Recently SAP contracted with IDC to conduct a study of relational database management (RDBMS) users to determine the cost factors encountered by those users in running a relational database, and the extent to which (if any) Sybase ASE could save users money in running their systems. IDC recruited 12 organizations that were willing to let us examine deeply their costs in running both Sybase ASE and other RDBMS products.
IDC asked a number of detailed questions regarding the organizations’ use of database software, their staffing costs, their hardware costs, and their software license and maintenance costs. IDC then analyzed the data using a well-established five-year model for calculating total cost of ownership (TCO), and came to some compelling conclusions.
Before considering those conclusions, it’s important to note that for the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), cost is a key consideration in choosing technology. Most people understand this, but in analyzing such costs, they often stop at a superficial level — e.g., the cost of acquisition — and fail to consider the more important element: the ongoing cost of operation. This area of cost includes the answers to questions such as:
- How many hours does your staff spend performing routine maintenance activities such as backups, unload/reload, and database reorganization?
- How much of a database administrator’s (DBA’s) time is spent on database and query tuning?
- How much downtime do you experience from your database, and how does that translate into extra work for your staff or, more importantly, lost business opportunity?
All too often, SME customers simply go with what seems the easy or safe choice, perhaps based on the recommendation of a key application software vendor or consultant, and fail to fully explore which RDBMS might really be a right fit, including from a total cost perspective. Of course, SAP would like its customers to consider Sybase ASE for their database management needs, but does this idea bear out from a total cost perspective? This is what SAP asked IDC to investigate.
In our study of the 12 RDBMS cases in question, IDC asked a comprehensive series of questions, and collected detailed statistics regarding database size and complexity, hardware utilization, and the software, hardware, and staff costs associated with managing those databases. We were careful to compare “apples to apples” — that is, comparable database configurations running software from different vendors, including SAP’s Sybase ASE.
IDC found that 75% of the ongoing operational cost of running a relational database over a five-year period was staffing cost in the cases we examined. Hardware was 17%, software licenses 5%, and downtime 4% (note: these percentages are rounded). In general, the cases we studied experienced lower costs with Sybase ASE than with other RDBMS products, and the savings broke down as follows:
- 39% less downtime-related cost
- 31% less software cost (license and maintenance)
- 24% less hardware cost (storage)
- 29% less hardware cost (servers)
And, in the all-important staff time category, 26% lower cost was associated with Sybase ASE than with the other products.
Now, these results reflect just 12 cases and are no way an absolute reflection of general cost experience in all cases. But it’s an interesting snapshot. SME RDBMS users interested in managing the costs associated with RDBMS should consider these findings. The full results may be seen in the “Calculating the True Cost of RDBMS Ownership and How Sybase ASE Stacks Up” white paper available from SAP.