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The Fear of Change


The Fear of Change

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Steve Jones
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item The Fear of Change

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Joe Clifford
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Honestly, things aren't getting any easier; whether dealing with DBA specific issues or larger infrastructure issues the world isn't getting any easier. Cloud computing, web 2.0, whatever, these days identifying/fixing a problem with a specific application often involves understanding a "system" (or is it eco-system?) from soup to nuts and everything in between. If only it was as simple as “the database is slow”.

One of the things that struck me with all of the new “management features” in SQL 2008 was that many of them did not apply to “standard” installs which creates a barrier to entry that can only hurt MS in the long run – why in the world would a company/client consider buying the “enterprise” edition of SQL server just to get those “special” management features when competitors offer similar functionality at a lower price point?

Note to MS: You are the target, best move before somebody 10 rings you – your only option is to be better, faster, cheaper than the competition.



Ian Brown-213389
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Remember, COBOL was the language that was going to let accountants write code easily, thus doing away with the need for programmers...

There is no problem so great that it can not be solved by caffeine and chocolate.
GilaMonster
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Depends what you mean by a DBA. If you're taking about someone that watches jobs, runs backups and deploys changes only, then maybe their job will disappear. There's a lot more to a DBA though.

The complexity and size of systems is just increasing, the number of systems managed is also increasing. I think it was Kimberly who asked during her pre-con session how many database servers people were managing. about 10% of the room (rough guess) were managing more than 100 servers. 3 people were managing more than 1000.

There's no way one person can completely manage 1000 servers without a lot of automated management tools. It's silly to even suggest it. The more the management tools make routine stuff (like deploying changes and apps) easy, the more time the DBA can spend on proactive fixes and polishing skills.

Does mom & pop's corner shop need a DBA? Probably not. Companies with several hundred GB - TB databases on multiple servers with 5 nines availability requirements, audit requirements and all that. No way they're going to manage without people dedicated to managing the servers.

The DBA job is broadening, for sure, but going away? I doubt it.

One of the things that struck me with all of the new “management features” in SQL 2008 was that many of them did not apply to “standard” installs which creates a barrier to entry that can only hurt MS in the long run

Typically it's the high-availability and scalability features that are limited to enterprise and it's done that way so that the people who really need that (big companies typically) will buy Enterprise. No surprise there. Apparently they put a lot of thought into what features are standard (or lower) and what are enterprise.

Which “management features” specifically were you referring to?

Gail Shaw
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Nicholas Cain
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I am increasingly finding that the complexity of the environment requires the need for a DBA with experience and knowledge.

A simple onesie twosie instance could be potentially handled by a dev guy, or someone without much in the way of experience, but once you get beyond that, have to deal with replication, log shipping, mirroring, monitoring, change management, troubleshooting, performance tuning etc... then that lack of knowledge and time with the product will leave people dead in the water.

What is potentially a scarier prospect are the folks out there who firmly believe that they are DBAs. I interviewed a gent a couple of years back, really nice guy, had been working as a contractor for the last 10 years, and was working on a lot of projects, but wanted a full-time gig. He interviewed well, called him back for a second interview, put him down in front of a computer and asked him to do some simple tasks like update a table based on a result set from a join of two tables. After many minutes of playing around with enterprise manager he couldn't do it.

He was the best candidate.

So long as there is the product there will be the need for DBAs to manage it.

Right now it really appears as though focusing on one facet of SQL Server might be the best route, just because there is so much more to it now, and with the fabric up and coming it adds another dimension (just as policy based management does right now). After all, how many people are there in your organization managing Active Directory, and what expertise do they have?



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Andy Leonard
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Agreed Steve.

The field is changing, not re-inventing itself. In this economy it's natural to worry about a job. At this time, I see no end to the need for qualified database professionals.

:{> Andy

Andy Leonard
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How about this? Circa 1980, I was working for IBM and was introduced to something called SQL which we were just starting to sell as a programmer productivity aid. It was pricey, because you needed a separate system and disk drives to support it. But we did demos where we would take tapes of several of a client's flat files, load them into tables, then invite the management team in to ask questions of their data. The management loved it because they could get immediate answers they had been waiting for weeks or months from their data processing people. However, the IT people hated it, because they saw it as a threat to their job security. Lots of hours were spent writing and debugging extraction programs and sorts to produce even simple reports, and the people doing that didn't WANT to be freed up to tackle more challenging assignments. The lesson I carried away from that was that routine tasks are always going to candidates for automation, but problem solving and analysis skills will always be in demand.

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mhaskins
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I am not by any stretch of the imagination a DBA - I am a database developer. However, I can see where jobs may be cut. Yeah, sure you will still need a DBA or 2 in your company to run your servers, but will you need 10?

The question is not: will the DBA become extinct?
The question may be more: will one future DBA now be able to handle the job of more than one current DBA?

And this will eventually happen as technology makes DBAs lives easier. If you are a DBA - keep your fingers in the development pie - the more skills you have, the better off you are.

Mia

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Steve Jones
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Interesting responses, especially Mia's. I do think that it is easier for the average DBA to manage more instances, but it seems instances grow, and grow, and grow. And I can see it getting worse as VMs become more prominent.

I certainly don't worry about there being a shortage of DBA jobs at all.

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GilaMonster
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mhaskins (12/2/2008)

The question may be more: will one future DBA now be able to handle the job of more than one current DBA?


Probably. But the number and size of servers is growing, I think, faster than the tools are improving to help with management of those servers.

Gail Shaw
Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

We walk in the dark places no others will enter
We stand on the bridge and no one may pass


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