The Evolving DBA

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item The Evolving DBA

  • Considering how many people have asked how to restore data without backups this month alone, this is a timely reminder that evolution of the DBA doesn't remove any responsibilities from the DBA. Even if a 3rd party is providing the SQL Server remotely (call it what you will) and the backups are also being done by that 3rd party, it does NOT relieve the DBA from ensuring that the backups can actually be restored in an emergency. Companies that think a move to some part of the cloud means they no longer need a DBA (or several) are also making a huge mistake.

    And when I say "DBA", I'm not talking about someone who claims 5 or even 10 years experience. Neither am I talking about someone who "is" a DBA due to passing some certification test. Certified or not, no one will guard, protect, and make data "always available" like a good DBA that works with the rest of the team. And, yeah... it does need to be a team effort. Weakest link and all that.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Intro to Tally Tables and Functions

  • A good article Steve, thank you.

    There is one sentence that I would like to comment on.

    The data is the more important asset we work with and all our efforts need to be geared towards helping our users access in as many ways as possible.

    One of the advantages of the relational model is that we only have one method for accessing the data: relational expressions (queries in SQL). Perhaps what you mean is presenting rather than accessing?

    A relation (table, view or query in SQL) is a multi-dimensional structure. It is often convenient to present this in two dimension form as a table (hence the SQL term), but it is of course far from the only way - and other presentation methods may often be more useful.

    Often people equate how the data should be presented visually, with the underlying database design - this can lead to some unfortunate design decisions. If the logical design is correct then you will be able to present the data correctly however you wish.

    Data representation (the logical design) and presentation (how it looks on the screen) are separate issues.

    Of course providing users with simpler means to access data than SQL is also a worthwhile goal - however the underlying "query" will always be a relation expression - whatever tool you use to build it.

  • Great editorial, what an eloquent way of describing what we're doing. I've been noticing that more and more people need to work with the data we have here so I've put a lot more effort into expanding the data available in the data warehouse, including twisting some arms to get people to at least give me a feed. I've even had some success with getting people to install Management Studio and learn SQL (connected to a separate datamart, not main production). Using that "need" for data to encourage them to take on some of the tasks I was doing for them before. Teach a man to fish and all that. Some can't, or won't, but if I can just get at least 1 per department, then that'll help tremendously

  • Your editorial I think overlooks the inherent priorities that must be present in a DBA's role.

    First, the data must be kept *safe*, full stop.

    At the bare minimum that means reliable backups. Before ANYTHING ELSE that is the only thing that matters. After all, if there's no data there's no presentation, there's no anything. Including a company. 🙂

    After backup comes security, of the "need to know" variety. The only thing worse than not having any data is oversharing--just ask the NSA, Hacking Team, OPM... 😎

    Only when these two things are taken care of should you worry about the rest. It's the old "draining the swamp" shtick. Doesn't matter how pretty the bulldozers are if the construction crew is gator chow, right?

    It doesn't help that management has no real belief in these priorities either. Either that or they have a touching faith that DBAs have some kind of magical ability to do these things without expending any time or effort...

  • Jeff Moden (7/22/2015)


    Considering how many people have asked how to restore data without backups this month alone, this is a timely reminder that evolution of the DBA doesn't remove any responsibilities from the DBA. Even if a 3rd party is providing the SQL Server remotely (call it what you will) and the backups are also being done by that 3rd party, it does NOT relieve the DBA from ensuring that the backups can actually be restored in an emergency. Companies that think a move to some part of the cloud means they no longer need a DBA (or several) are also making a huge mistake.

    And when I say "DBA", I'm not talking about someone who claims 5 or even 10 years experience. Neither am I talking about someone who "is" a DBA due to passing some certification test. Certified or not, no one will guard, protect, and make data "always available" like a good DBA that works with the rest of the team. And, yeah... it does need to be a team effort. Weakest link and all that.

    I don't think anyone asking about restoring data without backups should be involved in any restoring process.



    Alvin Ramard
    Memphis PASS Chapter[/url]

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  • Jeff Moden (7/22/2015)


    Considering how many people have asked how to restore data without backups this month alone, this is a timely reminder that evolution of the DBA doesn't remove any responsibilities from the DBA. Even if a 3rd party is providing the SQL Server remotely (call it what you will) and the backups are also being done by that 3rd party, it does NOT relieve the DBA from ensuring that the backups can actually be restored in an emergency. Companies that think a move to some part of the cloud means they no longer need a DBA (or several) are also making a huge mistake.

