by July 5, 2008 0 comments



As IT sector is booming, there’s no surprise that the demand for DBAs
continues to rise. Today DBAs not only manage databases, but with the emergence
of new trends like SOA and grid computing, they are coming out of those clichéd
back-office works and are taking up additional roles and duties. Here we tell
you what does it take to become a DBA and the new opportunities have emerged in
this career path

Today every organization’s functioning revolves around its database. One
can’t imagine how an organization would even survive without databases, be it
any field or industry. Databases form the core and the most critical asset of an
organization. Whether it’s a manufacturing setup, or a telecom giant, a bank, or
a healthcare institute, database are a key component of every enterprise
IT deployment. Whether it’s an ERP solution or a CRM, a telecom billing
application, or a hospital management system, everything requires a database at
the back-end. The onus of managing and maintaining the database lies with a DBA
or Database Administrator. Believe it or not, the job ofa DBA is studded with
tons of responsibilities, whether it’s for ensuring data security, doing
disaster recovery, instance management, performance tuning, instance cloning, or
doing a plain old back up routine for the database. Moreover, even a software
developer or business analyst’s functioning is completely linked to the DBA
because the database has to be integrated into everything. So in essence, DBAs
are considered the linchpins of any IT project.

Since the number of IT deployments is growing in India, there’s obviously
tremendous opportunity out there for DBAs. Even in the US, the US Bureau of
Labor Statistics shows that the demand for DBAs will grow 37% between 2006 and
2016. This is in fact, a much higher growth rate than any other occupation in
the IT sector. Another point worth mentioning is that the role of DBAs is not
limited to database management anymore. Thanks to a few key emerging trends,
DBAs are now coming out of their backoffice image and getting involved in
organizational planning and implementation decisions.

That’s why, the focus of our IT careers section this time is on DBAs. In this
story, we’ll talk about growth opportunities for existing DBAs as well as advice
for the ‘wannabes’.

Relevance for DBA in Enterprise
A DBA’s most important job is to maintain, backup and recover data and to
ensure that it’s available at all times. This job is crucial for mission
critical systems like banks and financial institutions where loss of data is
just not affordable. The simplest example would be if a bank isn’t able to
access a customers’ balance because the database is down. A DBA needs to ensure
both availability and security of the data all the time. He or she has to make
policies for data integrity and also maintain backups or distributed replicated
databases so that the organization’s productivity isn’t hampered due to
failures.

The duties or roles that a DBA performs for an organization apart from those
mentioned above can be summed up as follows:

Database Implementation & Design: The DBA is responsible for a
well-designed and implemented database that will help in maximizing performance,
and give opportunity for scalability, flexibility and above all reliability. For
this the DBA must be conversant with the installation and upgrades issues and
also having the business knowledge of the domain will help in structuring the
optimized databases.

Database Monitoring: As the size of a database becomes larger and
larger, the DBA has to ensure that the database continues to remain fast and
responsive. They have to eliminate bottlenecks that slow down database
transactions. They also have to monitor the state of the database for occurrence
of errors and take pre-emptive measures to avoid them from happening. For
monitoring, now DBAs have many administrative tools available with them.

Platforms like DB2, Oracle & SQL
Server are most prevalent among enterprises. For a professional who wants to
take up DBA as his career aim, it is necessary to have knowledge of software
development languages as it helps him to debug database issues and issues
related to performance tuning. It further helps to automate the regular DBA
activities. Apart from possessing core database concepts, he should have
analytical abilities and should also be aware of all the features available
in the database tool that he is using.

Kalpana Jaishankar,
Vice President, Human Resource, Patni

A number of new application areas have
emerged recently which require data management support that extends well
beyond the traditional data management functions. Also importantly, advances
in computer hardware, network and user interface technology have re-defined
the context in which DBA needs to perform. Three new database application
areas are: complex object databases, high-volume databases, and mobile
databases.

Data Security: To ensure that the enterprise’s data is secured, the
DBAs have to design rigorous security policies involving the data as well as
users accessing that data. This involves assigning users to databases and
determining the proper security policies for every user.

