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5 Tips to Keep Your Agency’s Data and Applications Working as Hard as You Do

Level 12

By Joe Kim, SolarWinds EVP, Engineering and Global CTO

In some ways, data has become just as much a colleague to federal IT managers as the person sitting next to them. Sure, data can’t pick up a burrito for you at lunchtime, but it’s still extraordinarily important to agency operations. Data keeps things going so that everyone in the agency can do their jobs – just like your fellow IT professionals.

Unfortunately, as my colleague Thomas LaRock wrote last year, too many people still treat data as a generic commodity instead of a critical component of application performance. But applications are at the heart of just about everything government employees do, and those applications are powered by databases. If there’s a problem with an application, it’s likely due to an underlying performance issue with the database it runs on.

As data and applications continue to become more intertwined, it’s time to get serious about employing strategies to ensure optimal database performance. Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Integrate DBAs into the IT mix

It may seem incredible, but to this day many agencies are still arranged in siloes, with different teams shouldering separate responsibilities. As such, despite their importance to network and application performance, many DBAs still operate in their own bubbles, separate from network administrators and IT managers. But, IT and DBA teams should work together to help ensure better application performance and availability for everyone’s sake.

2. Establish performance baselines before you start monitoring

Your strategy starts with monitoring for performance issues that may be causing problems with an agency’s applications. Before you even begin this, you’ll need to set up baselines to measure against. These baselines will allow you to track the code, resource, or configuration change that may be causing the anomalies and fix the issues before they become larger problems.

3. Start monitoring — but take it to the next level

Take things a step further by digging deeper into your data. Use real-time data collection and real-time monitoring in tandem with traditional network monitoring solutions to improve overall database performance, and maintain network and data availability. Incorporate tools with wait-time analysis capabilities to help identify how an application request is being processed, and which resources that application may be waiting on. This can help pinpoint the root cause of performance issues so you can see if they’re associated with your databases.

4. Then, go even further — into your application stack and beyond

Applications are co-dependent upon each other. When one slows down or fails, it could adversely affect the entire stack. Therefore, you’ll want to use monitoring solutions that provide visibility across your entire application stack, not just sections or individual applications. This includes software, middleware, and, especially, databases. This type of monitoring can help you zero in on potential issues wherever they may reside in your organization, and make it much easier to address them to minimize downtime and keep things rolling.

5. Don’t stop — be proactive and continuously monitor

Proactive and continuous monitoring is the best approach, and must involve software and teamwork. Start with deploying solutions that can automatically monitor applications and databases 24/7. Make sure that everyone is on the same page and appreciates end-user expectations in regards to page load and response times. Know that the work the team does impacts the entire agency, and can directly influence – positively or negatively – their colleagues’ efforts toward achieving their agencies’ goals.

Databases and applications will continue to play a part in these efforts, and you’ll be working alongside them for as long as you’re in federal IT. They might not be able to chat with you over a cup of coffee, but they’ll always be there for you – until they’re not.

Don’t let it get to that point. Do whatever it takes to keep your databases and applications working just as hard as you.

Find the full article on GovLoop

7 Comments
Level 11

Does SolarWinds have real-time monitoring tools that can be scripted out and perhaps can be used as something that can be triggered as an action in an alert?

Level 21

ekis​ most monitoring tools are not real-time due to their nature and how they work, in line with that logic I also would not call the SolarWinds tools real-time.  With that being said, their monitoring tools are fantastic and with the Orion products you can have scripted responses to alerts.  You can also have your own scripted monitors with Orion SAM.

MVP
MVP

Every company I have worked for in the last 30+ years had the DBA's as part of IT...so it they are not already, then you are way behind the curve.

Everything else is monitoring 101 and applies to the Federal as well as the private sector.

MVP
MVP

Excellent points and great reminders of what we should be doing.

MVP
MVP

Good article

Level 20

I'm rolling out another NPM/SAM installation on an air gapped network and will be following this process soon again.  Establishing the baseline and monitoring from there going forward.

3. Start monitoring — but take it to the next level & 5. Don’t stop — be proactive and continuously monitor

My favorite points. Monitoring & Availability should be accelerated into a proactive, goal-oriented, state.

About the Author
Joseph is a software executive with a track record of successfully running strategic and execution-focused organizations with multi-million dollar budgets and globally distributed teams. He has demonstrated the ability to bring together disparate organizations through his leadership, vision and technical expertise to deliver on common business objectives. As an expert in process and technology standards and various industry verticals, Joseph brings a unique 360-degree perspective to help the business create successful strategies and connect the “Big Picture” to execution. Currently, Joseph services as the EVP, Engineering and Global CTO for SolarWinds and is responsible for the technology strategy, direction and execution for SolarWinds products and systems. Working directly for the CEO and partnering across the executive staff in product strategy, marketing and sales, he and his team is tasked to provide overall technology strategy, product architecture, platform advancement and engineering execution for Core IT, Cloud and MSP business units. Joseph is also responsible for leading the internal business application and information technology activities to ensure that all SolarWinds functions, such as HR, Marketing, Finance, Sales, Product, Support, Renewals, etc. are aligned from a systems perspective; and that we use the company's products to continuously improve their functionality and performance, which ensures success and expansion for both SolarWinds and customers.