This is Part 3 of a series that compares in-house personnel, consultants and remote DBA service providers.  In Part 1, we talked about the cost reduction benefits that remote DBA service providers offer customers.  In Part 2 we discussed service continuity and quality as well as the flexibility benefits customers receive when utilizing a remote DBA service provider.

In this installment of the series, we’ll focus on the collective knowledge benefits and subject matter expertise remote DBA service providers offer clients.  I use my organization, RDX, as an example.

Skills and Expertise – Collective Knowledge

You’ll notice that our marketing literature contains the quote “The Skills of the Few vs the Skills of the Many.” This quote isn’t intended to be a catchy tagline for our services; it is a pure statement of fact.  Our organization has 200 onsite DBAs that work directly out of our delivery centers.  There is no comparison of skills and expertise when you compare skills from a team of 1, 5, or 40 to over 200 administrators, all onsite at 2 RDX locations.

Customers are able to leverage the benefits of our organization’s collective knowledge.  With that many DBAs in one central location, all of our DBAs have immediate access to literally hundreds of years of collective knowledge experience.

RDX currently support over 430 customers, thousands of servers and hundreds (and hundreds) of different tech stacks and third-party applications that interact with our customers' database environments.  We have customers that range from “bleeding edge” to “yesterday’s technology tomorrow.”  Remote services providers, like RDX, have a vast pool of knowledge and experience to draw from.  We know what products work and what don’t, what tech stack combinations play well together and what database features and technologies provide the most benefits for a given business or technical need.

This includes administrative best practices.  Although RDX has over 20 years of service delivery experience, we continue to learn from our customers.  RDX is a learning organization at its core. Just because we profess ourselves to be the remote database experts does not mean that our collective egos prevent us from learning new ways of doing things, which includes learning from our customers.

Many of our customers have personnel on staff who are Type A, super-experts in their chosen profession.  It is our pleasure to work alongside them and for them.  What we learn from one customer benefits all customers. Our goal is to continuously strive to be the best at what we do and we learn from many different sources.

Dedicated Subject Matter Experts

Regardless of what the product vendors tell you, databases are becoming more complex to administer – not easier. The vast array of database features and advanced database architectures have resulted in database administrators not being able to become experts in all facets of the database environment.

Each new release of any database product contains numerous new features and functionalities. Database vendors know that they must add new features to remain competitive. A competitive marketplace forces all software vendors to maximize their product’s inherent feature set. Constant innovation and integration of new features that differentiate their products from other vendors is an absolute requirement for their continued competitive survival.  Compare the features in today’s database releases to versions to those that were available a year or two ago.

It became readily apparent to RDX years ago that to provide the deep-dive expertise needed to help our customers fully leverage their database technology investment, we needed to have personnel specialize in complex or critical areas of support.  Support staff members showing strong skills in key database disciplines which include backup/recovery, HA architectures, SQL and database tuning, UNIX/Windows scripting, and database security are asked to join Subject Matter Expert (SME) teams to further improve their skill sets. RDX allocates SMEs to provide additional deep-dive expertise to our customers when needed.  It’s a standard part of our offering.

Its fairly obvious that the best SQL statement tuners are DBAs that have strong development support backgrounds. Many of our accomplished tuners are ex-database developers. We allow them to focus their education and improve their experience by performing these activities more regularly than their non-SME counterparts.  Although all of our personnel are required to be well-rounded DBAs in all areas of support, they have the capability to draw from the deep-dive, collective knowledge of RDX’s SME teams.  Here’s an example:

RDX’s Oracle HA team focuses on RAC, Data Guard, and other Oracle-related HA options.  The team designs, installs and configures new RAC environments almost on a weekly basis.

Who is able to more quickly install that environment for your organization?  Someone who does it once a quarter or twice a year, or a team that does nothing but support RAC?

RDX’s DOC team is another excellent example of this high degree of specialization. RDX’s Database Operations Center(DOC) team consists of personnel who are trained in database administration, monitoring, problem pattern identification, problem prevention, and quick problem resolution. DOC specialists meet internally, and with clients, in a constant effort to improve system performance and availability. It’s what they do, day-in and day-out – identify, prevent, and quickly resolve database events. Their specialty is to reduce the impact that problems have on our customers’ environments.

RDX’s DOC team is able to tailor event identification, notification, escalation, and resolution procedures to servers, databases, application jobs, and specific return codes. Customers benefit from a 100% customized monitoring solution.

Thanks for reading. In Part 4, we’ll discuss how remote DBA providers deliver personalized services to customers.