May 7


What is DBA as a Service?

By Charles

May 7, 2016

There are many ways to get the required database skills your business needs. Some are cheaper, some offer better levels of service. It is really down to what your business requires and what your business determines as best value as to which option you should use to fill that skills gap. The options are fairly limited so you can hire a DBA fulltime, get a consultant or use DBA as a Service also known as Managed SQL Services.

Having database skills is a requirement for over 87% of businesses, even the small businesses. How can that be? Every application you use needs to store data somewhere. It could be a bespoke application for your industry, a case management system, CRM application or even a HR system. In most cases a SQL Server relational database is storing your data which needs to be looked after and certainly needs to be backed up. Could you run or grow your business without those types of application available to your employees? What would happen if the database was lost and you couldn’t restore from a backup?

Developers have relied on SQL Express more and more over the years. It gives a solid database engine which is reliable. For applications that have small system requirements such as databases being under 10Gb in size and not needing more than 1Gb of RAM it is free. It is the perfect partner to store an applications data as it is easy to integrate with and can be bundled with applications. Being a FREE gateway product has helped SQL Server spread and end up on most businesses infrastructure. Once databases grew too big then they would need to purchase at minimum the standard edition of SQL Server making an easy transition for the customer and an easy pay day for Microsoft. This lead to the need of specialists to look after these database back ends. As more small businesses are increasing their reliance on software products to increase their growth and service their customers. The importance of these applications has grown with the dependence on them making them mission critical.

[h2_heading]DBA as a Service[/h2_heading]

DBA or Database Administrator as a service is exactly what it sounds like. You outsource your database management requirements to a company that agrees to provide you with their database skills for a fixed cost based on the SLA’s required. The support will most likely include remote management and typical DBA processes such as re-build and re-organise indexes, updates statistics, database integrity checks, backup management. Processes that should already be in place but are often missed out when a business has not had the requirement to manage databases before. The first signs of these processes being missing are slow applications or the missing ability to restore a database to a previous state when disaster strikes.

Monitoring of performance and the resolution of any performance issues is a great bonus to have. Instead of blaming ‘the database’ and just restarting the server an experienced DBA will be able to find and resolve performance issues. By tuning a database you can increase its performance. No database ever stays the same. Like a child they grow and change overtime. So a system installed five years ago will most likely not be used in the exact same way it was intended. Especially if the application has been updated over time adding new features. When it comes to performance a DBA can find and resolve the issue or inform other teams about what the root cause is rather than just ‘the database is slow’.

Having knowledgeable DBAs designing a backup strategy and monitoring your database backups is probably all the justification you need to use DBA as a Service. Most of a DBAs job is around backups and restores so making sure they are working is paramount. The other option of course would be to hire a DBA full time but do you really have approx. 40 hours of work per week for that one person to do? Can you justify paying one person over £35k to look after backups and wait for the next disaster? If not a fulltime person then a contractor could fill the gap as a temporary measure but once they have gone will you take over the database responsibility? If not then DBA as a Service is likely the most cost effective option for your business. Not only will you not have to worry about covering the full time salary or the training requirements but by using DBA as a Service you will have a full team of experienced professionals ready to show their worth. They will be available when you need them and you will not be paying for them to sit around for the next disaster. For a more in depth look at should I hire a DBA click here for what to consider.

In the end using DBA as a Service is a bit like having a warranty. You buy it and sometimes forget about it but when the inevitable happens they are there to drag you out of the fire and keep your business running with minimum downtime.

These days your business is your data, without backups you don’t have either and that requires someone to manage them. You wouldn’t buy a car without getting a warranty no matter how old it is. So why would you leave your entire business open to the possibility of a catastrophic event?

About the author

Microsoft Certified SQL Server DBA with over a decades experience including work for large FTSE 250 companies amongst others. The SQL Server stack has been the focus of almost all of my career in IT. I have experience designing, supporting and troubleshooting large Data Platform deployments.

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