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What Does a Database Administrator Actually Do?

Most people in your organisation, never mind everyone else, have no real clue as to what it is you do.

It’s not because you don’t actually do anything, at least I hope not, it’s because the domain of responsibility for a DBA is both vast and varied. Ask any two DBAs what it is they do exactly and you can expect to get two broadly different answers.

For those new to the event, #mememonday is the community creation of Thomas LaRock (Blog|Twitter), the driving force of which is to encourage the SQL community to put virtual pen to paper. This months theme “List out all the little things you do as a DBA, since the term DBA means so many different things in each shop.

In the spirit of adding to the confusion, here are some of the things that I do in my current role as a “DBA”.

  • project management
  • consulting
  • server builds
  • troubleshooting
  • backups
  • restores
  • security
  • compliance
  • change control
  • change management
  • develop a hobby, preferably a full contact sport, to vent
  • server specification and hardware procurement
  • development consulting
  • database design
  • solution design
  • team mentoring
  • customer liaison
  • release package development and deployment
  • capacity planning
  • ignore as many of the competing communication channels as possible
  • wrestle daily with email volume and rules
  • administer all database platforms not just SQL
  • research emerging database technology
  • ensure platform availability
  • continually review existing solutions and processes for improvement
  • devising elaborate methods to synchronise and initialize overly complex replication topologies

The astute reader amongst you will have noticed a degree of sarcasm sprinkled throughout the list. A sense of humour is a valuable character trait for a DBA, a survival skill that can see you through troubled times.

If you really want to learn more about the DBA game and what it takes, head on over to the How To Become A SQL Server DBA area on the blog. There’s a wealth of great content there from both myself and other community sources. As always if you cannot find the answer to your question let me know.

In the spirit of #mememonday I encourage you to put virtual pen to paper and add to the confusion by sharing some of the little things you do as a DBA.

John Sansom - SQL Server DBA in the UK

John Sansom (Blog | Twitter) is a Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) of SQL Server and publisher of the free SQL community ebook DBA JumpStart, an inspiring collection of advice for Data Professionals, written by 20 SQL Server experts. Awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor(MCC) award, John is a prolific blogger and can be found regularly writing about SQL Server and Professional Development over at www.johnsansom.com.


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