Oh, how the DBA role has changed

If you’re a database administrator curious about how much your profession and the DBA skills you need have evolved in recent years – or if you’re just looking for a good laugh – grab a business book on DBA best practices published between 2010 and 2015.

You’ll probably find those authors telling you that to succeed as a DBA, you’ll want to prioritize skills such as:

  • Finding the right optimal database platform (that’s singular) to best serve your company’s needs today and into the future
  • Mastering that single database environment so you can suggest what single BI platform your company will adopt to meet all your reporting needs
  • Purchasing servers, virtual machines, and other infrastructure to ensure your company always has the capacity to grow and extract value from your data (but without overspending)
  • Upgrading and patching your database platform’s software to ensure reliability and to protect against security vulnerabilities and falling out of regulatory compliance

But as you’ll learn in our recent Quest webinar: Key Database Management Skills and Tools for the Cloud Era , these DBA skills are all far less relevant in 2024 to both your business’s data-driven initiatives and your career success.

As organizations increasingly move their mission-critical operations – including database management – to the cloud, almost everything about your role as a DBA is also changing.

Upskilling as a DBA today means soft-skilling

Julie Hyman, Director of Product Management at Quest, points out that many key aspects of enterprise database management that have been completely upended in recent years. For example, she notes:

  • DBAs are no longer the lone deciders for their company which database platforms to adopt/deploy
  • Businesses are no longer selecting just one database platform; the cloud and the proliferation of data platforms are enabling organizations to implement many different data platforms to advance their data strategy
  • DBAs can no longer be data gatekeepers; the growing demand for time-sensitive data means teams across the organization need the ability to connect to their own data for analysis and reporting

Key DBA skill #1: Collaboration

With these and other major changes to the strategic role of DBAs, Julie says, you need to change your focus from being a decision-maker (and gatekeeper) to a collaboration partner with your company’s key stakeholders.

In practical terms, Julie adds, this means learning about the various database environments available to your business today – on-premises database management, hybrid (Infrastructure-as-a-Service, or IaaS), or a fully outsourced cloud environment (DBaaS). You’ll want to learn the costs, risks, benefits and drawbacks of each option so you can intelligently advise your stakeholders about the optimal environment for your business.

And when your company has made its decision and implemented a database platform, you’ll want to become a strategic expert in overseeing that environment so you can continually help your stakeholders – business analysts, DevOps and others – leverage the tools and data as efficiently as possible.

Key DBA skill #2: Adaptability

Michael Agarwal, Director and Global Practice Leader of Cloud Databases for Datavail, the webinar’s cosponsor, also suggests that today’s DBA will benefit from prioritizing a soft skill – specifically, becoming more adaptable.

As Michael explains, chances are your business is (or soon will be) using many different database approaches, including large, legacy platforms as well as open-source platforms, time-series databases and vector databases. This means your organization will increasingly depend on you to manage these environments and even develop pipelines that pull together the data from these various sources – and help the line-of-business teams extract maximum value from it all.

Michael also notes that in the cloud era, you’ll need to become proficient with each of the most commonly used cloud environments: Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, and others.

Key DBA skill #3: Experimentation

Finally, as Julie and Michael both point out in the webinar, your cloud expertise should include understanding not only the technical but also the business implications of your company’s database platform infrastructure.

For example, if you’re running a DBaaS environment and you experiment with new rules or settings for how your tools create reports, you need to know beforehand what additional resources those new rules require – and how much your cloud provider charges for them. One of the enormous benefits of the web for a DBA, as Michael and Julie explain, is that it allows you to experiment and make changes to your database environment quickly. But that benefit also carries the risk of unexpected costs – so you need to know your cloud providers’ business and cost models before you begin trying new things

What else you’ll learn in this webinar

This webinar, Key Database Management Skills and Tools for the Cloud Era , addresses several key ideas for DBA success. In addition to the concepts discussed above, you’ll also hear:

  • The challenges Michael faced during his career as a DBA
  • The key pros and cons of each database environment (from fully on-prem to fully outsourced to the cloud)
  • How Generative AI will play a key role in your company’s database environment in the coming years – and how you can benefit from it

Learn the new skills and strategies essential to effectively managing, governing, securing, and integrating data across hybrid and multicloud environments.