What's a DBA and What They Do

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Database administrators (DBAs) manage database management systems (DBMSs) and use them to deploy and maintain databases. Today’s organizations use databases to store profiles of customers, product inventories, sales transactions, and much more. Even so, the area of database administration is often misunderstood. That could be the main reason why it’s not practiced the same way across industries. The role of a DBA is necessary for the sustainability of modern businesses.

What are the daily tasks of a DBA?

If you ask various people in your company to describe a DBA what they do throughout their day, you’ll likely receive a variety of answers including:

  • database design
  • install databases
  • query support
  • database optimization
  • back up data
  • system monitoring

What’s more, some people say that a DBA uses shortcuts to make DBMSs and databases operate faster and more streamlined. The main aspects of DBA work are fully comprehended by few. For example, a small number of people know the term Structured Query Language (SQL) in a minimalist way, but typically, they couldn’t describe what SQL means in more detail. However, DBAs themselves should understand the complexities of DBMSs.

DBAs support non-relational systems that contain large datasets

As organizations strive to keep up with the competition in their industry, their databases become more important to their success. While it’s true that DBAs responsibilities often include managing On-Line Transaction Processing databases (OLTP) also know as operational databases, their role must continue to expand as well. Large datasets are valuable to a company no matter where they’re housed. To maintain flexibility and increase the value of their position and organization, many DBAs offer dataset model and analytic report assistance on non-relational systems like NoSQL or Hadoop.

Solitude is like gold to a DBA

The seclusion that DBAs require in an ideal work environment and what they generally get often differ. As constant thinkers, DBAs are problem solvers that crave alone time to analyze and come up with workable solutions. Other times, they participate as members of a team to brainstorm and mutually decide the best course of action to cure a DBMS dilemma.

Throughout their day, DBAs are “on-call” to successfully answer the staff’s questions. All the while, they handle tasks such as the deployment of a variety of DBMSs. Their expertise must match the needs of the company’s databases. For instance, they might need to become specialists in Db2, Oracle, and other systems based on what the company currently uses or plans to use in the future.

The DBA image is often viewed as more technical and less warm and gentle

It’s common for the personality of a DBA to be seen as more technical, numbers-based and not exactly people-friendly. The job requires programming expertise, but in the past, employers bypassed placing attention on soft skills, and that may be the reason why DBAs can sometimes come off as seemingly cold. They rise to the occasion however, to update organizational systems and applications with patches and fix packs, plus take care of emergency database issues. It may be that their focus is on making sure things run with as little downtime as possible as opposed to making friends at the water cooler.

People skills are becoming more necessary for the DBA to do well in any modern organization

Since DBAs deal with all types of workers, they must be able to communicate effectively with them. Therefore, it behooves DBAs to take time to develop the social skills that make them more approachable to programmers, auditors, statisticians, and others they frequently interact with including other technicians, customers, and end users of different database systems.


To define a DBA what they do can be summed up in a few words: DBAs ensure that a company’s databases are functional and optimized. DBAs also keep the applications running competently as they interact with those databases. It’s important for DBAs to access their skills for relevancy. To this end, they must embrace continuous learning. Each one must strive to stay informed of industry best practices and trends that may affect how they complete their job duties within their organization.

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