Trends Impacting DBAs in 2017

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Data is at the heart of the modern business and many changes and innovations are impacting the database management systems that DBAs are tasked with managing. The world of data management in 2017 is more diverse, complex and challenging than it was just a few years ago.

The industry is changing, the way that DBAs work is changing, and database systems are changing. We all need to come to grips with the fact that the way we worked in the past is no longer the way we work with today’s modern database environment.

Let’s start our coverage by looking at some of the industry trends that are impacting IT and business and thereby contributing to DBMS and data management changes.

The first, and most obvious trend, is that we are saving more data than ever before. According to a recent study by IDC the digital universe will continue growing at 40 percent a year into the next decade. By 2020, it is estimated that the digital universe will grow to 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes.

What is behind this data growth? Organizations are moving more of their business online to take advantage of the immense popularity of smart device usage (smart phone, tablets, etc.) And more “things” are being connected to the Internet (Internet of Things, or IoT), which can produce data streams that are collected and tracked. The explosion of data on social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.) that is being tracked for marketing and other purposes is also contributing to this vast uptick in the amount of data being created and stored.

Another trend contributing to the complexity of data management is the unfettered growth of unstructured data. Although structured data remains the bedrock of the information infrastructure in most organizations, unstructured data is growing in importance. The rise of unstructured data is often attributed to the growing amount of multimedia data being adopted by organizations as they store more audio, video, and images. But that is only part of the story. Text documents, in the form of business forms, letters, and documents, and most importantly, e-mail, greatly contribute to the growing importance of unstructured data.

And more unstructured data is being stored in operational and analytical databases than ever before. This trend will continue as there is more unstructured data in the world than structured. Analysts at IDC estimate that unstructured data accounts for as much as 90 percent of all digital information.

Adding together all of these factors to the increase of data required due to business growth and expansion. We are truly living in the Big Data era.

The ability to collect such large amounts of data has given rise to the Big Data industry trend, which is in itself a collection of trends. The essence of the Big Data movement is being able to derive meaning quickly from vast quantities of data – both structured and unstructured – in order to improve business decision making. So Big Data encompasses, embraces and collects together trends and capabilities spanning business intelligence, cloud computing, distributed data, NoSQL, Spark, Hadoop, sensors, streaming data, the Internet of Things and an ever-expanding array of networked devices.

The DBA, is still the technician responsible for ensuring the ongoing operational functionality and efficiency of an organization’s databases and the applications that access that data. But modern DBAs are relied upon to do far more than just stoke the fires to keep database systems performing. Most DBAs have years of IT experience and work on technologies related to database, too. This can span areas as diverse as application development, middleware implementation, transaction processing, business intelligence, and networking. So today’s DBA is not always just a DBA, and that means that the DBA is not always 100% devoted to the care and feeding of the database.

Today, though, DBAs are called upon to manage more than just one DBMS; and not just relational, at that. In this day-and-age of heterogeneity most DBAs are tasked with managing multiple DBMSes (DB2 and Oracle; or SQL Server and MongoDB, for example). When focus is diluted in this manner it becomes difficult for DBAs to be the DBMS-specific experts that developers and management expect them to be.

On top of that, fewer DBAs are being asked to manage more data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the growth rate for DBAs as “faster than average” at 11% between the years of 2014 and 2024, but that is still less than 2% per year.  And when we match that up against the 40 percent (or higher) annual growth rate for data, it is easy to see that organizations are not planning well if they hope to keep a handle on their burgeoning data stores.

Be sure to factor in the changing world of data management and all of these big data and DBA trends into your planning cycle to ensure that you will have the appropriate manpower and skills to manage your organization’s data needs now… and into the future.