Don’t be a DBA – Be a Data Professional

I get asked quite frequently now about the “Cloud” technology and how it will affect the job of the DBA. The answer to that is pretty easy: If you’re “just a DBA”, then it will affect you a great deal. The fact that someone else will add users, take backups and worry about uptime might give you great pause.

Wait a minute – did I just say “just a DBA”?  Isn’t that kind of insulting? Not really. I’ve been in a DBA on one platform or another most of my adult life. It’s been one of the most rewarding, exciting careers I can imagine. But – if you’re only concerned about Feature X, or PL-SQL or Transact-SQL or any SQL, or you only know everything there is to know about bringing a DB/2 system back to life, then you’re very tactical. Those things will eventually be replaced with a fairly sophisticated Perl or PowerShell script. And you have every right to fear disruptive technologies that make major changes to your area, like the cloud.

But – if you realize that your job is not the servers, not the code, but the data – now you’re thinking strategically. You’re no longer a DBA but a Data Professional. Sure, you still have to know how to add a user, restore a database, and configure for performance. But you now realize that those are means to an end – not the destination itself. And when you realize that you hold the company’s second-most important asset – it’s data – you have a different view of your position in your organization. You start thinking about how you use Feature X to help the company, and that’s where your real value is. It’s what sets you apart from being “just a DBA” to someone the business comes to when big decisions need to be made.

So stop being tactical, and start being strategic. It’s no accident I work with SQL Server. I find that the fact that I can back up an Express database and restore it on Enterprise to be very strategic. I find that having every feature in the box without different learning paths to be very strategic. I find that having everything from Visual Studio to web pages and Microsoft Office be in lock-step with my platform to be very strategic. I put those things together for the organization I’m responsible to, and make suggestions on broad strategies. I’m treated like a professional because I act like one. The cloud doesn’t scare me – it’s just another tool in the box. I’m studying it, learning it, and finding out where, when and if it fits.

And you can too. Spend some time finding out what your company actually does, and what their biggest issues are. Then put that knowledge together with what SQL Server does, and how it can help. That’s strategy.

Comments (1)

  1. bracoll says:

    The post is rather old, but it is a great elaboration to all us professionals (cloud taking over more and more…)