«By Michael J Corey Founder & CEO Ntirety – The Remote Database Administration Experts Table of Contents 4 Introduction 4 ...»
Choosing A Remote DBA Instead
Of A Full-time Consultant?
By Michael J Corey
Founder & CEO
Ntirety – The Remote Database Administration Experts
Table of Contents
4 What Is Remote Database Administration?
6 Is Remote Database Administration Right For You?
8 IT Infrastructure
8 Recurring Performance Issues
9 Database Upgrades
10 Multiple Database Platforms
10 Predictable Monthly Costs
10 No In-House DBA, The Generalist 11 The Database is the Business 11 Many Remote Locations 11 Deployment of New Database Functionality 12 Backup & Disaster Recovery Support 12 Things To Consider When Choosing A Remote Database Administration Vendor 12 People Factor 13 Years of Experience 13 To Use a Junior DBA or Not 13 Good Communication Skills 14 The Blended Team Approach 15 Off Hours Shift/Follow the Sun 15 Offshore or Not to Offshore 16 Educational Commitment 16 Employee Turnover 16 Process 16 The Team Approach vs. the Help Desk Approach 17 Account Management 17 Commitment to Quality 18 Customer Turnover 18 Background Checks 18 Named accounts 19 Handshake Process 19 The Business Model 19 Technology 19 Remote Connectivity 20 Security 20 Encryption 21 Providing You A Single DBA Is Not A Service 21 Remote DBA Service vs. Product 21 Database Operations Center 22 Ticket System 22 Customer Portal 22 Connectivity 23 Knowledge Base 23 Database Tools – 3rd Party 23 About the Author 23 About Ntirety – The Remote DBA Experts Introduction In today’s digital world, information resides in databases. The ability of your business to manage that information can mean the difference between life and death.
At the local hospital, everything from your lab results and X-rays, to full medical records are stored in a data- base. At the bank, all your financial records and transactions are stored in a database. At a retail store, store inventory to point of sale information is all housed in a database.
Like or not, we live in a digital world, and businesses need this information to survive.
The amount of data being stored in databases is growing at an alarming rate each year. Compound that with the fact that in today’s global economy the database that holds this information needs to be available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. This is putting an incredible strain on organizations’ internal resources (Database Administrators) to deal with it all.
Accelerating this problem even more is the fact that database administrators – specialized resource needed to maintain databases – are hard to hire, hard to retain, and even harder to keep up to speed with the constantly changing technology landscape. Recognizing this fact, the only way many organizations can ease this strain is to seek outside help.
Historically companies seeking outside help would go out and hire a consultant to come in on a time and material basis, to fill these critical needs. When you hire a consultant this way, you pay for 8 hours of work, even if you don’t have 8 hours of work for them to do. The consultants hired in this manner would come to your physical work site to perform all services rendered.
Anyone who has ever done this knows first hand what an expensive way this is to solve the problem. It’s even more expensive when you want that high priced expert to work off hours. Often times, working off-hour shifts is a requirement of the job of the DBA. Think about it, you would not want your point of sale application coming down when customers are placing an order in the store.
To fill this critical need, a new generation of database administration vendors exists. This new generation of vendor’s uses the power of the Internet in ways that were not possible 10 years ago to make these high-end database administration resources available remotely, whenever and wherever they are needed. This service is known as remote database administration (RDBA). Since they are coming in remote, you only use these highend experts to solve you problems for the amount of time they are actually needed. Unlike the traditional model where you are obligated to use the consultant for a full days work each and every time you use them.
In this paper, we will first discuss what is remote database administration (RDBA) and How it differs from an Onsite consultant, and help you determine if Remote Database Administration is right for your business. If it is right for your business, we examine how an organization chooses the right remote database administration vendor.
What Is Remote Database Administration?
It’s 3:00 a.m. and I’m in the kitchen fetching a glass of water. Running a very successful consulting company, Database Technologies, is putting a strain on me, and I cannot sleep.
As I turn on the faucet and water flows, I think to myself, “It just works, so why doesn’t my database just work?” 4 As I sip my glass of water, I think about Oracle’s Technology.
When I first started working with the Oracle database there were just three books for everything. Today I could fill a wall full of books from Oracle Corporation on how to use the database. I could fill a second wall full of books from authors like myself on how to understand the first set of books.
As I thought more about the problems I was encountering in the market place, a few things always seemed to remain constant. Databases keep getting bigger and bigger. I can think back when a megabyte Oracle database was considered a very large database. A number of studies I have seen talk about the fact that relational databases like Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server grow 3X to 5X in size every 3 years.
What was crystal clear to me during this inspiration by the kitchen sink was that databases are growing bigger and bigger at an alarming rate each and every year. That was a fact that just keeps getting worse.
As I continued to drink my glass of water, I thought about the As I turn on the faucet I think to myself, it just works.
technology itself. The technology surrounding databases keeps Why don’t my databases just work.
getting more and more complex. Real application clusters, distributed databases, partitioning, dimensional cubes, spatial data, security issue. It was another constant problem I kept seeing in the database marketplace; the technology around databases just keeps getting more and more complex.
Anything that gets big and complex creates the need for a specialist. Finding good database administrators, keeping them trained, and retaining them has been a recurring problem in this industry for over 20 years, and it was not getting better any time soon.
