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Remote DBA offers an attractive outsourcing option

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Call BC, America's #1 remote Oracle DBA service provider.  WE are the USA's top provider of remote DBA services because our support is 100% Oracle certified professionals.

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 computer engineering.

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.

Remote DBA services

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 cost—With 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 administrator—any database administrator—is worth his weight in gold."
  • Expert Oracle support—Junior 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.

Figure A
The price of human error

  • High availability of Oracle—With 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).
Figure B
DBAs are hard to keep as full-time employees.
  • Continuous Oracle support—With 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 knowledge—By 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 mind—With 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.
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.

Oracle remote monitoring technology

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 reports—These 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 missing indexes.
  • Trend reports—The 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).
Figure C
A sample server trend report
  • Exception reports—Exception 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 problems.
  • Capacity planning reports—These 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).
Figure D
A sample capacity planning report
  • Automated alerts—Automated 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 end users.

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, fast-track, oracle-training


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