How remote DBAs have changed the way we work

As we approach the end of a tumultuous 2020, database management is now at the centre of operations for most organisations

Many tightly coupled service and database operations are being replaced with API- and container-based architectures. As such, the veracity of the databases supporting these applications must be a priority. Expanding or filtering the data that employees receive from companies is essential for optimal performance, and ensuring the stability of that process is a necessity.

In the past, having a database administrator (DBA) on-site was usually the best way to keep everything running smoothly. But today that is not necessarily the case. Improved commercialisation of cloud-based resources gives everyone flexible access to great products. Employing a remote DBA (or DBAs, depending on your scale) provides even more opportunity to keep up with the constant acceleration of business.

Here are just a few examples:

On-call Specialists

Business hours may be from Monday to Friday, nine to five, but unexpected events can happen 24/7. Employing remote DBAs ensures that organisations have someone on call at all times. It also makes it easier for organisations to organise contracts to pay only for the service used rather than continuing to incur costs when services are not necessary.

Employing a team of specialists also ensures that organisations have the right person for the job. An on-site generalist may encounter a learning curve depending on the system. In a time crunch, it is much more effective to contact an on-call remote specialist than it is to wait for someone inside the organisation with relevant experience. If a client list expands seasonally, organisations can expand their teams to meet those needs. They can also downsize when business is slower.

Institutional Memory

DBAs are in demand. But competitors can’t steal them if they do not belong to their rivals to begin with. Qualified DBAs will always field offers from the outside, and if they choose to leave, organisations are forced to retrain new hires. Having a team of DBAs who keep good records and documentation about an organisation’s databases helps ensure that if one person leaves, information about the databases is preserved.

Proactive Response

Just because an in-house team shuts off the lights for the weekend does not mean database systems are frozen until the team returns. If a problem occurs during off-hours, a global team of DBAs helps ensure that:

● Off-hour issues are handled by DBAs who are alert and fully awake

● Individuals don’t get burned out

A remote DBA team also proactively assesses problems, reducing the need to address them during public business hours when employees should be dealing with clients in real-time.A proactive response also means automated upgrading, patching, and maintenance work for internal systems. A remote DBA with cloud access can reconfigure settings, update stats, and construct indexes in the off hours as well as during business hours. This should result in less downtime and higher efficiency during day-to-day operations.

In-house Flexibility

Managing a growing business means knowing when and to whom to outsource tasks and processes. Putting remote DBAs on the top of the list of outsourcing priorities frees in-house staff to specialise, instead of worrying about the database. Imagine what core IT staff could do if they did not have to keep an eye on a database while performing the jobs they were actually hired to do.

Business Continuity

DBAs should be an essential component of disaster prevention and business continuity strategies. They are a major part of ensuring that system issues do not turn into system failures, and small problems do not end up as panicked free-for-alls that lead to customer-facing disasters. Prevention is the best option, but not always doable. Having a set of eyes outside of the office helps to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks when inevitable database problems happen.

Dedicated Expertise

Hiring an in-house DBA means putting a new person in the middle of a system that could be unfamiliar to them and which may not be up to standards. Remote DBAs contribute expertise that may not exist in-house. Remote DBAs interact with a wide variety of architectures and use cases, and are trained to understand what workflows and configurations work best for different scenarios. Having exposure to a broad set of patterns and inputs helps DBAs and the organisations they support stay abreast of the latest technologies and upgrades. Employing a system along with remote specialists also helps smooth operation of that system, as opposed to choosing a system and hoping HR can hire someone to stay up-to-date as upgrades become available.

Security

Having eyes on a system 24/7 helps keep that system safer. The more that companies can automate their security functions, the more protection they have against hackers and malicious users. Modern database hackers use automated systems that have no need for a lunch break or a sick day. Leaders owe it to their business to protect it with the same kind of sophistication.

Knowing that the database is being managed by a professional with eyes on data security, around the clock, should give any business owner peace of mind. Aside from the advantages listed above, confidence in the system positively informs other business operations, from the supply chain to customer service. Everyone can perform with more clarity knowing that they are backed by a rock-solid database that they can depend on. Having remote DBAs goes a long way towards securing the well-being of an organisation’s physical and digital business, and its reputation with customers.


About the Author

Shannon Wallace is Senior Product Manager at EDB. PostgreSQL is increasingly the database of choice for organizations looking to boost innovation and accelerate business. EDB’s enterprise-class software extends PostgreSQL, helping our customers get the most out of it both on premises and in the cloud. And our 24×7 global support, professional services, and training help our customers control risk, manage costs, and scale efficiently.

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