A Strong Database Tool{1}

by Shigom H
Regis Charlot, author of peer-reviewed journal “Providing an Infrastructure For A Cross-Database Management Tool”  presents his teams very own software tool called dbAnalyst as a solution to the many problems encountered in managing a  large database. Database software tools are vendor-specific and require extensive knowledge from experienced Database professionals. dbAnalyst is a database software tool with many features such as the ability to reverse engineer, generate database alert, and explore database content across different databases. The authors make a case for dbAnalyst by presenting several real-life examples in where utilizing their tool can be beneficial. For example, an electronic medical record that consist of multiple software from different vendors can be a headache to deal with.  As discussed in class, some of the challenges with heterogeneous data might include maintaining similar schema structures across databases,  and  migrating database content from different databases. Although the task might seem simple, it  is actually costly and requires a handful of experienced database administrators. Thus, dbAnalyst is an open-architecture software tool that works across different platforms to address these problems.

Most database vendors provide a database system catalog, which is like another database containing user-created objects that make reverse-engineering possible. However reverse-engineering can be complex because prior knowledge of the database structure is necessary along with the fact that each vendor utilizes  a different database implementation approach.  Generally the database structure is similar across platforms but different syntax, storage clauses, and optimization rules- make it difficult to create a universal tool. According to the article, storage clauses and optimization rules are considered “expert knowledge” and require an experienced database professional.  At most, a universal database tool could probably only simplify these tasks for expert database administrators.

The authors emphasize that a database tool must implement a universal interface along with an intelligent browsing-method that allows users to explore database content. The database tool must highlight important relationships including objects that rely on other objects  or are relied upon. Another important feature for a database tool is the ability to reverse engineer and generate “vendor-specific SQL grammar ” and use these scripts for a different database vendor. As mentioned earlier the authors insist that a database tool must assist experienced database administers with optimization and maintenance tasks. Finally, a database tool must be capable of exporting and importing database content.

The article touched upon most of the concepts covered in class last week. Their is a great necessity for high-quality information but the lack of uniformity in the implementation of database system can create chaos for a company. I noticed that many of the features described in the article are also included in SQL Server Management Studio. According to the article, management tools do not provide sufficient support for all database vendors. It seems costly to develop a database tool that support different databases along with their many versions. The article was written as a case for the release of dbAnalyst, and is now made available for purchase. Most of the features the article describes are included in the software.  You can view the features of dbAnalyst at:  http://www.seabirdsoftware.com/index.html

Charlot, R. (n.d.). Providing an Infrastructure For A Cross-Database Management Too. IEEEXplore. Retrieved November 25, 2012, from 0-ieeexplore.ieee.org.opac.library.csupomona.edu/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=1000386