Expect More Innovation and Fewer Errors with Increased Database Automation

A survey of database managers and administrators shows the benefits they expect from automation, plus what they think about DBAs’ current workloads.

By Chris Murphy

November 15, 2019

If companies automate more of their database management, they’ll get more innovation and fewer mistakes, according to a majority of database pros in a recent survey of 217 database managers and administrators.

That insight’s important on its own, but even more so with the survey’s other key takeaway: The traditional, manual approach to data management looks unsustainable with ever-growing data volumes.

Here’s the data behind those two takeaways, which come from a survey from the Quest Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) Database and Technology Community regarding database workloads and automation, conducted by Unisphere Research in partnership with Oracle. The full report is available to Quest members.

Asked what benefits they expect from database automation, more than half cited greater innovation and reduced time to market (63%) and fewer database errors and bottlenecks (55%), indicating those benefits more often than any others.

In terms of the unsustainable workload facing DBAs, 9 of 10 of the data pros said it’s extremely to somewhat difficult to keep up with the increased rate of database deployments and 66% said the DBA and data team’s overwork or scheduling issues are the biggest challenge in database deployments.

Here are more details and select highlights from the survey:

63% expect faster innovation from database automation. Tech pros do see the potential for database automation to confer benefits, with more than half citing greater innovation and reduced time to market (63%) and fewer database errors and bottlenecks (55%). On the flip side, they’re fairly skeptical that automation will reduce application downtime (36%) or bring greater accessibility to data (21%).

62% of the data pros expect that data will grow 25% or more annually at their enterprise over the next three years. A notable 17% expect more than 100% annual growth, and another 25% expect 50% to 100%. Only 3% expect data to remain unchanged or to decrease.

66% said the DBA/data team’s overwork or scheduling issues are the biggest challenge in database deployments. No other factor comes close—even budget (44%) and security (42%) fall far below as top challenges. Here’s a curiosity: Only 42% said that having too many manual processes is among the greatest challenges. Yet if overwork is the biggest culprit, might reducing manual processes chip away at that workload challenge?

The majority of companies have not made significant automation gains in any key data management processes. Tech pros gave the highest marks for automation gains in backup and recovery, but even here it wasn’t impressive: Just 48% rated their progress in backup and recovery a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale. Barely one in five gave a high rating to their automation of routine tasks such as database provisioning (21%) and creating test-and-dev databases (22%). These look like huge opportunities for efficiency, to enable developer teams to jump on new ideas faster.

69% of the DBAs think automation will make their job more business-centric. Only 22% think the change will be significant, but even fewer (18%) think database automation will have little to no impact on their job.

Interestingly, in responding to another question that presents a stark choice between database automation’s enhancing or eliminating jobs, a majority (60%) indicated that it will enhance or elevate DBAs whereas 40% said that it will eliminate jobs.

For more on automation and autonomous processes, check out “3 Can’t Miss Ways to Turn Your DBA Skills into Gold.”

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Illustration by Wes Rowell