Innovative Solutions White Paper


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Innovative Solutions White Paper

  1. 1. Innovative Solutions for Database and DBA Management
  2. 2. Innovative Solutions for Database and DBA Management Contents 1. Introduction 2 .The New DBA Reality 3 .The DBA Profile 4 .The Spectrum of DBA Tasks 5 .The DBA Cost Conundrum 6 . Managing DBA Costs 7 . Is DBA Outsourcing the Answer? 8 . Innovative DBA Solutions 9 . Conclusion 10 . About the Author
  3. 3. Innovative Solutions for Database and DBA Management IT decision makers face critical support-level agreements > Introduction and budget constraints that create a need for clarity To succeed in an ever-shifting business landscape, IT around how to manage staffing, utilization, and retention decision makers need real-world insights and solutions of Database Administrators. Presented with a number to the challenges of staffing, utilizing, and retaining Database of choices of how to satisfy their DBA needs, whether by Administrators (DBAs). An effective IT professional retaining employees or engaging contractors or offshore can maximize the value of the DBA function – gaining DBAs, managers must evaluate the shortcomings and productivity, realizing cost savings, and mitigating risk advantages of each type of DBA, and assess where by using blended DBAs and leveraging the latest DBA real database risks exist. staffing trends and services. Schemes where expensive DBAs perform routine tasks and inexpensive DBAs > The New DBA Reality perform complex or strategic tasks sap productivity, The role of the Database Administrator (DBA) is central increase costs, and create risk. to most business processes in today’s environment. It is also one of the most difficult positions to fill and The Database Administrator is at the center of retain. DBAs must be able to react, communicate, most IT business processes, and even with additional and plan across many different systems, projects, and employees, contractors, or offshore DBAs, IT business functions. They are not easy to find and are leaders remain challenged by single points of failure, often shockingly costly as a percentage of IT payroll. intellectual monopolies, insufficient skill sets, on-call Prior to the evolution of today’s comprehensive systems burnout, and limited scalability. Talented DBAs are and greater reliance on data by 24x7 consumers, difficult to place and can be very expensive, relative most DBAs functioned as “basement DBAs,” meaning to other headcount, in a given enterprise. DBAs that they generally were out of sight and out of mind, must perform tasks that range from the mundane to working on mainframe tasks associated with loading the complex, and the best DBAs are able to react, tapes, maintaining DASD, and running backup jobs. communicate, and plan across many different systems, That was 20 years ago. projects, and business functions. In the current IT landscape, DBAs must understand Until now, only the largest IT organizations could an ever-expanding scope of hardware and applications, afford a tiered DBA staff that deployed multiple which includes web servers, middleware, and resources – each with varying skill sets and costs – relational data models. They must deal effectively that performed appropriate functions and combined with new data/indexing schemes, application loads, to an overall lower DBA expense and greater DBA clustering software, and replication techniques. job satisfaction. These DBA teams addressed multiple Proficiency in networking, operating systems, storage issues, projects, and tasks in parallel, while eliminating area networks, and Sarbanes-Oxley regulations single points of failure, skill limitations, availability drives their value as DBAs. They also face constant interruptions, burnout, and turnover impacts. The change in encryption, multiple scripting languages, reason that this structure has proven effective is that it data retention, spatial data types, and third-party tailored the DBA to the task – at the right price. The applications. Finally, they must know data warehousing, challenge to IT decision makers in enterprises whose business intelligence, advanced performance tuning, size warrants but a single DBA is to reap the benefits high availability, code propagation, auditing, heuristics, and I/O layouts, among others. The likelihood of of a tiered DBA structure while controlling costs.
  4. 4. Innovative Solutions for Database and DBA Management finding one individual with expertise in even a few of management, process adherence, and even financial analysis. With the broadening and deepening of the job these key areas, much less all of them, is very low. description of the average Database Administrator, he Since the DBA is often the first point of contact for or she must demonstrate vertical platform expertise system performance issues, they must also be adept at and horizontal functional expertise as shown in the problem solving, communication, collaboration, project diagram below. The U.S. Department of Labor The challenge is to find DBA Enterprise databases themselves Statistics lists “DBA” as one of the professionals who meet these are growing three to five times in 10 fastest growing occupations. requirements. There are thousands size annually, and organizations are There are an estimated 120,000 DBAs of companies and institutions that need using more applications to manage in the United States alone, comprising a enterprise-class database support and their business processes, provide $20 billion industry, and the government availability but cannot afford a full-time DBA, new services, and measure business predicts a 66% increase in the demand for let alone a large DBA staff to mitigate performance. As IT evolves, the number DBAs over the next five years. According common risks. Furthermore, due to of integrated applications continues to to Robert Half Technology’s 2009 Salary database growth, increased complexities, grow, and those applications need to talk Guide, each DBA costs U.S. companies repeated mundane tasks, and 24x7 on-call to more and more applications as data $100-180K annually and is up to 50% support requirements, many IT-intensive and process are further integrated. For underutilized due to inefficiencies, few companies are continually underutilizing example, in some enterprises, the payroll standards, and little automation. Robert and/or burning out their highly experienced system is now part of a complex enter- Half’s 2008 IT Hiring Index and Skills and expensive DBAs. prise resource planning (ERP) system that Report lists database management as may be one vendor’s comprehensive solu- the second highest IT skill set in demand tion accessing a single database or many today and contends that 43% of resumes disparate applications loosely integrated come from unqualified candidates. together working off of many databases.
