How Many DBAs Do You Need To Support Databases?

I frequently get asked the question of how many databases a DBA typically manages. Over the past five years, I have interviewed hundreds of organizations on this topic, asking them about their ratios and how they improved them. Typically I find that the current industry average is 40 databases to a DBA for large enterprises ($1 billion+ in revenue), with the lowest ratio seen around eight and the highest at 275. So, why this huge variation? There are many factors that I see in customer deployments that contribute to this variation, such as the size of a database, database tools, version of databases, DBA expertise, formalization of database administration, and production versus nonproduction.

This ratio is usually limited by the total size of all databases that a DBA manages. A terabyte-sized database remains difficult to manage compared to a database that's 100 GB in size. Larger databases often require extra tuning, backup, recovery, and upgrade effort. The average database-to-DBA ratio is often constrained by the total size of the databases being managed, which tends to be around five terabytes per DBA. In other words, one DBA can effectively manage 25 databases of 200 GB each or five 1 terabyte databases. And these include production and nonproduction databases.

What are the factors that can help improve the ratio? Cloud, tools, latest DBMS version (automation), and DBMS product used – SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, MySQL, or Sybase. Although most DBMS vendors have improved on manageability over the years, based on customer feedback, Microsoft SQL Server tends to have the best ratios.

I believe that although you should try to achieve the 40:1 ratio and the 5 terabyte cap, consider establishing your own baseline based on the database inventory and DBAs and using that as the basis for improving the ratio over time.

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Interaction-Centric Customer Service Vendor Spotlight

There’s been lots going on with what Forrester calls the “interaction-centric customer service vendors”. These are the vendors that manage the high-volume, transaction-oriented relationships — those often encountered in B2C environments, over the multiple communication channels (email, chat, social, phone etc) that exist today.

RightNow announced its RightNow’s CX for Facebook app, to be released in November. This app creates a “Support” tab on a company’s wall and allows users to interact via social and traditional channels right from Facebook. Users can find answers from community content or from the corporate knowledgebase, ask the community questions, follow, participate in, and track discussions, propose an idea, ask an agent (either in a public or a private conversation), and more. It’s a nicely designed app, and something that RightNow needed to release, given the availability of similar ones from eGain, Genesys, Parature, etc.

eGain also solidifies its social footprint by announcing its Social Experience Suite — a customer interaction hub that manages both traditional and social interactions. The new version includes a social-blended agent desktop, a single-sourced knowledgebase across all channels (traditional + social again), and a unified customer record. The version also includes forums and adapters to monitor social networks through integrations with Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Yahoo search.

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An Object Lesson In BT

Forrester has long advocated adoption of a “business technology” approach to replace traditional IT. “BT” recognizes the fundamental role information technology plays in all aspects of business – and the need for business decision-makers to be deeply involved in setting technology strategy, priorities, and even delivering solutions. But how does this tight coupling of business and technology decision-making actually work?

My colleague Alexander Peters and I have just witnessed a situation that illustrates that having the right organizational structure and technology-savvy businesspeople is crucial to a BT transition.

The organization developed an IT strategy 10 years ago based on three best practices:

  1. Major business processes would be implemented on a single, modern, flexible platform.

  2. The platform would employ SOA to ensure that it could adapt to unforeseen needs.

  3. The platform would run in the consolidated, scalable, and efficient data center of a service provider.

Today, the organization has not yet achieved its top goal of a single platform for all of its major processes. It has a new SOA/Java environment, but it processes a little more than half of the required workload. Older systems do the rest. Most disturbing:

  • The development investment has been many times greater than expected at the outset.

  • The annual cost of IT operations doubled versus the baseline.

  • System reliability went down with the new environment.
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Forrester Has Launched Its Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2010

Technology innovation and business disruption are changing the software market today. Cloud computing is blurring the line between applications and services, and smart solutions are combining hardware with software into new, purpose-engineered solutions. We are happy to announce that we have launched our Forrester Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2010, to predict and quantify the future of the software market and help IT vendors to tap into the insights from approximately 2,500 IT decision-makers across North America and Western Europe.

The survey will provide insights on the strategic direction and spending plans of enterprises from very small businesses to global enterprises, segmented by industry and country. In comparison with last year’s survey, we significantly boosted the sample size this year for the energy (oil and gas, utilities, and mining) and healthcare industries; we’ll be able to provide an in-depth analysis for these industries along with retail, financial services, high tech, and other industries.

Key themes for this year’s software survey include the following topics:

  • Cloud computing. Besides a 360-degree overview on current and future adoption rates of software-as-a-service (SaaS) for different software applications, we are going much deeper this year and have asked IT decision-makers about their cloud strategy for application replacement as well as for different data and transaction types.
  • Integrated information technology. Purpose-engineered solutions combining hardware with software are promising higher performance and faster implementation times. But do IT users really buy into single-vendor strategies?
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Oracle CRM On Demand Release 18 - Extends Marketing Capabilities But Not Customer Service

Oracle, at Oracle Open World, has released their 18th version of CRM On Demand. This product integrates their Market2Lead acquisition, made in May of this year. It closes the gap between marketing and sales – and unifies the end-to-end life-cycle management of leads, including their nurturing track. Marketing and sales managers now can share KPIs and understand how lead generation and nurturing activities directly affect the outcome of sales.

The solution enables multitouch point marketing campaigns to be designed and executed. You can create personalized microsites and landing pages. There are robust analytics to measure their effectiveness, as well as progressive profiling capabilities that allow the company to gather more information about a lead at every step of the marketing and sales cycle. Basically, it adds the full marketing automation capabilities to the product suite. And it's attractively priced compared to having to buy seats from a standalone marketing automation vendor to access these capabilities.

