Passionately curious about Data, Databases and Systems Complexity. Data is ubiquitous, the database universe is dichotomous (structured and unstructured), expanding and complex. Find my Database Research at SQLToolkit.co.uk . Microsoft Data Platform MVP

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing" Einstein

Monday 28 May 2018

CODEX: The Control of Data EXpediently

Complexity exists in database systems whether managing data or databases. The ability to understand this complexity and use this understanding to improve and innovate in the management of these database systems is an important step.  My PhD research investigations centred around understanding best practices and the complexity that exists around management of database systems. 

I used the analogy of a CODEX. The CODEX is a blueprint for database systems management. The acronym CODEX was selected by analogy with the revolutionary introduction of the Codex (Netz & Noel 2007, pp.69–85) in the first century AD which changed the storage medium from a roll to a Codex (book format). This brought challenges migrating the data, but significant benefits of increased speed of data access, reference and durability (of the parchment). Not all texts were migrated from rolls to Codex and those that were not migrated became defunct. Text case was changed from capitals to lowercase and minuscule copies made, resulting in further change; original majuscule manuscripts have not survived. This scholarly activity led to a revival in reading classic documents and a development of a centre of culture.

The CODEX is one of the outputs from the research, based on interpretation of the data. The components stated in the CODEX, are the most prevalent components that are connected when managing database systems.

The CODEX (Control of Data EXpediently) blueprint acronym is constructed as: C for control; O for control of Operations; D for data; E for expediently; and X for unpredictable events. It is an acronym for a system or way of controlling operations and data in a rapid, efficient and accurate manner.

The five inputs into the CODEX are required for every piece of data or database management work. These five inputs are described in the paragraphs below.

C. An important step in any database system is the control system: defining the business needs, budget, controlling the people and time factors. People are important in the management of the database system. It involves the stakeholders and the teams working together to achieve a single goal. The culture driving this collaborative venture forward will undoubtedly raise conflict, but this should be integrated with a high level of communication with all levels in management, the stakeholders, the teams and data and database staff. Also, the governance related to data and data quality should be controlled.

O. Control of operations of the database system is the core day to day running of management tasks, the processes and the performance of the system, orchestrating management through automated and self-managing systems where possible. Technical management needs to understand how internal and external technologies integrate. This is vital when using cloud technologies because internal managers have no control of the details. All of these operations require security to be considered to protect the data.

D. The increasing volume of data acquired today requires storage in various forms. Thus, databases or big data solutions have developed to satisfy the current demand not only for storage but also to provide information quickly and accurately. The variety of data, big or small, requires governance and has a purpose. The reporting and visualization of data is key to enhance business ability to grow, adapt and understand the complexity. Data is continually changing and more of it needs to be stored to meet the demands of society. Being able to understand the data for it to be available and useful, is a core requirement to improve and innovate.

E. Expediency is driven from the need to have efficient control over costs, speed of delivery and change. Designing database systems that are easy to manage, simple and agile utilising reference architectures and blueprints is key to performing expediently. To be able to proceed the critical factors are knowledge, skills, learning, leading to understanding and allowing planning to unfold unhindered. Development can lead to fast performing applications and efficient management through automation.

X. With any system and particularly in a diverse and ubiquitous database system, systems change is always happening, be it with the number and type of database platforms, the new technologies, global business or environment change. Change is rapid and diverse. Using patterns and always establishing best practice will help in the management of database systems. These best practices need to be able to rapidly change as requirements change or are not known at the outset. Producing documentation that can be automatically created is key for accuracy and ensuring documentation is available. Also, unpredictable events can occur and any changes to the components must be documented and changes to all respective components made. There is continuous feedback over time. 

I will discuss in another blog post, how the suggested pattern, CODEX (Control of Data EXpediently), can help improvement in managing database systems. Using AI to improve management, incorporating telemetry, and systems diagramming will aid with the change to come.

Holt, Victoria (2017). A Study into Best Practices and Procedures used in the Management of Database Systems. PhD thesis The Open University

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