It’s 2020, Do you Still Need a DBA?

“In life, change is inevitable. In business, change is vital.” ~ Warren G Bennis Have you asked yourself this question? “Are my current database management needs the same as they were five years ago?” As the industry evolves over time, the needs of your business transform as well. If you haven’t reevaluated your database management support requirements in some time, it’s likely your organization’s needs have changed. When it comes to managing your enterprise database system, what works for one company may not always work for another; and what may be best suited for your business at one point in time may not always be the best fit in the long run. This includes factors outside of your organization that may have changed (i.e. technological shifts, new platform offerings, product/service choices, etc.). This is why it’s important to assess where you currently stand with your database management support strategy, and if necessary, make those changes that will lead your organization towards growth and success.

As Database Technology Evolves, So Does the Role of Your DBA

The main tasks of a database administrator will always be crucial to the upkeep of your Oracle, SQL Server, and NoSQL database environments. However, what has changed significantly is the reliability, automation, and autonomous performance within those environments with the introduction of newer technologies. Many of the requirements for managing modern database environments are no longer simply focusing on a single flavor of database technology (Oracle, SQL Server, etc.) and the routine maintenance of them. Rather, DBA tasks have expanded to include the ongoing strategizing, orchestration, and architecting of increasingly dynamic compute environments (virtualization, cloud deployments, containerization, disparate security solutions, etc.). To meet these needs, DBAs must fluctuate in their daily tasks in order to broaden and advance their skill sets (architecting, orchestrating, etc.) to effectively adapt for the benefit of the entire organization.  The growing body of skills now includes having strong knowledge of database automation and managing more complex database environments (not just monitoring, managing backups, etc.).

Database Automation

In recent years many of the daily, repetitive, and mundane tasks (e.g. building, monitoring, tuning, and updating new systems) which were once the main roles of a DBA are now becoming obsolete with the introduction of database automation. As database automation evolves, the role of a DBA continues to change along with it. Database automation now handles many of those repetitive tasks that were once manually done by DBAs so their roles have now expanded to include the management and operation of automation, as well as the orchestration of the provisioning and optimizing of workloads.

Managing More Complex Database Environments

As the initiatives and goals of IT organizations have advanced, the typical database environment has become more complex (virtualization, hybrid cloud deployments, etc.), and the tasks associated with maintaining these evolving database architectures are more challenging than ever. Databases have added a multitude of nuances, components, and infrastructures; creating a necessity for DBAs to adapt to the industry with the current technology trends and stay up to speed with newer automation and orchestration tools (not to mention the more dynamic architectures, security, and deployment methodologies).

New Roles of the Modern DBA

Since data is the lifeblood of most market-leading companies and your databases are the foundation of your entire enterprise, a DBA is effectively relied upon for the foundation of the applications of the entire organization. The most valued DBA skills of the future are now less focused on the routine blocking-and-tackling tasks of database administration and more involved with projects such as architecting, capacity planning, provisioning, migrations, security, and scaling. The new roles of a DBA are broader and geared towards the architecture of a database for its stability, overall optimization, cost, and future growth. At the other end of the spectrum — for organizations with smaller and/or less complex architectures and requirements, the need for hands-on oversight by a dedicated full-time resource have likely diminished.  This is due to the increased stability, automation, and performance capabilities of modern database technology.

A Full-Time DBA Is Not Your Only Option

The role of the DBA is just as important as ever. What’s even more important is finding the right database management solution for your organization. Companies too often assume that in order to properly support enterprise databases (Oracle, SQL Server, etc.), they must hire one or more full-time database administrators. While this option may give the best support for one company, it may not always be the best quality investment for another company. When it comes to managing your databases, have you asked yourself this question, “Do I really need a full-time DBA?” or “Do I really have ‘full time’ needs for the administration of my databases?” (versus a need for planning, architecting, etc.) If you haven’t done so, it’s important to take a step back, evaluate your current approach, and start weighing the pros and cons of staffing a full-time employee for your database management support strategy. Are you confident that your company is receiving the highest value, benefits, and return on investment with employing one or more full-time DBA(s) to manage and optimize your databases? Or, could there be room for improvement with choosing a different support strategy for your databases; where it could ultimately help your business grow and stay ahead with the times?

Options for Your Database Management Support Strategy

While the support of an in-house DBA may sound appealing to some companies, it’s important to recognize both the advantages and disadvantages of an in-house FTE for support. It could often “feel” as if you’d be better served by having someone you could “tap on the shoulder” in the event of a need. However, is having this full-time employee on-hand bringing the most value to your company? Not only is hiring full-time employees costly, you must also factor in their vacations, sick days, evenings, holidays, and the possibility of unexpected turnover. Because of the typically higher cost and well-founded concerns that are often times accompanied with hiring a full-time employee, many organizations choose to partner with a Managed Services Provider for their database management support. Although remote, an MSP provides a full team of dedicated professionals, well-versed in all database management platforms (Oracle database, SQL Server, MySQL, etc.), available 24/7/365, and that integrates well into internal teams. And the best MSPs are well-versed in the latest technologies, as well as product and service offerings on the market (private cloud offerings, AWS, Azure, virtualization, containerization, provisioning approaches and tools, pricing models, etc.). It’s important to determine if your company is receiving the fullest value, benefits, and return on investment with your database management support. With the support options available to your company, you have the power to make a decision that could help manage the foundation of your organization with even more efficiency, in turn strengthening your business with even more productivity. Partnering with an MSP for your database management support can be the change you make that could help your business thrive. You can leverage an MSP for handling the more mundane administrative tasks and/or augmentation of your existing organization, while also providing advanced knowledge and expertise in today’s era of database automation. In turn, this can allow your IT organization to have the ability and the time to focus on the more strategic business initiatives that will ultimately help your business flourish. The greatest change in corporate culture – and the way business is being conducted – may be the accelerated growth of relationships based… on partnership. – Peter Drucker There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to your database support requirements, but having the knowledge of what options are available to you will open the door to the database support option that is best suited for your organization. To give companies the awareness of the various database support options on the market, we produced this quick tool to weigh the different choices available to them, based on their specific needs.