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RE: FW: DBAs:Databases 1:10 (Oracle) 1:31 (SQL Server)

From: Mark W. Farnham <>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2006 22:24:53 -0400
Message-ID: <>

Against my better judgement I'll help you assemble a meaningless metric.

Internally Rightsizing, Inc. has 5 databases and we have about 1 one hundredth of an FTE DBA (me) for internal databases.

Let me be clearer: I used a classic commercial example to point out how wildly the metric can vary in meaning. Here is a general example.

Company A has 100 databases, and 2 DBAs.

Company B had 100 databases, and 2 DBAs.

Two weeks ago the logical function and size of the databases was identical. Then Company B consolidated 100 databases to 10, so now they have 10 databases and 2 DBAs. The company work volume remains identical to Company A, but the metric has changed. The metric cannot be trusted, and when someone asks you what it is, the proper answer is 42, and thanks for all the fish*.
(That's not a real example, but it just as easily could be.)

Since in general Oracle Databases are more volume and complexity capable than pretty much anything else you'll be comparing to, there will be a sample bias against Oracle. (Gasp, Farnham defends Oracle?)

We both, I believe, are dedicated to truth, justice, and the "Thrown out of England"* way. So I'm trying to convince you to debunk this metric rather than answering the question.

As always, highest regards to you Tony,


*1=Reference to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe and the Oracle-l expression for a unitless numeric answer to a random, misleading, or meaningless metric

*2=Superman would have said "American Way", but circa 1990 I started using this phrase to acknowledge the otherwise unexplained sympatico between pretty much all of Australia and all of the US (except possibly during the swimming of certain Olympic swimming events). I have no earthly idea if I invented the expression and I make no claim to first use.

-----Original Message-----
From: Tony Jambu [] Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2006 7:22 PM
To: Mark W. Farnham
Subject: Re: FW: DBAs:Databases 1:10 (Oracle) 1:31 (SQL Server)


I have no disagreement with you on this but it does not apply to non commercial companies or those that are not profit oriented.

As much as people disagree the DBAs:Databases ratio approach, it is the quickest and easiest to understand. The reason I asked the question is, I get asked this question nearly every other week at all the sites I visit. My observation is 1:30 to 1:80 and that really depends on the complexity at the site.

Can you tell me roughly what is the ratio at your site? It is only to be averaged with the other replies I got.


At 03:08 AM 15/06/2006, Mark W. Farnham wrote:
>Number of databases is not a normalized metric. You might attempt to get at
>a normalized metric by using number of DBAs per gross sales dollars divided
>by average sale,
>but that misses analytical transaction support that does not directly feed
>sales but which may be required to maintain a competitive market position.
>But at least it deals with my old saw about 1988 when Burlington Coat
>Factory Warehouse and Oracle Corporation were each roughly half a billion
>dollar companies and someone at Oracle suggested that since they ran on
>Oracle Accounts Payables, sure BCFW could too. Of course if your average
>sale is tens of thousands of dollars in one case and $69.99 in the other
>case the number of transactions required is off by a few orders of
>In any case, some normalization (the mathematical kind, not the nth normal
>form kind) is required for the survey answers to have any meaning at all.
>I hope this helps old friend,
>Mark W. Farnham
>-----Original Message-----

>Behalf Of Tony Jambu
>Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 7:08 AM
>Subject: DBAs:Databases 1:10 (Oracle) 1:31 (SQL Server)
>Hi all
>Recently, I came across an 'interesting' paper on the comparative
>difference of the total cost of database administration between
>Oracle and SQL Server. It was conducted by Alinean.
>Some interesting findings:
>Measure Microsoft Oracle
>--------------------------------------- --------- ------
>Average number of databases per company 107 87
>Average number of users per database 328 716
>Mission critical databases 66.1% 63.8%
>Transaction-based databases 55.7% 60.3%
>Decision-support databases 44.3% 39.7%
>*** Databases supported per DBA 31.2 9.9
>Users supported per DBA 6,784 5,567
>Annual TCA per database $2,847 $10,206
>Annual TCA per database user $13.09 $18.15
>If you cant read the above, make sure you have it as fixed font or
>I find it hard to believe that the average Oracle DBA can manage only 10
> From memory, a past survey on best practices indicated that an Oracle DBA
>on average about 30 Oracle databases.
>I guess for my own interest and possibly all those interested too,
>we could work out what our ratio of DBAs:Databases. If you are so kind
>as to reply to the following questions.
>Q1. How many DBAs are in your company
>Q2. How many Production Databases (Oracle + others) do they manage
>Q2. How many Test/Dev Databases (Oracle + others) do they manage
>If you do not wish to publish the figures directly to this list,
>just send me an email and I will collate it after a week.

Received on Wed Jun 14 2006 - 21:24:53 CDT

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