    And when I say "DBA", I'm not talking about someone who claims 5 or even 10 years experience. Neither am I talking about someone who "is" a DBA due to passing some certification test. Certified or not, no one will guard, protect, and make data "always available" like a good DBA that works with the rest of the team. And, yeah... it does need to be a team effort. Weakest link and all that.

    Completely agree.

    It's not that anything goes away, but if this is all you do, you need to think about adding other skills/tasks to your day.

  • roger.plowman (7/23/2015)


    Your editorial I think overlooks the inherent priorities that must be present in a DBA's role.

    First, the data must be kept *safe*, full stop.

    At the bare minimum that means reliable backups. Before ANYTHING ELSE that is the only thing that matters. After all, if there's no data there's no presentation, there's no anything. Including a company. 🙂

    After backup comes security, of the "need to know" variety. The only thing worse than not having any data is oversharing--just ask the NSA, Hacking Team, OPM... 😎

    Only when these two things are taken care of should you worry about the rest. It's the old "draining the swamp" shtick. Doesn't matter how pretty the bulldozers are if the construction crew is gator chow, right?

    It doesn't help that management has no real belief in these priorities either. Either that or they have a touching faith that DBAs have some kind of magical ability to do these things without expending any time or effort...

    True. My point was more you can't stop with these things, or just perform these things. You need to go beyond this.

  • Recently, I was trying to simplify the process of accessing data for users in my org. My company uses two OLAP servers at two different sites for performance sake. I wanted to have one OLAP so that it is easy for users (especially to build reports, data for managers) to access all data at one server. I did some tests to write data to remote servers and it is seen that there is a performance issue.

    More details here: http://www.sqlservercentral.com/Forums/Topic1703647-3411-1.aspx#bm1704015

    So we are going with the decision to have two OLAP servers for better performance. I have not given up yet but trying to find ways to talk to IT team to improve network latency issues first.

    Thanks,
    Naveen.
    Every thought is a cause and every condition an effect

  • There is also the fundamental way in which larger "cloud" type providers (inside your organization or third parties) can include features or services that reduce the need for DBAs.

    I expect that the demand for DBAs will continue to grow regardless. Cloud computing and related technologies will never replace a DBA, those technologies will just assist (in a small-to-medium way) the DBA with finding time to do other things. A good/real DBA always has plenty to do. Even if they got to that mythical place were all the mission critical tasks are completed, everything is running like clockwork and all the users were complaint free - there's still plenty to do for a real DBA... Process improvements, stuff that can be automated, code to optimize, mentoring & knowledge transfer, etc.

    "I cant stress enough the importance of switching from a sequential files mindset to set-based thinking. After you make the switch, you can spend your time tuning and optimizing your queries instead of maintaining lengthy, poor-performing code."

    -- Itzik Ben-Gan 2001

  • Steve,

    In your vision, what does "making the data more available" look like?

    If my employer requested giving people access to data, of course I would implement that.

    But what would a DBA unilaterally do to facilitate your vision?

  • Alan.B (7/23/2015)


    I expect that the demand for DBAs will continue to grow regardless. Cloud computing and related technologies will never replace a DBA, those technologies will just assist (in a small-to-medium way) the DBA with finding time to do other things. A good/real DBA always has plenty to do.

    While I agree, I'm not sold here. I find that it seems plenty of companies think a developer or sysadmin can do the job. I haven't necessarily seen the demand, or feeling, increasing that a DBA is needed.

    Instead it seems we've moved to data scientists and other titles that embody much of what a DBA does, but ignore other parts that are important.

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor (7/23/2015)


    I find that it seems plenty of companies think a developer or sysadmin can do the job.

    No change there. Look at the posts on this very forum. If we assume that each person that posts a "lost data" or "tempdb" or "shrink" question works for a separate company, there are thousands of companies that make that mistake and have been since I first started cruising SQLServerCentral. 😉

    I haven't necessarily seen the demand, or feeling, increasing that a DBA is needed.

    Instead it seems we've moved to data scientists and other titles that embody much of what a DBA does, but ignore other parts that are important.

    While it's been a long time since I've seen job postings for "pure systems admins", I've seen quite the rise in the last two years for what I call a "hybrid DBA", which includes sysadmin work, tuning, peer reviews, performance troubleshooting, etc, etc, etc, especially here in SE Michigan and that's not including the proverbial "kitchen sink" ads for help.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Intro to Tally Tables and Functions

  • I think that's similar here. I tend to see about the same (which is few) dBA jobs. However more is asked of developers or sysadmins in some of the postings I've seen.

  • Working in the medical field, current laws put an extra burden on protecting that same data we want to make so easily available. It can be tough to do both.

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