My take: It’s a feature hole that had to be plugged, and it's priced well for adoption.

Disconnect In Customer Service Language - Activities Vs Outcomes

Contact centers are data and metrics driven. If you are an agent, you worry about your average call handle time, the number of calls/emails/chats you are completing per hour, how you are doing compared to your peers, how satisfied customers are with your answers. If you are a call center manager, you keep an eagle eye in real time on your group metrics.

But what is it that C-level executives care about in the boardroom? They are concerned with the quality, cost, and effectiveness of service, and the measurement of the outcome of their strategic decisions – for example, measuring the success of a service strategy like outsourcing operations. They need data to accurately forecast performance and monitor performance trends over time. They need to make strategic technology decisions that support their key business goals.

There’s a first order disconnect between customer service agents and supervisors who talk in the language of activities - AHT, SLAs, or number of emails handled - and C-level executives who care about outcomes - company performance, overall customer loyalty, and churn. What is needed is a bridge, a mapping between the language of agents and the language of the boardroom.

Take for example the request for a service manager customer to add a headcount to help edit content for their knowledgebase. To get buy-in, frame this request in the outcome of this program, not in terms of activities, for example: “We need to evolve our knowledge management solution to provide a better quality of knowledge to our agents. This will ultimately lead to a quantitative, measurable increase in our net promoter score, an increased first time fix rate, and lower operating costs.”

Have you started to link operational metrics to top-level business outcomes? What are effective examples that you use? Has this worked for you?

What Can Proginet Users Expect?

TIBCO completed the acquisition of Proginet on September 16, 2010. What does this mean for users of Proginet's file transfer products? We see four key areas of interest related to this acquisition:

  • Increased vendor stability. Proginet was a small firm that had good products but was still facing difficult financial times due to its limited product lineup. Now that Proginet is part of a larger, more successful organization, its users will no longer have to be concerned about the ongoing viability of the product.
  • Improved product support. Proginet users will now have access to 24x7 support via TIBCO's product support team.
  • Product rebranding. All of the Proginet products including the CyberFusion MFT product and the Slingshot, RocketStream, and AnyFileNow file transfer products will be rebranded (as TIBCO MFT, TIBCO Slingshot, TIBCO RocketStream, and TIBCO Silver MFT, respectively).
  • Higher prices. Proginet users will be migrated to the applicable TIBCO products over time at the prevailing TIBCO prices.

In addition, TIBCO will be embedding the Proginet MFT features into its BusinessWorks product and will also continue to support the extensive OEM arrangements that Proginet had with other software vendors.

What's your take on the value of MFT in your organization? Is MFT an important component of your integration landscape? Is its usage growing? We would like to hear your opinion. Please give us your feedback by commenting directly or by sending me a note at kvollmer@forrester.com.

Thanks,

Ken Vollmer

The Cloud Is Here To Stay – Summary From Forrester’s Vendor Strategy TweetJam On Cloud Computing

On September 15th between 11am-12pm EDT Forrester held an interactive TweetJam on the future of cloud computing including Forrester analysts Jennifer Belissent, Mike Cansfield, Pascal Matzke, Stefan Ried, Peter O’Neill , myself and many other experts and interested participants. Using the hashtag #cloudjam (use this tag to search for the results in Twitter), we asked a variety of questions.

We had a great turnout, with more than 400 tweets (at last count) from over 40 unique Tweeter’s. A high level overview of the key words and topics that were mentioned during the TweetJam is visualized in the attached graphic using the ManyEyes data visualization tool.

 

Below you will find a short summary of some key takeaways and quotes from the TweetJam:

1. What really is cloud computing? Let’s get rid of 'cloud washing!'

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Online Engagement: An Integration Play?

I still get a lot of client inquiries on “Web content management.” In fact, the past few months have been the busiest I’ve had since I joined Forrester almost four years ago. Many clients are investing in technology for their online, public-facing initiatives, and we’ve been having some great conversations about what technologies will best fit their needs.

But those technologies include a lot more than just “Web content management.”

In fact, I was recently working with a client on what was purportedly a “WCM” selection project and what struck me was how relatively few requirements actually had to do with traditional content management. Instead, the client wanted to talk about things like content targeting, analytics, multivariate testing, social media, and mobile. That goes way beyond just managing content, doesn’t it?

The best-of-breed WCM vendors have understood this for several years, focusing a good chunk of their development efforts on the actual delivery of content, and how to engage customers, partners, and prospects in the online channel. And the big boys — notably Microsoft and IBM — are getting into the act as well, repositioning and repackaging products and enhancing them with additional modules and adjacent technologies to support engagement.

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Social Customer Service Just Got A Little Bit Easier, Thanks To RightNow

Your service processes must be the same across all communication channels – traditional and social – in order to deliver a consistent experience and value proposition to your customer base. At the moment, this is downright hard to do, as almost no company offers a solution that tightly integrates the social and traditional communication channels. RightNow saw this need and has delivered a solution that allows customer support agents to engage with customers on Facebook.

Facebook has 500 million registered users that spend more than 3 billion hours a month on their site, says Nielsen. It’s a veritable interaction hub, where many businesses have a significant presence. Some have hundreds of thousands of fans. Other businesses have smaller, yet very loyal followings.

RightNow’s CX for Facebook product, to be released in November, will allow companies to install an app that creates a “Support” tab on their wall. Once a user (customer or prospect) clicks on this tab, they will be able to find answers from community content or from the corporate knowledgebase, ask the community questions, follow, participate and track discussions, propose an idea, ask an agent (either in a public or a private conversation), and more without leaving the Facebook site. Agents as well will be able to monitor and respond to wall posts: RightNow’s SmartSense sentiment analysis will be able to detect the tone of posts and flags high-priority comments for immediate follow-up.

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