Moving From Maintenance to Innovation

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There is a tug-of-war of sorts going on in organizations today. On one hand, there is pressure on IT staff to maintain systems’ uptime and availability along with a growing focus on data security, while dealing with the multitude of maintenance-level tasks, such as applying upgrades, fixes, and patches. But on the other hand, there is a growing requirement for IT to support the business as it seeks to use data in new ways for strategic benefit. What’s needed now are more efficient approaches to data management so that greater time, budget, and overall resources can be directed toward innovation and the holy grail of “competing on analytics.”

These are some of the insights gleaned from a new survey of data managers and professionals, conducted by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc. The survey finds that data managers and their organizations are hampered by routine database management activities, which demand a considerable amount of both time and budget. Conducted in partnership with EMC among members of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG), the survey drew input from respondents at organizations of all sizes and across various industries. (CONSOLIDATE, VIRTUALIZE, AUTOMATE, AND STANDARDIZE: 2016 IOUG IT RESOURCES SURVEY)

The trade-off is straightforward: Constantly dealing with mundane tasks translates to less time and resources available for higher-level endeavors such as working on business problems or moving to digital platforms. In terms of IT budgets, the survey shows that budgets are tight, with traditional database maintenance activities taking a large portion of resources. Budgets have risen only somewhat over the past year, with no significant uptick expected in the year ahead, meaning that IT staffs are caught in a squeeze.

The pressure is on. As decision makers seek to achieve competitive advantage by leveraging information from a panoply of connected systems, devices, and data sources, the job of managing the integration across myriad networks, data systems, and applications to deliver reliable information is becoming a greater challenge. Today, businesses want to be able to track and predict events and identify trends as they are happening or even before they occur and to be connected to an Internet of Things from which data can feed into analytics systems. Indeed, data managers themselves would prefer to be involved in projects that increase value to their businesses and enhance their own skills and careers, but they find that they are often mired in low-level tasks, with limited resources to focus on new initiatives.

While data management departments must increase their output and productivity, the survey also finds that efficiency on its own will not suffice. Instead, organizations need IT and data managers to be able to make innovation a greater part of their time and focus.

Many organizations continue to deal with demanding database and data center requirements by simply throwing more hardware at the problem, including storage arrays and servers. However, there is an increasing focus on more innovative approaches that heighten efficiency.

Consolidation, automation, and virtualization are three approaches that many respondents feel are important initiatives for the future of their organizations. Database or data center consolidation was cited as extremely (22%) or somewhat (48%) important; database and data center automation as extremely (30%) or somewhat (38%) important; and greater use of virtualization for mission-critical databases and applications was tapped as extremely (24%) or somewhat (36%) important. The funding that could be enabled by cost savings from automation, consolidation, and virtualization would be enough to fund more business-driven initiatives, according to more than two-fifths of respondents.

In addition, implementing a standardized approach for infrastructure across databases can play a major role in the reduction of repetitive and mundane tasks, improvement in application performance and reliability, and in decreasing costs.

The survey finds that the era of operating silos by database brand is winding down, and there is a trend toward consolidating databases to gain efficiencies and savings. More universal approaches to managing the overall asset base are gaining ground.

However, while convergence is underway at many organizations, survey responses also indicate that the availability of tools to cover multiple data environments lags behind the growing need for cross-platform database management.

 To download the report, go to