Strategic Outsourcing: Testing the Outsourcing Waters and Staying Afloat

Written by Jenne Wason

Before Gertrude Ederle began her historic swim off of Cape Griz-Nez, France, she underwent extensive training for endurance and technique—even though she was already an accomplished record-breaking swimmer with Olympic medals to her name. Outsourcing IT may not garnerrepparttar same attention as beingrepparttar 137553 first woman to swimrepparttar 137554 English Channel, but it is no less important to gather as much experience and knowledge as possible on a small scale before diving in forrepparttar 137555 big swim.

The trend toward IT outsourcing is increasing dramatically. According to a report by Foote Partners, as much as 45% of North American IT work will be outsourced by 2005. And there are good reasons behind this trend. Bruce Caldwell, principal Gartner analyst believes companies can generate 20-30% savings through outsourcing. This substantial savings potential isn't easily overlooked, yet it isn'trepparttar 137556 number one reason companies are choosing to outsource right now. In a recent survey by The Outsourcing Institute,repparttar 137557 primary reason behind outsourcing is to improve company focus. Other motives include freeing up internal resources, accessing top-notch capabilities, and accelerating time to market. The survey also indicated that 55% of firms who outsource do so within IT—more than any other area.

As more companies begin outsourcing some or all of their IT function, it becomes difficult to ignorerepparttar 137558 competitive pressure. With competitors achieving their IT needs at 20-30% less cost, and getting ahead inrepparttar 137559 market because of increased focus withinrepparttar 137560 company, those who ignorerepparttar 137561 outsourcing trend could potentially lose ground very quickly.

Atrepparttar 137562 same time, outsourcing horror stories abound. According to Gartner research firm, half ofrepparttar 137563 current outsourcing projects will not meetrepparttar 137564 company's expectations and will be considered failures. Whilerepparttar 137565 vast majority of these failures are only minor disappointments whererepparttar 137566 company decides to outsource to another vendor, certainly a few are major catastrophes. An anonymous case study in IT Metrics Strategies discusses a CIO who chose to outsource to beat competitors to market. The outsourcer had promised to meet a deadline his staff had said was impossible. Whenrepparttar 137567 outsourcer failed,repparttar 137568 CIO couldn't rebuild his team fast enough to finishrepparttar 137569 job. Inrepparttar 137570 end,repparttar 137571 product never got to market at all.

The Seven Deadly Habits of a DBA... and how to cure them

Written by Paul Vallee

Calling widespread bad habits in database administration "deadly" may seem extreme. However, when you considerrepparttar critical nature of most data, and just how damaging data loss or corruption can be to a corporation, "deadly" seems pretty dead-on.

Although these habits are distressingly common among DBAs, they are curable with some shrewd management intervention. What follows is a list ofrepparttar 137552 seven habits we considerrepparttar 137553 deadliest, along with some ideas on how to eliminate them.

Habit #1. THE LEAP OF FAITH: "We have faith in our backup."

Blind faith can be endearing, but not when it comes backing up a database. Backups should be trusted only as far as they have been tested and verified.

Cures: Have your DBAs verify thatrepparttar 137554 backup is succeeding regularly, preferably using a script that notifies them if there's an issue. Maintain a backup to your backup. DBAs should always use at least two backup methods. A common technique is to use those old-fashioned exports as a backup torepparttar 137555 online backups. Resource test recoveries as often as is practical. An early sign that your DBA team is either overworked or not prioritizing correctly is having a quarter go by without a test recovery. Test recoveries confirm that your backup strategy is on track, while allowing your team to practice recovery activities so they can handle them effectively whenrepparttar 137556 time comes.

Habit #2. GREAT EXPECTATIONS: "It will workrepparttar 137557 way we expect it to. Let's go ahead."

Although not user friendly inrepparttar 137558 traditional sense, Oracle is very power-user friendly— once you've been working with it for a while, you develop an instinct forrepparttar 137559 way things "should" work. Although that instinct is often right, one ofrepparttar 137560 most dangerous habits any DBA can possess is an assumption that Oracle will "just work"repparttar 137561 way it should.

Cures: Inculcate a "practice, practice, practice" mentality throughoutrepparttar 137562 organization. DBAs need to rehearse activities inrepparttar 137563 safe sandbox of a test environment that's designed to closely mimicrepparttar 137564 behaviour ofrepparttar 137565 production system. The organization needs to allowrepparttar 137566 time and money for them to do so. Pair inexperienced DBAs with senior ones whenever possible—or take them under your own wing. New DBAs tend to be fearless, but learning from someone else's experience can help instill some much needed paranoia. Reviewrepparttar 137567 plans for everything. It's amazing how often DBAs say, "I've done that a hundred times, I don't need a plan." If they're heading into execution mode, they absolutely need a plan.

Habit #3. LAISSEZ-FAIRE ADMINISTRATION: "We don't need to monitorrepparttar 137568 system. The users always let us know when something's wrong."

If you depend onrepparttar 137569 users to informrepparttar 137570 DBA team that there's a problem, it may already be too late.

Cures: Install availability and performance monitoring systems so that issues are identified and resolved before they cause service-affecting failures. Avoid post-release software issues by working with developers and testers to ensure that all production-ready software is stable and high-performance.

Habit #4. THE MEMORY TEST: "We'll remember how this happened, and what we did to get things going again."

It may seem impossible that a DBA team would forget a massive procedure that took them weeks to get right, and yet it happens allrepparttar 137571 time. In order to prevent recurring mistakes and take advantage of gained experience, documentation is essential.

Cures: Require that your DBAs maintain a comprehensive documentation library and activity diary, including a significant level of rationale, syntax, and workflow detail. Provide your team with groupware on your intranet so that these documents become searchable in an emergency. Enforcerepparttar 137572 discipline of documentation and check it periodically. Ask your DBAs: When was this tablespace created, by whom, and with what SQL? What tasks were performed on a particular day? If they can't answer quickly, you'll know they've gone back to relying on memory.

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