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10 Things Every Senior Oracle DBA Should Know

Patrick Gates | | December 27, 2016

An experienced Oracle DBA has been in the trenches and faced numerous challenges on the job. A DBA with more than two years of experience should also have an excellent knowledge of Oracle database technology.

At this level, a DBA is expected to use a proactive approach as opposed to a reactive one. The job no longer revolves around technology. The responsibilities have evolved to include preventive maintenance, adopting best practices and industry standards, capacity planning, and database management.

These are just a few of the skillsets that a Senior DBA should possess:

Capacity and storage planning

A Senior Oracle DBA should be skilled in capacity planning. This is a complex and interwoven skill that requires answers to questions such as:

  • What is the current size of the data tables and the expected growth over the life of the database?
  • What are the benchmarks for performance and availability?
  • What is the number of users?

The DBA should be able to use tools to analyze questions such as mentioned above, and arrive at CPU, disk, server, hardware, storage and network requirements and configurations.

Knowledge of advanced database security

Security has always been an important area of concern for databases. With increasing considerations of hacking, cloud technology for platform and infrastructure as a service, and increasing compliance requirements, it is bound to become an even more critical aspect of database management.

A senior-level DBA should be skilled with the Oracle Advanced Security option. This option allows for transparent data encryption (TDE) and complete or partial redaction of a column with sensitive data — for instance, for a column containing a credit card number.

Creating disaster recovery plans

Given today’s 24x7, always-on business environment disaster recovery planning has become a critical aspect of database management. Planning for disaster recovery is done by a team of specialist DBAs or an external consulting firm.

A Senior DBA should have the skills to understand and contribute towards such planning by understanding the business needs, failover scenarios and guidelines for disaster planning.

Using Oracle flashback technology

In spite of best efforts data loss is bound to take place in a production server environment. This can be due to a number of reasons — a user may inadvertently run a query that modifies or deletes data totally by accident, for example.

Point in time recovery is an important feature built into the Oracle flashback technology. An experienced DBA should be skilled in the use of this feature as it is extremely useful in case data loss is at a localized table level.

Advanced troubleshooting in Oracle

Troubleshooting in any technical area is inevitable — and Oracle databases are no exception. Over the years, an experienced DBA will have spent many hours at work troubleshooting. Over this period, the DBA is expected to use a methodical approach towards troubleshooting, especially in case of problems that have never been encountered before.

The DBA should be able to determine the possible origin, use the right set of tools, break down the issue into discrete binary steps, and ultimately resolve it. Needless to say, given the nature of troubleshooting there will be scenarios where the DBA will have to experiment and use a what-if approach with likely causes to see if the issue can be resolved.

Using Oracle database vault

There are many ways to enforce security standards in Oracle — encryption and column redaction, for example. The Oracle database vault is another feature that implements security at a granular level to prevent access to sensitive information. An experienced DBA is expected to be skilled in setting up and administering the vault so as to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data.

Activating Oracle standby database

A standby database is essentially a mirror of the primary database. It can be a critical part of the strategy to ensure availability of data to users as it provides a means of failover in case of database corruption or crashes. It is also used to provide read-only access for reporting purposes.

A DBA with years of experience should be aware of the considerations in setting up a standby database.

Mastering the use of trace files

Trace files could be generated by Oracle in the case of internal errors or can be explicitly created by a DBA. Surprisingly enough, many DBAs either tend to ignore the utility of a trace file or are not aware of the usage. An experienced Oracle DBA should know how to read trace files by using tools such as tkprof and create trace files for diagnosing issues related to poor performance or throughput.

Oracle Clusterware and Real Applications Clusters (RAC)

Oracle RAC provides an excellent technology-based solution for providing high availability, increasing scalability, consolidation of server and storage resources, and reduction in costs. An experienced Oracle DBA should be able to know the nuances of installing, setting up, and administering an Oracle RAC database.

Team skills

A senior Oracle DBA could be managing a team of DBAs and be responsible for motivating, training, and allocating tasks to team members. Even if that is not the case, a Senior Oracle DBA should have good people skills and be a team player who makes an effort to communicate with other team members successfully.

Every day brings new challenges and opportunities. Learning is a never-ending process, even for an experienced DBA. The key to advancing in this job is to continuously adapt, learn, practice, question, and grow.

To learn more about the DBA’s evolving role in today’s changing enviroment please contact Datavail today. With more than 600 database administrators worldwide, Datavail is the largest database services provider in North America. As a reliable provider of 24x7 managed services for applications, BI/Analytics, and databases, Datavail can support your organization, regardless of the build you’ve selected.

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