  5. 5. Innovative Solutions for Database and DBA Management about their workload regardless of their skills, productivity, > The DBA Profile and speed. Subsequently, the DBA may learn to let things Good DBAs spend as much time as possible proactively fail so he or she can swoop in and be the hero to fix it, or tuning, automating, and streamlining, which improves they protect themselves by performing all tasks manually all the health, scalability, and business value of the databases the time.The first is inherently bad for business operations they administer in the short and long run.With the and DBA ethics, and the second is costly to the business right resources and staffing levels, DBAs demonstrate and allows more risk.To make matters worse, high-dollar tremendous ROI because they can ensure database contractors are actually further unmotivated to automate reliability, quickly recover from costly errors, save on storage and streamline operations since it may cut into their billable requirements, resolve data issues, create processes to reduce hours or contract length.To say that DBAs cost too much expensive man hours, recover from natural and unnatural or are not really needed since “we haven’t had any issues disasters, improve system performance, offer application yet” is like saying your city does not need a fire department. design suggestions, and create and maintain databases to Although there may not be a fire this very minute, your position their companies against the competition. fire department is (or should be) performing preventative Unfortunately, most organizations do not have the resources maintenance, inspections, design recommendations, approvals, certifications, etc. that ultimately lead to greater or tools to create the ideal DBA environment. Many DBAs leave positions after a very short time due to overly complex protection, prevention, and performance, which is, in fact, environments, workloads, and expectations. On-call burnout, the reason that there may be no fires! However, if there are too many fires, they cannot get ahead since there is no constant fire fighting, non-challenging work, non-competitive pay, and bureaucratic frustration are some of the factors that time for prevention and planning. If your DBA is limited by his or her availability, skill level, motivation, or workload, lead DBAs to leave and take critical intellectual value and investments with them. Alternatively, mediocre DBAs stay in then you run a risk of not resolving system interruptions that immediately impact business or missing out on positions for long tenures simply because they can operate under the radar with just enough effort to keep the database proactive tasks that could prevent them in the future. up and running. Because database management is often limited by DBA availability, skill level, workload, motivation, and In his bestseller,The Dilbert Principle, Scott Adams states: single points of failure, organizations risk business-impacting service interruptions and are unable to perform proactive “The best jobs are those that are business critical, maintenance tasks that could prevent future interruptions. spectacularly uninteresting, and so dry that you’ll want to drill a hole in your head to let the boredom out.” He lists Even with a motivated and proactive DBA, there often three jobs as examples: Facilities Management, Tax Law, and Database Administration. exists the perception that they may not be “busy” in the sense that he or she appears to have less workload due Adam’s quote above occurs in the chapter of his book to their own preventative maintenance efforts, which entitled “Pretending to Work,” where he describes jobs in which you can get paid quite well, but no one really may lead managers who are unfamiliar with the job knows how hard you work or what you actually do requirements to judge negatively and possibly to attempt day-in, day-out. That’s because the DBA position, like the to fill the DBAs time with additional not-so-enticing work. facilities manager or tax lawyer, has daily responsibilities Even though the DBA continues to provide valuable that are vague to the layperson, costly whatever the task, and difficult to obtain/retain reliable talent all effort and intellectual assets, often unnoticed at night and contributing to high fees, power, and fear. In a sense, on weekends, managers continually reward the other DBAs may have a small conspiracy if left unchecked. > The Spectrum of DBA Tasks employee who is always “in the office” and/or complaining
  6. 6. Innovative Solutions for Database and DBA Management To ensure that an organization’s data and databases are maintenance, capacity planning, performance tuning, robust and relevant, the DBA must perform a wide upgrade planning, disaster planning, task automation, range of tasks in a variety of areas.These areas include custom monitoring routines, and many others to get database design, performance tuning, database availability, ahead of the game improving system health.This area security plans, backup and recovery, data integrity, release provides the most long-term strategic value but often migration, change management, and user requests – really, gets the least focus due to the workload of the operational anything that involves the company’s databases. It may and project tasks.Proactive tasks and database planning also involve working closely with developers, answering require a high level of DBA discipline since they are often to business stakeholders, collaborating