Remote DBA offers an attractive outsourcing option
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With the current economic slowdown, today's IT
managers are being more careful with their budgets and are looking for greater
efficiencies. The most vulnerable personnel in the IT departments are the
"superstars," such as the highly skilled and highly compensated
database administrators. Many organizations are finding that remote DBA services
can offer better DBA management at a better price than hiring internal DBAs. In
this article, I'll take a look at the current DBA crisis and show you how remote
DBA services can help.
The Oracle DBA job crisis
There is a natural barrier to entry into the DBA ranks because of the dual
requirement of being skilled in both oral and written communications and having
superior technical ability. Because DBAs are charged with the overall design and
implementation of applications, they must be knowledgeable in all areas of
business administration and be able to converse fluently with accountants,
manufacturing managers, and other business professionals. Many DBAs possess
master's degrees from major universities, some with MBAs or master's degrees in
There is also the matter of the huge scope of the database software. For
example, Oracle has evolved into one of the world's most complex database
management systems, and it takes years of training to master all of the
complexities of the Oracle database. Just as the medical profession has
segmented into specialty areas because of its complexity, Oracle DBAs are also
segmenting themselves into specialty areas, targeting Oracle DBA niche markets
such as data warehousing, performance tuning, and Oracle applications support.
It's very hard to find an experienced Oracle DBA general practitioner.
Companies are struggling to attract DBA talent with enough experience to ensure
continuous availability of their databases. The downtime for many production
databases is often measured in tens of thousand of dollars per minute, and it is
very risky to entrust these databases to beginners.
Since many companies have been unable to attract DBA talent, several approaches
have been tried to fill the market need.
Grow your own DBA
Some companies undertake to educate an intelligent junior employee in database
administration. Although the cost for the full set of DBA training by Oracle is
over $70,000, many companies have successfully used this approach. The drawback
is that the company often loses these new DBAs as soon as they're trained
because their HR departments are unable or unwilling to increase the DBA's
salary to the market rate. It's difficult for many HR departments to justify the
salary of the Oracle DBA at the same level of a vice president, and it's
impossible for most companies to raise the salary of a $40,000/year IT employee
to $120,000 per year. Hence, most of these DBAs leave their companies soon after
completing their training.
Many companies are abandoning full-time employee DBAs in favor of remote Oracle
support. These remote DBA companies leverage a shared skill pool and can offer
remote DBA support cheaper than having an expensive full-time DBA. Companies are
saving tens of thousands of dollars yearly by replacing expensive full-time DBAs
with remote DBA services. These services hire a pool of highly trained certified
DBAs and place them in response centers where they can constantly monitor client
databases. There are currently over 100 companies offering remote DBA services.
Customers cite various reasons for using remote DBA services:
- Low costWith remote DBA services, you buy only those DBA
services you require and only at the levels you require them. Full-time DBAs
commonly cost over $80,000/year and require more than $5,000 in training per
year to stay current with the technology. Many corporations with stable
databases can't justify the costs of a full-time DBA. According to Computerworld
magazine, "These days, an Oracle database administratorany database
administratoris worth his weight in gold."
- Expert Oracle supportJunior DBAs are the bane of corporate
America. Oracle Corporation white papers suggest that more than 75 percent
of all Oracle database outages are attributable to human error (see Figure
A). By hiring the services of recognized Oracle DBA experts, companies
avoid the potential downtime associated with human error.
|The price of human error
- High availability of OracleWith remote DBA support, IT managers
can be assured that their database is being supported by a competent
professional who is thoroughly familiar with that Oracle database. With a
full-time DBA, high attrition has become a major problem, and large
companies have noted that the average Oracle DBA can be expected to leave
his or her current position every four years. The most common reasons cited
for leaving are low benefits and raises and the failure of the company to
provide technical challenge (see Figure B).
|DBAs are hard to keep as full-time employees.
Taken together, these are all compelling reasons to use professional remote DBA
support. Even the most concerned IT managers cannot guarantee that their DBA
staff will always be available for an unexpected Oracle outage.
- Continuous Oracle supportWith the high attrition rate for
general DBA professionals, the average time on any job is less than three
years. With remote DBA support, IT managers are guaranteed that they have a
certified DBA constantly watching their databases.
- No loss of institutional knowledgeBy using remote DBA support,
IT shops avoid the risk of losing their confidential technology to
competitors. Even more important, they do not need to wait for weeks while a
new DBA becomes familiar with their databases.
- Peace of mindWith remote DBA support, managers can be assured
that their databases are getting the best possible care. This allows IT
managers to focus on other important issues and maximize their productivity.
Another advantage of remote DBA support is the ability to constantly monitor all
areas of the database. These companies use a sophisticated set of proprietary
scripts that completely automate database reporting, capacity planning, and
pre-outage alerts. By addressing the conditions that cause an outage before the
database crashes, the probability of a database outage decreases dramatically.
The remote monitoring software falls into several areas:
- Tuning reportsThese reports identify I/O problems at the object
level and automatically perform caching operations. In addition, the remote
DBAs are alerted to potentially serious performance problems, such as
- Trend reportsThe trend reports are used to establish the
baseline signature for the database. From this signature, exception reports
will identify abnormal database conditions. Trend reports are created for
all major areas of the Oracle database, including I/O, memory usage, CPU
consumption, and database internal metrics (see Figure C).
|A sample server trend report
- Exception reportsException reports are e-mailed to the in-house
manager daily. These reports show all times when the database is
experiencing stress. These reports go beyond ordinary Oracle monitoring and
monitor the processing environment, reporting on CPU and RAM-related
- Capacity planning reportsThese reports provide the in-house
manager all of the summary information from the prior week's activity.
Weekly statistics reports show the total growth for the week and show all
object activity within the database (see Figure D).
|A sample capacity planning report
- Automated alertsAutomated alerts trigger a pager to the on-call
DBA for immediate resolution. The alerts warn the on-call DBA whenever a
pending problem may cripple the database. These remote DBA services provide
a comprehensive service of alerts that monitor all aspects of the database
server and the database.
As we move into the 21st century, we are seeing a major shift away from
full-time DBAs and a move toward remote DBA support services. This trend is
especially prevalent among smaller companies that cannot justify the cost of a
full-time DBA, but we are also seeing an increase in the number of companies
failing to replace their DBAs and buying off-site DBA support. So long as there
continues to be a shortage of highly qualified DBAs, companies will struggle to
find alternatives for keeping their mission-critical database available to their
As I mentioned earlier, more than 100 companies currently offer remote DBA
services. Unfortunately, many of these companies are nothing more than a Web
page and have no clients.
See this link for more details on reliable
Oracle remote DBA.
remote dba sites include
Aegis remote dba,
praetoriate remote dba,