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Database Administrator

Database Administrator Definition

A database administrator (DBA) is a specialized role within computer systems administration. DBAs develop and operate the data storage ecosystem that digital businesses rely on. Today, tasks traditionally associated with the DBA role are often performed by DevOps personnel.

diagram showing how a database administrator manages the lifecycle of a database

Database Administrator FAQs

What is a Database Administrator?

In a modern IT organization, the database administrator (DBA) is often a set of responsibilities, rather a specific title. DBAs manage database deployment topologies, data models, and application access patterns. They are responsible for capacity planning and infrastructure provisioning.

DBAs work with developers to ensure that data models support application requirements. They also ensure that databases are resilient, providing high-availability and low latency.

DBAs also often ensure data security and compliance by working with security architects and compliance officers. Given the central importance of database systems to enterprises, the DBA has emerged as a critical role within information technology (IT) departments.

What Do Database Administrators Do?

Database administrators are highly trained, technically skilled individuals who use modern, cloud platforms to organize, store, and protect critical data. To follow the basic functions of a database coordinator, DBAs coordinate the business intelligence (BI) systems that data analysts and data scientists rely on to translate raw data into insights that can drive strategic business plans. As such, they play a key role in the modern big data architectures that enable large-scale modern BI.

The role of database administrator traditionally includes the following activities:

  • Implementing data policies, procedures, standards
  • Planning and development of an organization’s enterprise data model
  • Resolving data conflicts
  • Managing data repositories
  • Optimizing data warehouse, lake and other storage
  • Define and model data requirements, business rules, operational requirements, and maintain corporate data dictionaries
  • Disaster recovery planning

What are Database Administrator Responsibilities?

In addition to the overall health and availability of databases, a DBA is also responsible for:

  • Defining and implementing data management policies
  • Training employees in database management and use
  • Coordinating with information systems managers to customize database solutions
  • Debugging code and upgrading software
  • Backing up database systems for recovery scenarios

Database Administrator Skills

A skilled DBA must track emerging database technologies and new application architectures. An agile DBA combines a traditional DBA skill set with the planning and creation of new database administration applications and database administration software.

To achieve proficiency, a DBA should be conversant in a range of query languages, including:

  • Structured Query Language (SQL and SQL/XML)
  • PL/SQL (Procedural Language – extension for SQL)
  • OQL (Object Query Language)
  • CQL (Contextual Query Language or Cassandra Query Language)
  • XQuery (XML Query

Database Administrator Training

Most database administrators have backgrounds in information technology, management information systems, computer science, or information security. They typically have earned computer science degrees.

To become a database administrator, some advanced database administration require a database administrator certification:

  • Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA)
    • MTA
    • MCSA
    • MCSE
  • IBM Certified Database Administrator (DB2)
  • Oracle Certified Professional
    • MySQL Database Administrator
    • Oracle Database 12c Administrator
  • SAP Certified Technology Associate
    • SAP HANA 2.0

Database Administrator Tasks

Application DBAs focus on managing a specific application working with the database.

The application DBA:

  • Handles application performance issues
  • Monitors database disk space, memory usage, and CPU utilization
  • Analyzes queries to find long-running queries
  • Identifies and applies indexes to aid performance
  • Purges or archives old data for a specific application
  • Retrieves archived data and runs custom reports to support application users

Enterprise DBAs focus on protecting data through database hardening practices such as; securing physical database locations, placing databases behind firewalls, using security specific software and setting up stringent database user and administrators’ permissions and passwords.

Typical daily tasks for both types of database administrators are:

  • Securing organizational data
  • Database administration planning
  • Backing up and restoring lost data
  • Automating database processes
  • Creating new user permissions
  • Testing modifications
  • Merging old databases
  • Conducting performance tuning support
  • Monitoring database systems to ensure efficiency
  • Installing database hardware and software
  • Troubleshooting random database issues

Network Engineer vs Database Administrator

Network engineers and DBAs fulfill different but related roles. Network engineers design, build and maintain the daily operation of computer network systems, including intranet, extranet, local area network (LAN), and wide area network (WAN).

Database administrators focus on the management of databases that function as part of broader computer systems that network engineers build.

Network Administrator vs Database Administrator

Network administrators manage the day-to-day maintenance and upkeep of the physical computer and network systems, including components such as firewalls, load balancers, routers, switches and internet hardware for companies and organizations.

Database administrators manage the physical or virtual servers running a database management system to ensure data is available and secure.

Does ScyllaDB Offer Solutions for Database Administrators?

Yes, ScyllaDB provides ScyllaDB, the real-time big data database. ScyllaDB helps DBAs by reducing the management overhead and risk of running distributed database deployments. ScyllaDB auto-tunes itself out of the box and makes full use of modern, cloud instances, eliminating the need for DBAs to extensively tweak and tune database configurations.

ScyllaDB is a drop-in Apache Cassandra alternative that offers 10x higher throughput, predictable low-latency, and operational simplicity. It also provides a DynamoDB compatible API that enables DBAs to plan and migrate from AWS.

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