Do you know how many databases your organisation has installed? Locally? Across whatever continent you are on? Globally? I don't just mean: which vendors have you bought them from (even if you know that much, which many large organisations won't), but how many instances of each database are there? And of those instances, do you know which instance relates to which version of each product? And do you know which patches have been applied to each of these?
No? Welcome to the club. Neither does anyone else. Why not? Because there is no software currently available that will go and find out all of this information for you.
When I first discovered this I was rather surprised, to say the least. I mean, systems management products like UniCenter, OpenView and Tivoli have been auto-discovering bits of your network for years, so you would have thought that BMC, Quest, ALG and Embarcadero, for example, would be able to do the same thing for databases; but apparently not. I guess it's more difficult to auto-discover a database than a router, though I am not sure that I know why. Actually, it probably isn't finding the database that is difficult but being able to read the metadata that allows you to discover such things as the version number, patches applied and so on.
Why is this an issue? Well, for starters, you can't manage what you don't know. If you have tightening batch windows (and who doesn't?) how can you prioritise the background tasks that need to be run (taking back-ups, for example) if you don't know what databases you have and which are most important? And the same applies to applying patches - the ideal management tool would tell you what patches had been applied to which databases, which newly issued patches were relevant to which of your existing databases, how long each would take to install on each system, and so on and so forth. With that sort of information you can plan. Moreover, it would take a lot of the tedious database management stuff out of the equation.
But, of course, because you don't know what databases you have, you can't do any of this stuff, or a lot more.
So, what if I told you that there is a company that is working on precisely this sort of capability: auto-discover all of your databases, identify the version and patches applied, help to identify the owner of each database, filter new patches according to their relevance to you, allow you to prioritise across database instances for back-up and similar purposes? Would you be interested in such a solution? I can't tell you who it is because they haven't gone public yet and the product is only in the alpha stage. However, the company will be looking for beta partners soon and if you are interested then you can contact me and I'll pass your name on.
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