Research@DBTA: Database Resources Still Mired in Maintenance, Survey Shows

For years, if not decades, database managers have been struggling with the challenges of providing as much access as possible to corporate informa­tion assets while at the same time protect­ing these crown jewels. All of this work, of course, has had to take place within the confines of relatively tight budget and resource constraints. Now, a new generation of solutions and platforms holds great promise in releasing profes­sionals from the more mundane aspects of their jobs to devote more time to the activities that matter to their businesses. However, even with database automation and cloud resources abundantly available on the market, many database managers still spend inordinate amounts of time on low-level tasks.

These are some of the findings of a recent survey of 222 data managers and administrators, conducted by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc., in partnership with EMC. Respon­dents came from the Quest-IOUG Data­base & Technology Community and represent a variety of industry types and company sizes.  

Enterprises continue to push ahead with forward-looking initiatives, such as building digital channels, enhancing customer experience, and leveraging AI. To accomplish this, they are relying on the full engagement of their data man­agement teams for support. However, the survey found that there is still a significant share of resources going into the basic maintenance of databases, versus deploying them for building out a digital presence.

For two out of three data managers, mundane, administrative tasks consume a large part of their budgets. Maintain­ing system stability—patching, fixing, upgrading—is considered the costliest part of their jobs, according to 66% of respondents. In addition, 61% indicated that much of their budget goes to main­taining uptime and availability. For 49% of respondents, security consumes signif­icant portions of their time.

Are database resources and budgets that could be supporting digital initia­tives being squandered on routine main­tenance? Data managers in the survey overwhelmingly agreed that the amount of time, money, and resources spent on ongoing data management—versus new projects or initiatives—is affecting the competitiveness of their organizations. More than one-quarter, 26%, said that these expenditures are severely limiting their competitiveness, and another 45% said that their competitiveness is some­what inhibited.

The question, then, becomes this: If funds were freed up from routine data­base activities, would they be diverted to new digital or growth initiatives? Or, do organizations simply pour new funding into their latest efforts? Close to two in three data managers, 64%, said that time and budget savings would help cost-jus­tify new initiatives. The bottom line is that it does pay to achieve savings from database automaton or streamlining, as this is money or resources that will help build the business.

Cloud is the way forward. The survey explored the strategies or tactics being employed to reduce the cost of database maintenance, thus freeing up funds for new types of initiatives. Moving to vir­tualization or cloud-based solutions tops the list of approaches, cited by 66%. More than half, 59%, indicated that they are attempting to address database costs by migrating or updating their databases. More than one-third of respondents, 34%, are turning to new and more effi­cient hardware, upgrading or modern­izing their hardware and processors.

According to a sizable segment of respondents, IT budgets have been on the upswing—41% said their IT budgets will be increasing over the past year’s. For 18%, these budgets are expected to increase significantly, exceeding 10% growth. Only 11% are planning to cut back on their budgets.

The survey also explored backup and business continuity strategies and revealed that traditional Recovery Manager (RMAN) or file system backups to a net­work drive leads the list of backup strat­egies for 43% of respondents. Another 42% rely on offsite backup, replicating data at secondary or even tertiary sites. In addition, 25% said that their backup is onsite, within Oracle Real Application Clusters. As of this survey, cloud is used by only 13% of respondents for their backup environments.