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July 3, 2020

DBA Appreciation Day — Business Leaders: Are You Jettisoning Expertise That You Need?

"There is a false perception that moving to DBaaS and the cloud will provide companies with a complete managed service... Then they realise that they have less control and no longer have in-house expertise available."

By CBR Staff Writer

It’s Database Administrator (DBA) appreciation day. We hadn’t forgotten. Hopefully neither have you. It’s a job that helps keep mission critical applications running, and data secure; but it’s one that is under a lot of pressure from business leaders mindful of IT costs.

In a data-driven world, the role of the DBA and, indeed, their surrounding environment is changing rapidly, thanks in large part to the cloud and the rise of Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) offerings.

(Here’s the pseudonymous, warts-and-all take of a DBA in a small business business writing for us late last year).

We asked Percona director Brian Walters for this thoughts on the changing face of the role: “There is no denying that things have changed…

“However, there is a false perception that moving to DBaaS and the cloud will provide companies with a complete managed service. For companies moving over, everything is great until something stops working and they can’t work out why. Then they realise that they have less control and no longer have in-house expertise available. This is when the value of the DBA becomes obvious.”

The most widely used databases, as ranked by professional developers in 2019’s Stack Overflow survey. Credit: Stack Overflow.

He added: “Many of the companies I work with on a regular basis no longer hire DBAs. Instead, they are increasingly choosing to bring in outside database expertise on a contract basis. This represents a dramatic shift. [But] there should be wider internal and external discussions on the pros and cons of this policy, rather than it being straight financial discussion.

“We are told constantly that data is critical to businesses operating well. But, how many companies understand what makes their data work?

DBA Appreciation Day: “There is still a need for that capability and expertise”

Percona’s Walters added: “For some, they don’t need to, but others have jettisoned that expertise even though they will likely require it in the future. [As a result] Database consulting is now a booming market. This is, in part, due to the perceived diminished need for in-house DBA expertise. However, the truth is, there is still a need for that capability and expertise.”

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Clive McDonald, Sumo Logic, added: “Over the past two years, we have seen an increase in companies moving their database instances to the cloud.

“Based on the insight that comes from our own customer data, in 2018 around 45% of companies had NoSQL databases installed and running, while 39% had relational databases running in their cloud instances; in 2019, the data from our customers showed that this had gone up to 56% running NoSQL and 48% on RDBMS…. more companies are choosing to implement their applications in the cloud, and they choose to implement their database alongside.

He added: “The biggest problem around this is that many companies don’t know how to get value from their data over time. While they can store huge amounts of data, getting insights or value out is a harder problem, particularly when this data is kept in silos or stored ‘just in case'”.

How is your business getting value from data – practically? DBAs, what are the things business leaders could do for your teams to help them get greater value from data? Get in touch with our editor here

See also: MongoDB Gets a New Distribution, as Percona Grasps the Nettle

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