The Curious Case of Half a Database Administrator

In the past decade, technology and business trends have conspired to minimize the role of DBAs, creating some unintended consequences. Three key elements have played a part:

• Improved database tools

• Bundling of databases with business applications

• IT budget cuts

Improved database tools

With improvements in database tools, like installation wizards, non-DBAs (System Administrators, Application Developers, Network Administrators) can set up a database, such as a Microsoft SQL Server, with little or no real understanding of how to manage and optimize the database environment. Which means that, in these environments, databases often are set up, run and never get touched again – creating a perfect opportunity for catastrophe. Even tools and services aimed at performing automatic maintenance functions, like Microsoft SQL Server’s database maintenance plans, are not properly configured when performing default database installs. If a non-DBA IT professional sets these up in their default configuration, they can cause serious negative consequences across an entire database environment. Issues like database locking/unavailability, space and performance degradation are not uncommon. Improved tools and 3 automation provide a false sense of security where database stability and reliability are concerned.

Bundling of databases with business applications

When application vendors bundle databases like Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server or MySQL with their applications, they often claim that database support is included in the offering. This support is frequently so rudimentary, or focused more on the application than the database, that it leaves essential DBA tasks, like ensuring a proper backup, completely untouched. Application bundle buyers and users may think they are getting “DBA support”, but instead are receiving support that falls far short of what is required to effectively manage and optimize a database.

IT budget cuts

Budget cuts are nothing new. They lead to hiring freezes or, worse, trimming headcount, commonly with DBAs on the chopping block. The belief that DBAs are not strategic assets is further strengthened by improved database tools and bundles. Hence, the assertion that any IT professional can manage a database environment – which works right up until a database decides to go haywire. Even in businesses that understand and appreciate what DBAs deliver, there is either not enough work, or not enough budget, to maintain a full-time DBA. So they end up eliminating the position and depending on IT generalists. What they really need is Half A DBA. Download the white paper, Half a DBA: Why It Is More Cost-Effective To Use Only The DBA Services You Need, Only When You Need Them to learn more.

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