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Top 5 reasons for choosing a managed service for your database

by Laura Hood, Marketing Manager, Triton Consulting.

In recent years the move to outsource IT or business processes has really taken hold.  There are many reasons why an organisation may choose to outsource all or part of their database management system.  The obvious answer is to save money and of course that is a major factor, however, it’s not the only reason for looking at outsourcing.

From speaking to our customers we see a range of different reasons for outsourcing database management.  Cost is certainly one of those, as you’ll see below, but we also found a few others.

These are the top 5 reasons we see from our customers for choosing to outsource all or part of their DB2 database support:

# 1 Cost – In a tough economic environment, IT budgets are static or reducing.  People continue to consume an increasing proportion of the IT budget.  This is especially true for highly skilled staff such as database administrators.

It is often the case that DBA (database administrator) teams are overstretched and need more hands on deck but with pressure to keep headcount down there is no chance of employing an extra person.  By utilising an external support provider, organisations can benefit from additional DBA support far more cheaply than if they had to employ another permanent member of staff.  This combination of in-house and external support works well for many organisations and can be particularly helpful when dealing with the issues associated with cover – which is our next reason! 

# 2 Cover – High or continuous availability is a common requirement for today’s “on demand” IT Systems and this can put pressure on small or overstretched DBA teams.  Even without a 24x7 support requirement there can be issues with cover when holiday, sickness or maternity and paternity leave are considered.

Taking out an “out of hours only” support contract can be a cost effective way of managing cover during evenings, weekends and bank holidays.  In addition, many support organisations also offer a “call-off” package whereby customers can use hours as and when needed.  This type of contract is ideal for coping with either planned absences such maternity or paternity leave or unplanned absences such as sick leave.

# 3 Proactive vs Reactive – Expert DBA skills are often needed on different projects and so DBAs can find themselves spending more time on non-core functions.  This means that the vital monitoring and management of the database can be sidelined.  Overworked DBA teams may not have time to proactively monitor the database.  Instead, only reacting once a problem has occurred and business users are already feeling the effects.

It is important when taking out a remote support contract, to check whether the service provider can offer proactive monitoring.  This takes away the concern of problems cropping up unexpectedly and more often than not potential issues are noticed and dealt with before users are even aware of an issue.

# 4 Keeping up-to-date – it is increasingly difficult for DBAs and the organisations they work for to keep up to date with the latest database technologies.  Database software is becoming more complex and takes years to master.  Training is not only costly in terms of the price but also in time, with key DBA staff needing time out of the office.  A managed support service can cover any gaps in knowledge within the team and most support organisations can offer training if required.

In addition to staff keeping up to date, sometimes it’s actually the organisation which is not on the latest database version.  In some instances organisations are forced to stay on older, unsupported database releases.  Skills for these older versions are hard to come by and lack of vendor support can mean a significant risk to the business.

Most service providers will be able to offer support on those systems which are officially “out of support” from the vendor thus taking away that element of risk.

# 5 Lack of skills in-house – We see organisations who do not have any DB2 skills in-house and organisations who have skills in-house but access to those skills is limited.

Some organisations will inherit DB2 systems through expansion or acquisition and do not have the skills in-house to support it.  Whilst their own IT team may be able to cope for a while if any real issues come up, a support organisation needs to be called in.

Access to in-house skills can be a problem when DBAs are pulled into different projects and so have less time to spend on day to day maintenance.  Their skills are often in great demand which can take them away from the routine tasks, again this is where an external support organisation can step in to take some of the strain.

Each organisation is different and their specific reasons for choosing to outsource will vary but there are many common themes.  The need for quality support and technical excellence is of course paramount. 

Triton Consulting offer a range of DB2 resourcing, outsourcing and training services.

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