Tuesday, September 26, 2006

DBA Job Growth Statistics are Encouraging; the Insecure DBA's Attitude Towards Automation is Not!

I saw a report from InfoWorld today that showed database administration being in the top 5 fastest growing IT positions. I have seen similar reports in the recent past ranging from the US Dept of Labor to independent/private reports. They all peg database administration to be growing anywhere from 33% to 66% - by the year 2014. In spite of this growth, the biggest concern is lack of quality DBAs (database administrators). Sure there are lots of bodies around the planet, but there just aren't enough qualified professionals to meet the growing requirements. People that not only can handle part of the job load, but those that can also communicate well with their users and peers. People that not only know the mechanics behind a task, but also what needs to be done and when to a database to meet user requirements and business growth.

If these job growth statistics aren't a clarion call for leveraging automation, I don't know what is!

Yet I often encounter DBAs that shrivel up at the mere sound of the word "automation" or go on the defensive. (Let's call these folks the "insecure DBAs".) They claim database administration cannot be automated in THEIR environment due to the complexity of the tasks they do and/or due to the constantly changing underlying environment. News flash: database administration isn't rocket science... and btw, even rocket science leverages automation in more ways than one can imagine. Any task that comprises a specific sequence of steps (and last I checked, most if not all tasks in database administration can be boiled down to such sequences) can be automated.

Some DBAs agree that yes, some of their tasks can be automated, however they will end up forgetting how to carry out those tasks manually. And when (note their use of "when" and not "if") the automation system fails, then the business would be in a conundrum since they would have forgotten how to do the task manually. Boo hoo... Wake up guys and smell the coffee. IT automation is happening in a big way. The companies that don't embrace it will be relegated to the dark ages. They just won't be able to compete effectively. Job loss is a natural effect of companies going under... regardless of industry job growth statistics.

Instead of running around in their firefighters' personas and conjuring up excuses as to why automation is not an option in "their" environment, it's time DBAs started working together to build standard operating procedures and leveraging those procedures as blue prints for automation. Hiding underneath a stack of manual tasks and looking busy used to guarantee employment. Now in the evolving technology landscape, it's a sureshot way to keep oneself and one's company stuck in the annals of old world IT (aka "luddite-dom"), replete with a plethora of one-off tools, commands and actions.

It's time to revel in the inherent job security provided by the growth in demand for quality DBAs. Using standardization and automation to handle those lower level tasks, it's time to polish up those communication skills, move up the food chain and work on the exciting big projects that truly give competitive advantage to your company and propel it into the 21st century! That more than anything, will assure the insecure DBA of continued employment.


Anonymous said...

Bravo! As an aspiring DBA who is just starting to learn the ropes, it is good to know there is a call for quality. Job ethics are still important and this is a good feature of having a secure job, doing a job well and above and beyond what is normally expected.

Abhilash-Sharjah said...

It was a good article dear friend. Expecting more article from you related to DBA world…

Don Burleson said...

Hi Vencat,

Good article, I could not agree more!

The job role of a DAB is as a system manager, not a technical babysitter!

leaf said...

I am a DBA and can not agree more with you. I am also very happy to know I am doing the right thing. As a matter of fact, I see many places that can be automated; so after I started my career as a DBA, I have been doing automations for ourselves. I sometimes wonder how people can do those tedious manual tasks again and again without seeing room to improve.

I am looking for ideas from people like you who know how to pave their job road to excellence. I wonder whether you can give us an overview on what kind of skills a qualified DBA should have in ten years. Thanks much!!!

Afra said...

Nice Article. Thank you for such nice and useful information shared here.