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The IT DBA

In this article I am going to write about the role that the IT DBA plays within the support environment, particularly the Oracle DBA as I have the most experience in this role. I hope to give you an insight into what a DBA does, what it means to become an Oracle DBA, how to get there, what qualifications you can get, how important the IT DBA qualifications are, the qualities required to be a good DBA and how to gain good experience. It’s a lot to cover so let’s get started.

Never Assume

The first lesson is never to assume anything when working in IT, and that is especially true for an IT DBA. As such, I won’t assume that you know what DBA stands for. It stands for Database Administrator. You could be an Oracle DBA, Microsoft SQL Server DBA or any other DBA for which there is database software (MySQL, DB2, etc). Some people think that it stands for Database Analyst, and it can, but that is a completely different role to the one which I am going to talk about today.

Your next question might be what does an Oracle DBA do? The answer is usually a lot, and their work is always critical to ensuring system availability. Among other duties, the DBA has to make sure the system is backed up, research new technologies to help improve user experience or reduce administration overheads, automate repetitive tasks using scripting techniques and ensure that everything is working as efficiently as possible by monitoring system performance; this can be at a server level, a disk level, a network level or a database level.

A good DBA will be proactive rather than react to changes in his environment. For example, alerts should be in place when disk space is running low. There should also be checks in place to ensure backups run successfully and all overnight jobs are scheduled and ready to go when they should be.

Team Work

The IT DBA should work closely with other teams, such as storage, networks, systems and developers to work as one unit rather than separate teams. This is important because each team has valuable knowledge which should be shared before changes are made and projects are started. The best IT solutions come from a combination of all technologies throughout the entire IT stack working towards the same goal. This is usually an available, well performing system which is resilient to disasters.

Qualifications

There are qualifications that you can work towards if you are a DBA working in IT. Qualifications are generally good; they show you are dedicated to your career, that you can learn, study and understand what you have learned and they give you a goal to work towards. Along the path to learning the new information you will undoubtedly acquire knowledge which is not required for the exam but is useful nonetheless.

I would advise a word of warning, however, regarding having lots of qualifications and the warning is that the DBA qualifications need to be backed up with experience. It would be quite feasible to study solely for the purpose of passing the Oracle OCA and/or OCP exams, learn the answers by rote and not really know how to administer the database effectively. However, if you have experience and the qualifications then that’s a good thing.

I hope that this short article has helped to answer some of the questions that you may have about working as an IT DBA. I’ve included links within this article when appropriate to other, more detailed, articles I have written on topics such as what an Oracle DBA doeswhat qualities a DBA should have and how to become an Oracle DBA. I hope that these are useful to you.

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