Remote DBA Questions

It is important to understand the capabilities of the Remote DBA services firm that you select to support your company’s mission-critical systems.

Not all firms are equal when it comes to delivering on promises for service levels, hours dedicated, background, and technical expertise.  Though there are many potential benefits from selecting the right provider, choosing the wrong provider can result in significant technical and business issues.

In the table below on the next page, you will find 10 key questions to ask of a prospective Remote DBA services firm. We strongly recommend that you thoroughly examine the answers to these questions as well as answers to questions that are important to your company’s goals.

Questions to Ask Why is this important?
1 What is the level of experience of the team members providing support? Since this is your mission-critical system, ensure that the Remote DBA team has a minimum level of experience. We recommend at least 5-7 years of Oracle experience combined with thorough and proven remote hands-on troubleshooting experience. Also, senior DBAs should perform monitoring activities to ensure that larger issues requiring escalation will not arise in the first place.
2 Will you work with specific professionals assigned to your company, or will you be working with a “call center”? Receive the highest level of service with specific DBAs assigned to you. They will maintain ongoing familiarity with your systems. Without dedicated DBAs, there may be significant and unproductive time used to get new and inconsistent team members up to speed each time they become involved.
3 Will you have a dedicated senior DBA on your account? A firm that provides you with front-line access to senior-level support will help you rest easy. Requests handled by a junior DBA and escalated to a senior DBA for major events take considerably longer to resolve than necessary.
4 Is the firm located in the US or another country? Off-shoring may affect business hours that you receive services as well as the applicable laws that relate to managing your confidential information. In addition, ensure that communication style and methodology will meet your needs.
5 What is the track record of the prospective firm? How long has the company been providing these services? You want the reassurance that the firm you work with is established, has long-standing customers and employees, and a proven reputation. Longevity is a sign that the firm has been successful in this line of work and their support of customers.
6 Can the company provide references? Reading endorsements, reference letters, and talking to a firm’s existing clients offers invaluable insights into how a prospective firm approaches technical and business issues.
7 What is the process for database monitoring, notification, and resolution? Look for a company that uses state-of-the-art tools and applications for Oracle systems support. Otherwise, they may not be able to provide the needed ongoing monitoring. Some use packaged 3rd party tools and others use proprietary tools. Proprietary tools have the flexibility to be enhanced based on your feedback and flexibility to monitor your customized metrics.
8 Are the company’smonitoring and

maintenance tools available to you?

A strong indication that the firm is highly qualified is its willingness to offer your team access to their monitoring and management tools. Often the better firms have client web portals with client histories and robust reporting tools. If this is of interest to you, you should ask for a demonstration of the tools during your decision-making process.
9 What is the footprint of your monitoring and management tools? Monitoring tools have varying footprint requirements. Check with the prospective provider about the amount of resources and overhead consumed. Avoid purchasing additional IT hardware and software to compensate for the loss in system performance.
10 What type of collateral and technical information do they make available on the web? Review resources such as white papers and installation guides available on the firm’s website. These offer a view into the technical expertise, attention to detail, and communication style of the team.

Table 4: Key questions to ask before choosing a Remote DBA firm

One of the best independent measures of a service’s quality and dedication to its customers is the commitment that company shows to the larger Oracle community. Reputable firms typically provide free, informative resources for the Oracle community, and are frequent contributors at Oracle user groups and conferences. Specific materials to look for include white papers, installation guides and presentations that are relevant to your organization. Lack of this material may indicate a lower level of knowledge available to you and reduced knowledge transfer available to your IT staff.

Another foundation of a remote DBA service is the set of tools the firm uses. The tools, ease of use, and robustness provide insight into the quality and level of service you should expect from a Remote DBA resourcing partner. The type of metrics and performance areas that these tools monitor should be consistent with the best-of-breed independent monitoring tools and software available in the marketplace. This includes providing client access to these tools and the information that they gather and track. “Content is king” in this regard. Ensure that the tools focus in on the main areas that need to be monitored to maintain the level of service you require. Suggested areas to monitor include:

  • u Instance configuration parameters
  • u Messages in the alert log
  • u I/O and free space
  • u Tablespace sizing and configuration
  • u Redo log configuration
  • u Rollback segment configuration and contention
  • u Temporary tablespace configuration
  • u User configuration
    • u Session statistics
    • u Wait events and locks
    • u Latch statistics and contention
    • u Shared pool statistics
    • u SQL statement execution and performance
    • u Object sizing and storage


Determine the Right Approach: Finalize Your Decision

As discussed previously, the three most common options available for Remote Oracle Database Support are:

  • (a) Dedicate a high-priced and experienced Oracle DBA to the system,
  • (b) Assign an inexperienced staff member as your part-time DBA, or

(c)         Partner with a firm that specializes in Remote Database Administration

IT Directors, CIOs, and CTOs are fast recognizing that DBA Resourcing with the right firm can offer substantial technical and business benefits. We recommend that you consider resourcing Remote DBA support for your Oracle database system.

About Database Specialists

Since 1995, Database Specialists has been providing Oracle database consulting and remote DBA support in Solaris, HP-UX, Linux, AIX, and Windows environments through our DBA Pro service offering. We are committed to educating Oracle users and the broader IT community on how to best manage their Oracle production environments. In addition to this document, we have numerous presentations, tutorials, and scripts available without obligation throughout our website.

Our Oracle DBAs have 10+ years of hands-on experience. Many of them are featured speakers at Oracle OpenWorld and the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG). They frequently publish white papers and technical articles in publications such as SELECT Magazine, Oracle Magazine, the NoCOUG Journal as well as our own Monthly Publication – The Specialist. Our dedication to knowledge sharing has been acclaimed by IOUG through SELECT Magazine.

Learn more about our Remote DBA service, or request a free consultation today.