By Lisa Smith, Senior Remote Database Administrator, MariaDB Corporation
You may not have heard the term DBA (database administrator) before, but if you’re at all involved in your organization’s digital transformation journey, this will be the first of many times that you do in 2022.
DBAs work to maintain the running of your database, dealing with problems when they arise, and working to pre-empt future problems and stop them from occurring. They ensure that your data is available as needed while keeping it secure and that it is not lost. Their job is to keep your digital infrastructure working smoothly, so that your applications all work together and your team can do their job effectively.
Moves to the cloud, remote working trends, and the emphasis on digital transformation present in every boardroom in 2022 is making the DBA indispensable. This article will explore why exactly that is.
The role of a DBA has changed significantly over the years, with automation and hosting of database servers reducing the need for staff to manage certain aspects of database upkeep. This has meant that the DBA role has become largely a remote one.
A work-from-home environment makes sense for DBAs because cloud and remote technologies enable operations and access for the IT world 24/7 around the clock. DBAs need to be always available, and they can be with the flexibility and efficiency that modern cloud systems have ushered in for enterprises and developers.
The Cloud Era
The emergence of cloud database offerings has significantly impacted the DBA role, evolving the modern DBA from a hands-on database overseer to a value-driver for customers’ businesses.
Day-to-day, DBAs work with companies in two separate environments. They can work on higher level tasks for companies in the cloud because they are only a few clicks away from setting up a database instance, for example. That means they already have their database up and running, they’ve got backups, they’ve got this secure, high availability environment – all of this just takes minutes. Customers who aren’t in the cloud spend a great majority of their time on foundational elements.
Flexibility will be a key differentiator determining success going forward, and cloud offerings play a big role in facilitating this. Companies must be resilient and open to change. There might be an upfront cost in learning a new product or environment, but companies that understand the importance of building on flexible platforms that can scale, shift, and adapt as new situations arise will be able to spend more time on optimization and looking forward.
Despite all the positive cloud database offerings have to offer, the race to migrate to the cloud has created one major challenge; an increasing shortage of workers in the face of growing demand for experts.
It’s common that database professionals have been tasked with developing a working knowledge of multiple database systems, but they might not know each of them well enough to be considered an expert, and that’s what is needed. The good news is that individuals looking to get into the industry can actually teach themselves if they have the motivation to do so.
It will take considerable time, and a lot of reading, testing and experimenting to become an expert with one specific database platform, but there is plenty of demand and opportunity for those who are willing to invest the time.
The pandemic and the digital era more broadly has changed what businesses want out of their IT systems and databases in particular. Many businesses have fallen into a self-service trap, created by big vendors with the promise of quick roll-out, scalability and availability. However, those same businesses have found themselves paying extortionate prices for consultants to help them when they run into trouble since they’re running off unmanaged databases.
It’s this dichotomy between the promise of self-service databases and the realities of needing real-time support to keep applications running optimally that has created the conditions for a sharp resurgence of the DBA, particularly in remote form.
Business leaders have come to appreciate that having expertise on board is essential when looking to meet the modern demands of scalability and flexibility. We’ve already seen demand for DBAs grow, but 2022 will see the role skyrocket in importance for CTOs across the board, and the database landscape will evolve to accommodate this.