Technology is the great enabler for all modern business growth, and databases of some sort or another underpin all modern business technology. Database technology is the infrastructure upon which modern applications and businesses are built. This is no different than what has occurred in the past with other technologies. For example, new methods of transportation such as air travel and long-distance shipping created the basis for the import/export industry we all depend on now. And manufacturing as we know it was enabled by electricity, assembly lines, and robotic machines that can do repetitive jobs 24 hours a day. Technology always marches on, and with it can come drastic changes.
Revenue and profitability is the (most used) measure of success in modern business. Wall Street and investors scrutinize revenue growth, and along the way, they look for predictors for future success. They look for companies that are innovative, disruptive, and have the right infrastructure in place (team, momentum, sales process, R&D, etc. ), and they bet big on companies whose trajectory is upwards.
Most people don’t often associate database infrastructure with revenue growth and profitability. However, just like having electricity at a manufacturing plant, it is absolutely critical to have this foundational technology set up correctly to enable the growth of the rest of the company.
There are three checkboxes in database infrastructure that are the litmus test for ensuring the rest of the organization can grow at scale and as fast as needed:
- Any database infrastructure must be designed to be secure & available by default. Data is a company’s most critical asset and it owes it to customers, shareholders, and employees to keep it safe.
- Be set up to meet the expectations of your users (internal or external), which is easier said than done as expectations are skyrocketing. (Outages, uptime, usability, etc.)
- Focus on building the right infrastructure that supports your unique needs/fingerprint, making a foundation that not only increases efficiency but also lowers cost.
These checkboxes may sound simple, and on paper, they are. But realistically, most companies often struggle in some form or another with all three of these. This can limit their growth and success.
Data is the Lifeblood of Modern Business
There is no doubt that data is the lifeblood, or currency, of modern businesses. You cannot find a modern business that is not using data to try and accelerate revenue, reduce costs, and make business decisions. Storing vast amounts of data to analyze and utilize is the new normal, but this new normal comes with expectations and requirements.
Don’t Let It Leak: Your Reputation and Business is at stake
Keeping control of your data is paramount to the growth and future viability of any business. Losing control of your data is incredibly costly, as not only can you be fined (GDPR, HIPAA, etc.) or face jail time in some cases, but you also risk revenue and reputation loss as you lose the trust and business of your customers. Once you lose the trust of your customers it is very hard and costly to regain that trust. Think about it – what it would take to win your business back if someone leaked personal details about you?
In just the first 8 months after GDPR came into effect there were more than forty thousand reported data breaches and 91 companies who were fined. The biggest fine came in July, when British Airways was fined £183.39m ($236 million USD) for infringements of the data protection law.
Here are just a few of the headlines reporting database-related leaks in 2019:
- Data Breach At DoorDash Compromised Privacy Of 4.9 Million People
- Open database leaked 179GB in customer, US government, and military records
- 7.5 Million Records of Adobe Creative Cloud User Data Exposed
- Honda Motors Company databases leaked 40GB of employee data
- 885 million sensitive financial records left exposed by First American
- Over 540 million Facebook records found on exposed AWS servers
- Massive leak exposed 809 million email addresses and other records
- Cloud database removed after exposing details on 80 million US households
- Unsecured Databases Leak 60 Million Records of Scraped LinkedIn Data
- Chinese companies have leaked over 590 million resumes via open databases
- Unsecured MongoDB database exposes real-time locations of families
- Database leaks 250K legal documents, some marked ‘not designated for publication’
- Docker Hub Database Hack Exposes Sensitive Data of 190K Users
You don’t have to look far to see the growing number of database breaches and leaks taking their toll. These have taken place in every conceivable industry and for companies both small and large. The sad state is that most of these could easily be avoided. In fact, most are caused by human error or overlooked steps in security practices.
Meeting User Expectations
User expectations are higher than ever. A recent Google study found that if your application does not respond in three seconds or less, more than half of mobile website users will leave your site. And with the majority of web traffic coming from mobile devices, this could really affect your bottom line.
