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Make your DBA your best friend

The role of the DBA is changing and here's how.

02/10/2018 Ryan Chant, Senior Business Manager
Do you have a Database Administrator (DBA) in your team? Or are you about to hire one? Here’s my advice. Make sure they are your best friend. Because you are going to need them. But not in the traditional way. The DBA of the future will be the gatekeeper between the company’s data requirements and server capacity. Regardless whether the data is in the cloud, or locally stored.  

Yes, the demand for traditional DBA’s is declining in the UK. And yes, a lot of companies move their data into the cloud. But many business owners still need help. Is our data secure? What are developers missing? Are we meeting our SLA’s? And developers still need help. Why is this slow? What can we do to make queries faster without changing the code? Is there a way to do this more cheaply?

So what is the traditional role of the Database administrator? The DBA is responsible for the performance, integrity and security of their organisation's database. They use specialised database software (SQL, Oracle, IBM DB2, MySQL etc.) to store and organise data. The role may include capacity planning, installation, configuration, database design, migration, performance monitoring, security, troubleshooting, as well as backup and data recovery.

However, a lot of that work has been made obsolete with the introduction of automation, and as automation advances, DBA responsibilities will continue to change. Here are 4 key changes that will shape the DBA of tomorrow:

  •  DBA’s need to start thinking in terms of Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS). Users no longer ask for a specific database technology. DBA’s need to offer a menu of standard database solutions tailored to different business requirements. They have to be prepared to provide Database-as-a-Service as part of the application development lifecycle. Enabling users to self-provision database technology from a catalogue of solutions. Self-provisioning gives many benefits: automatic creation of databases in the cloud or on premises, scheduling of start and end dates, automatic integration with CMDB for asset tracking, and even database creation in advance of actual use.
  • Databases are a utility. Gone are the days where decisions about which database to use took weeks or months. Different database environments for different customers are replacing shared environments. These multi tenant environments share resources on a scalable database platform that works with the cloud. Plug-and-play mini-databases can be set up quickly and automatically work with the cloud. They help consolidate and manage multiple databases as one, resulting in improved efficiency, simplified management, and maximum uptime.
  • Better collaboration with IT. As IT increasingly leverages the cloud, database administrators can no longer work in isolation. They have to work together with the IT department. They have to be ready to support databases for applications that are hosted both on premises and in the cloud. But the cloud demands a new approach. DBA’s can no longer operate stand alone; the cloud requires collaboration with all the teams supporting the application stack. Having a team that provides a set of database services across data centres and database platforms is critical to realising the benefits of the cloud.
  • The DBA’s Skill set is changing to reflect this new landscape. The job of maintaining the company’s IT environment as a DBA is more difficult than ever. Where once knowledge of Oracle and Microsoft SQL server might have been enough to become a decent DBA, today it’s not uncommon to find stacks with 50 different integrated technologies. DBAs need to adapt to go along with current industry and technology trends so they can keep up with these new tools. 

So in the context of these trends, make sure your Database Administrator is your best friend. Because he will be the link between your traditional on premise IT services and your cloud services. The DBA of the future will be a cloud specialist with a robust IT service delivery background. The main challenge for the DBA will be to become more customer and application centric. And that is where you can find the chemistry of your friendship. He provides you with the delivery of the service and you provide him with the customer focus he needs to be successful. To me, that is the perfect relationship. 

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Ryan Chant
Senior Business Manager
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