How to Achieve Simplified Database Management Across Disparate Databases at Health & Human Services

By Sherry Walshak, Senior Federal Solutions Marketing Manager - Nutanix, and Maggie Smith, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager - Nutanix Database Solutions

December 7, 2021 | min

Federal agencies focused on health and human services have long faced challenges around the capture, management, and analysis of large quantities of data, but the Covid-19 pandemic appears to have significantly compounded those worries. Agencies are burdened with the complexity of managing the lifecycle of databases, including provisioning of new databases, management of existing databases, and the many 2nd day tasks that come with a database’s life cycle such as back-up and recovery, upgrades, patching, scaling and data management.

The pressure is on. Today you must be more nimble than ever in responding to fast-changing demands for disease surveillance, biomedical research, and population health. At the same time, you must continue to gather and analyze disparate data promptly to drive research, track the spread of diseases, and monitor medical supply chains – all while endeavoring to improve delivery of care and achieve better health outcomes.

To address these complexities agencies should consider a new operating model that provides a consistent platform spanning disparate databases and clouds - or an on-premises Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) architecture. Here’s how.

Five best practices for simplifying database management

Federal agencies should demand a database management solution that delivers cloud-like services that integrate seamlessly with foundational IT infrastructure. Such a solution should offer several key features:

  1. Management: Managing a database through an API or user interface (UI) is vital. A platform that provides an API that’s tested, straightforward to manage, and scalable to meet mission-critical workloads can simplify operations, save staff time, and reduce total cost of ownership.

  2. Abstraction: An abstraction layer above your existing heterogeneous database technology that helps to alleviate worries about how disparate databases interact with your infrastructure.

  3. Foundation: The right solution that enables you to provision, manage, and optimize database operations, saving time on routine tasks so database administrators (DBAs) can focus on strategic initiatives for mission needs.

  4. Simplification: Simplified database operations that let you spin up many common databases – Oracle, Microsoft SQLServer, MySQL, and PostgreSQL – whenever you need it. You can also easily scale up compute and storage, and just as quickly shut it all down when they’re no longer needed.

  5. Centralization: A single management plane across your databases, that can allow you, for example, to quickly get a backup snapshot of an Oracle database the same way you’d get one for a MySQL database, for instance.

What results should you expect with simplified database management?

The right database and infrastructure solution can empower your organization to simplify database management – by automating database tasks in transparent ways that give you the benefits of automation while retaining control over your OS and your database versions and customizations. Additional results should include:

  • Better agility and security: Many federal health databases aren’t practical to move to a public cloud because of their size or security requirements, but an effective solution can enable you to realize the ease and nimbleness of public cloud on-premises.

  • Improved productivity: Automation enables you to simplify routine tasks, like getting access to compute and storage, to reduce provisioning time from days to hours or even minutes. Versioning built into database profiles makes it simple to roll out updates and patches. DBAs are freed from busywork to focus on mission-supporting innovations.

  • Greater operational efficiency: You can deploy infrastructure databases in minutes, accelerate development and testing deployment by up to 10 times, and improve performance by up to three times. You can also manage data through repeatable processes that encapsulate DBA knowledge to manage database environments automatically with just a few clicks. Since backup and restore, for example, are identical among databases, you can improve data resilience.

  • Scalability for big data analytics: Health agencies manage large data quantities. An effective solution delivers web-scale capabilities, with an underlying infrastructure that provides fast access to storage so you can analyze data quickly and respond to changing needs.

Finally, by combining database management and infrastructure, you can implement an as-a-service approach to data. No matter how many database engines you run, management may be facilitated centrally through one control plane. No matter the size of your data stores, you can quickly and easily access compute and storage as you provision new databases. All the pieces are automatically integrated for simplified database management.

