What is remote DBA to begin with?

Before we review what remote DBA services are, let’s clarify the DBA itself. Database administration or shortly DBA aims to maintain functionality, safety and integrity of database management software – Oracle, DB2 and SQL Server in the first hand. Nobody wants to end up with a non-working system with all the data become unavailable or even lost. So the scope of DBA services covers every matter that explicitly or implicitly influences the operation of a DBMS.

For instance, reliable operation is impossible without properly installed software, while timely updates ensure the database server software remains secure and bug-free. Regular backups are another crucial service operation protecting the data in case of a force majeure. DBA often includes performance monitoring and optimization, especially on large-scale systems. And if the database volume is going to grow, it is the database administrator who is responsible for preliminary capacity scaling.

Remote DBA then is basically the same maintenance, but performed remotely by a hired specialist or a team of database administrators. Unlike in-house DBA, remote DBA do not require administrators to physically present on site or be a part of your staff. Such approach has certain advantages and disadvantages covered below.

Why choose remote DBA services?

Remote DBA services aren’t a panacea. However, in many cases choosing remote DBA is reasonable. And here is why.

1. Lower service and maintenance costs

The budget of a company is limited. And despite undisputable importance of proper database administration, hiring skilled DBAs for a full-time is not exactly what many companies can afford. Provided IT budgets today tend to get tighter, a chance to lower database software maintenance costs by switching to remote DBA services is a real option to consider.

2. No need for in-company administration

Following from the above, remote DBA services mean you don’t need to hire, train and pay to in-house database administrators. That’s not only the salary; it’s also about the office space, transportation, employee package and other stuff the company also pays for. Remote DBA services, on the other hand, require you to pay only for the service, that is, remote database administration.

3. Remote DBA is scalable

Whenever your business presence expands, so do efforts to maintain DBMS of your business to keep it secure, efficient and working. And while the software and hardware parts are scaled relatively easily, hiring personnel for increased database administration services can turn out to be problematic. Delegating database maintenance and administration to some remote DBA contractor is often a cheap and effective solution of the scalability problem.

4. Constant coverage and continuous availability

Administering a database 24×7, 365 days a year relying on your own resources only is tough. You should either hire several administration teams working on a shift basis (not a too cost-effective solution for the reasons stated above), or hope nothing happens when nobody monitors the system. With remote DBA services you get constant coverage and thorough monitoring of each and every aspect of the DBMS that could potentially lead to problems. Moreover, even if a problem arises, it is immediately addressed by the duty administrator of the remote DBA service company.

Remote DBA usage examples

Here are some real-world examples when using remote DBA services makes sense.

1. Reducing costs to save the budget

You can increase efficiency of the existing DBA and benefit from reduced costs by switching to an external support provider. As said above, an in-house DBA on the strength is costly affair. Of course, if DBA does the job right, you probably shouldn’t fire him. But what if he or she leaves? Marries? Takes sick? Even when your IT team is numerous, often just one person is the linchpin that holds everything together. And when he goes – the efficiency of your database administration drops.

2. Switching to another system

Let’s suppose your IT infrastructure relies on Oracle. Now, business needs require you to migrate to SQL Server or use it in parallel with the existing Oracle solution. So, you have a choice: train your DBAs to use the new solution or hire new employees. However, using remote DBA services in this case would be far cheaper. By combining your existing infrastructure with remote support contractors you easily solve the problem and stay within the budget.

3. Personnel problems

People move on. People get sick or get married. Woman employees can get pregnant too. Each of these factors if happens to your company can potentially jeopardize health, safety and availability of DBMS. Hiring a remote DBA professional resolves such affairs pretty easy. Importantly, you don’t have to order full DBA services. You can just backup yourself with partial services for the time you find a new full-time specialist, that’s also an option.

Another issue that is worth mentioning here is too reactive behavior of the IT staff. Meaning they do put a lot of time and work into maintaining the system, but when it comes to constant proactive monitoring, the DBA team ends up doing something else and only reacts to problems, not prevents them.

4. Uninterruptible operation

A proper choice of a remote DBA contractor can move your business to the entirely new level with 24/7 availability. Even a tiny issue can take the shine of your services in the eyes of a customer. And you undoubtedly want all critical issues to be addressed immediately, round the clock. That’s where remote DBA services are second to none. With a team of devoted professionals you can be sure the database software is up to date and protected from known vulnerabilities, functions properly, and potential issues are fixed way before your customers notice them.

Conclusion

As displayed, IT companies have a nice instrument to solve budget, employee, security and scalability problems. Of course, remote DBA services can’t replace a dedicated full-time professional DBA in all and every cases. And there’s a problem of choosing an appropriate company to safely delegate DBA to. This matter will be reviewed thoroughly in future articles.

However, for most companies willing to reduce DBA costs, improve stability and performance of the system while maintaining security, remote DBA services are hands down a bargain. For a decent price you receive 24/7 monitoring, instant reaction to failures, optimal configuration of the whole system and possibility to scale the business at hand.

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