by Craig S. Mullins
Although storage management can be an afterthought for the DBA it really shouldn’t be. The cost of managing Perhaps the most common question I am asked by readers is “How can I become a DBA?” The question is actually not as simple as it seems and there are many different aspects to the answer. Sometimes it is an application programmer who wants to become a DBA. Sometimes a DBA for one DBMS wants to support a different DBMS; for example, a SQL Server DBA wants to move to become an Oracle DBA. And other times someone with no IT background at all asks the question. The answer is different for all of these folks.
First of all, let’s address the switcher. Of the three questioners described above, this person is in the best position. Already possessing knowledge of one DBMS, and the roles and responsibilities of a DBA, moving to support another DBMS requires gaining knowledge of that platform. Of course, the move is made simpler if other parameters remain constant. For example, a DBA who supports SQL Server will be able to more quickly support Oracle or DB2 on a Windows platform, than on UNIX or z/OS.
The best course of action for the switcher is to find a company that uses both the DBMS you know and the DBMS you want to know. Apply for a position as a DBA for the DBMS you know and use the job as an introductory approach to get experience on the other DBMS. Once you have established yourself as a knowledgeable and effective DBA in the new shop, work your way over to help out on the other databases, perhaps as the backup DBA on the other DBMS when the primary DBA goes on vacation. This way, you gain experience over time and do not have to abandon your current area of expertise.
If your current company uses both DBMSs, then your task is easier. I bet your manager would be very happy to work with you and train you on the other DBMS as a backup. It will make his job easier: your current expertise remains and he gets help for another platform. It is usually a win-
Okay, but what about the application programmer who wants to become a DBA? This is a bit trickier. The upside is that the best DBAs were once application programmers earlier in their careers – and most DBA managers know this. But you will need additional skills and a can-
Finally, communicate your desires. Talk to your manager about your career goals. After doing that, talk to the DBA manager about your interest and his needs. When a new DBA position opens up, the DBA manager is likely to remember that you were interested – and if he doesn’t, you can remind him when you apply for the job.
Another tactic that can work is to volunteer your time with a charity that needs DBA help. Working as a volunteer can put valuable experience on your resume that will help when you are applying for that “real” job.
Finally, let’s address the guy with no IT background at all. DBA is not an entry-
To conclude, every DBA-
From Database Trends and Applications, July 2013.
© 2013 Craig S. Mullins,