When a company decides to outsource its database administration (DBA), it will find that both domestic and offshore options are widely available. The question of which is more feasible for the organization’s need will almost always arise and have to be answered. For most, it’s often boiled down to dollars and cents. In the short term, the answer is simple. For the long term, it’s not so easy.
=== Offshore DBA Management’s Pros
The up side to offshore DBA management is usually its cost. The same services will likely be much cheaper if outsourced to countries like India, Russia, Pakistan, and the like. These costs can be as low as 50% of the domestic cost for the same service (by name).
Legally, this may also have some advantages as offshore management may not be under the same restrictions (assuming your data is also stored offshore). While this advantage is rare, some do profit from it.
=== Offshore DBA Management’s Cons
The biggest immediate downside to offshore DBA is communication. Someone on the other side of the planet may not have the same understanding of language or the same time frame that you do. Many who offshore services find themselves in the ’12 hour gap.’ This is the time difference it can take for question and reply to happen.
Another issue with communication is who you are (or aren’t) talking with. Quite often, these overseas providers are fronted by non-technical people who act as sales and customer relations. The real DBAs are in the background, getting your information second-hand and often after translation as well.
A second problem is professionalism. While most offshore providers are on the up-and-up, some are not. The legalities of going after a foreign provider who mismanages, loses, or even steals your data are complicated and expensive. Some information and data just isn’t worth taking that risk with.
This brings up the issue of corporate security as a whole. Can you outsource your data to someone who, legally, is going to be hard to go after should your data be sold or compromised? Will your customer base be happy knowing that their data is being sent offshore for storage?
All of these are legitimate concerns that many in the industry gloss over and sugar coat in order to justify the huge cost savings that can be had up-front with offshoring. While these savings can be great, do they come at a price you’re willing to pay?
=== The Final Analysis for Offshore Decisions
In the end, the decision to go offshore (or not) is up to the individual businesses that have to decide. Experts in the industry who talk down about offshore DBA services do so not out of nationalistic pride, but mainly out of experience. Those who’ve used offshore services know that they often come at a time sacrifice that can easily offset the savings to be had.
If your IT manager must spend hours walking the offshore provider through the process, shouldn’t that IT manager just be doing it herself? It’s a question that often gets asked after the fact, when the money’s already spent and the contracts have been signed.