You cannot survive in business if your users are not taken care of.
Whether it’s your customers or your internal team, users unable to get what they need when they need it leads to frustration. So how can you set up your database infrastructure to ensure you exceed user expectations?
- Build flexible systems that allow you to add database nodes, slaves, or other components to scale up and down to meet the demands of the application
- Upfront design is super important, as sometimes bad design locks you into poor performance down the road
- Backup, backup, backup (Percona XtraBackup performs a hot backup of your MySQL data while systems are running)
- Test and review performance every few months
- Use our Cost of Database Downtime Calculator to see just how much downtime could cost you
Build the Right Infrastructure
It has never been easier than it is today to find, add, and use new technology to help move your business forward. Often you will see individuals try new technology that helps them quickly analyze and understand critical trends and patterns in their data. The speed in which they can do this can be a game-changer, but as we learned in the movie Spiderman: “with great power, comes great responsibility.” Used incorrectly, technology can cause massive disruptions.
In the past when you wanted to use a new tool or add new software into your environment, you had to go through a process of involving IT to provision new hardware, get the servers set up and configured, and gain access. This process acted as a gatekeeper of sorts, enabling the technology experts to ask critical questions and offer better, or more secure ways to handle the same thing. With the rise of XaaS and infrastructure, it enables many users and developers to circumvent much of “IT” to do small things without the general centralized oversight that existed in the past.
This is especially true in the database space. Database vendors have spent a great deal of time making it easy for anyone to get started. In fact, the popularity of many popular database technologies (MongoDB, Elastic, and others) is fueled by how easy they have made it to get started. Taking that a step further, adding a database into any cloud provider is dead simple. Now not only can developers do it without assistance from a DBA or a database expert, but any user in your company can also do it with a click. Although vendors advertise security as a “Shared Responsibility,” the reality is that your application, your end-user access, and your usage is ultimately your responsibility. This is where many database leaks happen; someone moves data over to an external service, they don’t know how to properly secure the data, and it is left exposed.
If you build it, they will come
In order to build the right database infrastructure from the start, you will need to keep in mind…
- There is no single database that does it all, and there are many different vendor, cloud, and XaaS options. Make sure you do your research to find the ones that best meet your needs.
- Keeping your database portable helps you avoid vendor lock-in. Before signing any agreement(s), know that you can negotiate entry/exit plans should you wish to move vendors, And be sure to keep an eye on auto-renewals!
- Being cloud-native is key as methodologies, enhancements, and tools for applications have outpaced databases.
- Build resilient and fault-tolerant applications and systems from the beginning, and plan for them to fail. If you keep this in mind, you are better prepared for the day it actually happens.
- A large portion of the community employs a multi-vendor database strategy, and you would be wise to do the same. Every vendor may not provide everything you need for your applications; so think about aligning them with each vendor’s strength.
- There is no AI, automation, or tool that can completely handle all database-related needs.
It comes down to this: if you want to grow revenue, you’re going to need to make sure your database infrastructure is set up to enable you to do so. If your applications aren’t up and running, if you are losing data, if your customers don’t trust you, and if your customers (or employees) can’t get what they need when they need it, you’re going to have a hard time building revenue.
Technology was, is, and will continue to be a driving force for modern business growth, and the management of data and databases is nothing to take lightly. Percona is a leading provider of unbiased open source database solutions that allow organizations to easily, securely and affordably maintain business agility, minimize risks, and stay competitive. Our experts can maximize your application performance with our open source database support, managed services or consulting for MySQL, MariaDB, MongoDB, and PostgreSQL in on-premises and cloud environments.
So if you’re in the planning stages of revenue planning for 2020, or finalizing your technology budgets, we can help. We have extensive experience advising companies on the best way to configure, manage and run databases to ensure that not only are they secure but they also continue to drive revenue.