What to look for in a support contract for Oracle and/or SQL Server Database systems?

Press Release : February 05, 2010
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Below are a few hints and tips that should help make the decision about which type of support to go for and what you can expect from it.
What to look for in a support contract for Oracle and/or SQL Server Database systems?

1) Define your requirements: "Do I need an Oracle/SQL Server support contract?"
Assess:
The criticality of your systems

The DBA resource that you have available to draw on

The number of projects that you may need to action in the coming year

If the database systems that you run are mission-critical, a fully managed service of some level will probably be beneficial.

DBA teams are often capable of administering database systems internally. However, they are usually unable to monitor and manage systems 24/7 and occasionally need a helping hand in terms of skills or sheer manpower. If an issue arises out of hours, or a number of issues arise within the database, problems can bottleneck and system management can quickly spiral out of control.

Fact: Over 90% of Xynomix support customers have strong internal DBA teams.

If there are no key projects planned for the coming year and the database environment is in good health, the chances are that systems should run fairly smoothly. DBA teams should be able to manage the system effectively and without a great deal of stress.

However, if a number of projects are scheduled, instant access to a readily-available team of external DBAs with a broad skill set can be invaluable.
Tip: Make sure that your support provider is able to work on all variations of SQL Server and Oracle, from Oracle 6 to the latest version (currently 11g R2).

2) Set your budgets and expectations: "What level of support can I expect from the budget available?"

Oracle and/or SQL Server support contracts can vary from ad-hoc support, where a pool of DBA time can be drawn upon as required, to full remote monitoring and management services. The extent of support and budget allocated will depend heavily on the criticality of the database systems.

Ad-hoc support contracts usually take the form of a pre-paid pool of days that can be accessed during times when extra DBA skills are needed. The benefit of an ad-hoc support contract over buying consultancy days as and when is simple: DBA day rates work out significantly cheaper.

Full remote monitoring and management services are suited to organisations that operate mission-critical systems and require virtually non-existent downtime.
Full Oracle and/or SQL Server Support can be engaged to monitor systems 24/7, 365 days per year. For this type of support, Xynomix set a perfectly achievable target of 99.9% uptime for mission-critical systems. Other Oracle and SQL Server support providers will also set their own targets.

Expectations of a full monitoring and management support service can be justifiably high and they will not always take up a huge chunk of your budget.
Achieving virtually non-existent downtime requires in-depth knowledge of all Oracle versions and technologies, including 11g and Oracle RAC technology.

Tip: Ensure that you set strict SLAs and make sure that your service provider adheres to them.

3) What should be included as part of a full monitoring and management support contract?

Your providers fully managed service should be designed to alleviate business pains around all aspects of Oracle and/or SQL Server, from day to day maintenance requirements to the monitoring and management of mission-critical database systems 247365.

The service should involve the application of 247×365 remote, proactive performance monitoring and management technologies to database systems, probably through a Secure Site-Site VPN Connection, and the continual management of database infrastructure for optimal performance, resilience and availability.

Backup Administration and Management should be taken care of, along with the Monitoring and Management of Security. Your dedicated DBA resource should always be available. For example, if any issues should arise, Xynomix’ Always Open’ support desk is available up to 247×365.

If you have any questions regarding support for Oracle and/or SQL Server, please do not hesitate to contact Xynomix on 0845 222 9600 or contact us through our web form at www.Xynomix.com.

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