The Changing World of an (Oracle) Database Administrator

The Changing World of an (Oracle) Database Administrator

While databases have become larger, more complex, and more technologically advanced over the years, the essential function of the database administrator (DBA) working for Oracle partners and their customers remained relatively stable: primarily to keep the data safe, secure, and available for the user community. Recent technological changes – and especially the advent of the autonomous database – look set to alter the very nature of the position. Far from making DBAs obsolete, however, these developments will enable the DBA to become more specialized, more business focused, and more highly prized for the data-driven enterprises of tomorrow.



Juggling database priorities

Traditionally, the DBA’s task list was split between daily tactical operations and higher-value business-oriented duties.



On the tactical side, the DBA’s responsibilities include:




  • Database optimization

  • Configuration and tuning of systems, network, storage

  • Database provisioning, patching

  • Backups, high availability, disaster recovery



Whereas the more strategic, business-focused functions involve:




  • Data architecture, planning, modelling

  • Security and data lifecycle management

  • End-to-end service level management

  • Application-related tuning



As data volumes, business demands, and workloads have intensified over the last decade, DBAs increasingly found themselves caught up with the day-to-day tactical and maintenance tasks. This left little time for the more valuable tasks dedicated to strategy and innovation, including keeping up with, and trying to leverage, technological advances such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud computing, Blockchain, and AI.



Oracle innovations: easing the burden, driving business value

In response, Oracle has been focusing on creating database technologies which reduce the burden on overworked DBAs. Recent developments include offering Database-as-a-Service and the Oracle Autonomous Database.



Such innovations have resulted in Oracle DBAs no longer needing to be chained to their databases, constantly wrestling with repetitive chores. Instead, they can focus on data strategy and will therefore become true value drivers for the business of their company and that of customers. Furthermore, the change in job focus opens up a range of exciting career advancement opportunities for today’s database enthusiasts.



Less mundanity, more autonomy

Oracle is the first database company to deliver an automated product. The new paradigm of Cloud and automated databases will bring several changes to the way that DBAs manage and engage with an organization’s data. For starters, far less time will be spent on mundane tasks such as setting up, operating, and scaling various databases – whether for production, development, or testing. Additionally, server provisioning, backups, upgrades, tuning, patching, updates, and data encryption can all be automated from now on.



DBAs will therefore have much more time for data exploration and innovation. This could include helping customers effectively apply big data analytics, AI, and machine learning to identify business opportunities and potential problems. They will have greater opportunities to explore and leverage technologies such as Blockchain and IoT. They may even move into an exciting and efficient DevOps model. Moreover, they are also likely to play a more consultative role for both their company and customers, and engage closer with non-technical business users – for example helping them to understand data as a strategic asset.



Essentially, the DBA’s focus will be more on the data, less on the database. In the future, businesses will be handling considerably more data, both structured and unstructured, coming in from a variety of devices and systems across the globe as we move to an IoT world. As such, the DBA will play a vital role in securely coordinating and integrating a wide range of data environments. Emerging roles that the DBA may transition to include enterprise data architect, data steward, integration architect, data engineer, data scientist, and business analyst.



DBA skills for the future

In the short- to mid-term, DBAs should certainly focus on learning about emerging technologies, particularly Cloud computing, to help customers’ companies make the move to a hybrid, and eventually fully Cloud environment. One of the key roles to be played by the DBA is that of a transformation agent: someone who understands a business’s current systems and application requirements as well as a range of Cloud technologies, their advantages, and their costing arrangements. Data architecture, planning, modelling, security, lifecycle management, and analytics will also continue to be valuable skills to master.



Perhaps more than ever before, a DBA’s soft skills, particularly communication, will be critical – as will be the ability to manage relationships with Cloud and other vendors. DBAs should also develop their leadership skills, as different departments within an organization will be turning to the DBA for clarity and guidance as they assess their opportunities to transition to the Cloud. In this respect, the function of the DBA will include that of educator, providing the training and tools to enable the business to successfully adopt emerging technologies.



To be ready for the data challenges of tomorrow, therefore, DBAs must first look to skill up themselves. From now on, this learning needs to be continuous – and cover both technical skills as well as business skills training. Oracle University has a continuous learning solution for a DBA’s technical skills: a number of Oracle Database learning subscriptions with features and benefits that will help you quickly achieve your goals. Each Oracle Learning Subscription provides you with the on-demand training you need to learn about managing your database and build out your skills. Each one is based on a different starting point of knowledge in combination with the database environment. Please reach out to your Oracle University advisor to discover the optimal solution for your situation.



As databases continue to get smarter, the Oracle DBA is uniquely positioned to combine the business world with the data management world, and to enable the strategic success of tomorrow’s Oracle partner data-driven business.