One of the things that pundits (do DBAs and data professionals really have pundits?) like to talk about is the demise of the DBA. What with managed services, automation (autonomous administration) and tuning, security and all of that – combined with better administrative models for backup and recovery and those types of things – all of this comes together to kill off the DBA position.
Not so fast. Sure, there will be automation and it’s certainly welcome. Small businesses can use the assist, and larger companies can better address other things rather than the responsibilities that are done over and over again. Do you really care about doing the backups and tuning and all of that? I would surmise that you probably don’t, but if things go wrong, or if things are anticipated to go wrong we want to know as soon as practical. This is a great application of automation, and someplace it can make a significant difference.
However, the DBA position (or, rather, the people in that position) are increasingly in very high demand from what has been happening in client locations we work with. Specifically, architecting and designing data systems, figuring out the tools that are best suited to the company and to the objectives of using the data in the systems… at a high level, these tasks are really well suited, and incredibly important for the DBA types to do.
There have been more than a few companies that prematurely declared that they didn’t need a database administrator anymore, then found themselves in a pickle when it came to determining monitoring, reporting, aggregation and other tools that make that data in the systems useful.
I know some of this is on the DBA types today. If you’re not working beyond the essentials (and while covering those essentials) to learn about the tools, techniques, and environments that are happening all around us, it’s likely you’ll have a tougher time moving forward. There is still time to dive into this – it’s a matter of setting up your free cloud accounts and going after it. Set up a SQL Server. Pull information into it (not private information please) and figure out the moving parts.
I do think the ongoing, repetitive things that are just part of taking care of a system today will get much better about being exception-based. Reporting and alerts, projections, detection of odd activity and applying best practices for your systems will be something you can allow the systems to become your assistant in terms of services provided. I don’t think the position of DBA is necessarily going away, but the responsibilities will likely include managing a wide berth of automation along with a vision to apply technology to the data needs of the company or companies you support.