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Installing the DBMS

Once the DBMS has been chosen, you will need to install it. Installing a DBMS is not as simple as popping a CD into a drive and letting the software install itself (or, for you mainframe folks, just using IEBGENER to copy it from a tape). A DBMS is a complex piece of software that requires up-front planning for installation to be successful. You will need to understand the DBMS requirements and prepare the environment for the new DBMS.

DBMS Installation Basics

The very first thing to do when you install a DBMS for the first time is to understand the prerequisites. Every DBMS comes with an installation manual or guide containing a list of the operating requirements that must be met for the DBMS to function properly. Examples of prerequisites include ensuring that an appropriate version of the operating system is being used, verifying that there is sufficient memory to support the DBMS, and ensuring that any related software to be used with the DBMS is the proper version and maintenance level.

Once the basics are covered, read the installation guide from cover to cover. Make sure that you understand the process before you even begin to install the DBMS. Quite a few preparations need to be made before installing a DBMS, and reading about them before you start will ensure a successful installation. Review how the installation program or routine for the DBMS operates, and follow the explicit instructions in the installation guide provided with the DBMS software. You additionally might want to work closely with the DBMS vendor during an initial installation to ensure that your plans are sound. In some cases, working with a local, experienced vendor or consultant can be beneficial to avoid installation and configuration errors.

The remainder of this section will discuss some of the common preparations that are required before a DBMS can be installed. If the DBMS is already operational and you are planning to migrate to a new DBMS release, refer to the section “Upgrading DBMS Versions and Releases.”

Hardware Requirements

Every DBMS has a basic CPU requirement, meaning a CPU version and minimum processor speed required for the DBMS to operate. Additionally, some DBMSs specify hardware models that are required or unsupported. Usually the CPU criterion will suffice for an Intel environment, but in a mainframe or enterprise server environment the machine model can make a difference with regard to the DBMS features supported. For example, certain machines have built-in firmware that can be exploited by the DBMS if the firmware is available.

Furthermore, each DBMS offers different “flavors” of its software for specific needs. (I use “flavor” as opposed to “version” or “release,” which specify different iterations of the same DBMS.) Different flavors of the DBMS (at the same release level) are available for specific environments such as parallel processing, pervasive computing (such as handheld devices), data warehousing, and/or mobile computing. Be sure to choose the correct DBMS for your needs and to match your hardware to the requirements of the DBMS.

Storage Requirements

A DBMS requires disk storage to run. And not just for the obvious reason—to create databases that store data. A DBMS will use disk storage for the indexes to be defined on the databases as well as for the following items:

  • The system catalog or data dictionary used by the DBMS to manage and track databases and related information. The more database objects you plan to create, the larger the amount of storage required by the system catalog.
  • Any other system databases required by the DBMS, for example, to support distributed connections or management tools.
  • Log files that record all changes made to every database. These include active logs, archive logs, rollback segments, and any other type of change log required by the DBMS.
  • Start-up or control files that must be accessed by the DBMS when it is started or initialized.
  • Work files used by the DBMS to sort data or for other processing needs.
  • Default databases used by the DBMS for system structures or as a default catchall for new database objects as they are created.
  • Temporary database structures used by the DBMS (or by applications accessing databases) for transient data that is not required to be persistent but needs reserved storage during operations (such as rebuilding clustered indexes on Microsoft SQL Server).
  • System dump and error-processing files.
  • DBA databases used for administration, monitoring, and tuning—for example, DBA databases used for testing new releases, migration scripts, and so on.

Be sure to factor in every storage requirement of the DBMS and reserve the appropriate storage. Also, be aware that the DBMS will use many of these databases and file structures concurrently. Therefore, it is a good idea to plan on using multiple storage devices even if you will not fill them to capacity. Proper database and file placement will enable the DBMS to operate more efficiently because concurrent activities will not be constrained by the physical disk as data is accessed.

Disk storage is not the only requirement of a DBMS. Tape or optical discs (such as DVDs and CDs) are also required for tasks such as database backups and log off-loading. When the active log file fills up, the log records must be off-loaded to an archive log either on disk or on tape, as shown in Figure 2.5. Depending on the DBMS being used and the features that have been activated, this process may be automatic or manual. The archive log files must be retained for recovery purposes, and even if originally stored on disk, they must eventually be migrated to an external storage mechanism for safekeeping.

Figure 2.5

Figure 2.5. Log off-loading

Plan on maintaining multiple tape or CD/DVD drives to enable the DBMS to run concurrent multiple processes that require external storage, such as concurrent database backups. Database outages can occur if you single-thread your database backup jobs using a single drive.

