Eye on Oracle

Sep 10 2007   10:08AM GMT

Are you afraid of hosted apps?

Ken Cline Profile: Clinek

Oracle on Demand,” “software-as-a-service” (SaaS), “utility computing” — whatever buzzword you use, the long-hyped end of software finally seems to be gaining traction. Our recent survey of SearchOracle.com members revealed a surprisingly high 37% of you currently use hosted apps.

Does that concern you DBAs? Is this the beginning of the end of the in-house DBA?

For managers, Oracle’s pitch is compelling:

With more than 1.7 million users, including enterprise customers with the most rigorous requirements, Oracle On Demand simplifies enterprise computing by reducing the need to handle software upgrades, patches, and the day-to-day maintenance required to keep customer solutions available and secure.

. . . not to mention a lower TCO, including no six-figure salaries to those pesky senior DBAs.  It’s the “best of all worlds” as the Oracle site melodramatically puts it.

Unfortunately for DBAs, SaaS is likely to grow in the forseeable future. Oracle’s upcoming Fusion application suite is said to be heavily SOA- and SaaS-enabled. And Oracle is certainly not alone: other hosted apps include SAP’s A1S, IBM, NetSuite.com, SalesForce.com, Workday.com, and many others. Gartner predicts that the industry will be worth $10 billion by 2010, with 30% of software delivered using a SaaS model. It’s already a $400 million business for Oracle.

Worried yet? Perhaps you DBAs should think about moving to Austin, where Oracle’s massive data center for hosted apps is located. The 10,000 Linux servers running 10g and 2.5 petabytes of storage there should keep you busy until this whole SaaS thing blows over . . . or not.

Do you think that Oracle DBAs’ days are numbered because of the growth of On Demand? Or will it never really catch on due to security, reliability and customizability concerns? Do you think DBAs will always be needed, regardless of SaaS? Let’s hear your thoughts.

Cheers,
Tim

7  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Clinek
    Software as a service may be excellent for office automation software, but for enterprise-scale applications - Especially those that house the most critical data a company may have... Not so much. The potential saving may catch an eye, but how much control does you average company want over its data? Does a company want immediate access to a dedicated DBA for development & efficient scaling, or do they want to talk to 'someone' on the phone? Do they want physical control over their data and backups, or are they comfortable trusting another company who may not value the importance of their data? What if the other company values the data a little too much?... Are most companies willing to lease the dedicated comm they'll need for their applications to reach the database? While the marketing is very slick, a savvy CIO/CFO realizes that the need to 'simplify enterprise computing' is superficial - A good IT team makes this very simple. They make it happen. DBAs also need not fear for their job, as most have job scope far beyond daily maintenance tasks. Working with developers, storage administration, sysadmin support, design teams, etc. are common DBA additional duties. They are valuable commodities indeed. The best way to sum up 'Oracle on Demand' would be outsourcing overseas. Without the cost savings.
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  • Clinek
    I have experience working in a big GE company where their Oracle Apps system was Oracle hosted. The main big complaint of all my managers were 'lack of personal attention'. If you have to get something done, you open a SR and then wait for the process to follow, which is frustating for the managers. You can't get a DBA on the phone and get real time updates of what's going on. But the cost benefit might be compelling enough for CIOs to go for that.
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  • Clinek
    I don't think DBAs need worry too much, at least not now. Many businesses will want to keep their IT internal if for nothing more than security reasons. I also think that customization, and maintenance for certain businesses will prove highly expensive with SaaS. Hardware, software and even programmers and DBAs cost much less these days to warrant that. Where I'm currently working in the public sector, I just don't see SaaS being an option at any point from purely the customization point of view.
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  • Clinek
    Many "revolutionary" changes have made their way into the IT world in the last 30 years. Whether they become part of the daily scene is another consideration. In today's world of "the need for greed", it seems that cio's and ceo's are willing to try anything that can add to their stashes. What I mean is that almost everyone in the board room will vote to give any well spun idea a try. These things will most certainly have some impact in the short term as all the cio's make a pit stop on the long highway of IT history. The question is "Will they make it their permanent urinal"? What tears were shed when help desks were outsourced from their original outsourced locations!
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  • Clinek
    I haven't see much advantage to hosted services. Actually, I've seen quite the opposite. 1) The software is slow, and subject to outages. 2) The technical support is difficult to reach and slow to respond 3) Technical support is expensive, but after you sign the contract, you don't have a choice ($1,700 to change wording on a web page!) 4) Technical support is not well aquanted with our internal systems which must integrate with theirs. 5) Inevitably, customization must be done, which nulls their out-of-the-box warranty 6) Connecting via VPN to input data in our hosted app requires us to DISCONNECT from OUR network . . no email, no access to network files. This requires a second computer for each person. 7) Their sales team does a bangup job of selling to the CEOs, who don't know a server from a waitress. 7) Guess who does the cleanup? Who troubleshoots problems with the hosted app? Who creates custom reports to catch their errors . . . the DBA!
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  • Clinek
    What will the application with it's own database be doing whilst waiting on the network for the data going to and from Austen, USA? From SA, I'll bet this is a long wait. That database will stay here, for certain. How will we pull reports with data from the remote site? Will we be lugging all that data too and from the farm in Austen? How about an export, copy to disk to give to the client (who wants to work at home on it)? Is he willing to use his hard earned bandwidth on pulling all the data from Austen? Will the CEO's be willing to allow security to be managed by joe bloggs in Oracle? Who has access to the data? At least we know where to send the auditors. I don't think this is a dba threat, and I don't see it as a replacement for the on site database administrator. With the savings in TCO, the CEO may take a bigger package home, but the bods at the bottom will be frustrated with not being able to shout "Hey, DBA, why's this query not running fast? What's this full table scan in here for?" without picking up the phone and talking to a total stranger. What about the hanging sessions? Who will they call on? My clients are not concerned, I'm glad to say, they still want the friendly service offered by an on site DBA. I mean, who's going to put the diagrams on the whiteboard in their office?
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  • Clinek
    The inherent dichotomy with what we do as DBA's - goods ones are those that no one knows what we do for the organization - will lead many decision makers to seek cost savings from this functional area. It just makes good business sense and its hard to argue otherwise to those not technically astute. In addition, an Oracle DBA in todays world has to admit to herself that this work is being made conscientiously easier by Oracle's stated goal of the "self-managing" database. Any other conclusion would be to ignore the facts. So then, the question becomes how does a DBA stay employed? It would seem that the answer to this question necessarily leads to introspection along these lines: What is my value to the organization, outside of my role as a DBA? Do I know and understand the business functions? Am I a "go-to guy" when technical problems arise? Do I serve my customers, whomever they may be, in a friendly, respectful, knowledgeable and efficient way? Can I make people's work life easier? I believe that if we can answer "yes" to these questions, we will always be employed. I also believe that it will make our work experience that much richer. But it takes a mind shift from one of knowledge arrogance to an appreciation that after all, its the technically ignorant end users, to include upper management, that give us our raison d’être.
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