An interview with Federico Campoli, Founder of DBA Appreciation Day
DBA Appreciation Day is an annual event held on July 5th. It is a day set aside to thank your database administrator — an often-thankless role that includes heroic diving saves, late nights and weekends lost to planned downtimes and, of course, nail-biting real-time disaster recovery. I recently caught up with Federico Campoli, founder of DBA Appreciation Day.
What are your views of the DBA role as the industry continues to evolve? How has it changed from the past, and where do you see it heading?
When I started my career in 2004 as an Oracle DBA, the role was like being a magician whose tricks kept stuff running. In my opinion the role hasn’t evolved very much over the years. What changed a lot from 2004 is the perception of the database, which is now considered in an abstract way. With this perception the DBA has been relegated to a role no longer needed. However, the truth is that the DBA is still very much needed as databases are becoming more sophisticated by the day. Using such complex tech without having a good understanding of their internal mechanics is a waste of development energy and computational resources.
So despite the DBA seeming to be an endangered species, for the future I see a return of the DBA as a key role within enterprises, though likely with a different name.
With databases moving into the cloud the challenges for keeping stuff running is increasingly difficult because of the restrictions imposed by the cloud environment.
I think that the classic role of the DBA will evolve into a data reliability engineer role (DRE).
And I’m pretty sure that this evolved form of the DBA will continue to be a key player for an organization’s data management.
Here at ScyllaDB, our own belief is that you can help your DBAs by giving them a database that makes their work and life easier to manage.
What inspired you to create a DBA Appreciation Day?
The inspiration grew across years of frustration in keeping the infrastructure running without any recognition.
I remember that in a past job I sacrificed five Sunday nights while upgrading the company’s databases. Shortly after this activity there was a company meeting where everybody was praised for their hard work… except me. That event made me write the blog post where my feelings were crystallized. I incorrectly believed that this was an exception.
With great disappointment I found that ignoring or even fighting the DBA is the norm nowadays.
I knew that there was already the Sysadmin Day (the last Friday of July), which doesn’t cover the DBA role. Therefore I decided to create a specific event for my category.
What’s the best way an employer can show they truly appreciate their DBAs?
I’ve seen often the managers asking the senior DBA to justify their point of view on the databases, while the developers were blindly trusted. Therefore I think that the best way to show the appreciation of a DBA/DRE is to balance the chain of trust.
Also a clear recognition, when everybody gets praised, it is absolutely vital to make the DBA/DRE appreciated and to raise the awareness within the organization that things do not run smoothly because of magic.
We hope you all have a chance to sleep in this year on DBA Appreciation Day!
What hopes do you have for this event in future years?
I hope that the event will gain popularity in order to give to DBAs around the world their proper recognition.
I want to thank ScyllaDB for their help in advancing this objective.
Federico, you’re most welcome!
ScyllaDB is a proud sponsor of DBA Appreciation Day. And we’d like to encourage you to show your love and appreciation for your DBAs (and data / site reliability engineers) this year, too. If you do something special for DBA Appreciation Day, or have a favorite tale to tell us of the amazing work of your DBA team, we’d love to hear your story.