When it comes to the support of your mission-critical systems, it is paramount that you work with the most reliable service provider available. Understanding the capabilities of your target firm is one of the key things you ought to do prior to choosing an expert. Considering not all firms are equal in relation to their competence and range of services, it is your duty to qualify individual companies yourself.
The purpose of this post is to help you learn more about the service levels, background, hours dedicated as well as the technical expertise of the DBA firms you wish to work with. There are a few important questions you need to ask in order to get comprehensive answers to these questions.
What level of experience does the support team have?
The last thing you want is to work with a team that will manage your systems using trial and error. The loss of data can be significant to your business so you need a team that knows exactly what it is doing and one that knows what works and what doesn’t work. To find such a professional, you need to focus on companies that have been in business for several years.
When hiring a DBA firm, it is highly recommended to focus on firms that have been around for at least 5 years. This will show that they have stood the test of time and their hands-on experience have given them essential skills that will improve the way they handle your systems. The senior DBAs must also perform monitoring activities that ensure larger issues that may cripple your system don’t arise.
Will you be dealing with a ‘call center’ or specific individuals that will be assigned to you?
As aforementioned, different companies render their services in their own unique way; they are not equal. Therefore, do not be surprised if the company you are considering requires you to deal with multiple individuals for your DBA needs.
For the best services, you should only consider companies that will assign you specific DBA professionals. The best thing about this is that it maintains an ongoing familiarity of the experts with your systems. This is not the case when different professionals are sent every time you need help. Services in this case will be inconsistent, mostly because the new professional will have to familiarize himself with your system’s configurations from square one.
Will you have a dedicated senior DBA?
When requests are handled by the junior DBA and the escalated to the senior DBA for chief events, it will mostly take longer for them to be resolved. To enjoy peace of mind, you should always ensure that you get a senior DBA expert assigned to you. This will result in the speedy resolution of escalating problems.
Where is the firm located and does it outsource its services?
Although you may get favorable service rates with offshore firms, the service might affect the business hours as well as several other applicable laws that pertain to the management of confidential information. If you must work with a firm that is located outside your country, make sure that it has a good reputation in your country and that there is a great communication style as well as methodology.
Another important thing you have to ensure when outsourcing DBA services is that the services are offered by the team you hire. It is not uncommon for firms to outsource services to third parties. Considering they will be dealing with confidential information, make sure that the company you select does not outsource and that the work will be done by the specific team that is assigned to you.
What is the firm’s track record?
When it comes to the management of critical systems, you need the assurance that the team you are hiring will deliver on their promise. This means you need a firm that is well established and one with a proven reputation. Your main focus should be on how many years the firm has been providing the services. The longer the company has been in business the more reliable it will be.
While evaluating the track record of the company, pay close attention to what previous clients are saying about their services? If there is an excess of negative reviews, you should consider working with a different company.
Can they give you references?
To get more insight on what to expect from the company, you need to ask for references. Take time to read endorsements, talk to existing and recent clients and also go through reference letters. This will help you understand how the DBA firm handles technical as well as business issues. Is this a firm you would want to do business with?
What process do they use in database management?
You are hiring the professionals to help you with database management? Before you bring them on board, take time to understand their process for database monitoring, resolution and notification. The best team to work with is one that employs state-of-the-art equipment in database management.
Some companies use proprietary tools while others will rely on packaged third party tools. Both options have their pros and cons. For the proprietary tools, they can be adjusted accordingly in response to your feedback and system needs.
It is also important that you know if the maintenance and monitoring tools will be available to you. Most firms will have an online portal from which you can access the monitoring and management tools.
What are the terms and conditions?
Last but not least, pay attention to the terms and conditions. Most companies require a one year commitment. However, if you can, search for companies that offer monthly contracts. This will help you switch if the service provider stops delivering on his promises. Do not forget to review the installation guides and white papers that are provided by the firm through their website.
No matter how vigilant you are when choosing a DBA company, you can never know for certain that you have selected the perfect partner. Before you commit to any company, pay close attention to their contracts. You don’t want to be stuck with the wrong partner.
James Woods is a DBA professional working with Oracle. When he is not offering DBA services, he uses his blog to educate his followers on all matters database management. Visit his blog for more information about database administrative management.