Outsourcing DBAs too scary for some

A new Forrester Research survey shows that many IT managers won't outsource DBA work due to quality control concerns.

Security concerns and quality control topped the list of reasons why a majority of IT decision makers, surveyed by Forrester Research Inc., have so far avoided outsourcing their database administration jobs.

The Cambridge, Mass-based research firm reported that 69% of the 52 enterprises it surveyed said they do not plan to outsource DBA tasks. Forrester surveyed IT decision makers in companies having more than $500 million in annual revenue.

Those who responded to the survey said they were concerned about placing critical data in the hands of someone overseas. With minimal cost savings and, in some cases, murky government regulations on trade secrets, the majority surveyed said they would avoid outsourcing DBA positions.

DBAs do crucial work, supporting mission-critical applications where every second of outage matters, said Noel Yuhanna, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. Yuhanna said outsourcing can be successful if handled correctly.

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"While some are fearful of losing control of their database, outsourcing can be successful in a mature environment and when a majority of administrative tasks are automated," Yuhanna said. "When looking to outsource, companies need to understand the support structure and understand how problems will be handled."

Contracting with an outsourcing firm can help augment DBA staff. The firm can help troubleshoot problems quickly and proactively scan systems around the clock, Yuhanna said.

Based on the survey, those firms that outsource or plan to outsource their database activities indicated that a key benefit was cost savings. Certain DBA tasks, such as backup and recovery, monitoring, tuning, upgrades, and troubleshooting could be outsourced successfully, Yuhanna said.

"Perform a cost benefit analysis and research the firm you plan to outsource your systems management to," Yuhanna said. "It can be done successfully and with ROI [return on investment]."

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