DBA Outsourcing a Success Nobody Seems to Want

April, 2019

Database administration outsourcing often leads to satisfied customers who save money. But despite that track record, the use of DBA service providers is not widely practiced. After a large drop in 2016, where only 24% of organizations outsourced the function, database administration outsourcing bounced back to 34% in 2017 only to drop again this year to 26%.  As companies becoming increasingly data-driven, the database becomes the crown jewels for the organization. Even in the face of success, many companies are choosing to keep their database administration in-house.

As shown in Figure 1 from our full report, Database Administration Outsourcing Trends and Customer Experience, we rank both the cost success and service success for database administration outsourcing as high. That means that out of all 10 of the outsourcing categories that we check, database administration is in the top third for economic success. Nevertheless, the outsourcing frequency, the percentage of companies that outsource the function at all, is low. And the outsourcing level, the amount of work that companies choose to outsource, is only moderate. This means that even companies that outsource do not tend to outsource a large amount of their database administration work.

DBAout fig 1 - DBA Outsourcing a Success Nobody Seems to Want

Databases sit at the heart of an organization’s business systems. A large part of safeguarding the integrity, reliability, and availability of those systems depends on proper maintenance and administration. Database administrators handle a variety of duties, including building, maintaining, securing, backing up, recovering, and tuning the performance of databases. To ensure that these responsibilities are fulfilled, organizations can turn to service providers for remote database administration resources.

 “In addition to the strategic value of databases, SaaS has really held back increased database administration outsourcing,” said David Wagner, vice president of research at Irvine, Calif.-based Computer Economics. “In the SaaS model, the end user does not manage the infrastructure on which the database and application run. This essentially eliminates the need for the client to administer databases.”

Database administration outsourcing provides supplemental expertise for the maintenance and support of operational databases, often outside normal business hours. A database service provider on the most basic level monitors and maintains the operations of an organization’s databases and ensures that critical parameters are maintained and performance goals met. Third-party database administrators react to incidents, such as database alerts, and attempt to resolve database problems.

Generally, database administration outsourcing does not include code development or application maintenance. Most work is performed off-site, although supplemental, on-site database personnel can be employed. In addition, most database administration outsourcing involves monitoring database instances running in either the customer’s data center or a third-party data center, although some database service firms provide complete outsourcing services, including hosting of customers’ databases.

Customer engagements usually take one of three forms: continuous engagement, specific projects, or discrete tasks such as database upgrades or migrations. Service providers generally price their services by the month or by the hour, with a fixed contract period.

We define IT outsourcing as contracting with a service provider to perform an IT function that is commonly performed in-house. This report does not use the term “outsourcing” as a synonym for “offshoring.” In fact, most outsourcing is done with domestic service providers. From the point of view of the IT organization, any function that is not performed by its IT staff is outsourced, regardless of whether the outsourcing is onshore, near-shore, or offshore.

To help IT executives understand their options, the full report examines adoption trends in database administration outsourcing. We report on the percentage of organizations outsourcing database administration (frequency), the average amount of work outsourced (level), and the change in the amount of work being outsourced (trend). We also present success rates for the cost and service experience and show how these trends differ by organization size and sector. We conclude with recommendations for improving the effectiveness of database administration outsourcing.

This Research Byte is based on our report on this subject, Database Administration Outsourcing Trends and Customer Experience. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website (click for pricing).