Becoming a remote DBA services provider

Now is the time to take advantage of a growing trend: database administration outsourcing. Learn how you can begin offering remote DBA services to help customers with database monitoring, security and more.

Get your remote DBA services provider company off the ground with these best practices, then start organizing your...

remote DBA services in part two of this series.

Hilary Cotter

Benefits you may bring to your customers via remote DBA services:

  • Considerable cost savings (while you still benefit from economies of scale)
  • Access to specialized or task-dedicated talent
  • Help ramping up services during peak demand
  • An outsourced solution that's not vulnerable to internal IT turnover
  • Mentoring that will ensure the client does not become too dependent on outside services
  • Highly structured level of management and support

You can also use tools that enable remote work to be performed without having to visit the client site. SQL Server Enterprise Manager and SQL Server Management Studio with remote administration come to mind.

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These reasons make VARs and remote DBA shops particularly attractive to both small IT shops, startups and even large companies, where IT staff is overburdened. As I work for a remote DBA company I believe I have a unique window into what makes them successful. The above reasons are what we use to successfully sell ourselves to our prospective clients. What follows is why I believe we have been so successful.

 Checklist: Remote DBA service provider best practices
Align yourself with partners
Nothing is more important to a young DBA services company than to align itself with partners. The remote DBA company I work for has several Microsoft SQL Server MVPs on its staff. We have a working relationship not only with Microsoft product managers and developers, but also with other SQL Server MVPs. Should we have a problem, we can escalate it to Microsoft for answers or sound out the other Microsoft SQL Server MVPs for input. Should we have a client with an interest in a SQL Server component that's not one of our specialties, we can locate a resource in Microsoft or an MVP who is knowledgeable. Other VARs and remote DBA companies do not have this level of relationship with Microsoft.
Our founder has a close working relationship with one of the monitoring and tool vendors for most major relationship database management systems (RDBMS). He aligned himself with this monitoring company early in its history and has become one of their primary outside resellers. Our company provides training for this vendor's products, and we evangelize this company with our own customers as we believe in their products. We get deep knowledge of their tools, they get feedback from us on how to make their tools better, and we give each other leads all the time.
The partnerships we have chosen are mutually beneficial. We could have chosen a large established partner but we would be just another reseller to them. Instead we chose a vendor that was small and young at the time; both of us have grown with time. Choose your partners wisely: You, your partner and, most importantly, your clients will benefit for your relationship.
Build a brand name
Finding clients is difficult and perhaps the most time-consuming part of sustaining any business. You want your clients to come to you, but how do you make them associate your name with top-level remote DBA services? To benefit from advertising or direct mail, you must sustain the advertising campaign for months if not years, and you must target your advertising campaign carefully to prospective client. Frequently this is not economically feasible for even larger VARs or remote DBA companies. It's all about exposure and building a brand name.
Blog for client leads
Blogging is currently a favorite self-promotion tool, and businesses are only just jumping on this bandwagon. Blogging is attractive as it is cheap and leads prospective clients to you. Your prospective clients use search engines to find information on a particular subject and find your companies blog! By providing useful nuggets of information consistently over many months -- as conventional wisdom states it takes six months for a blog to gain any traction -- will raise your rankings in search engines and create a buzz about you or your company as a go-to source for a specific area of expertise. In your blog you can not only create a name for yourself, but also sell yourself and your services. Writing on a consistent basis also helps you gain a complete understanding of your subject or craft in a manner that few other activities can. Not only does your audience benefit -- so do you and your company.
My friend DonXML has built a highly successful consulting practice merely through blogging. has also authored a highly successful blog.
Prepare your elevator speech
I have heard of a company in L.A. that specializes in prepping inventors or idea guys with elevator speeches for $10,000 a pop. The theory is that an elevator affords the idea guy five minutes alone with a possible investor during an elevator ride from the main floor to the penthouse. You need to find the investor and the long elevator he rides.
Public speaking could be considered to be long elevator speeches with captive audiences. You have 20 minutes to an hour to sell your potential clients on your skills and create a buzz about you and your company's services. Your audience will likely be prospective customers that may help to create important buzz for your company's services. Not only do you expose potential clients to your company by doing public speaking, the question period will provide you with valuable insights into common problems and solutions that users in the field are encountering. I do considerable public speaking purely for the insights that such questions provide. These insights have been invaluable when speaking with clients who face similar problems.
Take advantage of online forums
There is some debate whether online forums will help you to build your company's business. It does provide exposure and a window into what problems your peers are experiencing and the solutions they devise. However, many times the forum participants are not likely to avail you of your services. There is one exception to this and that is in specialized forums. Should you dominate a forum, you can use that influence to build a brand for your company.
Write to establish your niche
Article or book writing is one of the best ways to create a niche for your company. Being first in the field is very important as it will build a community around your services. For example Ralph Kimball was able to establish himself as a leader in the data warehousing space over a decade ago with his books. Writing also helps you to consolidate your thoughts on your chosen area of expertise and, should you get the product vendor to review it, provides you with valuable inside information. It also provides inside contacts you can benefit from for years afterwards.

Start organizing your remote DBA services in part two of this series.

Hilary Cotter
Hilary Cotter has been involved in IT for more than 20 years as a Web and database consultant. Microsoft first awarded Cotter the Microsoft SQL Server MVP award in 2001. Cotter received his bachelor of applied science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto and subsequently studied economics at the University of Calgary and computer science at UC Berkeley. He is the author of a book on SQL Server transactional replication and is currently working on books on merge replication and Microsoft search technologies.
Copyright 2006 TechTarget

Application development has been outsourced for over 10 years now, but a new IT trend today involves outsourcing highly administrative or management-oriented activities. For example, it is not uncommon for large enterprises to outsource portions of their monitoring, security or general database administration to outside service providers. This trend is in its infancy and shows promise of gaining momentum fast, putting your company in position to take a lead in a growing industry. It also provides you with the ability to cross sell other services you offer to your clients once you have established a working relationship.

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