The Ever-Evolving Role of the Database Administrator

Businesses rely on their database administrator (DBA) to keep them in touch with all the information their systems collect. In the past, that was a much simpler task. Now databases store not just transactions, but customer demographics, online behaviors, preferences and likes. Translating that data into useful information make the difference between success and failure in a highly competitive data-driven world.

Back in the Old Days

When computers were first developing, there were no database administrators. Computer systems were highly specialized, so their data was part of what made them work. As manufacturers developed more universal operating systems with separate databases, organizations recognized the need to have someone whose sole task was to act as a gatekeeper for information.

Web Development Technologies Spur Demand

As companies developed websites that needed to connect to databases, DBAs became vital to their daily operations. Where in the past it took years to build a mainframe or client application, designers now constructed websites in weeks. However, web designers usually didn’t have much experience with data security or database maintenance, so they looked to database administrators for support.

Current DBAs maintain their organization’s database performance and security. However, recent advances in automation have caused DBA responsibilities to change again.

Automation and DBA

Database administrators often had tasks that were repetitive and time-consuming. Now NoSQL databases allow simplified data storage and retrieval. NoSQL platforms require less maintenance than traditional databases.

Big data addresses complex issues that are difficult to analyze with traditional methods. Big data tools process a greater volume of data at greater speed and complexity. It does not require a database administrator to run, but large environments still benefit from having a DBA to administer.

Tasks like backups, patching, and monitoring are becoming increasingly automated. DBAs are also needed less frequently for code deployment. Many DBAs will reach a day when most of their company’s infrastructure is hosted in the cloud and run by automation.

The Future of Database Administration

Database administrators will continue to be necessary for data platform aspects that cannot be automated. To be successful in today’s IT, here are skills that will always be in demand:

  • Technical adaptability – Individuals who are able to acquire new skills as technology changes will provide increased value to their organization.
  • Data oriented – Data will continue to be of extreme value to any organization, and database administrators who have a history with it might understand it best. DBAs who familiarize themselves with strategic and tactical data throughout its lifecycle can help developers and system administrators.
  • Soft skills – Database administration has completely changed over the past two decades, but a DBAs ability to communicate complex technical information in layman’s terms or convince others of data’s value and veracity will continue to be of major importance.
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