Remote DBA’s

Posted: February 1, 2011 in SQLServerPedia Syndication

I saw an Editorial from Ben the other day on the SSWUG Newsletter. I have been surprised that I have not seen more statements or even questions about this topic. I am curious in what you think? Here is the post from the newsletter.

What Would You Do If..?
Sound like an interesting open ended question? Well, as I write this editorial I’m sitting in a hospital bed (don’t send sympathy Email…it’s just reality) and things are still going smooth. I’m able to focus on my highest priority, getting well, because I have things in place managing servers for which I am responsible allowing me to be away without impact to the business.

Of course the situation gets your mind thinking about a lot of things. In my case, why do I feel so secure? I know I talked about similar ideas during the holidays…but today things are coming closer to home. I have little control over my schedule, no guarantee of internet access, or VPN capability, and no guarantee that I will even be able to function. And guess what, everything is well. I’m kicking back comfortably and writing this little editorial because I have a few things in place making it possible.

I have alerts configured on my servers to keep me posted of production problems. That is my first line of support. But what if I didn’t have internet access? What would I do then? In my case, I have a backup support from all the customers I support. In some cases, hosting services also provide resources on demand should I not be able to connect, or even unable to respond. My alerts are directed not only to myself for support (as the primary contact) but also to other individuals capable of handling the situation.

Remote DBAs are also a great asset for you. Frankly, that is my primary function with few W2 exceptions. Remote DBAs can be helpful for handling the peeks and valleys, augmenting areas of expertise, or even just keeping the lights on when your company is not large enough to dedicate in house resources. The neat part about the Remote DBA model is that generally youi can find support from a group of DBAs rather than one specific DBA. That also provides me with confidence because I have a Ben failover. (Nice for going off on vacation too).

If you are a Remote DBA, why don’t you drop me a note about what your specialties are and I’ll compile a list for a later editorial. Many of you have written to me with editorial responses from time to time. I can post it simply as a directory of resources with no endorsement on my part.

 

I would like to Thank Ben for the question. If you have followed my blog in the past you may know that this is something that I have done, and still do. I was happy to send my answer in and it was nice to see that it hit the newsletter today.

Remote DBA
Chris Shaw sent me an Email about some of the benefits of a remote DBA to a business. I thought I would share some of his thoughts here. Some of the reasons you might consider a remote DBA are:

Having a remote DBA take care of the daily operations frees internal staff to work on longer term strategic utilization of database resources.
A remote DBA can act as a backup to full time staff that do not have backup resources on staff
A remote DBA can be used for supplementing expertise not available from current staff or for training purposes
A Remote DBA can be used to validate current procedures and practices.
For a small business, a remote DBA may be used exclusively when there is not enough work to justify a FTE.

Comments
  1. Matt Velic says:

    We’ve use a Remote DBA service for monitoring purposes, but I couldn’t actually tell you what they do for us. And I can tell you that I’ve seen some pretty rash decisions occur from these so called “experts” that I can’t explain – new procedures and scripts would simply appear on my SQL Server with no explanation, some of which duplicate the work I’ve done for backups and integrity maintenance, and then I would discover that these things hadn’t even been automated… so what was the point?

    The other issue that I’ve found is that while the service might be good at monitoring for issues, the issue resolution is far from adequate. As an example, we had been running close to drive capacity where we store our backups. This set off an alert for the remote service. The “solution” was to delete some of the older backups instead of, you know, study and revise our restore strategy.

    So I think it’s a tough decision when choosing to use one of these companies or not. While our remote experts host a blog on their site, I don’t see evidence that they work with the community. I feel I could ask, “Does anyone know so-and-so from remote-company-x?” and I’d get no reply. And that bothers me. It’s not to say that every DBA should be known, or that it’s even possible to have heard of everyone who is a DBA… but where your friend, Ben, finds comfort knowing he has this remote backup, I feel concern because I never know what they’ll do because they fail at communication.

  2. Chris Shaw says:

    Matt,

    You bring up some good points. And I believe the last word of your comment really says it all…

    Communication

    If your vendor that you used or use were able to communicate with you better would the service then put you in a position where you would rely on it more? Let’s look at the Backup Drive issue. If it were me I would have notified the client that the server is running out of disk space. I would then ask if they would like me to resolve the issue and if so I would discuss the options that we had to solve the issue. But, under no circumstance do I find it ok to delete files without discussing the impact with the client. Discussion could happen at that time or previously but a discussion should be had.

    Thanks for your comments,
    Chris

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