The Evolution of the DBA – Challenges, Changes and Upcoming Trends

What scares the DBA most besides the Text at midnight with word downtime? Well, the answer to this question is pretty simple – The changing work profile for DBA. I am fortunate that during my job as a Data Consultant, I get to visit different organizations across the world and get to meet some most exceptional Data Professionals and Business Leaders. I get the first-hand experience of the evolution of the DBAs in the constant changing and challenging world. It is essential for DBAs to get updated with the current trends to stay relevant to their job. Let us see today a quick story of Evolution of the DBA!

The Evolution of the DBA - Challenges, Changes and Upcoming Trends evolutionofdba-800x336

Change Is The Only Constant Thing In This World

Data are the most critical part of any application. Changing nature of the data always brings new challenges to DBAs. However, over the last few years, DBAs has been very comfortable with the data. Their primary responsibilities include keeping the data safe, secure and available. Eventually, as the data and workload grow, DBAs are often responsible for the performance of the system. Once the system is robust, most the DBAs have to troubleshoot the unexpected issues and resolve them. It was a great life.

However, things have been changing for last few years. New age DBAs now have to do many different tasks than before. Along with the running system at the most optimal settings, DBAs now have to also get their hands dirty with developments, DevOps, NoSQL technology as well as help organizations to migrate to the cloud.

Let us see three of the most significant shift which we observe in the DBAs evolution journey.

Evolution 1: Adapting NoSQL Platforms

We all know NoSQL stands for Not Only SQL. Essentially, Along with SQL, now DBAs have to also start understanding how Non-relational database platform works as well. No-SQL is not just a product, but it is a philosophy, which is inclusive of pretty much every product and platform which is related to data. When we talk about a relational database, we always think regarding tables. However, NoSQL has gone beyond tabular format, and you can pretty much store the data in any format you prefer.

The end goal of the NoSQL platform is to overcome limitation often surrounding a relational database. With the beginning of the new age of internet a few years ago, now applications are being built which can take advantages of the power of NoSQL. I often see in large organizations complex application needs heterogeneous database environment. DBAs sometimes have to either support this new platforms or often just learn them well enough to make sure that there is synergy between a relational database and other platforms.

I personally see quite a many DBAs evolving to the new change of adapting NoSQL Platforms.

Evolution 2: Move to Cloud Technology

Cloud was merely a buss word a few years ago, and suddenly it has become a reality. Cloud Technology was very simple when it all started. However, as the evolution of cloud technology continues it has got many different layers. On cloud platform provisioning, data storage and security is very different from what DBAS has to do on-premises. Additionally, the fears competition of the cloud technology providers has created the life of DBAs more complicated as now not only they have to understand the current technology but also have to stay up to date with the future roadmaps.

Microsoft, AWS, EnterpriseDB, RackSpace, Google and many more cloud technology providers are out there offering their service for a single digit billing to multi-million dollars offering. DBAs are now forced to think like a business analysis due to an introduction of the pay as you go rather than paying once for the billing. The hybrid and heterogeneous environment is going to be here for next few years, and DBAs have evolved to accept them as part of their daily job.

DBAs have evolved from on-premises DBAs to Hybrid DBAs, and I think there is no regression in this evolution.

Evolution 3: Moderns Tools and Application

When I started my career as a DBA, there were limited tools, and I used to spend quite a lots of time collecting various metadata related information from a database. Once I gathered the data, the next time-consuming task was to analyze all the data and surface meaningful, actionable information from it. However, today when I look around, I can see quite a lots of tools around me which can help me automate my tasks and save my time.

Multiple vendors have come up with many different tools for automated routine and mechanical tasks. This has created some additional time for DBAs in their daily job. Many of the DBAs have taken advantages of this situation has started to learn new technology or develop themselves into a new area. This has opened entire new windows of opportunity for DBAs.

This particular evolution has been blessings for the DBAs who were always stuck in their daily routine life where their scope of the progressing was minimal.

The Evolution of the DBA – Call to Action

The evolution of the DBA is continuously changing and bringing new opportunities every single day. The change is going to be here, and it is our responsibility that we accommodate the latest upcoming trends. As an evolving DBA, we must adapt and overcome the challenges of new technology.

To gain insight into the evolving challenges for DBAs, Quest commissioned Unisphere Research to survey DBAs and those responsible for the management of the corporate data management infrastructure. The results are in, and the thought-provoking findings are now available.

I strongly recommend you download the whitepaper DBAs Face New Challenges: Trend in Database Administration.

Reference: Pinal Dave (

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