| Craig S. Mullins
Database Performance Management
The DBA Corner
by Craig S. Mullins
The Role of the DBA Has Expanded
The DBA Corner
is a new monthly feature of Database Trends and Applications focusing
on the tasks and issues surrounding the effective implementation,
administration and support of complex database management systems –
in other words, database administration.
To some the term database administration implies a
limited role within the scope of IT, namely the administration of
databases. But this is so only for those who have never been a DBA. In
today’s modern IT organization the true role of the DBA is much more
expansive. Modern database management systems provide more
functionality than just data management. The DBMS can store and run
program code in the form of stored procedures, triggers, and
user-defined functions. And business rules and constraints are defined
inside the DBMS that impact application functionality.
Furthermore, the DBMS is at the center of most modern
application systems. Technology and business requirements come
together to deliver business solutions with the DBMS as the central
point of convergence. And the DBA is the guardian of the DBMS.
The DBA must possess a mixture of technical expertise,
political savvy, leadership and business knowledge to succeed. The
ongoing theme of the DBA Corner will be to analyze and discuss the
changing role of the DBA.
Today’s DBAs face many challenges including multi-tier
architectures, distributed data and applications, data warehousing,
replication and transformation of data, Internet-enabled databases and
applications and the need to store and manipulate complex multimedia
data. The DBA is right in the middle of this technology tsunami. Many
organizations have multiple DBMS technologies with data spread out
among 20, 50, or more databases. To be effective, the DBA must possess
a myriad of management skills. Depth of knowledge is required because
data is central to most systems and the DBMS is often perceived
(correctly or incorrectly) as a bottleneck to performance. Performance
degradation can occur at any point within the environment and the DBA
must know how to correct the cause of the degradation.
Coupled with the technology challenges are business
issues such as globalization that drives up availability requirements,
time-to-market pressures that wreak havoc on development schedules,
and adapting the organization to a combination of in-house and
purchased applications. The DBA cannot focus exclusively on technology
or he will fail.
Some DBA duties, such as data modeling and design,
combine technology and business issues. The DBA can not design a
database without an understanding of how it will be used by the
business. A data model represents a technology independent view of the
data, but a DBA must be able to create a data model and adapt it
technologically into an optimal physical database design. Such skills
are not easily obtained.
To accurately build databases, and then manage data
quality, integrity and security, a thorough understanding of the data
from a business perspective is mandatory. All of these trends,
covering both technology and business issues, that impact the DBA will
be examined in future columns. We will focus on trying to answer some
key questions about the nature and scope of modern database
administration, such as:
How can DBAs manage a
complex, heterogeneous, distributed database environment that is
How can DBAs maintain focus
and deliver service to their end users as the DBMS continues to evolve
to manage more than just data?
As technology rapidly changes
how can DBAs introduce those changes into their systems with minimal,
or no impact to the business users?
What tools and products can
be used to streamline and optimize database systems administration?
Additionally, the DBA Corner from time to time will
examine how technology trends in other systems management disciplines
relate to database administration. For example, how can database
change management be integrated with the greater change management
needs of the IT organization, or the company in general? Or how can
DBAs integrate their jobs and tasks into the larger IT infrastructure
in terms of job scheduling, system security, or automated operations?
DBAs have difficult jobs that require a delicate balance of business and technology; leadership and understanding. Indeed, the role of the DBA is changing. Let the DBA Corner be your guiding light to understanding these changes and how they impact database administration.
Trends and Applications, September 2001.
© 2001 Craig S. Mullins, All rights reserved.