In this blog, I’ll share my thoughts on what to look for in a Remote Database Operations service as part of an overall Managed Services capability.
Managed Services is generally defined as the practice of outsourcing day to day IT responsibilities in order to improve day to day operations. Activities performed by the managed services provider typically include support for the customer’s production environment, but may also include maintenance activities. In these situations, the customer typically does not relinquish overall management responsibility of the organization or system, but improves their ability to provide round the clock expertise and support for the environments managed by engaging an outside organization to cover any and all day to day operational issues for a given technology.
Having 24X7 access to data is a requirement for many IT organizations. Often, IT organizations rely upon internal DBA staff, who put in a full day of work between the hours of 8-5 to provide 24X7 operational support. So, in addition to putting in a full day at the office, DBA Staff are often asked to carry pagers and be prepared at any time of the day or night to respond to issues that arise. For environments where there are batch jobs running at night, or where there is round the clock end user access to the application, production issues related to database can and do come up after hours.
While asking internal DBA staff to carry a pager 24X7 might be considered a cost effective way to handle off-hours support, there are hidden costs. Staff burnout and staff retention issues both have associated costs. Offloading responsibility to a Managed Services provider can prevent the loss of valuable resources. In addition, the use of Managed Services allows internal staff, who have valuable business domain experience to contribute to their organization, the freedom to focus more on strategic initiatives.
Organizations that decide to add staff to provide 24X7 production support have two alternatives:
1) Hire additional internal staff
2) Utilize Managed Services
Consider the cost of option 1) for a moment. In order to be able to provide 24X7 database support without sending staff home from work with pagers, even for the least complicated database environment, you need a minimum of 4-5 staff with the right skills in order to get the hours of coverage that you need. Calculating that cost, and then comparing it to the cost of Managed Services can give you an idea of the value and cost savings provided by utilizing Managed Services.
The cost of operational support is a consideration for organizations contemplating utilizing new technologies. This cost can stop a small organization from implementing new technologies, and may also hamper larger organizations. Managed Services provides a way to keep operational costs lower, facilitating the adoption of new technologies, including databases.
SAP provides a number of offerings in the area of Managed Services. One such service is RDO – Remote Database Operations Service. This service offering provides customers the option to leave the day to day technical management of their SAP Sybase ASE, IQ and Replication Server operational environment to SAP staff familiar with these technologies. SAP staff work from a remote location, but have constant access to the customer’s database environment, and utilize monitoring and alerting to ensure that they become aware of an issue as soon as it occurs.
In a future blog post, I’ll write about what to look for when evaluating Managed Services providers.