I don’t think you will get any arguments from anyone on this point. I have worked in database longer than most (30+ years) starting out on the mainframe. Back when I started, you were pretty much just a disk/storage administrator, performance tuner, code reviewer, and person to restore a database that failed. Sometimes a DBA got involved with design, but Third Normal Form database design was not yet prevalent. The career path to a DBA job was primarily from programming. If you found a hot-shot programmer that wanted more challenge, then you brought him/her in.
Since that time, Unix (open source) came into the database world with Oracle, Informix, and DB2. Most larger shops required the DBA to support these as well. If you were lucky, you could bail out on the earlier mainframe hierarchical database, but you were still required to support DB2 as it was relational. In the last 15 years, SQL Server has grown exponentially. As a result, I found myself supporting databases on the mainframe, Unix, and SQL Server.
Along with knowing three very different operating systems and differences in physical database design requirements to accommodate the differences across three different database platforms, there was an enormous growth in Business Intelligence databases. Now the Third Normal Form design had to include Star Schema design. Then there came the data warehouse appliances – proprietary boxes like Greenplum (now part of EMC) and Netezza (now part of IBM). They had their own nuances.
Availability requirements have increased. No longer do we use the word “24x7” as it means different things to different people. If your business demands “continuous availability” then that is what you give to them along with the duplication that is needed to make it work.
Corporate security/audit requirements have put new constraints on DBAs. In many shops today, no longer can a DBA troubleshoot a problem by taking a copy of the production database and putting it on a non-production platform. New procedures had to be worked out (and are continuing to be worked out) to ensure that corporate data is protected while not totally hamstringing the DBAs and developers.
So yes, things have changed, regardless of the DBMS you started with. No one can be good at all this. All they can do is react in the best way they know how – and it usually is suboptimal. I know because in my previous company that is the way it worked. Going forward, the Cloud won’t change anything for the better either. All it will be is another new platform to support.
Am I cynical? No so much anymore since I left the craziness of my previous employer. The best advice I can offer is to not get too comfortable where you are employed. You might want to make a change.