What are exactly Database Managed Services?
The term is widely used and covers so many things simultaneously, so it is hard to figure out what it means exactly. Do managed services include database administration only or do they also cover installation, upgrades and migration to other servers? Are database managed services always 24/7 or are there any other options? Do DBMS involve routine maintenance procedures or can they also handle critical issues? There are literally dozens of questions! Reporting? Custom service? Performance tuning and bottle-neck analysis? Too bad, each database managed service provider answers these questions differently, in its own way.
However, we still can bring in a more or less universal definition of Database Managed Services – these are the ones to remotely maintain operation of database servers and/or informational infrastructure. Managed services are usually delegated to some third-party company specializing on this kind of database maintenance.
Who needs Database Managed Services?
In fact, the question isn’t who needs database managed services, it is do you need DBMS. And to answer it, we should review all pros and cons of database managed solutions. Basically, almost any business today can benefit from database managed services as almost any business faces multiple challenges in building a complex data infrastructure while complying with growing business needs.
So, let’s see what advantages database managed services offer, and what their drawbacks are.
Pro: You can save on hiring staff
Relying on remote services provided by a trained team whose only expertise is full-scale database management, means you can get rid of excessive staff you hire on fulltime. A number of researches state that small- and mid-sized companies having 100 or less employees get the most benefit from using managed services. Indeed, larger companies typically can afford to hire a staff of DBA as that is merely a fraction of total expenses. However, as the average salary of a DBA specialists grow, more and more sized companies prefer to save and delegate database management to third-party.
Another advantage here is more predictable and structured expenses. Recurring fees for database managed services remain the same over the subscription period, so your overall costs are easier to budget. Plus, your IT team, if you have one, can now focus on mission-critical tasks, not just on maintenance and upgrading.
Con: You can face unforeseen problems
Make sure you have read contract with your database management service provider carefully and understood what it will and what it will not take responsibility for. Costs and coverage may vary greatly, so you better be sure your contractor won’t just shrug when you’ll ask him why your database is down.
The solution is to be ahead of the game and to clarify what exact activities your subscription costs cover; what kind of support and maintenance you can count on; are there any extra fees in case of force majeure and if any what they are exactly. The decision whether you want to hire a third-party database manager must be made with a strong cooperation with your financial department. Weigh all the factors carefully and see how they match with the strategy of your business.
Pro: Constant reliability and availability
Thanks to 24/7 maintenance and support database managed services usually imply, your databases remain secure, up to date, backed up and fluently operating. That’s good for your business, that’s good for you customers. Being certain your clients can register, fill in data, buy products or order services at any time regardless of time of the day and day of the week – isn’t that great? Your own IT staff can’t always be on guard; they have days off, holidays, vacations and thus cannot react 24/7, 365 days a year. On the other hand, managed servicing ensures 100% availability no matter the circumstances.
Con: You become dependent on Internet
Your database managed servicing is as reliable as your Internet connection is. You can’t get quality remote maintenance if your connection doesn’t allow that. There’s also a security issue. The more sides are involved into managing passwords, accounts and credit card data, the more vulnerable this information becomes.
To resolve possible Internet “blackouts” think of obtaining a backup Internet provider in addition to your primary one. The best option is to backup your Internet connection using some alternate way that possibly doesn’t exploit the same channels as your main connection option. One of such alternate solutions is 3G/4G. As for security, with a proper approach your data in fact become even more secure thanks to round-the-clock monitoring and constant attention of the devoted specialists.
Pro: Database managed servicing increases flexibility
With provided maintenance, servicing and 24/7 support of your databases you can enjoy better scalability, you have more upgrade options, you may rest assured you have a handful of migration options to choose. You are not tied to specific schedules or platforms. You are even open to experiments if that’s what your business strategy implies.
Con: You lose control
Surely, when the entire database system is managed by the in-house staff, you feel more confident. Plus, building custom solutions and tailoring the system to your specific needs is often faster and more efficient with a fulltime team of DBAs. That’s why when it comes to hiring database managed services many executives tend to play it safe, because they feel like they will be losing control.
Solution? If you don’t want to lose control – stay in control. Perform load tests, ask questions, consult with your in-house team. Ask you database managed service vendor if customization is possible and what would be the price. Think of transferring a part of your database solutions to remote management leaving crucial business process to fulltime DBA you have.
It is hard to answer off the bat whether it is worth for you to switch to database managed services. Not only does this depend on your business needs, aims and strategy. You should focus on your priorities too. For many companies the decision to switch to managed servicing of their databases is a no-brainer. Saving a decent portion of the budget, better flexibility plus constant availability to customers seem to overweigh rare minuses of remote database administration for them.