The Disappearing DBA: What to Expect as Automation Accelerates

Most database administrators know database servers didn’t initially come in a cloud or cluster. Once upon a time, DBAs had to reconfigure disk files and handle data manually.

Now, with virtualization and the shift toward the cloud, the evolution of database administration yields more opportunities to automate tasks and fewer reasons for DBAs to get their hands dirty.

The role of the traditional DBA is no longer purely operational or concerned with administration of the data estate. Instead, with automation enabling DBAs to take on higher-level and more innovative work, their roles will increasingly be about converting data into actionable insights capable of moving the business forward.

Shifting Gears

The role of DBAs will shift to that of a database architect or database engineer. Using the cloud, they’ll optimize data platforms and costs, monitor how services run, and set up high availability mission- critical servers, eliminating lower-tier administrative duties.

In addition, they’ll counsel the business on what databases make the most sense for their operations. Though nearly 80% of respondents surveyed for the “SolarWinds Query Report 2021: Database Priorities and Pitfalls” say Microsoft SQL Server is the most critical platform in use today, there’s a split among the second, third, and fourth most-utilized platforms: cloud database as a service (54%), Oracle (47%), and MySQL (43%). This mix reinforces the hybrid reality of today’s IT environments and demonstrates that enterprises are more likely to choose a “good enough” database platform fit for their purposes rather than commit to an individual vendor.

Upskilling for the Future

Whether a person succeeds in this evolving DBA role depends on their skills, motivation, and environment. As the role of the DBA develops, leveraging the right tools and capabilities to pave a new career road is crucial.

DBAs should be constantly monitoring their next move, identifying opportunities to upskill, and putting their best foot forward to showcase their strengths and skill sets. It’s important to remain alert about industry trends and changing business needs, and DBAs need to strive to excel in their new roles.

For example, a strong background in data engineering makes you incredibly desirable from an employer perspective, as there’s a massive amount of data to explore and make use of as an administrator. To prepare for the future, it doesn’t hurt to have knowledge of application performance monitoring and cost optimization. Tracking costs from a database or query can help DBAs communicate new opportunities for cost-saving processes to the business and help drive efficiencies. Specifically, organizations increasingly need data engineers with skill sets relevant to the analysis and application of data, data loading, and DataOps.