Friday, January 09, 2015

New Skills Required of Internet DBAs

When DBAs transition from supporting internal applications only, to Internet-exposed applications, there are a lot of additional skills required to ensure success. Some of these skills are obvious, like the need to understand the protocols of the Internet including HTTP and FTP and how data is transferred across the Internet. Others, are more business-focused, such as the impact of clients accessing your data over the Web from anywhere at any time. Still others are bit more esoteric, like knowledge of the basic tools used for web development including CGI, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), and how URLs are structured. You should also bone up on Web-development methods and technologies like JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), XML, and the like. 
    If Java is used, the DBA must develop a working knowledge of the language and how databases are accessed using SQL with Java. This is needed for design, development, and tuning of Java-based web-enabled database applications.

    There are several additional skills that will make you a better Internet-using-DBA that should top the list of things to learn before your try to support Web-enabled database applications as a DBA. Compliance and security should top that list. Learn about SQL injection attacks and how to prevent them. Learn about protecting your data using all of the capabilities of your DBMS including trusted context, data masking, row permissions, views, and label-based access control. Learn about the encryption capabilities of your DBMS, O/S and hardware -- and what encrypting data might mean regarding efficient data access. Also, knowledge of Internet security technologies like SSL, firewalls, and network/OS security will prove to be useful.

    You must also obtain knowledge on the connections from DB2 to the Internet.  This requires knowing how connections are configured and how TCP/IP is setup, configured, and administered.

    Another good idea is to gain a working knowledge of the operating system for the server on which your Web server is running. This facilitates easier monitoring and tuning for performance  problems. If you are a z/OS DB2 DBA, this will likely require you to get out of your comfort zone and dig into Linux or some variant of Unix.

    It can also be worthwhile to develop a better understanding of highly available RAID storage technologies in use for most 24x7 Internet applications.

    Of course, having a clear understanding of the business functionality that is being achieved via the web-enabled databases in your organization is also vitally important. Only by understanding the business impact of database downtime can the appropriate administrative techniques be deployed to maintain constant availability.

    I don't imagine that this is a 100 percent complete list of thing-you-need-to-know, but it is probably a good place to start your learning adventure. Let me know what I might have missed by adding your comments below! 

    And if you already support Internet access to your databases and you don't feel up-to-date on these items, then it is definitely time to get cracking!

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