A Managed Services Approach to Database Administration

24x7 Coverage, Improved SLAs, and Multi-Platform Expertise

Forrester Principal Analyst Noel Yuhanna shares the results of the study which include improved SLAs – in some cases, dramatically improved. Consistent 24×7 coverage, deep expertise in areas where in-house staff needed assistance, multi-platform expertise and improved retention of on-staff DBAs.

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Today, organizations are putting more emphasis on data business than ever before. It’s critical for business intelligence, for analytics, for predictive analytics. It’s running the whole business today. Data businesses definitely are one of the big focus areas. You are dealing with lots and lots of data today. You have lots and lots of new databases that you need to support. As well as your building, applications are not just a once every month, but many of those are every week now.

The top, number one challenge which I think has been consistent for that last many years has been the performance. People struggle with performance all the time. In fact, I think we did a survey just last year where 80% of the people actually struggle with performance, which is not surprising because they are dealing with very large and complex systems today than ever before. People are dealing with volumes of data, that has grown into terabytes and petabytes of information, which I think is definitely a bigger challenge for databases.

Traditionally, we haven’t had these big databases. Now, with terabytes and getting to hundreds of petabytes also, it’s become a bigger challenge. A lot of organizations have doubled or tripled the number of databases over the last decade. But it hasn’t proportionately increased the number of DBAs. If you look at the number of DBAs we had a decade ago in an organization compared to what they have today, and the number of databases they have, it’s not proportionate, which obviously is an issue. You’re running into staffing issues.

A lot are tier 2 or tier 3 applications, which haven’t been a focus for DBA. It’s actually becoming more business critical. They also need attention, and DBAs don’t have time to do this. It’s a big challenge, I think, for the DBAs and organizations that actually do so many databases, you have to do more of it less. I think that’s one of the big challenges. Staffing is definitely a big issue, because DBAs are definitely being tasked to do more things like tuning and optimization, and backup and recovery, and migrations and upgrades. The other thing, troubleshooting of these environments all day, which is a challenge.

We surveyed 50 US database administration decision makers in various work industries, and these are companies with more than 1,000 employees. They have fairly large databases, and they have 100’s of 1,000’s of databases. At least some of their databases were being outsourced by these organizations, saving money from administration, saving money from the tools they have to buy, saving money from all these various types of additional hardware they may have to purchase, if they don’t tune their databases. If you look at organizations, they spend a lot of time troubleshooting databases, troubleshooting the environments and the applications. We are spending less time on the business value itself. With outsourcing, you can actually pay more focus on business value like what all things you have to do with high availability and disaster recovery. Outsourcing helps to complement the existing staff by offloading the existing database activities, such as backup and tuning and optimization and loading and unloading data to these outsourcing providers.

One of the things we saw in the survey was that a lot of people have said that they improved their SLAs, which I think is a good idea. If you have an improvement in the SLAs, it’s through the automation, through the simplification, through the formalization of database activities, which drives the SLAs. More and more databases today are becoming mission critical. They have to be running 24/7, in terms of availability, which puts the pressure on DBAs. In fact, they have organizations where 1,000’s and 1,000’s of databases. Organizations are definitely becoming more global in terms of the delivery of this platforms, and they have to make sure these databases and applications are running 24/7.

We found in the survey that more organizations actually are increasing the number of databases for outsourcing purposes. The real reason is because of the benefits, the cost savings, the complement of the staff, also making sure their application is running 24/7. In fact, in the survey I think there is a very small percentage of organizations that are reducing the number of databases for outsourcing from outsourcing vendors, that maybe like 3% or 4%. It’s very good to see that a large number of organizations are finding value in outsourcing, whether it’s cost benefits, whether it’s ensuring availability in SLAs, whether they’re improving their frameworks and database platforms, or delivering new applications.

Outsourcing database administration is here to stay. I would recommend all organizations to take a look at this. I think you don’t have to outsource all databases right away. You can start a few number of databases and see what the value brings, and then expand your portfolio.