The Most Common Types of DBAs

By | In Database Administration | March 30th, 2017

Database administration is a vast field that encompasses a massive number of job functions and tasks. Starting from designing a database to troubleshooting and monitoring, there are many areas one needs to administer in order to become a successful DBA.

The job of a DBA can benefit from many different skill sets. Some DBAs prefer to learn the fundamentals and get experienced in managing the entire life cycle of a DBMS. Others, however, prefer to specialize in one or more areas, depending on their preference and the correlation between the areas they want to specialize in. Often, the DBA has no choice, and performs a generalist or specialist role as dictated by their organization’s management team.

Why split the role?

Consider a large organization in which the DBMS consists of several databases, running on a server farm. This type of an organization probably handles millions of transactions daily, and they also run their own analytics service on a separate data warehouse.

In this scenario, there would be complex database management and administration tasks involved, such as data backup and recovery, automation, performance tuning, troubleshooting and monitoring, auditing and logging, reporting, and managing the data warehouse. Could one DBA possibly handle it all? This is where the specialized DBA roles come in handy.

In this blog post, we want to give you a brief overview of the most common types of DBAs. For a more comprehensive look at the skills and abilities required for these three eight types of DBAs, download our white paper, The Many Different Types of DBAs.

According to the white paper,

“The rationale for creating a separate position is that the skills required for designing new databases are different from the skills required to keep an existing database implementation up and running.”

Read on to find out what these separate DBA positions can look like.

System DBA — Responsible for the system administration. This type of DBA focuses on the technical aspects of the database rather than the business aspects. They rarely engage in the implementation of database applications. The responsibilities of a System DBA include installing and configuring database software, applying upgrades and patches from the vendor, configuring the database system with permission levels and storage systems, and integrating third-party database tools on the database software.

Database architect — Responsible for designing and implementing new DBMS for business purposes. Their responsibilities don’t go as far as maintenance or administration, ending with implementing the DBMS. Typical responsibilities of a database architect are designing the logical model of a DBMS; transforming the logical design to the physical database with keys, constraints and indexing; and creating strategies for backup and recovery of data.

Database analyst – This role is somewhat similar to that of a database architect. In most cases, junior engineers who would like to become database architects would take this on in order to get exposure and experience.

Data modeler – Performs data modeling for a particular business requirement. His or her typical responsibilities include collecting and analyzing data requirements and designing conceptual and logical data models.

Application DBA — As the white paper suggests, this is in direct contrast to the role of a system DBA. An application DBA focuses on a specific business application. He or she would be an expert in SQL and would implement the application business logic using SQL or any other query language. They would be also responsible for performance tuning of the database application.

Task-oriented DBA – A task-oriented DBA is a very knowledgeable specialist who focuses on specific, important DBA tasks. One example is a backup-and-recovery DBA who devotes his entire day to ensuring the recoverability of the organization’s databases. Security, compliance and data protection are other subjects that could be the focus of a task-oriented DBA.

Performance analyst — A task-oriented DBA who focuses on the performance of the DBMS and database applications. The job includes reviewing database design for performance bottlenecks and tuning the database to improve performance.

Data warehouse administrator — Used in organizations that maintain a data warehouse for BI and analytics purposes. This type of DBA is responsible for setting up and configuring the DW, setting up ETL (extract, transform and load) process, and maintenance of the DW.

Which DBA type are you? DBAs are often tasked with after-hours coverage, making quality of life difficult and workplace stress standard. Datavail can help by providing coverage for nights, weekends, and holidays so you can focus on strategic projects and reduce stress. To learn more about each of these DBA types,please download the white paper or contact Datavail today.

Craig Mullins
Consultant at Mullins Consulting, Inc
Craig S. Mullins is working with Datavail and its DB2 practice to expand offerings. He is president and principal consultant at Mullins Consulting, Inc. and the publisher of The Database Site. Mullins has 30 years of experience in all facets of database management and is the author of two books: “DB2 Developer’s Guide” currently in its 6th edition and “Database Administration: The Complete Guide to DBA Practices and Procedures,” the industry’s only guide to heterogeneous DBA.

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