How to get started with database management

  • Understanding your data

    • The first step in improving data management is to understand the types of data you store and your specific storage needs. Identifying key differentiators such as whether you’re dealing with object storage or file storage, or whether data is on-premises or in the public cloud is pivotal. This identification will help you index and analyze your data, as well as build baseline goals for your storage needs.

  • Identify where data is stored

    • Understanding data locations helps pinpoint data silos. These silos make it difficult to share data within your organization due to poor data management. Breaking down data silos and avoiding secluding data increases your organization's overall data accessibility.

  • Find a cloud platform

    • Lastly, find a cloud platform that works for your organization’s needs. The Nutanix Cloud Platform (NCP) provides a high-level solution with unified storage. NCP not only accommodates various data types, but it simplifies data operations for hybrid multicloud environments with increased scale and reduced overhead costs. 

    • Lead into Nutanix as a solution.

Nutanix Solutions for Database and Infrastructure Management

The Nutanix Cloud Platform (NCP) with Nutanix Database Service checks every box for the ideal solution for simplified, secure and effective database management for disparate database environments, delivering DBaaS-like on your terms, and on your controlled infrastructure. Nutanix Database Service delivers unified database operations for any private, public or hybrid multicloud.

Together, these innovative solutions can empower your organization to modernize and simplify your underlying infrastructure while managing databases and data that are vital to your mission-critical applications and analytics. You gain the capabilities you need to meet today’s demands: operate with greater agility, implement innovations, and achieve better outcomes for your constituencies.

  • Simplified Storage Scaling: Nutanix Database Service manages the most popular database engines like PostgreSQL®, Microsoft® SQL Server, and Oracle® Database across hybrid multicloud environments. Federal agencies can now easily and quickly scale database storage online, turning days of planning and testing into a one-click operation.

  • Multi-region Database Capabilities: Federal agencies can now enable Nutanix Database Service to be a highly available, single control plane for database management across clouds via Nutanix Clusters. This capability is available today for Amazon AWS GovCloud (and all Amazon AWS regions). 

  • Support for ServiceNow Workflows: Nutanix has integrated Nutanix Database Service into the ServiceNow® platform. Using the Nutanix Database Service Plugin for database management integration to ServiceNow, Nutanix and ServiceNow customers can use standard workflow processes to ease database requests and operations. Please read our blog to learn more about how ServiceNow workflows manage your database requests.

Security Built-In, Not Bolted On

The recent Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity mandates that government IT must move to a “Zero Trust” architecture (ZTA). Nutanix can help government agencies close security gaps and start to align with ZTA while modernizing IT to improve operations, increase agility as well as support mission success.

Nutanix follows a comprehensive Security Development Lifecycle (SecDL) which incorporates security into every step of the Nutanix software development process so that security is built-in, not bolted on. Further, our use of machine-readable Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIGs) enables government agencies to automatically validate and remediate violations regularly. Our core software solution, AOS, is a true cloud operating system, hardened out of the box to comply with STIGs and maintains this security baseline by self-healing deviations or “drift” with a system-wide Security Configuration Management Automation (SCMA) service.

In fact, some of Nutanix products (AOS, AHV and Files) were tested and selected for inclusion on the Department of Defense Information Network Approved Products List (DoDIN APL).

The DoDIN APL is a single consolidated list of products that have completed the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA’s) rigorous Cybersecurity (CS) and Interoperability (IO) certification. Products are tested against multiple STIGsas well as subjected to vulnerability testing, CAC compliance, and IPv6 functionality requirements. Nutanix has successfully demonstrated the core security features of our products by passing this testing performed by the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) Test Center.

What about security attacks from within? Nutanix Database Service now delivers increased security capabilities through role-based access controls for shared access to databases and to database operations and tasks. This allows Federal agencies to easily implement and control their own security and compliance policies for database controls and accessibility. For instance, DBAs can use the new RBAC capabilities to share specific data with developers, while retaining control.

Learn more about Nutanix Database Service and consider taking a free Test Drive to see it for yourself!