In these tough and uncertain economic times lowering operational costs and total cost of ownership (TCO) has become a crucial factor for IT infrastructure decisions. While some factors such as purchase price and annual support are easy to measure, other key costs such as administrative labor are more difficult to differentiate between technology alternatives. Considering that on-going administrative costs often make up 70% of IT budgets, it is critical to measure and assess the alternative management costs between competing technologies. This paper discusses the findings from several customer case studies conducted on the costs associate with managing two of the leading database management platforms from Microsoft Corp. and Oracle®. This research was in follow up to an earlier study conducted in 2006, Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle® Database: A Comparative Study on Total Cost of Administration (TCA), Alinean 2006. The first study conducted in-depth interviews with 100 Directors of Database Administration and Senior level Database Administrators regarding their database environments, user populations, and database administration activities. These follow up customer case studies focused on a dozen of the largest organizations to see how their use of the two database platforms for mission critical applications had changed and how the database administrative effort to manage these databases had changed. The customer case studies revealed two major findings. First, while the use of Oracle databases remained relatively similar to previous observations, both the number and size of Microsoft SQL Server databases had increased significantly in the majority of organizations. Second, the difference in Total Cost of Administration (TCA) became even greater for the two database platforms than in the original study. The customer case studies demonstrated that on average a Database Administrator (DBA) could manage over 65 mission critical Microsoft SQL Server databases, while Oracle Database implementations required one DBA per 15 critical databases. Factoring in slightly higher average salaries for Oracle DBAs, the corresponding annual cost for administration for these two databases comes out to $1,605 per year per database for Microsoft SQL Server and $7,385 per year per database for Oracle Database; a 460% difference in annual cost of administration per database.
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