and database upgrades things that nightmares are made of. Upgrading the wrong production database and then having no recovery plan for the upgrade, installs that take days instead of hours, upgrades that are done ad-hoc with no process associated with them, downtimes that are caused because of issues that weren't identified prior. We've worked in environments that have gone from chaos to productive efficiency. Where it took days to install a database, let alone create it - to one where you could install and create that 500 gigabyte database in a matter of hours - and the only reason it took hours is for the physical tablespace creation - there is only so much speeding up of raw I/O you can do in some environments !

The key to it all is the underlying database infrastructure - get that right, and you can scale and grow and improve. Get it wrong, and you are stuck, and it will never get better - you will always have a less than optimal environment.

TeraDBA Consultings' Database specialists work with the benefits of doing it right every day. We know what works, and we know what doesn't. We can come in and review your database infrastructure, set up an action plan to remediate, and work with you to implement - mentoring all the way.

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