Let us understand the term Database administrator
by observing an activity most of us indulge in.
The activity is withdrawing money from a bank. While you are withdrawing money, there are
quite a few things happening in the background. Thousands of other customers may be doing
the same thing, and this is not affecting you in any way.
ACCESS to your data is IMPORTANT where banking is concerned.
You could ask your bank for past account transactions, and the bank has an obligation to provide
it. Since banking is a frequent activity, performance
is taken for granted. When at an ATM, you expect your transaction
to be completed quickly. Now let us look at things from a banks perspective.
What we are seeing here is a vast quantity of data that the bank has to store and provide
its customers. This data is stored on DATABASES. But as we
saw, it’s more than just DATA. There is the concept of concurrency where
data can be accessed by multiple customers. The concept of data security, where your data
is protected The concept of performance where data is accessible
in acceptable time frames. Data and this extra functionality is made
possible by a DBMS or data base management system.
And the people responsible for managing a DBMS are DBA’s or database administrators. Now any company that needs to store vast quantities
of data will use one or more databases. Thus, databases are present in a wide spectrum
of companies. And not surprisingly these companies recruit
DBA’s to look after this data. DBAs are involved in a variety of activities:
a. They install and maintain databases. b. They upgrade databases to newer versions
when available c. They take backups of databases so data
can be recovered if a system crashes d. They also export data across databases
Monitoring databases is another component of a DBAs average day.
They run tests to measure the health of a database.
For example databases can fill up which means that no more information can be added.
When this happens work can grind to a halt. Similarly performance can become an issue
resulting in Calls to Customer Service Agents which companies never want.
So this means that a DBA has to also be a problem solver
DBAs also plan and implement security measures to safeguard databases since as a customer
you would not want your banking or medical records to fall into wrong hands. How can one become a DBA? Let’s start with
education. Is a formal IT qualification needed to become
a DBA? The answer, generally, is YES. So what do
I mean by formal I.T qualification? Typically, a Bachelor’s degree in an area
of computing in which you would have taken at least one database course.
Companies generally require that you are proficient in vendor specific solutions, such as SQL
Server, Oracle, DB2, etc. Also, having a good grasp of at least one
programming language, preferably two is also very helpful.
Then there is the topic of certification. Certifications firstly help you in increasing
your knowledge of the subject and can also open doors for you during interviews.
Now what do you do if you do not have a formal I.T. degree?
One option is to obtain certification. Another option is to get into a role that
does not need an IT degree and then work your way to becoming a DBA. Role changes happen
all the time in companies so this IS possible. Now let us focus on some of the soft skills
required: You should be good at and enjoy problem solving.
Then the subject matter itself is dynamic. New versions and concepts are introduced frequently
so you got to keep yourself up to date. Now imagine yourself as a DBA. What are some
of the joys and challenges of your job? Let’s start with the joys.
Joys of the Craft You are part of a VERY relevant area of work.
It is a complex area, a vast area and a very dynamic one.
Furthermore, it is a mission critical area. As a DBA, your skill set is generally domain
independent. This fact makes your skills portable across
industries. So today you could be a DBA in the insurance
industry and tomorrow in another industry. Having said so, a domain or industry can have
very specific DATA related needs. DBAs in telecom industries, for example, are
highly sought after for their skills in handling very large amounts of data. A DBA does not necessarily need to know the
business in order to administer its data. This fact can make you take it easy and not
focus on the company business. And this may not be good since domain knowledge
is very useful. DBAs are under pressure to ensure that data
is always available to employees and customers. Some companies may run critical operations
during certain time periods. This may require a DBAs presence at odd hours
to ensure that everything runs smoothly. So what is a DBA’s progression path?
Within the organization you could start as a Junior DBA, then work your way to being
an intermediate DBA followed by a SENIOR DBA. At this point you have a choice – You could
be a Manager or an Architect. A DBA manager manages a team of DBA’s.
So, what is the difference between an architect and a DBA?
Well, a DBA focuses on administering data while the architect focuses on designing the
look and feel of this data. On the other hand there are companies where
full time DBAs are not recruited. In this case you could work as a consultant.