with infrastructure hidden from the rest of IT and management. experts, and supporting end users directly. If an IT shop has intensive development, reporting, and business According to a 2007 study by Forrester – an average DBA with a 40-hour-per-week capacity spends approximately intelligence (BI) needs, then they may also require a DBA 60% of their time on operational tasks, 30% of their time on well versed in the application and direct user needs. projects tasks, and less than 10% of their time on proactive tasks.That is equivalent to only four hours per week of Most database tasks also fall across a spectrum proactive tuning, prevention, and planning. Not only are the requiring varying degrees of skill. The spectrum can be average DBAs spending too much time fighting fires and not divided into three categories illustrated below: enough time preventing them, they may also be performing the wrong tasks with mismatched expertise at inappropriate costs. operational tasks, project tasks, and proactive tasks. • Operational tasks are characterized as anything > The DBA Cost Conundrum needed to keep the database running and backed up while satisfying the immediate needs of the In the DBA world, when confronted with cost control efforts vs. needing reliable skill sets, it can be quite a conundrum to business. Operational tasks are usually highly hire a DBA consultant at $150/hr that spends many of those critical, time sensitive, and occur at any time. These hours performing operational tasks, which could easily be commoditized tasks often fall at the low end of the executed by a $30-60/hr DBA. On the other hand, a junior DBA skill spectrum, but if you have only one type DBA (onshore or offshore) at $30/hr, can be ill-equipped of DBA (or multiple DBAs working independently), to re-architect your databases, solve a business-impacting you could be burdened by extremely high costs per task. complex issue, or perform critical proactive tuning.The optimal • Project or development tasks are usually planned solution is a flexible model, where operational tasks cost $30 activities to support database changes, code per hour, project support tasks cost $60 an hour, and complex deployments, development support, or testing cycles proactive tasks are $150 an hour. Unfortunately, this rate structure is unrealistic and highly unpalatable to most DBAs. – to name a few. Since project tasks can benefit from change control process, standards, and best practices, India made a strategic decision, after her independence which require more DBA experience, they tend from Britain in 1947, to invest heavily in higher education. to fall in the middle of the DBA skill spectrum. The result is a booming economy and IT services sector. Regardless of skill set, however, project tasks could However, not all educated IT professionals in India be relegated to low-level tasks as “best efforts” only have been on the ground floor of fast-paced, dynamic organizations, which is critical to some of the DBA skills if the DBA does not have adequate time to plan for them. mentioned above. There are many different levels of DBAs in India, just as in the U.S., but as they increase in experience, • Proactive tasks are what the best DBAs do with they tend to move onshore and contract at higher rates. as much time as they can get. It involves preventative
  7. 7. Innovative Solutions for Database and DBA Management Staying competitive and continually creating enterprise lost productivity due to meetings, training sessions, value requires an investment in the highest level hallway conversations, research, Internet surfing, etc. As of expertise where required, as well as paying true a result, a traditional DBA may be performing the wrong market value for commoditized tasks. With the single tasks with mismatched expertise at inappropriate costs. traditional DBA, the rate of pay is the same for each > Managing DBA Costs hour of work regardless of task or skills required. Given the current economic environment, companies Generally, only large IT organizations have the funding are shifting gears to protect cash flow by looking and scale to create their own cost efficiencies and skill for cost savings in reducing both resources and spectrums by hiring a mixture of junior DBAs, senior new development efforts. Both of these create new DBAs, and one or more database architects. They can internal DBA requirements, either in level of effort also leverage economies of scale with group training, or skill sets needed, and are not easily adjustable with process adherence, toolsets, and pooled on-call traditional DBAs. Whether in an economic downturn support. These shops can afford the top database or not, it may be fiscally irresponsible to remain architects because they can spread them out over handcuffed to outdated DBA staffing models. many different databases and applications. With senior DBAs on staff, these organizations can compensate for According to Computerworld, innovation is only 10% insufficient skill sets and errors by lower-level DBAs. of the typical IT budget. Reducing ongoing management costs allows reallocation of scarce resources and Organizations that don’t benefit from generous IT budgets to more innovative tasks and projects, funding still have critical databases to maintain. Most delivering true business value. Below are the top 10 organizations have three choices when it comes to ways to reduce database management costs: database management: 1. Reduce DBA staffing costs and improve 1. Employ a DBA consultant or database productivity. architect at $150 per hour. 2. Reduce capital spending for servers, storage, 2. Hire a full-time mid to senior DBA at licenses, and maintenance. $60-100 per hour. 3. Ensure high availability of mission-critical 3. Bring on an offshore or entry-level DBA at applications to internal and external users. $30 per hour. 4. Improve performance, scalability, and security of critical applications. “It’s complete offshore outsourcing that has DBAs and managers 5. Have employees perform more value-added worried, most industry experts agree, not the sort of remote advisory and strategic services. services that companies use to augment their full-time staffs.” 