Why Should DBAs Be Involved in Application Development?

By | In SQL Server | July 27th, 2016

Data drives business. Data drives applications. And who knows data better than the database administrator? DBAs have a very important role to play in organizing application development.

Application developers typically work in a vacuum, with little DBA support. Each developer has a different expertise. One developer may be astute in working with Java, while another developer can develop html, SQL or JavaScript. Typically, each of these individuals in the organization supports a very specific portion of an application’s development, with little overlap.

We at Datavail most often are brought in to tune up the performance of an application because it is running slowly or otherwise not working as intended. Most often, the problems with the application arise because it was developed in a vacuum. Why not bring a database administrator into the development project from the start rather than wait until the project is complete?

Database Administrators Support Good Development Processes

Having database administrators support application development from the outset helps alleviate problems, delays, and other issues with the development process and with the application before it is deployed.

Think about it. Retrofitting an application is a nightmare! If you had a punch list before you started developing an application, you could avoid or resolve issues related to data management, the security framework, and the data interface. Take the security framework, a requirement that takes a great deal of effort to be properly executed. You must develop your code with a clear security framework in place from the outset to ensure both the database and application are secure. It’s one of those essential tasks that takes effort to be completed properly. If you miss it, and have to retrofit the application, it will take three times or more work than if you designed with the security framework in mind in the first place.

When DBAs Act as the Application Architect

Having a database administrator serve as the database architect can bring a big-picture, data-centric approach to your application project. She can focus the project and drive it in the right direction.

A database administrator has the expertise to eliminate development bottlenecks in the design of the database from the outset. Projects are often slowed by various tasks not being assigned to the individuals or groups with the appropriate skills or expertise.

Having a database administrator act as a resource and a coordinator for the development team from the outset helps eliminate numerous problems that create bottlenecks and slow application development.

You should now have some ideas about how a database administrator can help effectively guide application development. More detailed information is available in our latest white paper, DevOps – How DBAs Can Help Speed Application Development.

If you need help with this or other application development issues beyond the scope of this post, please contact Datavail for more information on how we might best support you and your organization with custom solutions tailored to your specific needs.

Contact Us
Scott Frock
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Scott is the Executive VP & Chief Operating Officer for Datavail, an IT leader in database administration as a managed service. Prior to joining Datavail, Scott was a founder in a start-up information technology company where he was responsible for the engineering and operations of a multi-tenant cloud that serviced enterprise applications. In his career, Scott has managed the build-out of multiple global data centers using VCE, CISCO UCS, VMware, and EMC technologies. As a management advisor to several CIOs, he has lead the development of enterprise business plans and technology strategies. He has experience in all facets of an IT services business from sales through operations. He has worked in outsourced ICT managed services for almost three decades and has experience in the government, communications, manufacturing and retail verticals.

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4 thoughts on “Why Should DBAs Be Involved in Application Development?”
  1. Typically, an Oracle DBA can do all sort of things, especially in a small to medium scale shops. However, in large organizations, IT roles are specialists’ functions, where a DBA may be strictly in control of the database of a specific business domain of the firm, and an Application Architect or Application Developer is in the application development process of the business, whether business applications or web centric, e-commerce applications that require enterprise software such as Java. The truth is that the experienced Oracle DBA, who has been through it all, can work across lines of IT functions, and eventually become an enterprise architect. Application Development is of course a necessary part of the enterprise IT functions, and for any DBA, software development skills in the era of cloud computing have become essential in order to deliver on the job and work with both Developers and DBAs. The goal is to be able to design enterprise architecture platforms that serve the enterprise with accurate data integrity and of course, all applications must leverage the database management platform as foundation for the business data. Therefore, for the DBAs of this age, when an application development role is called for, they should be at home, especially if they have learnt the basics of software programming languages such as Java, HTML in addition to SQL, PL/SQL, etc! There should be no strict separation line of duty between the Application Developer or Architect and the DBAs! In any case, Oracle is encouraging all DBAs to become Developers as well as business gurus, so in addition to being a Developer and DBAs combined, DBAs are strongly encouraged to bag their MBAs. It is about the business, and the modern business is driven by well-designed data architecture. No doubt, all of the above skills require a lot study and work experience and the reason why tested IT professionals demand great pay salary. Thank you!

  2. hi,i already learn about DBA in little bit but this post gives a usefull information to me ,all the developement of apps also need a DBA for storage thanks for sharing your ideas to me

  3. I want advised on this: Can the DBA also be the App Developer?? is this in line with best practice??

    1. Hello Maureen. Certainly there are many successful examples of where one person fulfills multiple rolls. As the size and complexity of a team grows, we typically see the role of application developer split from the DBA; it is difficult to be an expert developer and an expert DBA both as there is so much to master in each discipline. The macro trend that we observe across our customer base is the DBA function moving into a third major organizational structure parallel to Infrastructure and Application (not part of either but supporting both) in order to focus on items like master data management, data governance, and data security. We see this trend more in organizations that leverage data as a differentiator.

      So to answer your question; the “typical” practice depends somewhat on the size of the organization. In the smaller organizations, the best practice we see is to augment the team with subject matter experts to make sure the skills are available when needed; even though they may not be needed full-time. So acquiring a managed service to support the team is a frequent solution.

      Hope that helps.