Database Projects Challenged by Time, Poor Planning

A survey of IT pros by Embarcadero Technologies shows time management and poor planning are key challenges facing DBAs.

The No. 1 challenge facing database professionals: There just aren't enough hours in the day, according to a recent survey.

In a poll of 1,230 IT pros (PDF) by Embarcadero Technologies, roughly 43 percent cited time as their key challenge when it comes to projects. Another 40 percent cited poor planning. Roughly half (53.5 percent) said they have spent the night in the office because of an emergency.

"It boils down to doing more with less," said Scott Walz, senior director of product management at Embarcadero. "Data is growing, more databases are coming online, but resources are staying at the same level. Many are also taking on more responsibilities as the result of [mergers and acquisitions] or staff and resource cutbacks."

Not surprisingly, when asked what database-related issue "keeps [them] up at night." some 43 percent cited production database performance. Downtime and performance degradation were ranked second (38.2 percent) and third (31.3 percent), respectively. Roughly 41 percent said they would like more time for database tuning, and nearly 39 percent said they would like extra time to fix poor-performing SQL code.

On a more positive note, roughly 76 percent reported that their organization had invested in new technology tools for them in the past five years. More than any other technology, respondents believe cloud databases will have the biggest impact on the database industry. More than a third listed cloud databases as No. 1; the second most cited answer was virtualization, given by just under 27 percent.

"Storage costs, high availability and patch management are a few of the positives of cloud computing," Walz said. "Knowing that your database is hosted by a third party, and that third-party is ultimately responsible for the uptime, takes some of the pressures off of the DBAs [database administrators]. Patch management consumes quite a few of the DBA's cycles. With databases in the cloud, that now becomes part of the cloud infrastructure."

In addition, cloud-related moves like's and Microsoft SQL Azure mean DBAs will have to learn how to manage totally new database environments and know exactly what in the database they have control over, he said.

The study also illustrated a growing trend of collaboration between application developers and DBAs. According to the survey, 61 percent said developers and DBAs are working together more than they did five years ago.

"The lines are blurring between the two roles," Walz explained. "In the past, database developers took care of all of the database code, but today, more application developers are involved with writing database code (stored procedures), and more SQL is being located within the application."