Thankfully in today’s world, much of what DBAs do can be automated so that they can focus on higher-level tasks; but that’s not to say that “the DBA is dead.” Not everything a DBA does can be automated, and with data underlying every application in your organization, it’s more crucial than ever that your database environments are as available as possible.
Many of the skills needed to manage the modern database didn’t exist five years ago. In today’s age of digital transformation, more and more is required of our databases (such as Oracle, SQL Server, etc.) as more and more business processes move to the cloud. The more that is needed of our systems, the more we need answers about what tools do what processing, what information is available, and how it all comes together. Likewise, DBAs need to be going beyond the basics to stay on top of new tools, infrastructures, and techniques to truly drive their businesses forward and gain a competitive advantage.
Ready to tackle your database management challenges?
The core tasks of the Database Administrator will always be vital to the health of your Oracle and SQL Server database environments and with the introduction of new tools and infrastructures, they are only getting more complex. Here’s how the core roles of the DBA have evolved with the adoption of new technologies. The modern DBA manages a wide range of automation along with:
With the increasing adoption of the cloud, modern DBAs provision only for what the business needs that day instead of provisioning for a piece of physical hardware that is supposed to last three to four years. Modern Database Administrators are also extremely aware of their organizations’ demand cycles and make use of the bursting capability of cloud to successfully accommodate a surge in demand.
As more and more companies are leveraging the cloud in some capacity, modern DBAs are adapting to keep pace with how to optimize database performance and are becoming extremely knowledgeable as new features are released each month in the cloud. This allows them to provide valuable recommendations on what new functionalities can be used to increase database performance.
Enterprise applications are only getting more complex, and simply monitoring generic performance levels isn’t enough. The modern DBA leverages various monitoring technologies and develops scripts and custom alerts that are application-specific.
Security is a major concern for organizations today, especially those leveraging the cloud, and it will continue to be a major responsibility of the DBA. Today’s Database Administrators are very familiar with which parts of their database hold sensitive data, and the change control and procedures in place that allow access to sensitive database resources.
It’s critical for your business to have direct access to skilled DBA resources at any time to manage your database environments. Organizations need a database strategy that incorporates the proper expertise, knowledge base, and ability to remain dedicated and focused on your daily database management needs. With the complexity of today’s dynamic database landscape, it’s critical that you consistently reevaluate your database management strategy so that you can thrive in this paradigm.
To help you get started, we’ve done extensive research on the five most common database management paths that business executives choose and outlined the pros and cons of each.
The Internal Senior DBA
The Freelance Consultant
The Independent Consulting Firm
The Accidental DBA
The Managed Services Provider
Want a quick glance at your options? Download our Database Management Cheat Sheet below:
The Internal Senior DBA is expensive but can be an effective option, and is very common in larger corporations. The pros of having a full-time, in-house expert dedicated to the management and optimization of your databases speak for themselves — consistent monitoring, easy access, and knowing that they’re focused only on your systems. However, most small to medium-sized companies can’t afford to invest upwards of $100,000 (the average salary for a Senior DBA) into one person in order to manage their DBMS, and larger corporations typically need more than one Senior DBA to manage the entirety of their database environments.
In addition to expense, turnover is another downside of the Internal Senior DBA. If the individual leaves your company, your organization’s databases might be completely unmonitored until you’re able to find another Internal Senior DBA to replace them. If your organization is currently relying on an Internal Senior DBA for database support, you may want to reconsider or be certain you have a junior resource on staff who will be able to take the reins until another Senior DBA is hired.
With an Internal Senior DBA, you’re also limited to the knowledge and expertise of that specific individual, and you may find gaps in their ability to holistically manage your DBMS. For organizations that desire well-rounded and comprehensive expertise on database management, leveraging the support of an Independent Consulting Firm or a Managed Services Provider will give you a variety of experts and will fill those gaps in database knowledge.
The Freelance Consultant
Using a Freelance Consultant for the management of organizations’ databases is not uncommon. Typically, businesses that need expertise and support for strategic database projects — implementations, tuning and optimizing, and upgrades —and don’t desire ongoing support for their database environments after the completion of the project, rely on the help of a Freelance Consultant.
Although it can be expensive, (a Freelance Consultant can cost the same or more as an Internal Senior DBA depending on the project), this option can be effective for larger organizations that don’t have the expertise of a Senior DBA in their internal staff or for organizations that currently have an Internal Senior DBA that needs assistance with strategic database projects.
However, relying on the skill set of one individual can present challenges. An expert cannot be an expert in all things, so if you choose a Freelance Consultant, make sure that they are well-qualified to manage the specific project that your business is enlisting their help for.
The Independent Consulting Firm
Although similar to the Freelance Consultant, the Independent Consulting Firm provides organizations with a full team of database experts, instead of a single DBA. The benefit to this choice over the Freelance Consultant might seem obvious — relying on a team of people rather than a single individual allows you to leverage a variety of skill-sets to get the best support possible. However, this option can be fairly expensive depending on the specific firm.
As with the Freelance Consultant, this option is best for organizations that would like professional expertise and management of their database environments for specific strategic projects (i.e. implementations, tuning and optimizing, upgrades) on a contract basis.
For organizations that choose either an Independent Consulting Firm or a Freelance Consultant, it's critical that you have strong internal project management experience in order to succeed with either of these database management strategies.
Although never intentional, a shocking number of companies rely on an “Accidental DBA” for the support of their business-critical Database Management System. An Accidental DBA is the IT team member who knows “enough” about database management and therefore gets tasked with managing all databases in addition to their primary job responsibilities. When relying on an Accidental DBA for database support, you can typically (although not always) anticipate:
Setup and Configuration Errors
Most Accidental DBAs don’t know how to configure a production database so that it will perform properly. Although your databases may appear to run normally for a while, this will eventually compromise the long-term performance of your database environments.
No Disaster Recovery Plan
An Accidental DBA is most likely monitoring your databases without a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. Database downtime is not only expensive, but it could prevent your company from completing even the most basic of functions (and who can afford their business to stand idle?).
Accidental DBAs may work with developers to fix immediate problems, but they may not fully understand how changes to applications can (and often do) negatively impact other processes that can cause more problems in the future.
Oftentimes Accidental DBAs rely on third-party tools that require a certain level of security, but without proper oversight and consistent management, these tools can become a hole for hackers.
Many Accidental DBAs fail to closely monitor databases, either due to a lack of time or understanding of necessary tools, so they are left being reactive instead of proactive.
A Managed Services Provider (MSP) can give you the peace of mind of a full-time DBA, oftentimes at a fraction of the expense, but with a full team of experts.
This support option is great for organizations of all sizes that prefer a full team of Oracle and SQL Server database experts available to them 24/7/365 and for organizations that would like to free up their Internal Senior DBAs to focus on more strategic initiatives with a higher-value add. Much like a consultant, most MSPs can also provide support for strategic projects (i.e. implementations, optimizations, upgrades, etc.) as well as the ongoing support of your databases after the completion of the project.
The downside to this option is that it can be expensive depending on the specific needs of your organization and on the pricing strategy of the specific Managed Services Provider you choose. However, it doesn’t have to be. Try to find an organization that uses fixed-fee pricing — this will allow you to set a budget and stick to it, without the fear of hidden fees.
To help you select the database management solution that's right for you, download our complimentary Database Management Cheat Sheet below:
Wondering how ManageForce can help? Contact us today to find out.
Interested in learning more about Database Management? These resources are here to help: