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The Value of Database Support

 | July 20, 2016 |  Posted In: MongoDB, MySQL, Percona Support

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database supportIn this post, I’ll discuss how database support is good for your enterprise.

Years ago when I worked for the MySQL Support organization at the original MySQL AB, we spoke about MySQL Support as insurance and focused on a value proposition similar to that of car insurance. You must purchase car insurance before the incident happens, or insurance won’t cover the damage. In fact, most places around the world require automobile insurance. Similarly, many organizations that leverage production-use technology have their own “insurance” by means of 24/7 support.

In my opinion, this is a very one-sided view that does not capture the full value (and ROI) that a database support contract with Percona provides. With a Percona support contract, you are assured that your database environment (virtual, physical, or in the cloud) is fully covered – whether it’s one server or many.

Increasingly – especially with the introduction of cloud-based database environments – database servers are being spun up and torn down on a day-to-day basis. However briefly these databases exist, they need support. One of the challenges modern businesses face is providing support for a changing database infrastructure, while still maintaining a viable cost structure.

Let’s look at the different dimensions of value offered by Percona Support based on the different support cases we have received throughout the years.

Reduce and Prevent Downtime

If your database goes down, the time to recover will be significantly shorter with a support agreement than without it. The cost of downtime varies widely between organizations. A recent Ponemon study estimates the average cost of downtime can be up to $8,800 per minute.

With our clients, we’ve found preventing even one significant downtime event a year justifies support costs. Even when the client’s in-house team is very experienced, our help is often invaluable as we are exposed to a great variety of incidents from hundreds of companies. It is much more likely we have encountered the same incident before and have a solution ready. Helping to recover from downtime quickly is a reactive part of support – you can realize even more value by proactively working with support to get advice on your HA options as well as ensure that you’re following the best database backup and security practices.

Better Security

Having a database support contract by itself is not enough to prevent all security incidents. Databases are only one of the attack vectors, and it takes a lot of everyday work to stay secure. There is nothing that can guarantee complete security. Database support, however, can be a priceless resource for your security team. It can apply security and compliance practices to your database environment and demonstrate how to avoid typical mistakes.

The cost of data breaches can be phenomenal, as well as impact business reputations much more than downtime or performance issues. Depending on the company size and market, costs vary. Recent studies estimate direct costs ranging in average from $1.6M to 7.01M. Everyone agrees leaving rising security risks and costs unchecked is a recipe for disaster.

Fix Database Software Bugs

While you might have great DBAs on your team who are comfortable with best practices and downtime recovery, most likely you do not have a development team comfortable with fixing bugs in the database kernel or supporting tools. Getting up-to-date software fixes reduces downtime. It also helps ensure efficient development and operations teams, avoid using complex workarounds and other commonly faced issues.

Reduce Resources

We deal with a large number of performance-related questions. When we address such problems, we provide a better user experience, save costs, and minimize environmental impact by reducing resource use.

Savings vary depending on your application scale and how optimized the environment is already. In the best cases, our support team helped customers make applications more than 10x more efficient. In most cases, we can help make things at least 30% more efficient. If you’re spending $100K or more on your database environment, this benefit alone makes a support agreement well worth it.

Efficient Developers

You cannot minimize the importance of development efficiency. Too often customers don’t give their developers support access, even though they critically help realize application’s full value. Developers make database decisions about schema design all the time. These include query writing, stored procedures, triggers, sharding, document storage, or foreign keys. Without a database support contract, developers often have resort to “Google University” to find an answer – and often end up with inapplicable, outdated or simply wrong information. Combined with this, they often apply or resort to time-consuming trial and error.

With the help of a Percona Support team, developers can learn proven practices that apply to their specific situation. This saves a lot of time and gets better applications to market faster. Even with a single US-based developer intensively working within the database environment, a support agreement might justify the cost based on increased developer efficiency alone. Larger development teams simply cannot afford to not have support.

Efficient Operations

Your operations staff (DBAs, DevOps, Sysadmins) are in the same boat – if your database environment is significant, chances are you are always looking for ways to save time, make operations more efficient and reduce mistakes. Our support team can provide you with specific actionable advice for your challenges.

Chances are we have seen environments similar to yours and know which software, approaches and practices work well (and which do not). This knowledge helps prevent and reduce downtime. It also helps with team efficiency. Percona Support’s help allows you to handle operations with a smaller team, or address issues with a less experienced staff.

Better Applications

Percona Support access helps developers not only be more productive, but results in better application quality because application database interface design, schema, queries, etc. best practices are followed. The Percona team supports many applications, for many years. We often  think about problems before you might think about them, such as:

  • “How will this design play with replication or sharding?”
  • “Will it scale with large amounts of users or data?”
  • “How flexible is such a design when the  application will inevitably be evolving over years?”

While a better application is hard to quantify, it really is quite important.

Faster Time to Market

Yet another benefit that comes from developers having access to a database support team is faster time-to-market. For many agile applications, being able to launch new features faster is even more important than cost savings – this is how businesses succeed against the competition. At Percona, we love helping businesses succeed.

Conclusion

As you see, there are a lot of ways Percona Support can contribute to the success of your business. Support is much more than “insurance” that you should consider purchasing for compliance reasons. Percona Support provides a great return on investment. It allows you to minimize risks and costs while delivering the highest quality applications or services. Our flexible plans can cover your database environment, even if it is an ever-changing one, while still allowing you to plan your operations costs.

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Peter Zaitsev

Peter managed the High Performance Group within MySQL until 2006, when he founded Percona. Peter has a Master's Degree in Computer Science and is an expert in database kernels, computer hardware, and application scaling.

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