6. Leverage a centralized platform to proactively -- Noel Yuhanna, Senior Industry Analyst, Forrester Research monitor alerts for databases/systems and servers/clusters 24x7x365 for quick problem resolution. Each of these options provides descending levels of 7. Improve operational maturity and best practices DBA expertise and business acumen. In the end, using to take advantage of business systems properly. any of these choices may result in higher overall costs, 8. Automate routine tasks to further reduce burnout risks, and/or skill set gaps that could seriously costs and reaction times. jeopardize the business. Other factors that subtract 9. Deploy new databases more quickly and from the productivity of these DBAs include limited cost-effectively. after-hours, vacation, and backup availability, as well as
  8. 8. Innovative Solutions for Database and DBA Management 10. Plan and upgrade to latest DBMS releases for 24x7x365. With our Primary DBAs, Support DBAs, new features and improvements. toolsets, knowledge management, mature processes, workflow, and shared intellect, your IT shop can gain > Is DBA Outsourcing the Answer? all the benefits of a 30+ DBA staff at a much lower Outsourcing and, to a greater extent, offshoring cost with future infrastructure savings as well. suggest that all tasks are commoditized, and anyone Managed Service Providers (MSPs), such as that is trained academically can handle them. datAvail, offer the best of both worlds. With secure Outsourced relationships often fall apart when connectivity methods, strict process adherence, challenged by complex tasks requiring business pooled resources, and DBA market trends, you can knowledge, critical thinking, language fluency, or just engage the right type of DBAs on the appropriate simple experience by the assigned DBA. The added tasks, giving you the best possible support for your burden of managing, training, communicating, and dollar. With the right DBA(s) working on the right coordinating work with those resources can result in task(s) at the right price, the overall blended rate can higher costs. The challenge is twofold: first, match the be lower than the cost of a single FTE or consultant. business environment with the right administration You will gain wider skill sets, greater DBA redundancy, and skill sets required across all tasks; second, align higher database reliability, improved reaction time, and the daily interaction levels of DBAs with the IT a much more proactive focus. stakeholder or users. > Conclusion > Innovative DBA Solutions Innovative database management solutions can Only the largest IT shops can afford a large staff of DBAs deliver the right expertise and can mitigate the with diverse skill levels. A single DBA or the wrong mix risks of your DBA walking out, always firefighting, of DBA resources results in overpaying for DBA staff reacting slowly, and not planning for the future. Until and under delivering on database needs. Furthermore, now, only multi-billion dollar companies with large without the right balance of skills and costs, IT budgets could afford solutions to the ongoing organizations cannot embark on proactive projects. challenges of database management. Small and mid- Now, small and mid-sized organizations can benefit sized enterprises now have access to cost-effective from the same type of IT scale enjoyed by large solutions that maximize DBA value, control costs, enterprises. datAvail Corporation provides this unique look good to upper management, satisfy IT staff, and “blended” combination of DBA support, offering a ensure a better night’s sleep. We are bringing scale large team with designated senior DBAs running point. to companies that cannot afford scale, but need that As opposed to full outsourcing, the key to our solution scale to be safe and competitive. is one or more U.S.-based Primary DBA(s) assigned > About Sloane Stricker as an extension of your IT team. The Primary DBA understands your databases vertically, as well as your Sloane Stricker is the CTO of datAvail Corporation, a business, applications, and infrastructure horizontally, managed service provider that delivers real-time, on- to manage your databases and project support needs. demand DBA expertise. He has been in the database Think of it as a member of your team simply sitting profession for over 16 years as a DBA, DBA Manager, IT in another office building, alongside 30 other DBAs, Director, Operations VP, and CTO. He has built databases, with your best database interests in mind. At the DBA teams, custom monitoring solutions, unique support same time, our India-based Support DBAs provide workflows, and created industry-recognized best practices immediate and after-hours support tasks, working to meet the goals of several Fortune 500 companies.