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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Kate Duggan

Why databases have moved from a backroom to a boardroom discussion

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Red Gate is a Business Reporter client.

There are good reasons business leaders should care about their database – and hidden costs for not doing so

For most business leaders, the database is something you don’t think much about until there’s an issue with it. It’s like running water, electricity or the coffee machine: you just expect it to work. Then when it cuts out or malfunctions, the impact is felt across the business.

That’s the real power of the database – if treated well, it can be a major accelerator of efficiency across your business. Your data, after all, is one of your most important assets. Across every sector, whether it’s financial services or healthcare, government or retail, manufacturing or media, databases provide access to products or services, sales or support, and the data they collect and process offer the insights enterprises need to navigate what has become an uncertain business environment.

An optimised database can be the star performer in your migration to the cloud, in your move to microservices and in other change initiatives. If the right guardrails aren’t in place, however, in terms of how databases are managed and monitored, and how data is protected, they can become a significant business risk. That, in turn, can result in some unexpected costs.

The cost of downtime

The first is downtime because database performance issues can become very costly, very quickly. Using research from the Ponemon Institute and OpsWorks Co, the average cost of enterprise downtime caused by the database has been calculated at $4.05 million per year.

While that seems high, it’s easy to see how it adds up, with the 2022 ITIC Global Server Reliability Survey revealing that 91 per cent of organisations calculate the hourly cost of unplanned downtime being $300,000. Alongside that is the number of downtime incidents per year, with the Ponemon Institute’s Data Center Downtime study finding that data centres experienced an average of 2.4 total facility shutdowns per year and ten further downtime events on selected racks or servers.

Hence the increasing recognition that a database monitoring tool can help diagnose and resolve issues quickly and reduce the possibility of downtime happening in the first place. It can also alert you to security problems that put your data at risk – the cost of which is another concern.

Business Reporter: Red Gate

The cost of data breaches

The cost of downtime that we’ve already seen reflects the direct costs of remediating the technical issues and business problems that caused the downtime. If robust database practices and tools are not in place, you can also increase your risk of a data breach.

According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022, 83 per cent of organisations have had more than one data breach, and a single data breach costs an average of $5.05 million in the UK, while in the US it rises to $9.44 million. Again, that’s just the initial financial hit, and the cost to the brand and bottom line will be far further reaching than that.

Worryingly, it’s almost certain that you’re storing sensitive data in your database estate. As such, one of the key responsibilities for enterprises is to maintain database compliance and security in line with regulations. And these rules are changing all the time, thanks largely to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force across the EU in 2018.

Since then, tighter legislation has been enacted across the globe with, notably, the lack of federal legislation in the US prompting nine states so far to put comprehensive data privacy laws in place. Without proper investment in tools and processes, it’s easy for databases to be exposed to attacks.

The cost of human error and lost productivity

When looking into the risk of data breaches, a surprising factor emerges. Thales 2023 Data Threat Report found that, for the second year running, “human error” was the number one concern, ahead of “hacktivists” and “nation-state actors”.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise because manual database and software deployments involve laborious and error-prone steps that are costly and time-consuming, and increase the chance of failed deployments, downtime and heightened risk.

Automating the process with the wide range of proven tools now available makes deployments reliable, repeatable and robust, minimises errors and gets software in front of customers much faster.

It also resolves another hidden cost – disengaged employees and a subsequent fall in productivity. This is a major concern, with Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report showing that, while 23 per cent of employees are engaged and thriving, 59 per cent don’t feel engaged and are “quiet quitting”, and 18 per cent are actively disengaged and “loud quitting”.

That’s a very big – and largely unseen – hit to the bottom line. Yet when asked what employees would change to make the workplace better, engagement and wellbeing are far ahead of pay and benefits. It’s about doing less repetitive work and gaining more autonomy to stimulate creativity.

In terms of the database, introducing automation and streamlining processes results in freeing IT teams from the boring work that causes them to be disengaged. This enables them to do more fulfilling work that benefits them and, just as importantly, the business they work for.

The cost of regulatory fines

Finally, we come to what is becoming the biggest cost of all: the fines levied as a result of the increasingly tighter data privacy legislation we’ve seen being enacted.

As of June 2023, the total fines imposed under the GDPR top €4 billion. While Meta heads the list with a May 2023 fine of €1.2 billion, 1,716 fines have been imposed on a wide range of other businesses. In September 2022, the first fine under the California Consumer Protection Act, of $1.2 million, was also imposed. A smaller sum, but a sign that data protection has now become a business issue everywhere.

And sitting at the heart of all these costs, whether it’s downtime, breaches, human error or data protection regulations, is the database. Properly managed and monitored, databases can be a valuable business asset. But, as we’ve seen, the cost of doing nothing can escalate rapidly. No surprise, then, that in many enterprises the database has now moved from the backroom to a boardroom discussion.

Redgate has specialised in providing database solutions for over 20 years. Your organisation can achieve speed, reliability and greater efficiencies, all while minimising downtime and maintaining compliance.

Find out more at

Kate Duggan, CMO, Redgate
— (Redgate)

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