8 Reasons to Outsource Your DBA Support Overhead

Outsourcing is now a widely adopted method of managing IT services within a business to gain operational efficiencies. We’ve been providing Database Managed Services for over 20 years and we typically see more of a co-sourced agreement whereby our services are folded into the customer’s internal IT capability. That’s not to say that we don’t provide 1st line support to a number of customers but the reality is, we’re typically acting as database experts that sit alongside the internal IT support function within our customers.


There are many benefits to this type of outsourced/co-sourced arrangement and we’ve highlighted the top reasons that customers give for partnering with us.

1. Cost Reduction

Database Administrators (DBAs) are expensive, with an experienced DBA costing around £60k per annum from a base salary, plus additional operational costs as outlined below.

Like many businesses operating on a 24x7 basis, you’ll need a minimum of three DBAs to cover operational requirements, ideally five. As illustrated below, just one person is typically available for 20% of the time based on 24x7x365 support cover.

Thereafter, ongoing costs for holiday cover, training and other benefits need to be added into the equation and as such, even for relatively small environments, the costs for DBA support can be significant.

“Whilst these costs mean it’s not viable for many end users to employ an in-house team of DBAs, the criticality of applications remain the same and the business will continue to demand fully optimised databases and application environments.”

Through outsourced DBA Managed Services, the costs of proactive, 24x7 database support services are significantly reduced and can be consolidated into a flexible monthly payment.


2. Access to Additional Expertise

Database technologies change frequently and the need to stay up to date with the latest functionality and capabilities requires an extensive skill-set. At Node4, we have the advantage of having worked with customers of all shapes and sizes, which means we understand all types of architectures and versions of the database. This is ever more relevant today with the growth of technologies such as Cloud and NoSQL databases where there can be real benefit in working within a hybrid database environment.

The DBA role is suffering huge disruption in terms of technologies and role requirements due to a range of factors illustrated below.

Our DBAs are able to advise on the pros and cons of the various technologies configuration options available and give a real-world view on how the database can work best for our customers. This breadth of skills would typically be impossible to cover within an internal support team and therefore, we typically add a very valuable objective perspective on the management of our customers’ databases.

Equally important is working with a partner that has in-depth expertise in how to implement and manage critical data workloads within Azure and AWS. All customers are on a modernisation journey and the need for a partner that can advise on the optimal approach to running databases in either an on-premises, hybrid or pure cloud environment is key.

Through outsourced DBA support, you can access a much wider range of skills on a continuous basis, without the overhead of ongoing training and recruitment.

3. SLA Assurance

We typically find that our customers experience peaks and troughs in project and support demands. This can make it very difficult to get a balance between having a bloated under-utilised support team versus a team that’s too small and overstretched when peaks in project load occur.

However, the business doesn’t always see this; it simply needs to know that the applications and databases are available 24x7. An outsourced DBA Managed Service that has a clearly defined SLA with appropriate penalties for non-conformance can provide an ideal solution to smooth over the inevitable peaks and troughs in support overhead, as the service provider will have the resources available to absorb any extra demands.

Also, an outsourced DBA specialist will have advanced monitoring tools and processes to provide a more proactive level of support and thereby has the ability to offer SLA assurance on a 24x7 basis, irrespective of any peaks in project load.

3. Focus on What You’re Good At

Time and time again, customers tell us that they’ve chosen to outsource support of their critical databases as a way of freeing-up internal resources to focus on more business specific activities.

The reality is that DBA support services can be “commoditised” as long as the support partner has effective and mature monitoring and support processes. This then enables a relatively easy integration of an outsourced DBA support services into the customer’s internal support function. Clearly, this is oversimplifying the complex nature of DBA Managed Services, but an experienced DBA Managed Services provider will be able to make the on-boarding of the services a painless experience for the customer.

Outsourcing DBA Managed Services enables you to focus valuable internal resources onto business generative projects, rather than having that business specific expertise tied up with more mundane operational support delivery.

5. Get Proactive

With an internal support team constantly bogged down in operational support issues, it’s all too easy to forget about the wider opportunity to modernise and improve the performance of critical database environments. An experienced DBA Managed Services provider will have the ability to take a step back and review how the systems and processes can be improved to prevent issues rather than fix issues.

The same applies to the way in which databases are monitored; a DBA Managed Services specialist can demonstrate how an intelligent monitoring solution delivers a proactive level of support and how it can be tuned to trap potential support issues before they cause an operational impact on database performance.

The SLA from the DBA services partner should include uptime and performance KPIsand you can then be sure you’ll receive a proactive level of support.

6. Forget Recruitment Headaches

Irrespective of the budget you have for hiring DBAs, finding the right person in terms of technical capability and cultural fit can be very challenging. Good DBAs are highly sought after and therefore they’re seldom on the market.

We find that strong DBAs need to be technically stimulated on a continuous basis and, if a DBA gets bored delivering the same tasks day in day out, you’ll struggle to hang on to them. Coupled with this, as soon as a recruitment agent gets a whiff of a DBA potentially becoming available, that person will be bombarded with multiple job opportunities that look very attractive both from a technology and compensation perspective.

“These headaches apply equally for both Oracle and SQL Server skillsets and arguably it’s even more difficult to recruit expertise in the NoSQL space. Recruitment is expensive and time consuming. Outsourcing DBA Managed Services is a great way to avoid these headaches.”

7. Improve Productivity

Similarly to the “focus on what you’re good at” point above, the outsourcing of DBA Managed Services allows the internal team to move away from more mundane support activities.

Instead, they can focus on new projects and work that drives the business forwards rather than fire-fighting issues with existing systems. The productivity gained for the customer is an enormous win, since typically the internal team is a lot more satisfied with the work they’re delivering and work ethic is high.

Outsourced DBA Managed Services will help keep your internal team focused on more productive work and not have them side-tracked by time consuming support activities.

8. Flexibility

The way in which customers deploy infrastructure has changed significantly with the growth of Cloud and hosted platforms. The way in which systems are managed on these platforms should also allow for the same level of flexibility.

With this in mind, the Database Managed Services provider should flex with your requirements and allow for short-term support agreements for short-term projects such as development environments. If you’re only spinning-up an environment for a short period of time, you shouldn’t be tied into an intractable support agreement that doesn’t fit with the project timescales or budgets.

Gain access to a more flexible DBA support arrangement that you can turn-on/turn-off as and when needed.

Why N4Stack?

Many customers outsource their DBA support to us for our cross-platform experience and expertise in modernising data environments, whether that be on a public, private or hybrid cloud platform.

Our team of database experts are vendor agnostic with skills across SQL Server, Azure SQL, Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Couchbase, RDS and others. We will help transform and manage your data platforms, ensuring the best technology is applied to the use case.

So if you’re looking for a dedicated team of database experts who offer reduced costs, flexibility, SLA assurance and remove the headache of recruiting and/or upskilling DBAs give us a call on 0115 933 8474 or email