Being in-sync with developers: The DBAs have to work in tandem with
developers for an application project, so that the software application performs
in an optimized manner with the database. It’s always a plus for a DBA to have
knowledge of software programming and development lifecycle, so that he can
identify the areas where the data calls from the application to the database can
be performed in efficient manner.

Database administrators will typically possess advanced knowledge of the
Structured Query Language, also known as SQL, as well as the ability to plan the
structure and design of the database using such tools as entity relationship
diagrams, and the creation of database objects, including tables, forms and
views. Database administrators are also typically responsible for implementing
security procedures and designing the database to ensure that only valid data is
entered into the database.

Career path for a DBA
A person who wants to be a DBA has to follow a strenuous career path where
he gains knowledge from his experience, by being a database developer at the
beginning and later climbing the ladder to a DBA. The core skill sets that a DBA
should possesses ar ea complete understanding of the concepts of the database
architecture like Tables, View, Queries, Primary and Foreign Keys concepts along
with advanced knowledge of concepts like partitions, tablespaces, procedures and
business objects, etc. The DBA should have the ability to talk to the database
through query languages like SQL and PL/SQL. To attain success a DBA should also
have the knowledge of the complete Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) along
with some software programming skills.

The most popular database software out there are fairly well-known–Oracle,
MS SQL Server, IBM DB2 from the commercial space, and MySQ and PostGreSQL from
the Open Source arena. You must gain expertise in any of these databases.

Joyjeet Banerjee,
Principal Consultant, Oracle Consulting

Earlier the scope of DBAs was restricted to
the database level, but today, a lot more is expected from them. With new
market trends coming up, a new class of DBAs has emerged for Oracle, known
as Apps DBA. This profile involves managing the entire Oracle Applications
suite, apart from routine database administration. i.e. An Apps DBA not only
administrs an Oracle Database (9i, 10g, and 11g), but also administers
Oracle Applications (11i/R12).

The Demand for DBAs is very high in the
market. In fact, today, it’s very difficult to get a good DBA. Even in the
future, the market for DBAs would always be there as there is hardly any
company that doesn’t have to maintain their database.

Finally, an understanding of shell scripting in Windows NT and UNIX, and
common scripting languages and Web skills (Java, HTML, etc.) are also additional
skills that can help you land a lucrative position as a DBA.

Similarly, experienced DBA professionals, who already have expertise in
handling database implementation projects, can further enhance their skill sets
by learning the frameworks for SOA or by venturing into the ERP domain by
learning application solutions like Oracle Apps.

New Opportunities for DBA
Previously, a DBA was someone who simply managed database systems, but those
systems now include application and Web servers as well, and are integrated with
application development language, for example Oracle Applications database
server. Above that enterprises are now moving towards automation by deploying
business applications like ERP, CRM, etc. and DBAs are now expected to perform
from above their core capabilities towards these automation applications as
well. The database solutions themselves have automated several of the functions
that a DBA used to perform, now with such tools to aid himself, a DBA is less
focused on performance tuning, database migrations, backups and upgrades and is
more focused on matters like planning and implementing database virtualization
and managing the ever-increasing volume of data at various layers of IT stack.
Also with the emergence of new trends like SOA and data warehousing, a DBA is
all set to extend his expertise to the new work domains.

Following are some of the newer areas where a DBA has opportunities to foray
into:-

SOA: Service Oriented Architecture involves all levels of the IT
workforce, right from developers to business process planners. So how could
database professionals be left out? When an organization plans for a SOA
implementation, the enterprise architects work with business experts to identify
services that will be aligned with the needs of the organization and to be
provided through an application. A DBA, who has worked for the organization’s
database implementation, very well knows the process that is dependent on the
database and the business knowledge of those processes. Thus, if he can have the
understanding of the SOA framework he can provide the support for identifying
the enterprise’s business processes for aligning them with the applications and
optimizing the database performance for such processes.

Automation: Enterprises are moving towards ERP and CRM applications
and that has been a reason for the increased demands for DBA professionals.
These applications being data-centric, a DBA who has the functional domain
knowledge of the business can take on the responsibility to maintain the
database as well as the enterprise application. For example an Oracle DBA who
upgrades his knowledge for understanding the Oracle Apps for the business
functions for his organization, can become an Oracle Apps ERP consultant for the
organization.

