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Is the DBA Role Dead! Not By a Long Shot!

Posted by Rob Risetto on June 19, 2015

The following article from SQL Magazine (The DBA is Alive and Well—Here’s Why) provides a couple of opinions as to why the DBA role is not dead, I would like to add my two cents worth to this discussion.

Contrary to popular belief the Cloud presents a huge opportunity for DBAs, especially in relation to running SQL Server on virtual machines on Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Windows Azure.

Each Cloud provider’s environment has its own idiosyncrasies and challenges in relation to SQL Server performance, data security and high availability.

A DBA will need to take their current knowledge and skill set and adapt and extend those skills to successfully deploy SQL Server to a Cloud VM platform, just as they did when SQL Servers were moved to the VMware virtualisation platform.

For example, in the AWS environment, the DBA will need to know about the limitations and best practices relating to the EBS disk system and EBS optimised instances (network bandwidth to network attached disks), and come up with a disk partitioning and database file placement strategy. They will also need to consider whether to place the TempDB on the ephemeral attached disk and how to configure a SQL Server restart to ensure that the TempDB is recreated successfully.

DBAs will also need to determine how to best perform and protect database backups. For example, do you write backup files to EBS disk and then move the backup file to blob storage like S3 for higher retention and then finally move the backup file to Glacier storage for archiving, or do you take a snapshot of the backup disk to get a restorable disk copy on S3 storage. On Windows Azure do you just write to the blog storage directly?

WRT backup security, should the DBA encrypt the database backup files to ensure no one, including AWS or Azure operators can copy/restore your backup elsewhere?

What about high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR)?

AWS provides a number of options to create sophisticated and comprehensive HA and DR solutions within its Availability Zones (Data Centres in the same region), over multiple Regions (Data Centres in difference countries) or hybrid solutions between AWS and On-Premise. In all cases the DBA will need take their specialist high availability knowledge and skills and apply them to the Cloud environment.

In addition, the DBAs will be required to plan and implement database migrations to the Cloud, whether it’s on a Cloud provider’s virtual machine or to a managed offering like Azure Database or AWS RDS.

Is the DBA dead? Not by a long shot, however there are no free lunches, as mentioned above, DBAs will need to extend their knowledge and skills to overcome the challenges of the Cloud.

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