Keep your Friends Close

In today’s web of complex and integrated systems, ever-increasing security needs, and expanding uptime requirements, it’s easy to see why most CIOs and IT directors choose to hire within. Let’s face it, the buck stops with the DBA when the database is down and the business is screaming. Oh sure, the IT Director or CIO is technically responsible for all things IT, but it is the DBA who’s on the hook – so to speak – to get the system back online again.  Depending on the cause of the outage, that can mean some long sleepless nights. Having that Oracle DBA in the cube next door offers a sense of security that is difficult to match when using a remote managed service provider for your support. After all, the DBA being there in person allows users access to in-person support, encourages their presence at meetings and within the organization in general, and allows them to lay hands on the hardware – among many other benefits. But having in-house person also requires the organization solve some fairly serious challenges if they intend on attracting (and keeping!) valuable DBA talent. Today, I will discuss the first in a series of challenges faced by firms the world over when looking to attract and retain Oracle talent.

Managing the Skillset

It’s been my experience that the viewpoint on DBAs and DBA skills is that of a commodity – a plug and play, one-size-fits-all, if you need one and have one, you’re good-type situation. Nothing could be further from the truth! I’ve been fortunate to have served with many talented Oracle DBAs in my career, and I can tell you they’re all different. Well of course they are, they’re people. No, I mean beyond the obvious metrics like skill set, how they approach issue resolution, security, performance, support, personality, sense of ownership, and so on, no two Oracle Database Administrators are alike. With Oracle expanding their stable of products at the rate of hot gases expanding from a nuclear explosion, the days of a single person mastering Oracle products in their entirety are gone. Sure, in the 90s, if you knew the database, SQL*Net, Tuning, Backup and Recovery, eBusiness Suite, and a couple other technologies, you knew it all.  You had the Oracle world by the tail. Not anymore. These days, Oracle DBAs are specializing in groups of products –or, product families – which means that in order to get all the skills you need in-house, it may require multiple DBAs. In today’s market if you look for a Oracle DBA with eBusiness Suite, RAC, DataGuard, WebLogic, SOA Suite, and OID/SSO integration, you will be narrowing your pool of potential DBAs quite dramatically right out of the gate. The trouble you’ll find is the cost of acquisition for that skill set. This is no junior DBA, and the cost of acquisition will make your head spin if you’re not ready for it (more on that in a later blog, though). So you manage to dig deep, and get one of the best DBAs you can find whose skills match the products you run. Whew. Done, right? Wrong! Initially they’ll have their hands full getting everything sorted out, of course, but at some point they will have their processes in place and chomping at the bit to do more. Senior DBAs are typically Type A personalities who love a challenge and are always looking to better themselves by growing their skillset. Normally, that means providing them with expensive training to learn some new Oracle technology or implementing one of the many management tools out there. It could mean that they are provided with a playground to test out new technologies and the hardware and software costs associated with that. Picture a lion in a cage with a big inflated ball, a couple of ropes hanging from a tree, and other toys to keep him entertained. These exercises in education cost money and take time – and they may even be a little risky. On occasion it means time away from the office so the DBA can concentrate, which could leave a gap in coverage. What do you do now?  You have an expensive Senior DBA who can’t support the system because they’re on vacation, in training, out sick, or have been working too much and are on the brink of burnout. Your budget won’t support a second full-time DBA to split the load, and a junior DBA can’t handle the complexity of the system. What do you do?

Phone a Friend

Does that scenario sound familiar? It does to me. I hear it time and time again from customers when discussing our Vacation Coverage offering while a DBA is out sick, on vacation, in a class, or unavailable temporarily for any reason. SmartDog Services Vacation Coverage is designed to quickly and seamlessly integrate into your delivery organization and provide gap coverage for your DBA. Our senior DBAs have an average of 14.5 years of experience with Oracle technologies and are well versed in supporting the Database, eBusiness Suite, WebLogic, SOA, RAC, Data Guard, etc. SmartDog Services is the Oracle customer’s best friend. And it’s not just our motto – we live by those words, day in and day out. We aren’t looking for customers. We’re looking for companies to build long-term relationships with in order to help them realize the full potential for the software investment they’ve already made.  Our every thought and action is governed by whether it’s the right thing to do for the customer. When you’re ready to try something different, something unique, phone a friend. For questions & inquiries contact us at info@smartdogservices.com! Let us know your struggles and we’ll help you solve them.  

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