Every time I hear a database vendor say, “Our new version of the database is so easy to use, you can administer it yourself,” I think yeah right. That’s why when we look under the covers of prospective clients, we find 1 out of 5 database are not being backed up properly. That problem alone is enough to make me shutter.
So as I drank in this inspiration by the kitchen sink, I thought to myself using the power of the internet I could provide high quality database administrators in Boston to any database located anywhere in the world? Boston was a great breeding ground for some of finest technologist around the world. So the combination of access to world-class technologist and great technology infrastructure made Boston an ideal place to launch this business.
It was clear to me, with the recent advances in technology, having a remote DBA was very possible. I saw it as a way to provide high quality database administration skills, in a very efficient and consistent manner.
So when I think Remote Database Administration, it all starts with a single glass of water by the kitchen sink at 3:00 am in the late 1980’s.
In its simplest form Remote Database Administration is a database administrator administrating a database from one location while the database is physically located somewhere else in the world.
In its simplest form, remote database administration is a person or team administering a database from one location while the database is physically located somewhere else in the world.
As you look at this idea and reflect upon industry trends, it no wonder it happened.
For over 10 years, application development has been out sourced. As this gains greater and greater acceptance, its no wonder that one of the newest trends in the industry is to extend that outsourcing or out-tasking to your database administration needs. The acute shortage of good database administrators, coupled with the fact that when your database is down you are out of business, is helping to make this one of the fastest growing trends in the marketplace. In today’s database rich world, you need database administrators. The question is it an inhouse resource, an out-sourced service or a combination of the two.
The database administrator directs or performs all activities related to maintaining a successful database environment. These responsibilities include designing, physically implementing and maintaining the database systems, establishing policies and procedures pertaining to the management, security, maintenance to how you use the database.
There is now a new breed of companies, like Ntirety, that have taken this one step further. They offer up teams of database administrators, armed with an arsenal of specialized tools, located at locations all over the globe, able to manage your database from those locations in a cost effective and on a pro-active manner.
Is Remote Database Administration Right For You?
Having helped hundreds of companies and many thousands of databases to manage, we at Ntirety have learned quite a bit about database administration, and more importantly where remote database administration is an
appropriate solution and where it is not. Our experiences have taught that you will find remote database administration a sensible solution if your company is struggling with one or more of these issues:
• Struggling with hiring and retaining DBA’s • Fast growth/ Rapidly Growing IT infrastructure • Recurring performance issues • Cyclical Business 6 • Many remote locations • Database Upgrades/Patch Management • Stability/reliability Issues • Multiple database platforms • Predictable monthly costs/Ways to Cut Costs • No in-house DBA, The Generalist • The Database is the Business • Deployment of new Database Functionality • Mission critical requirements (Including 7X24 Coverage) • Backup and Disaster recovery support On the other hand companies with a stable, single location business; stable technology infrastructure; low availably requirements; and no challenges hiring and retaining technologist will not find remote database administration a solution that makes sense for them.
Struggling With Hiring And Retaining DBA’s Is your organization having trouble hiring or retaining database administrators? Don’t be discouraged, its most likely not you or your organization, it’s the times we live in. This is a 20-year problem that keeps getting worse.
A number of factors are contributing for an increase need for database administration talent that includes:
• Database keep growing 3-5 times their size every three years • In our global economy, business need to run 7X24 and so do their databases • Technology needed to support databases keeps getting more and more complex • Increases security issues surrounding databases • Proliferation of enterprise applications fuels increased needs for database administration • Solid database administration skills take years to acquire These forces and many others beyond your control keep fueling an increase demand for database administration talent which in turn makes DBA’s hard to obtain and even harder to retain. Other factors also work against your hiring and retaining database administrators.
Where your business is physically located has a major impact on your ability to hire and retain talent. Some parts of the country have a much more intensive need for database administration talent than others. For the past 20 years, San Francisco and New York City have had an insatiable appetite for DBAs. If you are located in Sinclair, Wyoming, population 423, you will have a problem finding and retaining DBA talent when competing against the Big Apple and the Bay Area. (Yes, I know for a fact there is a database in Sinclair, Wyoming that needs to be managed.
Another factor we see quite often is the big company versus small company. In the Boston market, we have companies like Fidelity that have a near unlimited checkbook to hire talent that they deem critical to their business. Even though a small- to mid-size company has the same critical need for solid database administration skills, they don’t necessarily have the same financial means to compete.
Technical challenge is another factor that weighs in on a companies ability to hire and retain DBA’s. Does your company work on leading edge technologies? Good technologists like to collaborate with each other and work on technologies that present an interesting challenge.
Consider also what kind of quality of life are you able to offer your database administrators. Are they on call 7 days a week, 24 hours a day? Or are they able to share the burden with other employees within the company?
Quality of life is where the new breed of Remote DBA vendors provides a real advantage over in-house hires.
Since they specialize in database administration, they get economies of scale a traditional company cannot compete with. With their critical mass in database administrators, Remote DBA vendors have an internal pool of in-house database administration talent they are able to leverage on issues and concerns very few companies can replicate. Think of the shear number of senior database administrators they could throw at a given situation.
From an off-hour call rotation perspective, this new breed of company can split the call rotation across an enormous pool of in-house talent, where in a traditional company, the DBA might be expected to carry a pager 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
If history is any indicator of future issues, then hiring and retaining DBAs is a 20-year problem that is not going to get better anytime soon.