Since nearly every application or tool in your tech stack connects to a database, it’s no surprise that 57% of organizations find themselves constantly managing database challenges.
Storing and accessing huge volumes of data poses problems when teams are responsible for managing the security, reliability, and uptime of multiple databases in a hybrid IT environment on top of their day-to-day tasks. Yet, these teams often run into the same issues across their tech stack and may not even recognize it.
Here are the 5 most common database challenges your team should watch out for and how to solve them.
1. Managing Scalability with Growing Data Volumes
As data volumes continue growing at an average of 63% per month, organizations often don’t have their databases set up to effectively scale.
Not only are individual tools and applications delivering larger datasets into databases, but there’s also a good chance your data is being updated and queried more frequently. Your queries are getting more complex, your data is more distributed, and you’re defining more relationships between your data. Many relational databases aren’t designed to support all of these factors.
Even if your database is designed to scale with your data needs, you may need to pay to manage and query your increasing amount of data. Horizontal scaling can only go so far before memory upgrade costs become untenable.
Something all organizations should consider is whether you’re actually using the data you’re storing. Create retention policies that reduce the amount of data you store as you scale. For example, you can decrease the amount of data you store by erasing transient data in permanent storage, allowing you to better leverage the storage you have available.
2. Maintaining Database Performance
Slow database performance isn’t just inconvenient for your team; it can also stall applications and impact your end-users. Providing the best experience for employees and customers is a must, so it’s crucial to solve database performance issues quickly.
Beyond scalability issues, high latency in databases is often related to slow read/write speeds. Caching to a remote host is one solution to support scaling your databases that don’t need to be updated frequently. This is a great way to offload the database, particularly if some of your data only needs to be accessed in read-only mode.
You should also focus on improving query performance. In some cases, that may involve creating indexes to retrieve data more efficiently. In others, that may involve leveraging more skilled employees with more experience working with databases. Otherwise, inexperienced users can create unexpected performance bottlenecks.
3. Database Access Concerns
Even if your organization sets up and regularly monitors database security, you may continue running into security issues based on your access permissions.
Embracing a least-privilege approach is a must if you’re experiencing database security issues. Reducing the number of people with access using role-based access control, attribute-based access control, or a combination of the two reduces the likelihood of insider threats, phishing or malware attacks, and human error that impacts your data quality. Limit access to users with the right skills to maintain peak performance.
Thankfully, you don’t have to manage access independently for every database. A robust infrastructure access platform can help you manage what access is appropriate across multiple databases based on roles and functions.
4. Misconfigured or Incomplete Security
There’s no doubt that misconfigured security poses a significant risk to databases, particularly in cloud environments. Often, incomplete cloud security without encryption can expose your data to external attacks. Yet, when you’re managing multiple databases, it’s easy to overlook correct configuration or security patches.
Newly deployed or updated databases are particularly at risk for attacks. Regularly monitoring and upgrading databases can enhance security, but those efforts fall short if your database isn’t properly encrypted. Some databases have encryption on by default, so query your database to confirm that either transparent data encryption (TDE) or tablespace encryption (TSE) is enabled.
Plus, poor database configuration or implementation can lead to both intentional data loss—through unauthorized access or exporting—and unintentional data loss through corruption or incomplete logs. Activating logging features helps organizations keep better track of their data, discover and triage data issues, and remediate lost data incidents. Tracking data movement, traces, and logs with full-stack observability tools gives your team the visibility needed to monitor databases and identify threats before sensitive data is at risk.
5. Data Integration and Quality Problems
Without data standardization, your organization can experience integration issues within your database. Finding and aggregating data for queries is especially difficult when data types and formats aren’t aligned across all sources. Plus, data silos across your organization may leave datasets incomplete, resulting in poor queries that both create performance issues and waste company time, resources, and money.
Not all data integration tools are created equal. Leverage platforms and tools that let your organization create rules to standardize your data for each source before it’s integrated into your data pipeline. From there, use the same standardization processes for the existing data in your database and employ automation to limit redundant or incomplete data.
It’s also important to ensure all your sources are integrated seamlessly and regularly into your database. Automation plays a crucial role in data integration, and many tools can push data into your database in real-time or more frequently. However, you may still want to set up integration frequency for different sources, since real-time updates for all data can impact performance if your solution isn’t prepared to support your data.
Managing Database Challenges with Confidence
With more data comes more database challenges. But, with the right tools and preparation, your organization doesn’t have to constantly focus on mitigating database issues. For instance, adopting a modern access control solution like strongDM, where workflows are streamlined for DBAs or developers will go a long way towards ensuring easy, secure access to databases.
At the end of the day, by overcoming these five common challenges, your organization can keep data quality high, improve its security posture, and maintain data accessibility for your organization.