What Haven’t We Learned From the History of Database Management?
Database management has been around for about four decades now, at least in the form we recognize it today. We’ve learned a lot about how to store information, great ways to retrieve it, and nifty ways to use it. But what are some of the lessons we could still take away from this time-tested science?
If It’s a Good Idea, Keep Using It
If an idea produced measurable performance improvements in the past, why scrap it now?
Sometimes, programmers and developers think they have to completely start from scratch when it’s time to build a new database or application. Along with things that were inefficient or poorly thought out and likely need to be redesigned, they also toss out all the stuff that was working quite well, thank you very much. Don’t do this. When you’re developing a new system, take time to note all the things that work really well in the system you have. Then build the new system to eliminate problems and inefficiencies that the current system has. That’s how you end up with better systems.
Database Administrators Need to Be Included in App Development from the Beginning
So many applications fail to make good use of the data and the capabilties of the database. This is a shame, because that’s what databases are for. Bring in your DBA when it’s time to develop a new application so that you can get an entirely different perspective on what the data and database can do for your next app development. Don’t forget to check in with them periodically during the development process — they keep having good ideas if you keep giving them the chance. DBAs can also tell you what the challenges of a new application might be, such as what the data transfer process will entail and whether or not it’s practical to do.
Focus on the Data You Have, Not Just on the Applications
New apps come. Old apps go. The database, however, lives on.
Applications are here today and gone tomorrow, but the database is here to stay. Instead of worrying about setting up the database so that it works great with this particular application, think instead in terms of getting apps that work well with your database. This is how you assure that the database is able to meet your needs both now and in the future.
A good database will serve the organization for decades, and likely deliver an ROI that outpaces that of any executive to ever sit in the C-suite. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.