Freelance Database Administrator vs Full Managed Database Administration (DBA) Services  

A Guide for CIOs (Chief Information Officer) and Business Owners 


There is nothing wrong with using freelance DBAs (Database Administrators) to contract work for your companies. Until it becomes a problem. Database Administrator (DBA) Consultant or Database Managed Services 

Database Consultants often take on a regular clientele and work like a managed services firm (ex. taking on emergency server downs). These consultants look like they have lots of upsides, so let us dive into the PROs of using these contractors. 

No long contract commitments: CFOs love reducing the year or multi-year contracts on their books. Being able to put a few ‘one offs in the book's vs ‘recurring expenses’ is an accounting trick even big companies like doing (it is why Amazon subcontracts a lot of its last mile deliveries, and ‘gig’ apps are so pervasive). Pretending your Database Maintenance and Performance Tuning are non-essential and rare occurrences is something your bookkeepers can do, but not IT Leaders.

I Like Them: You met them at a local SQL Saturday or local networking event and see them around a lot. They do clever work when they are in and have gotten to know your team. They are always good for a drink at the bar after work. Your ‘Guy’ understands your systems and how the business works. He is as good as an FTE! Good ‘Guys’ are hard to find. Keeping them around is a good thing.

He Built the System: Your contractor stood up the architecture, built the apps, and can fix it before you even tell him what the problem is. Heck they were probably a Full Time Employee before going freelance.

Low Hourly rates: It is always about the bottom line. A one-man show does not have the overhead that a larger firm does, and therefore can charge less. It is all about maximizing the return when the budget is tight.


Shoot, why doesn’t everyone use freelancers? Maybe it’s some of these reasons: 


No Real ON CALL: Yes, your local guy promised to answer his phone 24x7 and has come through in a pinch once or twice. At some point they WILL be on vacation, sick, win the lotto, or retire. NOW who is going to monitor and manage your systems? Can you afford to wait for them to return from the cruise before getting the servers back online? Database Monitoring Maintenance and Alerting

Lack of Regular Maintenance: You change your car’s oil before it gets completely empty right? And rotate the tires? In the same way you need to be doing REGULAR maintenance and tuning for performance on your servers. If this is done only when problems arise, you will end up with lots of problems, and less server uptime. Maximizing server uptime is crucial for your business. You NEED regular preventative maintenance.

SECURITY AUDITS: Whether it is a basic audit to get client approvals or a full HIPAA / GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance audit your contractors WILL come up as red marks. Further- are your consultants fully versed in how to keep your databases compliant as well as the projects they typically do? Are they doing regular security reviews and reporting that back to you? Standardizing and limiting access are important for Security. You could see ‘no on call’ come back on this section too!

Lack of Expertise: Do not get your feathers up! We love freelancers, and often hire good freelancers to join our own FTE team. However, Data is not a ‘jack of all trades’ industry anymore. 1 excellent DBA cannot keep up with Security, Cloud Architecture, Data Analysis, Performance and Tuning, Data Interoperability, Data Governance, Master Data Management, and the myriad other concerns facing organizations today. TEAMS of people are needed.

Bandwidth: One freelancer (or a few!) cannot compete with a team.

Vacation: With a team, there is always an expert available. Always. Guaranteed.