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Monday, 11 July 2011

Database Ethics

This article provides a reflection on the ethics required by a database administrator (DBA). This philosophical code of behaviour sets out the principles for the profession. The DBA ethics storyboard is a visualization of the ethics and is shown in figure1.


Figure 1 DBA Ethics Storyboard

Ethic 1 DBA - the role of a DBA requires
• a person who is a database advocate
• being proactive rather than reactive
• having numerous interconnected responsibilities
• clear communication with all the interconnected technologists
• making recommendations to the public
• that if a mistake is made corrective action needs to be taken immediately
• to exercise governance and agility

Ethic 2  DATA
• the data the organizations hold is the most precious asset it has. A DBA must protect it
• the quality of the data should be maintained
• all types of data whether structured or unstructured need looking after
• data is retained and archived appropriately

Ethic 3 SECURITY - a DBA is responsible for
• making data available to authorized users and ensuring data it is inaccessible to the unauthorized user
• identification of sensitive data, managing it securely and auditing access
• patching and a DBA should have a patching philosophy to prevent security issues arising

Ethic 4 ARCHITECTURE - a DBA  should
• ensure good data modelling and design techniques are used 
• use the right database application for the requirements
• have an entity relationship diagram should for each database
• have a master data management process to define and manage entities

Ethic 5 DEVELOPMENT - a DBA should ensure
• the development scripts written are version controlled
• coding standards are followed
• the scripts include a description of the tasks

Ethic 6 AVAILABILITY- a DBA should
• monitor the system to ensure it is always available when it is needed
• regularly review error logs
• manage scheduling and job success rate
• ensure there is a capacity management process in place
• ensure good performance is maintained

Ethic 7 DISASTER RECOVERY - a DBA should ensure
• backups are taken regularly and regularly verify the quality of the said backups
• every database has a documented disaster recovery plan.
• that a recovery time objective and a recovery point objective are defined
• backups are stored offsite
• a server configuration snapshot is stored offsite

Ethic 8 CHANGE - a DBA should
• monitor changes to the system
• follow processes for management.
• have a multiple tier environment to validate changes
• have a risk assessment strategy
• ensure rollback can occur for failed changes
• identify the consequences of a change
• have a verification process to determine if the change was successful

Ethic 9 PROBLEMS 
• have a process for problem management

Ethic 10 DOCUMENT - a DBA should ensure
• appropriate documentation is written or obtained
• a summary of essential information such as configuration information be created
• there is a process for keeping the documentation up to date and reviewed regularly
• a self-documenting system is created where possible

Ethic 11 AUDITING - a DBA should ensure there are regular database audits which
• periodically audit each database and provide a health check
• have a predefined checklist to follow
• have a description of the purpose of each check

Ethic 12  BEST PRACTICE- a DBA should
• follow best practice for design, development and administration based on vendor recommendations, practical field experience, database usergroups,  and environmental constraints
• aim for standardization and automation

Ethic 13 IMPROVEMENT- a DBA should
• reflect and iterate throughout the database system
• have a documented database roadmap

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