January 24, 2018

How the DBA job is evolving for future ?


Being a Database Technology Specialist for almost 16 years I get to talk in several community conferences, colleges and startups, Recently I was talking about the career prospects of being a DBA in a college in Bangalore, India, I was talking about what is it like being a DBA? As usual by the end of the talk I encourage audience to ask questions and one of the very anxious attendees asked me a very interesting question, “What is it like being a DBA in future with rapid advancement in Automation and DevOps ?”, The guy who asked me this question is a aspiring DBA and he was so worried about future … so I thought let me write about this talk in my personal blog.

Where are we headed to in Technology Operations space ?

The days of Scaling Technology Operations with eyeballs are over !! Yes, Automation and DevOps are definitely a big threat for commodity DBAs, Commodity DBAs are the ones who are engaged with typical very-planned / documented DBA activities like Database Software installation, configuration, upgrades, user account / password management, adding / deleting spaces and planned routine backup / recovery operation. To be very brutally honest here, There are no jobs for them in the future!!! This doesn’t mean there is no DBA jobs in the future, The specialist DBAs are more valued in the days to come !! Who are these specialist DBAs and how are they different from olden days commodity DBAs?

Next is “The Specialist DBA!!!”

In the past many folks learn basic Database software installation and configuration claim to be a DBA, These guys are so limited with installation and configuration with some limited involvement in user account creation, password management and space allocation for schema / users. Now these are can be automated with DevOps tools or if you are on Amazon RDS most of the limited scope DBA activities are so well taken care of but can you be a serious corporation without hiring professional DBA ? Hmm…. If yes, You must read this post and I am sure in the end you will contact your recruiter to hire a DBA full-time / contract immediately and if no, You will enjoy reading this post and will be so proud about your decision of having a full-time / consulting DBA in your company.

You can only automate the well planned / scheduled activities with DevOps, RDS kind of platform but what about Performance Optimization of your Database System ? Writing High Performance SQL, Optimal Indexing and Managing Locks / Wait Events, What about these, Can you Automate them ? Surely not, Architecting and Developing High Performance Database Applications is a very specialized expertize, This involves deep understanding of Database Architecture, Internals, Optimizer Knowledge, High Performance SQL Patterns, Efficient Indexing Methods and Managing Concurrency / Locks / WaitEvents and you definitely need seasoned Database Technologies Professional to deliver Optimal and Scalable Database Platforms !!

The future of Specialist DBA is bright, Such DBAs are not just limited to your Operational Functions, They are involved in your Strategic Decision making like Technology Architecture and Engineering, These Specialist DBAs build / own Optimal SQL, Efficient Indexing and Concurrency / Isolation governance across the Database Tier of your business. I have come across Database Architecture and Engineering of several high profile Internet Application Platforms built by non professional dedicated DBAs, They will be often over / under Indexed with sub-optimal SQL and unaddressed concurrency / isolation level, This results in serious Performance and Scalability of the entire platform and eventually resulting negative business impact affecting experience of end customer (nobody want to wait 10 seconds for every page load !!! )..

What is recommended to become a successful Specialist DBA ?

  • Have deep understanding on Architecture and Internals of underlying Database Platform
  • Participate actively in every decision making because business is data and you are delivering infrastructure for data movement here, You are solely accountable for Optimal, Scalable, Highly Available and Secured Database Infrastructure
  • Be conscious about cost of SQL and Indexes for the application, Over indexing and complex SQL in production is never cool !
  • Automate all non core activities of your day like installation, configuration, user management etc.     


The computers and robots can never replace human expertize or specialized skills, They all exist just to simplify our activities and increasing efficiency. Believe in automation and be adaptable because it makes you more productive professionally. Think about how you can contribute to the business success and customer satisfaction, High Performance Database System significantly influence the end customer satisfaction, Eventually customer success is the only goal for every business in this planet, Good luck !!

About Shiv Iyer 12 Articles
Independent and vendor neutral MySQL, MariaDB and Percona Server consultant with core expertise in performance, scalability and high availability. Shiv is a frequent speaker in Open Source Software conferences worldwide. Shiv currently is the founder and principal of MinervaSQL, An boutique private-label MySQL, MariaDB and Percona Server consulting and remote DBA services company with several customers worldwide. Shiv in the past worked for companies like MySQL AB, SUN, Oracle, AOL, Nike, eBay, PayPal, PalominoDB (acquired by Pythian) and Percona in Sr. MySQL consulting and professional services roles. To engage MinervaSQL for MySQL consulting and professional services, please send email to shiv@minervasql.com