Database admins raise concerns over multiple systems in their companies

Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of database administrators have to manage at least two types of database platform, with 14 percent being forced to manage five different systems, according to research.

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Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of database administrators have to manage at least two types of database platform, with 14 percent being forced to manage five different systems, according to research.

Mergers and acquisitions were a major reason for the mixed database environments. Embarcadero Technologies, which provides software tools for database management professionals and application developers, polled over 1,200 DBAs (database administrators), developers, architects and analysts for the research. Most respondents were at firms that employed over 1,000 staff.

Of those surveyed, 20 percent reported managing one database platform, 33 percent said they managed two platforms, 25 percent said three, 8 percent said four, and 14 percent said they managed five or more platforms.

Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle were cited as the most common database platforms, with 62 percent of respondents working with SQL Server and 60 percent with Oracle. Third on the list was Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise with 35 percent, and Microsoft Access was fourth with 19 percent.  Oracle was ranked top as the primary database platform respondents worked with.

Exacerbating the multi-platform database situation is that most DBAs are also tasked with managing multiple versions of a database, adding another layer of complexity to their responsibilities, and creating more room for error.

According to the survey, 69 percent managed more than one version of the same database and, of those that do, 51 percent said they managed three or more versions of the same database platform.

Mergers and acquisitions are partly to blame for the increase of heterogeneous database environments and the new batch of problems they bring for DBAs.

When asked if their company had gone through a merger or acquisition in the past five years, 43 percent responded "yes". Of those, 18 percent reported they had to begin working with new or additional database platforms as a result.

“Each database platform and version has its own features and functionality, and keeping them all straight can be a monumental task for DBAs,” said Scott Walz, senior director of product management at Embarcadero. “Multi-platform database management is becoming more commonplace, but that doesn’t mean it’s getting less complicated.”

Whether it is through a company acquisition or a newly introduced application, nearly one-third of respondents expected more database platforms to be introduced into their organisations in the next year.

The complexity of database management is one reason some firms look to outsourcing. DZ Bank in Germany recently outsourced its database management to Atos Origin.

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