5 reasons DBAs are specializing

April 23, 2008 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Technology Trends | Leave a comment

About five years ago, there seemed to be a trend toward multi-platform DBAs. Today, I’d say about 85% of the customers I visit are moving (or are in) the exact opposite direction. Now the need to silo the DBA groups into a particular platform seems to be the norm. When I inquire as to why, I usually get responses that can be summed up as follows:

1) Databases are being pushed to the limit and DBAs are needed who can get very deep under the covers and fine tune.

2) The application stack is blending into the world of the database, and DBAs are moving up and into that stack for troubleshooting and sometimes administration. For example, Oracle’s application components. Well, says the manager, it says “Oracle” so it’s clearly part of the database you need to manage. (No, I’m not joking… one customer actually told me that’s what his Director said in a meeting.)

3) The number of databases being managed by a single DBA is rapidly growing, therefore, any extra bandwidth they may have is consumed with doing more of the same on more systems as opposed to learning other platforms.

4) Chargeback mechanisms to the business are often easier accomplished when you can put full people into buckets instead of fractional spend allocations. Most businesses are tied to an application, and an application typically only resides on one database platform; therefore, a DBA can be charged back full time to a particular business unit.

5) DBAs are being asked to move down and into the code and schemas created by the developers. This is the one I’m just starting to hear more about, but the feedback is getting consistent. It is very similar to point one above, but it moves in the other direction. Again, this means their bandwidth is being consumed learning more intricacies about one platform as opposed to moving laterally into other platforms for general administration and configuration. This used to be true largely in SQL Server, but I’m now starting to hear about it much more frequently in Oracle as well.

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