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Archive for March, 2011

Oracle 24X7Venkat S. Devraj, co-founder and CTO of database and application automation software provider Stratavia and author of Oracle 24×7 Tips & Techniques (McGraw-Hill), had the following to say about the number of DBA’s necessary to administer an Oracle DB environment:

Every so often, I come across IT Managers bragging that they have a ratio of “50 DB instances to 1 DBA” or “80 DBs to 1 DBA”… — Is that supposed to be good? And conversely, is a lower ratio such as “5 to 1” necessarily bad? Compared to what? In response, I get back vague assertions such as “well, the average in the database industry seems to be “20 to 1”.

Venkat recommends a benchmarking approach:

The reality is, a unidimensional *and* subjective ratio, based on so-called industry best practices, never reveals the entire picture. A better method (albeit also subjective) to evaluate and improve DBA effectiveness would be to establish the current productivity level (“PL”) as a baseline, initiate ways to enhance it and carry out comparisons on an ongoing basis against this baseline. Cross-industry comparisons seldom make sense, however the PL from other high-performing IT groups in similar companies/industries may serve as a decent benchmark.

Finally, Venkat recommends developing a 2X2 matrix where an “Environmental Complexity Score” is charted against a  “Delivery Maturity Score”.  Your PL depends on where you land in the 2X2 matrix. If you picture the X-Y chart as comprising 4 quadrants (left top, left bottom, right top and right bottom), the left top is “Bad”, the left bottom is “Mediocre”, the right top is “Good” and the right bottom is “Excellent”.

For a full description of Mr. Devraj’s approach, see: Selective Deliberations on Databases, Data Center Automation & Cloud Computing

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TelusAccording to the 2009 Rotman-TELUS Joint Study on Canadian IT Security Practices the financial crisis has had a negative impact on IT security budgets.

The 2009 subprime mortgage crisis was prompted by a striking rise in mortgage foreclosures in the United States, with major adverse effects for banks and financial markets around the globe.

Regarding security budgets being affected by the global crisis, 75% of responding organizations reacted by applying budgetary cuts to their security expenditures, while 25% actually increased their security investment.  50% of the respondents reported minor adjustments where only 10% or less of their budget was affected (most of them adjusting downward). 20% reported moderate cuts of 10%-25%, and less than 10% applied severe cuts of 50% or more.

A detailed analysis of the reactions showed that Average Budgetary Impact was a 4.6% budgetary cut in IT security expenditures in the Government sector, a 6.6% budgetary cut in the Private sector, and a 10.8% budgetary cut in the Public sector (from Table 17).

The 2009 report has IT security metrics on:

  • Application Security
  • IT Security Budgets
  • IT Governance
  • IT Security Breaches
  • Security Technologies

Proceed here for a full copy of the Joint Study on Canadian IT Security Practices .

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ZDNetAccording to a ZDNet article (by John Hazard, March 9, 2011) “IT manager jobs to staff jobs in move to the Cloud“:

The typical IT organization usually maintains manager-to-staff ratio of about 11 percent (that number dips to 6 or 7 percent in larger companies), said John Longwell, vice president of research for Computer Economics. The ratio has been volatile for four years, according to the Computer Economics recently released study, IT management and administration staffing ratios. As businesses adjusted to the recession, they first eliminated staff positions, raising the ratio to its peak of 12 percent in 2009. In 2010, businesses trimmed management roles as well, lowering the ratio to 11 percent, Longwell said. But the long term trend is toward a higher ratio of managers-to-staff ratio, he told me.

“Over the longer term, though, I think we will see a continued evolution of the IT organizations toward having more chiefs and fewer Indians as functions move into the cloud or become more automated.”

For a complete copy of the article see: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/it-manager-jobs-to-staff-jobs-in-move-to-the-cloud/45808?tag=content;search-results-rivers

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ComputerWorldIn a Computerworld (Australia) article entitled “Is there best practice for a server to system administrator ratio?”  from July 9, 2010, the following was reported:

“We have observed that it can be, for example with a physical server, as low as 10 per admin, and for virtual servers as many as 500,” Gartner analyst, Errol Rasit, said. “But it really depends on the type of application. We have seen as an example from a particular customer – from some of our larger customers – that they had their admins managing 15 physical servers and when that moves to virtualisation it moves to something like 75 virtual servers.

To give you a different order of magnitude in another example one admin was looking at 50 physical servers and then moving to 250 virtual servers. I will say that we have seen maybe 500 or 600 virtual servers being managed by a single admin.

IDC meanwhile notes that in Australia the ratio for an SMB would vary greatly from a hoster and again to a cloud provider like Amazon or Microsoft. The analyst house’s statistics suggest anywhere from 10,000:1 at a dominant vendor like Google down to the SMB average of 30:1 for physical boxes and 80:1 for virtual machines.

One enterprise IT manager told us the ratio for physical servers was roughly 50:1, another working for a government organisation said 15-20:1, and an IT director at a research and development outfit noted that in a mid-size organisation a system administrator could maintain 10-14 servers per week or if their role was merely maintenance (i.e. no projects, no debugging, etc) then they could look after 25-35 servers per week. The IT director added a bigger organisation with larger economies of scale could potentially increase the ration to 10-14 servers to each admin per day with staff dedicated to just maintenance.

One of the key factors in increasing the ratio, however, is how much automation can be rolled into the maintenance / management of the server farm.

“A lot of what changes the ratio in the physical world is the types of tools being used to automate a lot of the processes; so run book automation and these sorts of things,” Gartner’s Rasit said. “That tends to be the main differentiator. The problem with virtualisation and virtualisation tools is there are a lot of them. It is very, very easy for a lot of customers to try and automate everything and that doesn’t necessarily always bear fruit for the organisation because they are spending too much time doing that.

A complete copy of the article can be found: http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/352635/there_best_practice_server_system_administrator_ratio_/

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GartnerMark McDonald, group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs, suggests replacing the IT budget / revenue ratio with a metric that has meaning – like IT headcount to Free Cash Flow.  That is a metric one CIO is using and it makes more sense because it can be managed.

He suggests measuring IT headcount because more than 70% of most IT budgets are already contractually committed – effectively removing them for short-term management changes.  IT headcount is the result of factors the CIO can control, like the level of automation, the skill of their people, the structure of their operations and the nature of their IT investment budget.

McDonald suggests that free cash flow is a better numerator, as it is more indicative of a company’s health.  Management can influence free cash slow and manage it to some extent in either a strong or weak economies.  Case in point; look at organizations building cash in the recession.  Free cash flow is also something that IT can influence as IT systems integrate process and information flows which improves end-to-end process and cash performance.

It is harder to measure, free cash flow and IT headcount, but it should produce a clearer signal and inform better management decisions and actions.

See full article: http://blogs.gartner.com/mark_mcdonald/2010/04/06/it-spend-as-a-percent-of-revenue-%E2%80%93-a-dubious-metric-at-best/

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