StrataVia aims to provide database administration efficiencies

* Increasing efficiency and reusable code components

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One of the expected benefits of most outsourcing is cost savings or better quality for similar cost. Given that the outsourcing vendor expects to make a profit from their efforts, it is interesting to explore how it is that they can do the same work for less money or the same work for the same money with a better quality result. For infrastructure intensive functions like data centers or server farms, the cost efficiencies come from large scale operations and investment in automation in the form of IT management software. In offshoring, the cost efficiencies come from labor cost arbitrage. So how do outsourcers performing professional services such as software development or database management gain efficiencies if not from offshore resources?

Professional services based outsourcers can gain efficiencies in many ways that do not require offshore resources. They can benefit from large scale operations just as a data center operations benefit from large scale. High cost specialists like architects or database administrators (DBAs) can be leveraged across a large number of projects. Technical writers and QA resources have less down time as they can support a number of projects as well. In a way, this is like sharing an expensive and underutilized resource similar to how virtualized servers can reduce hosting costs.

Standardized operating procedures and coding standards can increase efficiency and reusable code components can support developers across many projects. For specialized professional services functions, custom software tools can be developed to make the outsourcer personnel more productive.

Database management service provider StrataVia is a good example of how many of the efficiencies discussed above can be combined with offshore resources to achieve a very efficient and productive professional services outsource organization. StrataVia specializes in providing DBAs to organizations needing extra help or StrataVia can handle the bulk of a company’s DBA workload. It claims to regularly save companies between 30% and 60% in DBA costs.

StrataVia has been in the managed services business for database administration for five years. Over that time it has developed a monitoring and workflow automation tool for database administration. This product, called Data Palette, makes DBAs more productive in a number of ways.

First, the product monitors the status of databases, providing a quick look at the status and trends within the database. It can also provide alerts to DBAs when attention is needed. Standard operating procedures can be documented and automated, tying together a number of point solution tools for database management into a complete end-to-end automated process.

Data Palette also allows for standard actions and procedures to be used across different databases, standardizing commands that would be different within different database products. This allows less experienced DBAs to be effective and allows them to be more quickly effective in unfamiliar environments. All of which lets StrataVia provide great DBA service with less resources, passing savings on to customers.

In addition to the benefits of Data Palette, StrataVia also incorporates offshore resources into its managed services model to further lower costs. Every account gets a primary DBA who is based in Denver and is familiar with the specifics of the client. The primary works with the client to get customer standardized operating procedures loaded into Data Palette to capture and automate known procedures and extend them to new DBAs. The primary DBA is backed up by other DBAs, some of whom may be based in India.

StrataVia is heavily focused on ITIL and the Operations Maturity Model. So the combination of automation and standardization makes all DBAs more productive and allows for the leveraging of senior people across many accounts while making more junior resources and offshore resources an effective part of the delivery team.

Data Palette has become so useful that many clients have recognized the benefits and have asked to license it for internal use. The 3.0 version is now available as a licensed product.

Many good management tools have their origins in outsourcing, where large scale and the focus on efficiency to drive cost savings for clients, as well as profits for the outsourcer, make for a very fertile environment. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. So realize that when you are engaging an outsourcer, you are engaging a specialist who has put a lot of thought and energy into being very good and very efficient at the particular task. They also often bring specialized tools and processes to the table to make the economics work for both the client as well as the outsourcer.


Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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