1. A database administrator (DBA) directs or performs all activities related to maintaining a successful database environment. Responsibilities include designing, implementing, and maintaining the database system; establishing policies and procedures pertaining to the management, security, maintenance, and use of the database management system; and training employees in database management and use. A DBA is expected to stay abreast of emerging technologies and new design approaches. Typically, a DBA has either a degree in Computer Science and some on-the-job training with a particular database product or more extensive experience with a range of database products. A DBA is usually expected to have experience with one or more of the major database management products, such as Structured Query Language, SAP, and Oracle-based database management software.
2. A person responsible for the design and management of one or more databases and for the evaluation, selection and implementation of database management systems. In smaller organisations, the data administrator and database administrator are often one in the same; however, when they are different, the database administrator's function is more technical. The database administrator would implement the database software that meets the requirements outlined by the organisation's data administrator and systems analysts.
Tasks might include controling an organisation's data resources, using data dictionary software to ensure data integrity and security, recovering corrupted data and eliminating data redundancy and uses tuning tools to improve database performance.
3. A person responsible for the physical design and management of the database and for the evaluation, selection and implementation of the DBMS.
In most organizations, the database administrator and data administrator are one and the same; however, when the two responsibilities are managed separately, the database administrator's function is more technical.
A database administrator (DBA) is a person who is responsible for the environmental aspects of a database. In general, these include:
* Recoverability - Creating and testing Backups
* Integrity - Verifying or helping to verify data integrity
* Security - Defining and/or implementing access controls to the data
* Availability - Ensuring maximum uptime
* Performance - Ensuring maximum performance given budgetary constraints
* Development and testing support - Helping programmers and engineers to efficiently utilize the database.
Why Learn Database Administration?
Data is at the center of today's applications; today's organizations simply cannot operate without data. In many ways, business today is data. Without data, businesses would not have the ability to manage finances, conduct transactions, or contact their customers. Databases are created to store and organize this data. The better the design and utility of the database, the better the organization will be positioned to compete for business.
Indeed, one of the largest problems faced by IT organizations is ensuring quality database administration. A survey of IT managers conducted by Information Week in December 2000 showed that the top two database management execution issues faced by companies are ease of administration and availability of qualified administrators.
Both of these issues were cited by 58% of survey respondents. Additionally, the 1999 Market Compensation Survey conducted by people3, a Gartner Company, shows that DBA positions take longer to fill than any other position. Clearly, there is no lack of demand for DBA skills in today's job market.
You can find no more challenging job in IT than database administration. Fortunately, DBAs are well paid. DICE.com, a career planning and research Web site, provides valuable statistics on DBA compensation. For example, database administration is one of the top ten contract jobs when ranked by salary, as well as one of the top ten jobs for full-time employment. The mean compensation for DBA consultants is $81 per hour; the mean level of experience just 4.98 years. For full-time employees with four or more years of experience, the mean salary ranges from the low $60,000s to over $80,000. Figure 1-1 shows the mean salary for full-time DBAs broken down by years of experience.
Another Web site, searchdatabase.com, a portal of database information for IT professionals, conducted a salary survey of database professionals. As of late January 2001, the average annual salary for all database professionals was more than $62,000. As might be expected, as the years of experience and the number of people managed increases, so does the salary. Of course, DBA salaries, as with all salaries, vary by region of the country. In the United States, DBA salaries are usually higher in the Northeast and on the West Coast than in other regions.
So, DBAs are well paid, have challenging jobs, and are likely to be engaged in the most visible and important projects. What's not to like? Well, DBAs are expected to know everything, not just about database technologies, but about anything remotely connected to them. Database administration is a nonstop job, and DBAs work long days with lots of overtime, especially when performance is suffering or development projects are behind schedule. DBAs frequently have to work on weekends and holidays to maintain databases during off-peak hours. A DBA must be constantly available to deal with problems, because database applications run around the clock. Most DBAs carry pagers or cell phones so they can be reached at any time. If there is a database problem at 2:00 A.M., the DBA must get out of bed, clear his head, and solve the problem to get the applications back up and running. Failure to do so can result in database downtime, and that can completely shut down business processes. DBAs frequently spend weekends in front of the computer performing database maintenance and reorganizations during off peak hours. You can't bring mission-critical databases down during the nine-to-five day to maintain them. According to industry analysts at the META Group, the average DBA works more than fifty hours per week, including an average of six hours on weekends.
So, database administration is technically challenging and rewarding; it can also be exhausting and frustrating. But don't let that scare you. The positive aspects of the job far outweigh the negative.
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