This is a guest post by Rebecca Harrisson, a writer from Oslo, Norway, focusing on science and technology subjects.
On-line you’ll find dbWatch around the world, keeping DBAs productive in seven countries. When I came to meet them, I found their offices on the fifth floor of a building not far from the opera house in Oslo, Norway.
A third of dbWatch’s employees are DBAs themselves. They understand the trials and challenges that DBAs face in real-life situations and work passionately towards one goal: to make the best software for DBAs by DBAs, software that integrates server monitoring with performance tuning and direct administration.
One of these dedicated DBAs is Andreas Hope. He has helped dbWatch develop their proactive strategy.
An interview with Andreas Hope
When I sat down to discuss dbWatch with Andreas Hope I soon discovered Andreas’ main passion (after his family) – database management and administration. His excitement shone through while describing dbWatch and how the software helps DBAs.
What is dbWatch’s most important function?
Productivity is central to our company. We want to help DBAs be more productive.
When I worked in operations I hated putting out fires. It’s very stressful and fires mean that there’s no time for what you need to do: proactive work - organizing things, optimizing and doing new things. We want DBAs to save time by becoming proactive, rather than putting all their time into reacting.
How does dbWatch use automation to help with routine tasks?
Our goal is to remove as much of the routine as possible by automating the regular maintenance for you. dbWatch optimizes indexes, cleans up, monitors and more. This saves you from the boring, routine tasks you have to do everyday. We automate everything that is possible to automate.
What does dbWatch monitor?
We monitor everything all the time. Sometimes people think ‘those servers aren’t important’. That's only true until they tank, and then they have to be fixed yesterday.
dbWatch generates log files and filters them, so you don’t have to look through them. On our monitoring screen, there are three balls Green = fine, Yellow = warning and Red = alert. All you have to do is keep your eye on the ball, and see where work has to be done.
When you see a problem, you can fix it directly from dbWatch here is no need to open a separate console to manage the server. In your inventory all the access information is already entered, so you don’t have to switch between tools t’s all there in one tool, so you can save time.
dbWatch started out focusing on monitoring years ago, but now offers much more. Could you tell me about these developments?
We wanted one versatile software package. Beyond monitoring, it includes performance analysis and tuning, administrative advanced reporting, access control, customized features and security. In addition, there is consolida support, giving you the tools you need to help control number of servers.
Finally, it is easy to customize the software to fit your environment, addressing any special needs or issues .
Tell me more about your security.
We have a very advanced and complete security module with role based access controls with encryption. It meets the requirements for government, military, health care and financ situations.
How does dbWatch integrate with the servers?
dbWatch works on all servers with one interface, so there’s no switching between windows. This interface has platform specific features and views. Everything is specific per platform, the number of databases, the inventory, a list of all the servers you manage, the different platforms (Oracle/ Microsoft), and libraries with all the procedures and checks.
We have a list of best practices so you know which areas need to be monitored and watched for maintenance. When we know your server type there is a ready list of procedures dbWatch is installed, the tasks up-load automatically and are accessible through our user-friendly interface.
What happens when new instances are added?
For the initial loading, we have a bulk import function which can be set up in a few minutes if all the server information and passwords are set up in a spread sheet.
There is also an auto-scan function, which we use to scan the network to find all the database servers there. When dbWatch has found them, it presents them to be added. dbWatch scans regularly because different departments can fire up servers for business intelligence, analytics or other applications without telling you.
How does dbWatch license control and optimization work?
Our license model allows for dbWatch installation on all your instances. Because you are, essentially, renting the software, you pay as you go and maintenance is part of the inclusive rental price.
Tell me about dbWatch’s reporting function.
Looking at 500 reports is too much, so we have made group operations. So from, say, 450 servers, you can name, group, filter, search and tag them. You can group them by function, server type, what’s on the server - you can change your view so you know what’s going on. This meaningful organization helps you know where to find everything and allows you to find a specific server to check out problems.
Keep your eye on the ball
While Andreas still had much to say about database monitoring, we both were running out of time. Before I left, he walked me down the hall to view their testing room, where dbWatch tests their newest software developments on live instances.
Per and Marcin greeted me over their first cups of coffee. On one wall three screens showed status: instances with ‘green balls’ 147, one orange ball, and none with red. Per and Marcin had their eyes on the ball, with plenty of time to enjoy their coffee while they worked on software development - no fires in sight.