A common complaint from DBAs is that they are very busy with everyday business, processing tickets and putting out fires. They find little time for optimization, self-development and innovation. On the other hand, a common complaint about DBAs is that they lean back and are not in the ‘cooperative mode’. Could one have something to do with the other? How do you overcome this?
At several organizations we still see a DBA who is supposed to primarily monitor the status quo, ensure stability, prevent as much unrest as possible and keep the database environment up and running. Often that DBA is the only one of his kind in the organization and is also seen internally as the database expert. But is that really justified? And aren't we perpetuating a pattern through these kind of expectations? After all, this DBA doesn't have time to spin up an open source database in the cloud to get a feel for how that latest Kubernetes operator exactly works.
This also means that if, in such a situation, you ask this ‘database expert’ if a migration to a Kubernetes-driven cloud data platform is possible... it will probably remain silent for a long time. Thus, people keep doing what they always did. And the organization gets the results it has always gotten. Or they hire externally, and the DBA watches from the sidelines. The DBA is still there to maintain the legacy systems after the migration. The new data platform is ‘fully managed’ in the cloud, with all the additional and probably increasing costs that go with it.
From leaning back to leaning forward
Most database professionals who are in such a position say they can spend about five percent of their work time doing other things than their day-to-day management tasks. If you can spend this five percent on a few automation scripts for, say, some control tasks, then within a month ten percent of your work time is freed up. Do this again and you will see that within a few months twenty percent of your time has been ‘gained’. This time can then be used to keep up with new technological developments, experiment with them, and, where possible, apply them to the database environment. Above all, you can create the time to optimize the database environment and allow it to evolve in step with the growth and development of the organization.
This is precisely the advantage of automation. By scripting and automating repetitive or time-consuming tasks, the DBA frees up time for the real work: advising the client and helping them set up their own data management better and more efficiently. There is more time for detailed analysis and coming up with good solutions. The time saved by automating management tasks and setting up efficient management gives the DBA more breathing space. You could call it ‘redundancy’, but by using this time to gain knowledge and skills it becomes useful redundancy. And it benefits the continuity, integrity, security and availability of digital information resources within an organization. And that, ultimately, is what every database expert would like to achieve.
Outsourcing is not a sign of weakness
All in all, this shift in database management cannot be enforced or implemented overnight. After all, everyday business doesn’t just disappear and the DBA is still expected to do his job. What will you tackle first, optimization or automation? It can't hurt to initiate the first steps of this change by having an external database expert take a look with you. This immediately gives you room to start making small changes and to get the team, the database professional and the organization going in the right direction to take this step. The external database expert can also be flexibly disengaged once a number of goals have been achieved.
Best of both worlds
What do you get in return? Well, a calm and satisfied DBA who can now lean forward and brainstorm together with DevOps teams, connect in Agile sprints, thus feeling what the developers need and already putting in place what will help them. A DBA that comes up with innovative ideas, applying the latest technologies. This accelerates development so that your data platform, your database environment, becomes future-proof, stable and at the same time flexibly moves along with the growth and needs of the business and the organization.
Do you want this too?
We have gone through such an optimization process several times with several of our customers. We know the best practices of most database management systems, such as PostgreSQL, MySQL, MariaDB, and Microsoft SQL Server. We have also accumulated an extensive repository of maintenance, automation and (cloud) deployment scripts. You don't have to reinvent the wheel! We can help you take the next step towards a future-proof, robust and stable data platform. Please feel free to contact us.