Database management and the new normal

By Phill
7th September 2020

In this video, Phill Clayton, founder and managing director of WellData, shares some key recommendations about the importance of managing your organisation’s database estate even during challenging times like the current ‘new normal’

Transcript of video

Transcript of YouTube Video Q&A

 

Giulia Iannucci, Know Thy Brand – Interviewer

Hi Phill

Thank you for taking your time in talking with us today.  I have three questions I would like to ask you.  The first one is about the effects of Covid because now that we’re arriving at the end of the Covid period, the lockdown and we’re entering the “new normal” I think it’s a good time to look back at what has happened in the last few months and I’m curious to know how the Covid lockdown has affected WellData?

 

Phill Clayton, MD –  Interviewee

It has been an interesting time for us.  WellData is naturally a teleworking company anyway.  All of our senior staff work from home or home offices and get access through our systems.  The main people it’s affected most are those of us who work in the office ie the commercial side, administration and most importantly the apprentices and the dispatch desk so they’ve all had to now work from home;  commercial side not a great problem; administrative side not a great problem either.  In other words we’re quite set up to work remotely in a natural situation.  The biggest problem for us has been the apprentices. They really do need to work together in a team and spark off each other and receive training and the rest so that’s not been the greatest thing and we are looking forward to getting them back in the near future but even that’s worked to some extent. We have daily conference calls with them that is the team leaders have daily conference calls with them and they are coming along nicely.  Apart from that it’s been business as usual.

 

Giulia Iannucci

And so when you talk about appentices these are new people who have joined your team and so we talking about training new people.  Do you still do training for people who have already joined the team?

 

Phill Clayton

Giulia training is our watchword in WellData.  The seniors are always training in the latest versions, cross-training into new products and new techniques, training in new monitoring techniques and all the rest of it.  The Apprentice team is new to us we started this a couple of years ago and we’re bringing them up to perform some of the more basic functions in database and infrastructure support.  We feel that as a company we are now big enough to take on apprentices, previously we weren’t but now we are, so there’s plenty enough experience within the company that can be shared with the Apprentice team and they can grow with us.  Unfortunately, just as the team reached its peak size we went into lockdown but who knew that that was going to happen right?

 

Giulia Iannucci

I know – nobody.  I’m sure that a lot of people listening to this video weren’t expecting what happened either.  If you had to give a tip or suggestion to people working with databases or who are responsible for database management today what would be your suggestion?  I know you have been working in this field for over 20 years if I am correct so I know we are talking to an expert?  What is your key suggestion?

 

Phill Clayton

WellData alone is 21 years old and the people who work within WellData have even got more experience than that. The fundamental thing is that the database is the core data repository of your business if you lose that you basically lose your business and I can’t stress that enough.  People overlook it at stages and say that’s just IT but if you don’t get it right you could easily lose your business in the process and we’ve got examples where companies have not treated their data or IT systems as carefully as they should have.  They’ve been infected with a virus which has affected the database and at that point they suddenly find out that their backups and restore procedures don’t work and they can’t get it back.  They don’t know what they’re supposed to be making, they don’t know who their customers are, they don’t know who their suppliers are, they can’t even pay the payroll.  As you can imagine they are no longer with us anymore, that company is gone. You have got to take these systems seriously they might look like magic to some people but they’re not,  the data they contain is the core of any business.  So I would say keep looking after your databases, keep looking after your IT systems even during Covid, even during lockdown.  It is important.

 

Giulia Iannucci

Thank you.  And I know you said that you know of some companies.  Would you be able to actually tell us a real story without naming the clients obviously or a company you know don’t need to name it because of proprietary reasons.  Can you share with us?

 

Phill Clayton

Yes absolutely.  There was a company local to us and I can’t say what they produced or what have you that would more or less give it away but their systems got infected by some ransomware.  They couldn’t afford to pay the bill and it’s not good practice to pay ransomware fines anyway and it was only at that point that their directors found out that the IT systems really weren’t up to specification.  They were limping along just good enough.  And when it came to it they found the backups hadn’t been taken they certainly haven’t been checked for validity or anything so when they came to do a restore there was almost nothing there, half the stuff was missing, most importantly most of the stuff they needed wasn’t there so not only did the malware take them out for a period of time but they couldn’t recover.  They didn’t know anything.  They didn’t know who their customers were.  They didn’t know who their suppliers were.  They didn’t even know how to pay their employees.  As you can imagine they’re not with us anymore.

 

Giulia Iannucci

So losing a database actually effectively can be the end of business.

 

Phill Clayton

It can be.  It’s quite natural for hardware to fail and you must have plans in place for those type of failures.  It’s not if it will happen. it’s always a question of when it will happen. We have talked to people who said well it’s not failed in the past 15 years and you say that’s right it hasn’t failed in the past 15 years but it could still fail tomorrow.  Hardware fails and you need plans in place.  How long can you be without your database system?  How much data can you afford to lose?  Have you practised recovering from a backup and disaster recovery mechanisms? What is your business continuity plan?  These are important things and the data in the database is by far the most important part of it.  If you don’t look after your databases you’re not looking after your data.  It can have severe consequences on your business if you don’t.

 

Giulia Iannucci

Look – I couldn’t agree more because unfortunately I am one of those companies that did lose data.  And we didn’t have a good recovery plan and so three months of data was lost.  Luckily only three months and we managed to recover most of it but it is a serious serious business and I can’t stress enough to those people who are listening to us how important your database is.  And you don’t realise this until you lose it.

 

Phill Clayton

You don’t realise until you lose it and we’re in the business of ensuring that you never lose it.  The whole reason behind WellData is to have a quiet time.  We keep on top of things all the time making sure that backups work making sure the restore procedures are feasible and doable making sure that the performances is adequate so it works making sure of capacity planning so that you don’t run out of space. All of these things on and on and on so there is no excitement every day. Every day in every way you come into work and the database is there as you expect it to be because we’ve been doing our job in the background

Failure or for instance problems with the database is already a failure you’ve got to avoid that.  Not fix it quickly that’s not the way to do it.  Fixed before fail, not run around like a headless chicken trying to fix a problem that should not have been there in the first place.

 

Giulia Iannucci

Fantastic thank you so much.  Now if I could ask you one final question?  Do you have a message for people who are listening to us especially considering that unfortunately things in the office are changing and companies are changing so much would you have any message for the people who are listening today?

 

Phill Clayton

Well everybody seems to be working from home now like we are but a lot of projects have come to an end and there’s a lot of people on furlough and what have you.  IT systems have to keep on moving forwards.  You can’t just leave them and we are quite used to teleworking/working from home and what have you there’s no reason why the projects shouldn’t move forward.  WellData is very experienced in becoming part of a company’s overall IT support team, so allowing them to do their work whilst we keep all the databases functioning in the background, integrating into their IT support structure, making everything work seamlessly, that’s our watchword.  So I’d say to people if you haven’t used us before give us a call and see how we can help you and your business.

 

Giulia Iannucci

Thank you very much Phil thank you for your time and until next time

 

Phill Clayton

Thank you very much Giulia and lovely to talk to you.

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