Organizations need to keep a close watch on Oracle operations to ensure agreed service levels are always being met. Database downtime can quickly lead to financial and reputational impacts, making periodic Oracle database assessments integral to the smooth operation of your most critical business systems—and thus your company itself.   Also called Oracle database health checks, Oracle database assessments are part of creating what we like to call a boring database environment: No surprises and no downtime. This peaceful state doesn’t happen by accident, but requires planning and commitment to best practices.  This post explains what an Oracle database assessment should mainly focus on.

What to Check

Oracle database assessments can potentially include a wide range of tasks and probes, some of which might come under the heading of performance tuning, security vulnerability testing, or everyday DBA tasks (e.g., patching).    But to be effective, an Oracle database assessment needs to cover all the key installation, configuration, and policy factors that help improve uptime and/or prevent downtime. Even currently minor issues can cascade towards failure if left unchecked.   Some of the most important parameters and elements in your database environment to review and optimize include: 

  • Alert logs and trace files, to see if any events show up that point to potential database problems 
  • Database maintenance procedures, to validate best practices are being consistently followed
  • Parameter settings, to look for values that can negatively impact performance, security, stability, etc.
  • Data block validation, to identify corrupt blocks and missing files, which are prime causes of database outages
  • Finding invalid objects, which can proliferate and hurt performance and stability
  • Identifying index and tablespace fragmentation, both top causes of degrading database performance 
  • Validating important file configurations like datafiles, Redo log files and Archive log files to ensure database file and backup file integrity and prevent data loss and crashes
  •  Memory, CPU, and disk usage review to proactively address low resource conditions that can impact performance and stability

In-house or Outsource?

Oracle database assessments require significant expertise and attention to detail, especially if your environment is complex with many interrelationships. While in-house DBAs can perform Oracle database assessments, a fresh set of unbiased eyes from outside your organization can add a valuable perspective, while also offering expert guidance and sharing best practices.

Expect a Detailed Report

Whether you perform your Oracle database assessment in-house or outsource it, stakeholders should expect a comprehensive report that documents and prioritizes areas of concern and recommends best-practice next steps in line with business goals. 

What About Database Security?

In our experience, database security is often overshadowed by other security priorities.  Yet database security protects the lifeblood of your business—its sensitive data—and must be a core part of your overall cybersecurity program and strategy.  Because of database security’s importance and complexity, it makes sense to conduct Oracle database security assessments as an adjunct to your Oracle database assessments. A holistic approach that secures the data, the database configuration, identities and access, the network, the database server, and the physical environment is key to eliminating vulnerabilities and mitigating business risk.   Some database security “quick wins” we often recommend to clients include making the best use of Oracle’s built-in security features, which you’re already paying for as part of your database package. This includes downloading the Oracle Database Security Assessment Tool (DBSAT). This free tool scans your database and gives you a security profile including your overall database security configuration, users & entitlements, and sensitive data identification.

What’s Next?

Based on decades of experience helping our clients keep their databases stable and running optimally, Buda Consulting offers a 35-point Oracle database assessment that is reliable, thorough, unbiased, and keeps your in-house DBAs focused on other essential tasks.  Contact us to schedule time with an Oracle expert to talk over your situation, goals, and concerns.