Moorthi Chokkanathan,
Head — India and Mexico, Delivery and Operations, Hexaware Technologies
Ltd.

Mr. Chokkanathan was interviewed by
Jasmine Desai on the evolving roles for DBAs and the market trends in this
domain. Excerpts from the interview:

How is the demand for DBAs, given the
current market scenario?

DBA requirements were, are and will be there, whatever the market scenario.
As long as enterprises have IT applications supporting their business
processes and activities which have enormous amount of data that gets stored
in underlying databases, DBA skills and resources will always be in demand.
In today’s enterprise the emphasis is more towards creating an enterprise
wide strategy for application architecture, data architecture and database
standards. Once the architecture and standards are in place the next thing
is to create the plan for selection, sizing, designing, maintaining of
databases. A DBA who has been maintaining, managing the back office work
would be a key candidate to get into the role of a Data architect, designer.
Needless to say, one has to learn the domain of the enterprise in which they
are working and also be updated with the latest technological trends. This
would not only help the individual to perform the new roles but also would
help him to make the right choices for selection of database, sizing,
designing.

Which industry vertical has the highest
requirement for DBAs and what are the types of job roles available for
database professionals? What are the new job opportunities that are coming
up for such database professionals?
Banking and financial organizations, airlines companies, insurance
organizations have highest requirement of DBAs. Industry segments where huge
number of data transactions takes place have higher potential for DBA
related work. Based on activities and domain, different kind of DBA roles
are developing. Web Administrator DBA, Dataware Housing DBA, DBA Manager,
Application DBA are the different upcoming DBA roles in the industry.

Agile DBA: Agile development has been a recent trend, similarly, in
the database domain Agile DBA term has sprung up. An Agile DBA is a person who
is involved with the creation and evolution of the data aspects of one or more
applications. Apart from the traditional skills like database programming,
database administration, data testing and modeling, an Agile DBA must have the
understanding of all the aspects of the software process. They should also have
the development skills as they will be working in collaboration with the
developers for better interactivity between the application and the database.
Agile DBAs will also need to work with application developers to model their
data needs, working with UML-based artifacts such class diagrams with some
project teams and conceptual data models with other teams. Agile DBAs will work
with application developers to write and test database code such as stored
procedures, data-oriented code within applications that interacts with their
data sources, and even aid in mapping the application schema to the data schema.

DW and BI: A DBA can upgrade his skills to become a Data Warehouse expert for
providing the data mining duties and designing the optimal database structures
that will house the enterprises archived database that will be used for Business
Intelligence purpose. The data warehouse works as decision making system that
contains the enterprise’s historical data. The DBA will have to extend his
capabilities to design a warehouse that will then be used for Business
Intelligence. The data warehouse DBA must also understand predictive modeling
and probability analysis. He should also know the company business, the data
warehouse architecture and also be an expert in the SQL language. The DBAs have
to make themselves familiar with the BI tools also so as to incorporate those
applications with the data warehouse.

Certifications
For a DBA it is always necessary to be abreast with the latest trends in the
database domain and also be quiet adept with the database administration
solution that he works upon. Though the vendors keep bringing new features into
the database solutions, it is always advantageous for a DBA to hold
certifications that will authenticate his knowledge skill and also enhance his
chances while any recruitment process. There are various certifications
available; each vendor has their own certification exams at various levels.
These levels extend from beginners to the expert level.

Though certifications cannot be compensated with the experience a DBA possess
through his various database implementations projects he undertook during his
career.

As the roles of the DBAs are also evolving, there are certifications
available for DBAs who are venturing into new domain, say Data warehousing or
Applications management.

The growth prospects of DBAs is very high, and since their knowledge is much
more than developers and other functional people in the IT industry, they are
the one who are most preferred to lead the implementation projects and also
become the head of IT in enterprises. Though in every industry segment the role
of DBA differs, but their requirements increase day by day as the IT industry
progresses.

The following table shows various certifications that are available for
different database platforms.

Rahul Sah with help from Jasmine Desai

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