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Heterogeneous Platforms Growing Challenge for DBAs, Survey Finds

When we think of heterogeneous environments, we often think of mixing hardware types -- support for Android and Blackberry devices, for example, or managing servers from different manufacturers.

Increasingly, however, we should also be thinking about mixed database platforms. That's become the norm in most data centers, according to a survey of database administrators just released by Embarcadero Technologies.

The Database Trends Survey Report indicates that just one in five DBAs (20 percent) manage a single database platform; a third (33 percent) said they manage two; one-fourth say they deal with three; 8 percent manage four platforms; and more than one in eight (14 percent) are responsible for five or more platforms.

The most common database platforms are Microsoft SQL Server -- 62 percent of respondents work with it -- and Oracle (at 60 percent), followed by Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (35 percent) and Microsoft Access (19 percent). Oracle is the database platform most respondents identify as their primary platform.

It isn't just the multiple platforms that's challenging; the survey found that most DBAs are managing multiple versions of the same database. Of the more than two-thirds (69 percent) who support multiple versions of a database, 51 percent said they manage three or more versions.

“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 for Embarcadero, in a company statement. “Multi-platform database management is becoming more commonplace, but that doesn’t mean it’s getting less complicated.”

Cross-platform database management was cited as the biggest database-related challenge they'll face next year. Tied in second place: multi-instance databases and database tuning; database management came in third.

The M&A Effect

What's driving this mish mash of databases? The survey asked respondents if their company had been part of a merger or acquisition in the last five years; 43 percent said they had, of which nearly one-fifth (18 percent) said they began working with more database platforms as a result of the M&A activity.

DBAs expect the heterogeneity to grow; "nearly one-third of respondents expect more database platforms to be introduced into their organizations in the next year," Embarcadero said.

The study was conducted over the summer of over 1,200 DBAs, developers, architects, and analysts. The full report is available without charge or registration at http://www.embarcadero.com/reports/database-trends-survey.

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted by Jim Powell on 10/25/2010

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