Predicting the Future of the DBA

Last week, I received an email about a SQL Server Magazine article I wrote in January 2002, "The Future of the DBA." In that article, I asserted that DBAs need to become experts in at least one or two narrowly defined areas to survive the changing times. I supported my belief in the need to specialize, then recommended four areas of specialization—business intelligence (BI), Data Transformation Services (DTS), programming, and ADO and ADO.NET. The reader who emailed me wants to know whether those areas of specialization are still valid.

After rereading the article to see what I was thinking 2 years ago, I was struck by how little has changed. Back then, I advised DBAs to "pick a specialty in which market demand outstrips the available supply of technical professionals, then become an expert in that specialty." The article's four sidebars explored the areas of specialization I mentioned earlier. And those four areas are still good targets for specialization. Interestingly, some of my arguments 2 years ago were based on the belief that the Yukon release of SQL Server was 12-18 months away from changing the SQL Server world. Today, Yukon is still a year away from making much of an impact.

I've preached enough about what I think is important for SQL Server professionals to consider in managing their careers. But I can get caught up in the hype and excitement of new products and buzzwords as much as anyone. This week, I'd like to turn the tables and hear your ideas. I want to know what you think the future holds for the SQL Server DBA. The abstract for my article 2 years ago asked, "What trends will affect your role in the SQL Server world? What areas of specialization will put you ahead of the pack?"

Here's your chance to be the expert. What do you think will be most important over the next 1-2 years: Yukon, .NET, BI, XML, MySQL? Or maybe you believe that none of these technologies will be life altering and that a database developer or administrator's core skills don't change as often as technology does. Think about it, then send me an email. I'll share the most interesting insights and predictions with you in the weeks to come.

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