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DBA Outsourcing Rebounds But Demand in Question


January, 2018

This year, database administration (DBA) outsourcing increased but has not rebounded to recent historic levels. Demand for database administration – whether delivered through internal resources, or outsourced –  has fallen for several years running and that may be capping DBA outsourcing growth, despite good service and cost success.

According to Figure 2 from our full study, Database Administration Outsourcing Trends and Customer Experience, 34% of companies in our study outsource at least some of their database administration work, compared to 24% in 2016. However, it is still slightly below recent highs of 37% to 38%.


As a percentage of the total IT staff, database administration has been shrinking for several years. Databases are mission critical in today’s data-driven enterprise. And data is growing in both size and complexity. However, databases are also getting easier to use and administer. So called “self-healing” and “self-tuning” databases have entered the market. Software as a service (SaaS) has also played a role. SaaS offerings host the database as part of the business application, leading to lowering administration requirements.

“In a way, it is a peculiar kind of arms race,” said David Wagner, vice president for research, Computer Economics.  “Data grows, databases get more important, and the need for administration goes up. At the same time they get easier to use and the need goes down. If at some point they grow in complexity or size faster than they grow in ease of use, the need for administration will go up. If they continue to get easier to use faster than they grow, the need will continue to drop. You have to watch the market carefully to get DBA staffing correct, whether you outsource or not.”

DBA outsourcing provides supplemental expertise for the maintenance and support of operational databases, often outside normal business hours. A DBA service provider on the most basic level monitors and maintains the operations of an organization’s databases, and ensures that critical parameters are maintained and performance goals met. Third-party database administrators react to incidents, such as database alerts, and attempt to resolve database problems.

Generally, DBA outsourcing does not include system development or application maintenance. Most work is performed off-site, although supplemental on-site database personnel can be employed. In addition, most database administration outsourcing involves monitoring database instances running in either the client’s data center or a third-party data center, although some database service firms provide complete outsourcing services, including hosting clients’ database systems.

Client engagements usually take one of three forms: continuous engagement, specific projects, or discrete tasks such as database upgrades or migrations. Service providers generally price their services by the month or by the hour, with a fixed contract period.

To help IT executives understand their options, the full study examines adoption trends in database administration outsourcing. We report on the percentage of organizations outsourcing database administration (frequency), the average amount of work outsourced (level), and the change in the amount of work being outsourced (trend). We also present success rates for the cost and service experience. Finally, we show how these trends differ by organization size and sector.


This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, Database Administration Outsourcing Trends and Customer Experience. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website (click for pricing).

Questions about this research? Contact the Analyst.


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