Mobile DBA Tool for Android

  • tung858

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 234

    Has anyone used Brain Box SQL app for Android in the google play store?

    What do you think?

    I've been using it to connect remotely to my SQL Servers via VPN and have been able to monitor servers (processes, storage, backups) as well as kick off scheduled jobs after hours.  It sure beats lugging around a laptop everywhere I go.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=service.info.blackiron.sqls

    Tung

    Senior DBA, Calpine Corp.

    Tung Dang
    Senior SQL Server DBA
    Calpine Energy Solutions
    Brain Box SQL Mobile DBA

  • Mr. Brian Gale

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 23165

    I personally have not used it.  How does it handle windows authentication or does it only work with SQL authentication?

    As a general rule, I try not to run any app that I don't fully trust to connect to anything that I deem critical.  If I am connecting to my work machine from my phone or tablet (which is always a painful process... a desktop computer is not designed to be run from a 5.5" touchscreen with no physical keyboard), I use apps from developers I know and trust.  VPN client is provided to me by my company so I have no options there, but then I RDP in using the Microsoft RD tool.  Once in my desktop, I can do everything I need with apps I trust (SSMS for example).

    That tool may be good for some people and databases and such, but how much do you know about the tool and the company that made it?  Do you trust them to not capture your credentials in any file on your phone/tablet?  Does the data stay inside the app?  I imagine to get the list of the information that it does, it is pulling that data locally before presenting it which means it now has the data in my phones memory (which is fine) or possibly on disk (which may be a risk).

    ALL of the tools that I use on my database are from reputable companies or individuals.  I would want to see some background on the company that made it before using it to connect to my financial databases (for example).

    I also don't know how useful it would be for someone like me.  In the event a scheduled job failed and needed to be re-run, it is rarely the case that I just run it a second time and it is successful.  USUALLY I need to look through the data and figure out what went wrong and fix something prior to running it a second time.  I would likely still prefer to have my laptop available... it isn't that heavy and if I am away from work (and not working from home), my company expects some delays in my support.  I also have a few "rules" that I have made for myself like "don't answer the phone while eating".  Everyone needs some downtime to prevent burnout.  If you are working 24/7, most people will find they get burnt out pretty quick plus it will ruin any relationships you have as it will become very apparent that work is your priority.

  • tung858

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 234

    Those are very good points.  I too have taken safety precautions given the fact that my account has access to everything.  For the app, I use my windows credentials to connect given that I have to frequently change my password.  I also don't leave any connection entries open when I close the app.  The one single connection I do create, I use for multiple sources since our instance names are numbered sequentially, so I just change the number.

    I sent them an email in regards to SQL Server connections and they use the jtds driver library to connect.  JTDS is also used by our developers and 3rd party companies to connect their java apps to SQL Server.  The app user has the ability to select Encryption and Trust Certificate options which I always use.  Unfortunately, I have loads of developers and managers working after hours and so I constantly have to be available after hours and they expect DBAs to be immediately available.  It's great because they always want DBAs to kick off specific production jobs and sometimes the datacenter calls at the most inconvenient times regarding blocking and low free space in storage.  The app helps with some problems but not all.  At least with the app, I can work with them without delay and my laptop isn't attached to me as much as my phone.

    I guess for some it could be useful and for others not.  The only times I feel insecure with my laptop is when I'm using a public WIFI at the airport, hotel, or cafe.  I do use RDP to access my local desktop at the office but going from 3 screens to one small laptop screen is like going from one small laptop screen to a 5.5" screen.

    Tung Dang
    Senior SQL Server DBA
    Calpine Energy Solutions
    Brain Box SQL Mobile DBA

  • Mr. Brian Gale

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 23165

    Nice.  It does sound like a useful tool for sure.

    If I was connecting to a business critical server, I'd want to do some analytics on the tool to make sure it isn't capturing any data or sending anything off to a 3rd party server.   But that isn't hard to check, just time consuming.

    My opinion, ideally you would have a rotating DBA schedule if you are needed 24/7.  Probably cheaper to hire a second DBA to work the night shift than it is to pay you the overtime.

    If they have specific production jobs that they need run after hours, it may not hurt to get them set up with permissions to run those jobs.  Saves them the overhead and gives you a break from being on call 24/7.  The blocking and low free space problems are a bit harder to troubleshoot automatically or let others handle, but I would hope that those problems are infrequent.  especially low disk space.

    My approach is to try to enable the users to work without needing to call in a DBA to do repeated tasks.  My overtime bill should be as small as possible as DBA's are expensive enough on regular pay!  Plus your sanity and peace of mind and sleep are far more important than work (my opinion).  I would much rather have a nice supper with my family without being tied to my phone, or to enjoy some time on the patio without worrying that work will be calling and I will have to work after having a beer or 2.

    My downtime is critical to my sanity and my health.  The odd call for overtime is fine and expected and I get those.  Heck, I have planned overtime one per month for roughly an hour to do some server maintenance.  But unplanned overtime should be at a minimum, and I estimate that I am at maybe 4 hours unplanned overtime per year and 14 hours planned overtime per year.  It used to be much much higher for both numbers, but it was starting to affect my sleep, my health, my friendships, and my relationship with my wife so I worked with the company to reduce the unplanned overtime.  When I say it was much higher, it started at 9 hours per month of overtime when I first became a DBA here.  I worked with my manager and was able to get that down to 4 hours per month which is the best we could do at the time without changing processes outside of our department.  So we worked to changed those processes and now I am at 1 hour planned per month.  I said 14 hours planned because sometimes that 1 hour runs into 2 depending on what is being done, but it is USUALLY 1 hour per month.

    The older I get, the more I enjoy having time with my family and the less I want to do overtime for work.  So if I can do somethign to reduce the overtime (such as building an application to allow unpriviledged users to run a specific SQL job), I will write that program and put the power into their hands instead of mine.

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