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The DBA is Dead

By Steve Jones,

I love seeing articles like this one: The Database Administrator is Dead. They make me laugh and look back at previous incarnations of the same thought. I think I should save the text of this article, stick it in an appointment with a reminder for 2 years from now, and then read it again.

The first time I heard this was back in 2000. I was working in a small company and SQL Server 7.0 came out with a marketing push that a DBA wouldn't be needed. The developers I worked with crowded around and asked if I was worried about my job. I'll admit I was a little worried, even as I denied any concerns to my co-workers, but as I read about the changes and thought about my job, I realized it was all for naught. 

While much of our jobs can be automated, the specific details and implementation of any automation at any particular job will vary widely at different companies. Even at different times. The work that DBAs do is not going away, and someone needs to continue to provide some administration and management of databases.

I will admit that I think there is less of a need for DBAs at many companies, at least if the DBAs are strictly managing security and backups. The amount of time these tasks take now has been dramatically reduced with new tools for managing systems, both within SQL Server and from third party vendors. If you have a job that just deals with basic administration, good for you, but I wouldn't stop learning. Those talents might not be enough to get you a new job if you need one.

I also think that today's DBAs need to be able to handle the limited administration that might be needed on other platforms, including the cloud. We need to understand how we can work with, and speed up development, with SQL Server databases while helping to improve the quality of any database code that's written. We need to learn about how we can get the most from the platform while integrating with a variety of technologies.

The DBA isn't dead, and I've created that appointment for 2 years down the road. It will be interesting to see how things have changed in that time.

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