NoSQL Database Operators

What are database operators

The databases must be managed and operated in the production environment. This means that database administrators and analysts who run workloads in various infrastructures should be able to automate tasks to take care of repeatable operational work. An operator can be used to manage the database applications.

An operator is an application that contains code that takes over automated tasks to manage a database. Below is the list of features that an operator should enable so databases can be managed and operated appropriately in any environment.

Operators for database high availability

The database should be highly available, as this is usually pretty important for the organisation’s continuity. High Availability (HA) is a system characteristic that aims to ensure an agreed level of operational performance, typically uptime, during a standard period.

Operators ensure that the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) defined are achieved. The strategy should include automatic failover without data loss – with switching traffic from old primary to new primary, automation of a one-member and full-cluster crash recovery, cross-region and/or cross-cluster replication, health and readiness checks, etc.

Security set-up enabled by operators

A database can hold confidential, sensitive, or protected information, making it a prime target for cyberattacks. Therefore, operators should implement basic security requirements such as user authentication and authorisation is essential and should be enabled by default. In addition, semi-automatic updates, network security, encryption in transit and encryption at rest can be implemented.

Operators for deployment

Deployment readiness is also vital for databases in production. An automated setup for deployment done by Operators helps organisations improve the customer experience and mitigate operational risks. There are multiple considerations here: schema setup, vertical and horizontal scalability, the ability to deploy air gapped, database plugins, customisation and configuration of the database, multiple database version support, multiple storage system support and many more.

Backup and restore implementation

Here is the list to consider of what operators should do to enable backup and restore

  • Backup to another region
  • Backup compression
  • Backup encryption with external encryption key storing
  • Partial restoration
  • Consistent backup of multi-shard clusters
  • Point-in-Time Recovery – the possibility to make recovery to any transaction

Operators enables monitoring

A production database should be monitored appropriately. This can be implemented by having logs, query analytics, host and database metrics. In addition, appropriate alerting rules and notification channels must be in place. An operator can simplify and automate enabling these monitoring capabilities for databases.

Canonical Charmed NoSQL database operator

Canonical has developed its own database operators, known as charms. Charms are application packages with all the operational knowledge required to install, maintain and upgrade an application. Charms can integrate with other applications and charms. has published multiple database charms that can run in Kubernetes, Virtual Machines (VMs), public, private and hybrid clouds. Explore the available NoSQL open source charms!

Note that these charms are under development and open for community contributions. Each of the charms has different feature maturity. Visit the individual charm links to know more.

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