Memory Requirements

Relational DBMSs, as well as their databases and applications, love memory. A DBMS requires memory for basic functionality and will use it for most internal processes such as maintaining the system global area and performing many DBMS tasks.

A DBMS requires a significant amount of memory to cache data in memory structures in order to avoid I/O. Reading data from a disk storage device is always more expensive and slower than moving the data around in memory. Figure 2.6 shows how the DBMS uses a memory structure called a buffer pool or data cache to reduce physical I/O requests. By caching data that is read into a buffer pool, the DBMS can avoid I/O for subsequent requests for the same data, as long as it remains in the buffer pool. In general, the larger the buffer pool, the longer the data can remain in memory and the better overall database processing will perform.

Figure 2.6

Figure 2.6. Buffer pool (or data cache)

Besides data, the DBMS will cache other structures in memory. Most DBMSs set aside memory to store program structures required by the DBMS to process database requests.3 The program cache stores things like “compiled” SQL statements, database authorizations, and database structure blocks that are used by programs as they are executed. When these structures are cached, database processing can be optimized because additional I/O requests to access them from a physical storage device are avoided.

Memory is typically required by the DBMS to support other features such as handling lock requests, facilitating distributed data requests, sorting data, optimizing processes, and processing SQL.

Ensure that the DBMS has a more-than-adequate supply of memory at its disposal. This will help to optimize database processing and minimize potential problems.

Configuring the DBMS

Configuring the system parameters of the DBMS controls the manner in which the DBMS functions and the resources made available to it.4 Each DBMS allows its system parameters to be modified in different ways, but the installation process usually sets the DBMS system parameters by means of radio buttons, menus, or panel selections. During the installation process, the input provided to the installation script will be used to establish the initial settings of the system parameters.

Each DBMS also provides a method to change the system parameters once the DBMS is operational. Sometimes you can use DBMS commands to set the system’s parameters; sometimes you must edit a file that contains the current system parameter settings. If you must edit a file, be very careful: An erroneous system parameter setting can be fatal to the operational status of the DBMS.

What do the system parameters control? Well, for example, system parameters control DBA authorization to the DBMS and the number of active database logs; system parameters set the amount of memory used for data and program caching and turn DBMS features on or off. Although every DBMS has system parameters that control its functionality, each DBMS has a different method of setting and changing the values. And, indeed, each DBMS has different specifications that can be set using system parameters.

Beware of simply using default system parameters when installing the database system software. Although using defaults can save time and make for an easier installation, it can also result in subsequent problems. Most DBMSs are poorly served, in the long run, by default settings and, in some cases, can experience worsening performance over time because resources were not preallocated during installation or setup.

Be sure to understand fully the parameters used by your DBMS. Failure to do so can result in an incorrectly configured database environment, which can cause performance problems, data integrity problems, or even DBMS failure.

Connecting the DBMS to Supporting Infrastructure Software

Part of the DBMS installation process is the connection of the DBMS to other system software components that must interact with the DBMS. Typical infrastructure software that may need to be configured to work with the DBMS includes networks, transaction processing monitors, message queues, other types of middleware, programming languages, systems management software, operations and job control software, Web servers, and application servers.

Each piece of supporting infrastructure software will have different requirements for interfacing with the DBMS. Typical configuration procedures can include installing DLL files, creating new parameter files to establish connections, and possibly revisiting the installation procedures for the supporting software to install components required to interact with the DBMS.

Installation Verification

After installing the DBMS, you should run a battery of tests to verify that the DBMS has been properly installed and configured. Most DBMS vendors supply sample programs and installation verification procedures for this purpose. Additionally, you can ensure proper installation by testing the standard interfaces to the DBMS. One standard interface supported by most DBMSs is an interactive SQL interface where you can submit SQL statements directly to the DBMS.5

Create a set of SQL code that comprises SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE statements issued against sample databases. Running such a script after installation helps you to verify that the DBMS is installed correctly and operating as expected.

Furthermore, be sure to verify that all required connections to supporting software are operational and functioning properly. If the DBMS vendor does not supply sample programs, you may need to create and run simple test programs for each environment to ensure that the supporting software connections are functioning correctly with the DBMS.

DBMS Environments

Generally, installing a DBMS involves more than simply installing one instance or subsystem. To support database development, the DBA needs to create multiple DBMS environments to support, for example, testing, quality assurance, integration, and production work. Of course, it is possible to support multiple environments in a single DBMS instance, but it is not prudent. Multiple DBMS installations are preferable to support multiple development environments for a single database. This minimizes migration issues and won’t require complex database naming conventions to support. Furthermore, segregating database instances makes testing, tuning, and monitoring easier.

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