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DBA supertech . Specialise or generalise?

Specialise or a generalise?  It all depends on how you define these terms. 

A  SQL Server DBA may be considered to be a specialist  by a Enterprise Architect but a generalist by a SSIS expert.

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The DBA is currently in great demand and based on predictions  re: User Devices and Database Servers  , the demand will increase.   

The rise of the DBA as a strategic position coincides with the rise of the Supertech . The Supertech is someone who understands at a deep level the performance stack. 

I source DBAs regularly for different tasks.  Some observations  (and they are just observations! )  I’ve made on hiring DBAs and  benefits of hiring specialists are:

1)       A specialist completes tasks almost instantly. The generalist takes longer.

2)       A specialist has learnt before the task. The generalist learns on the job

3)       A specialist has written more code – in their speciality

4)       A specialist has read more widely on the subject

5)       Specialist will tend to procure different jobs to deepen  the experience

The specialist benefits by:

1)       Generally , higher renumeration \ pay

2)       Demand for  services increases within the speciality. Expert status  

3)       Opportunities to become the technical lead

 

With all these advantages  come a few disadvantages for the specialist

1)       Are you involved in an in demand technology?

2)       Are you dedicating adequate time to in depth learning

3)       Are you able to contribute in a hybrid environment?

Benefit of the generalist , based on observations

1)       Open to wider technology skills

2)       More flexible within an organisation and can adapt to platform integration changes

The disadvantage of the generalist

1)       Overlooked as the lead on technical projects

 

My own experience is a mixture of the above , but certain trends in my work career have emerged.   The main principles are:

1)       Generalist on a the database platform but certain areas of expertise: performance tuning , capacity planning, HA, troubleshooting

2)       Primary skills must be backed up by Secondary skills.   SQL Server as primary , DB2 and Oracle as secondary skillsets

3)       Aim to develop deep learning on the whole stack ,  whilst maintaining core expertise on certain areas – such as Database Layer:  

Monitoring

Application

DBMS – Data System

DBMS -  Access system

DBMS – Storage System

DBMS-Buffer system

OS

Hardware

Network

Storage

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