What does a DBA do all day?
It is clear to me that no one, except for database administrators, hasany idea:
What do DBAs do
― SwiftOnSecurity (@SwiftOnSecurity) April 21, 2016
I’ve read many articles over the years that help people understandtasks involved for the DBA role. I’ve written a few myself , including a book I have mentioned once or twice before here.
Today I want tohelp everyone understand what a DBA does all day long. I have put togethera summary of the tasks that I find are common for the DBA role. This is a partial list of the items that came to mymind right away. No, not every DBA will be doing all these tasks but chances are they will do one or more:
Recovery If you can’t recover data, you can’t keep your job. This is the number one task for any DBA.
Backups Having backups makes your ability to recover a bit easier.
Performance Performance tuning and optimization of queries that we didn’t write, against databases we didn’t design. DBAs get paid for performance but wekeep our jobs with recovery. (see above)
Standards Working with other teams to agree upon a set of database standards for your shop.
Risk Assessing risk, working with auditors, outlining security and access control.
Installation Installing database software on servers.
Configuration Configuration of database servers.
Monitoring Monitoring database servers for performance, including maintenancefor things like indexes, corruption, etc.
Capacity Helping to plan for future growth.
Troubleshooting Being able to respond to issues and locate the root cause quickly.
HA/DR Help architect an effective business continuity plan.
ETL Integration and migration of data between systems.
Development Writing stored procedures, designing tables.
That’s quite a list! It looks like one of those horrible job postings I’ve ranted about before . Butthe listdoes help frame the DBA role for others to understand.Vertical vs. Horizontal Role
The above list helps others to understand why the DBA role is as a vertical role . These roles havea focus on the immediate tasks completed by a single person on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. This is why you hear the phrase “the best DBA is never seen nor heard”. If a DBA is doing their job well then the number of issues are minimal. And so they don’t need to leave their cube except for nourishment and some limited human contact.
To have less people questioning what we do all day long we need to transform the DBA role into a horizontal role . A horizontal role is one that thinks about, and includes,other teams.With the DBA roleso focused on data, and data the most critical asset any company owns, itmakes sense fortheDBA to work across teams and not alone. DBAs must make certain that data is being treated right as it flows in, around, and out.Automation is Key
With so many tasksto manage, and only so many hours in the day,DBAs turn to automation to get the job done. Sure, it would be great to hire additional staff to offload the work. But headcount is harder to come by than a few PowerShell scripts. Automation is keyto transforming the DBA role from vertical to horizontal.
You know who does automation well these days? Cloud providers, that’s who. Check out this list of services from Azure :
Recovery Point-in-time restore
Backups Automated backups
Performance QueryPerformance Insight
Standards Managed services
Risk Threat detection
Installation Did I mention the managed services yet?
Configuration OK, now I know I have mentioned managed services
Monitoring Database advisor
Capacity Seriously folks, its a managed service
Troubleshooting Application Performance Insight
HA/DR Disaster Recovery Service
ETL Hybrid integration
Development Entity Framework
You can find similar tools deployed by Amazon AWS . That’s right, the top two cloud providers are automating away the core DBA tasks. This is happening, right in front of our eyes, whether you want to believe in Cloudor not.
The days of tuning queries and rebuilding indexes is ending, one page at a time.What Will a DBA Do All Day?
So if all the common core tasks are being automated away, what will the future DBA be doing?
The answer is simple: It’s all about the data. It’s always been about the data.
The future of the DBA is in building solutions, not tables and indexes.It’s in understanding how data is being used, not in howdata is stored. The future is analyzing data, not in how it is administered.
The future view must also be a horizontal view, one that applies the logic and analytical skills that DBAs already possess, across teams.
Because the DBA that works in a silo, in a vertical role, with a only a vertical view, won’t be around much longer.