Network monitoring refers to oversight of the entire network infrastructure. Database monitoring is concerned specifically with tracking the health and performance of databases.
Effective database monitoring offers several benefits. Like network monitoring, it’s proactive, allowing administrators to recognize warning signs of potential problems and deal with them before they reach users. It also increases efficiency; databases are one of the first places system administrators will look when apps have problems, and active database monitoring makes it easier for them to hone in on and fix those issues. And database monitoring strengthens security by identifying anomalous activity, checking data backups, and performing other security functions.
As with network monitoring and server monitoring, database monitoring strategies will vary depending on the types of databases being used — relational databases vs. NoSQL databases, for example — and the metrics they expose. In general, though, database monitoring should track the following areas:
- Infrastructure: Database issues like poor query performance can be the result of other network events, so it’s important to monitor infrastructure metrics such as available memory and disk space, percentage of virtual memory use, network bandwidth for inbound and outbound traffic, and the percentage of CPU time used by database processes..
- Availability: Ensuring the database is available allows administrators to deal with outages before they impact the customer.
- Throughput: Measuring throughput during different workload periods allows administrators to establish production performance baselines. These metrics will vary by database platform, but the number of active database connections, the average time to complete a read query, and the number of completed transactions are some of the most common.
- Scheduled tasks: Repetitive tasks such as backups, integrity checks, archiving and similar maintenance operations should also be monitored.
- Logs: Log management should be a core component of any database monitoring strategy. Collected and parsed log data can reveal database system events, all user and system queries, scheduled job outputs and other important information.
- Security: Database monitoring can provide the first level of protection by tracking metrics such as the number of failed login attempts, password changes and database configuration change events. Anomalies in these and other areas can signal potential security events that warrant additional investigation.
Most database monitoring tools will give comprehensive visibility into these and other performance indicators and ping administrators if there are any performance issues. The best tools will also provide insights into the root causes of those issues, enabling faster troubleshooting.