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As soon as fixed price DBA determines that "it is not DB", client is on their own trying to correct an issue where a DBA could be invaluable in diagnosis and building a plan for corrective action.
Fixed pricing estimates are high. They are high on a per hour basis and on an hours spent basis. This is because fixed-price contractors have to back their estimate for a year. You are paying for risk that they have estimated another account improperly and need to make it up on yours. You are also paying for risk that you may develop chronic problems—and so they charge for that in advance whether it happens or not.
Once year is out, best case scenario is that you have managed to be a "problem account" for them and have actually received some bang for your buck. Now that they know what kind of hours it takes to manage your account, you will receive a new estimate that will be calculated as follows: (yearly hours)*(markup for risk)*(200/hr)/12=(monthly rate). You will most likely not be told this formula but I guarantee that it exists. You can never beat it. You will always pay premium rates, even if you make it through first year fighting for attention.
Fixed pricing never goes down, and it usually goes substantially up after first year. Whatever price is, fixed price contractor always has an hourly rate in mind, like $200/hour. Ask. If you have already hired a fixed rate contractor, ask for a monthly report of how many hours they spend on you. Ask. You will most likely be denied since hourly rate can be astronomical if they have successfully avoided doing work, but definitely ask.
And what happens if your technical needs are much greater than anticipated? At end of year, your fixed rate will be increased based on your hourly usage in previous year so that you are back at their target profitability level (which they will still not share with you). Since you can never know how many hours they are really spending, you will never know what you are buying.
No matter how good it might seem at outset, fixed pricing never adds up. You can never truly get best deal—and you may be putting valuable data at risk. Because with a fixed-price model, if it ain't broke, they won't fix it.
Before founding Pythian, Steve worked as a consultant for numerous companies as well as the Canadian government. He remains the key architect of Pythian's highly sophisticated internal applications and business process systems.