I’ve come across quite a few articles on the discussion surrounding the “DBA is dead” topic. I’d like to open this up for discussion. Perhaps the rumors of the imminent demise of the DBA are grossly exaggerated—or are they? There is lots of talk about the value of data, the expansion of data, the movement of data into the cloud, etc. However, few of the articles I’ve read discuss exactly how the DBA role will die or change with the advent of database as a service (DBaaS). Let’s dive in!
Admittedly, there will be certain things a DBA won’t have to worry about any longer: installs, upgrades, patches, instance level configurations or parameter tweaking, infrastructure designed and tailored to your needs (especially storage tiers and RAIDs), fewer architectural decisions, and potentially even database vendor preference. Backups, replicas, and disaster recovery should be verified, but that can be included with the offering.
Okay, so if those are going away, what’s left? Ah, here’s the fun part (to me and hopefully to you): SQL performance tuning, data modeling, indexing strategy, broader knowledge of other technologies (from networking to application logic) and perhaps cost focus. Why do I list the last item? Easy—if the DBA is aware of the different price tiers for cloud-based infrastructure (DBaaS) and is aware of the things that drive higher tiers, and can do the tasks above skillfully in order to either reduce cloud tiers or prevent the jump to the next tier, that DBA just became a value proposition to his or her organization versus a cost center!
The intention of this post is not to provide a definitive answer as to how the life of the DBA will change if your organization starts to leverage DBaaS. Rather, it’s to start the conversation so that perhaps collectively we can determine which way we should be growing our own skill sets to set us up for success in the future. What are your thoughts on the matter? Are DBAs a dying breed? Or are we morphing into something more? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Rob Mandeville is a Senior DBA with over 15 years of broad experience in database technologies. He has served in many roles, including production DBA, development DBA, and architect/data modeler on a variety of platforms. Before coming to SolarWinds, Rob worked in the aerospace, global technology, and geospatial industries. Rob also had the honor of teaching database-related, Master’s-level courses at Regis University.