Managing multiple databases can be time-consuming and confusing, especially for new developers. You’ll need to keep track of different specs, and possibly apply different strategies to your different database needs. Fortunately, there are a handful of strategies that can make your life easier—and ensure your management strategy is productive, secure, and appropriate for your needs.
Use the Right Apps
First, make sure you’re using the right apps. An app like TablePlus gives developers a clean UI that makes it easier to juggle multiple databases simultaneously, regardless of which languages you’re working with or which extensions you’re using. A good app should also be able to automatically highlight your syntax and possible errors, making it easier to review potential changes before you commit them to production.
Perhaps most importantly, you should be able to customize how your databases look. If you use different color schemes, backgrounds, or layouts to distinguish between your databases, it will be easier to visually determine which database you’re working in at any given time. With enough experience, it will become intuitive to toggle between them.
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Keep Everything Documented
It’s also vital that you keep everything documented. As you proceed to manage multiple databases on your own, you may make up the “rules” as you go along, committing your processes to memory. But eventually, you’ll reach a point where you don’t remember or misremember what you did previously, which can lead to inconsistencies or errors as you continue your management process. Even worse, if you’re out of commission and another developer needs to step in, they could compromise everything unwittingly by breaking the protocols you established.
At a minimum, make sure you document your backup and restore processes, how you’re encrypting at rest and in transit, and how you’re detecting anomalies. You’ll also want to document how you’re updating information between those databases, if applicable.
The more points of vulnerability you introduce to a working system, the more you’ll need to worry about security. If you have multiple variations of a single database, you’ll need to pay extra attention to how you secure them. Ideally, you’ll have a firewall to protect your database servers, and make sure those databases are only accessible from your app servers. You’ll also want to ensure SSL is used to secure connections between your database and application to prevent other people from gaining your information.
Optimize Your Databases for Their Environments
The more finely tuned your database is, the easier it will be to manage, and the fewer errors and security hiccups you’ll have. For example, if you’re working with a production server, you should be able to optimize it for performance, with better memory handling or optimization for different types of queries. If you’re working with multiple databases that are being used for different environments, you’ll need to make sure those databases are optimized differently. Leaving them with a default configuration or using identical parameters despite different applications can be a fatal mistake.
Choose the Right Scaling Strategy
You’ll also need to carefully consider your scaling strategy, especially if one or more of your databases is tied to an application that intends to grow. As a database gets more traffic, database queries start to slow down. There are a handful of strategies you can use to mitigate this slowdown, but each of them comes with a downside that could potentially be compounded with the use of multiple databases. For example, one of the most common approaches to resolving this is to create read replicas of a “master” database, which is used for writes. However, if you have two “master” databases to work with, this could force you to create multiple sets of subsidiaries read replicas, which ultimately results in having more to manage.
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Identifying and Compensating for Weaknesses
As you continue managing multiple databases, you’ll come to discover weaknesses in your approach, and opportunities to learn and refine that approach. Try to remain flexible, and experiment with different strategies to improve your efficiency, optimization, and security. The more experience you gain, and the better differentiated you keep your databases, the better your long-term management will be.
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