As DevOps adoption continues to grow, organizations are competing to find the best and brightest application developers available. Meanwhile, database administrators (DBAs) are hard at work in the background to keep up with the burgeoning number of databases platforms developers deploy.
DBAs have it rough. If developers are the James Bonds of the IT world, then DBAs are the Qs who quietly toil away to create the next big toy that Bond will destroy.
The average DBA in a large enterprise can be tasked to manage 40 or more databases spread across various development stages. These disparate and sometimes rogue databases compete for the same compute and storage resources. Nearly all come with their own reporting and management tools. And when they break or fail, any number or combination of factors can be blamed.
Database growth is especially difficult to control when companies such Amazon Web Services make it easy for any developer to create one. The AWS site, for example, provides just five easy steps to create a MongoDB database. Compare that to the time and work that goes into hiring, training and retaining more DBAs.
Overloaded DBAs can overlook issues that lead to data loss or missed insights that affect revenue and productivity. If you can’t establish policies that control database growth, then think about ways to help your DBAs keep up and stay ahead of the game. Here are five possible tips:
Focus and eliminate distractions
DBAs can sometimes be lumped into general, overarching IT roles including help desk, backup and recovery or system upgrades. You probably wouldn’t want your developer to multitask, so why ask the DBA on the back end to do that? Give DBAs the opportunity to move beyond the firefighting role to focus more on proactively improving application performance. In the long run, this approach will eliminate fires before they occur.
Give DBAs time to train on new databases
By eliminating outside distractions, DBAs have more time to spread their knowledge across traditional databases including MySQL, Oracle or Microsoft SQL, and develop their expertise on more modern open-source databases such as Couchbase, Cassandra or PostgreSQL.
Centralize monitoring tools
The management tools that come with most databases provide a limited view of their broader environment. Centralized tools can provide visibility across the entire application stack. They show how databases interact with shared resources and unveil interdependent factors that lead to failures and performance issues. A centralized tool allows DBAs that “Monday morning coffee” view of all databases on one screen to determine which one needs the greatest or more immediate attention.
Deputize your DBAs to enforce database policies
Give your DBAs the power to evaluate and regulate new databases. This role is difficult to maintain if you confine DBAs to a traditional operations team. If databases can cross boundaries, so should your DBA. They should be empowered to seek out and evaluate databases that might be redundant, resource-intensive or unused. This means giving them the ability to say no to new databases unless they have a clear and compelling argument to be created. DBAs also deserve the authority to create a common set of goals, metrics and SLAs that must be met by all databases.
Hire and treat your DBAs like rock stars
It is becoming increasing more challenging to find and hire talented DBAs—especially the ones who can multitask across multiple database platforms. According to a survey in 2015, “The Vanishing Database Administrator,” more than 41 percent of database professionals surveyed said they intended to leave the data management field within the next 10 years. Possibly because of the impending shortage, the DBA profession is now seen as one of the hottest IT careers over the next several years. CNN Money ranks it as No. 9 in its 2017 Best Jobs in America. Employers should give particular consideration to these candidates and do everything they can to retain them.
If you want your data to continue playing a central role in your business, give your DBAs as much recognition and credit as your developers. Behind every developer, there’s a DBA keeping applications and data running at top speed. Remember Bond could never be successful with his Q.
About the Author / Cameron Jones
Cameron Jones is the Principal Product Manager at Blue Medora. Based in Grand Rapids, MI, he has been with Blue Medora for over 5 years working with partners and customers to ensure the highest value of Blue Medora products. This has involved initial investigation, feature planning and ensuring customer satisfaction. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.