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Three reasons why IT managers should augment their DBAs

By Bernard van Niekerk, Managing Director at RadixTrie

We've all been there: everyone you love is asleep, but you’re attending a telephone conference or sitting in a war room at 2am. The room is littered with stale half-eaten pizzas and an unhealthy number of cold cups of coffee.

You have enough engineers on the call to launch a small satellite with little more than a toilet roll and some homemade propellant. They’re talking in TLAs (three-letter acronyms) and getting irritated by having to explain very elementary stuff (to them) to the managers and decision-makers.

Yes, you are trying to solve a major systems outage, a crit-sit, a P1, a helluva problem. Little progress has been made in the last two days, and people with “C” in their titles are on a witch hunt.

Yes, there is a “workaround”, but you know that a Band Aid won’t last. The team has just never encountered this problem before… The network teams say it’s all fine, the applications team blame the database, and the database team say there is nothing about this anywhere [on Google]. You secretly feel sorry for the poor database engineers and realise that they are really trying hard to solve the issue, but they just don’t have the expertise.

You need a fresh pair of eyes to look at the problem; what you need now is someone who has seen, heard or solved this issue before. The thing is, 20 years of experience takes 20 years to get… that’s where DBA augmentation comes in.

Imagine that while you’re on this war room conference call, you could just dial someone in, and within 5 minutes augment your team with the knowledge of 10, 20 or 30 database experts who have seen (and fixed) almost every imaginable problem before.

The answer to your prayers does exist, but you might be wondering ‘why should I even consider augmenting my team?

1. An Augmented Team Gives You Access to More Skills

You’ve got the best team you can afford on the payroll, and for the most part - they’re brilliant. However, when you do have a P1 situation - you need access to more experience. Your current DBA or database team only has so much combined experience; they have only experienced a small percentage of the total number of things that can go wrong on a database.

Augmenting your DBAs means that you get the benefit of working with your team (who already understand your systems) and a team of highly experienced DBAs who have an entirely different set of skills - and who have dealt with a variety of issues.

Armed with this much larger pool of skills, you’ll now be able to tackle almost any database issue - and you’ll have more hands-on keyboards.

2. Augmented Teams Help You Do More with Less

Over the years, there has been a growing number of requests that’s slowly resulted in the database individual or teams focusing less on maintenance and R&D and only trying to help Karen reset her password. The total capacity of the team might have been eroded over time by a constant “do more with less” bean counter mentality.

Augmenting your DBAs allows you to achieve more with fewer full-time human resources by passing off the more mundane work to your augmented team and redeploying your full-time staff to work on more core focus areas. Your augmented team will also be able to advise on where it is possible to automate and streamline processes to ensure your full-time DBAs can spend more of their time on core work.

3. Augmented Teams Solve Critical Errors Faster

Databases are the backbone of almost every organisation, and the teams that manage those databases are critical to business operations. However, they’re also very pricey resources… Over time the database capability has been reduced to a “keeping the lights on” function. And right now, the lights are dim and flickering, the business is losing money and your impeccable reputation is taking a hammering.

So, the solution is to augment your in-house database capability by 200 or 300 years of combined experience with a single phone call.

Chances are, someone in an augmented team has seen your problem before, or at least knows of someone who has or come across some article somewhere deep inside the Google dungeons bordering the dark web.

You probably have some version of this in your ‘war story archives’, but the reality is that all teams can do with a little extra help - whether it’s training, knowledge sharing, an extra pair of hands on a keyboard or simply a fresh pair of eyes.

The obvious benefit of augmenting your in-house team is that you’ll resolve issues much quicker, but if you apply it right (and early enough) you will most certainly prevent P1s, critical incidents or helluva problems happening in the first place.

As an added benefit, you’ll also find that you have more predictable outcomes and more business resilience and continuity. You won’t have a panic attack when one of your DBAs asks for vacation, or you see them updating their LinkedIn profile. You’ll show to ‘the powers that be’ that you can do more with less during your next performance review, but best of all - you’ll get more sleep.

If you’d like to discuss how to augment your DBAs and secure your organisation, get in touch with us here.


RadixTrie is powered by passionate people who are experts in all things database related. We’re focused on finding solutions to complex problems and offer highly specialised, niche services.

Our knowledgeable team has over 200 collective years of experience in managing, securing and optimising database environments. Supported by the wider Obsidian Group, we draw on a vast range of skills to deliver agile purpose-driven solutions. Our data management competency includes Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Database, GoldenGate and WebLogic, PostgreSQL and Qlik.

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