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Database expert versus data engineer. Tribal struggle or collaboration?

With the transition of databases to or in the Cloud, we no longer need a DBA or database expert’. A comment we are hearing more and more and there are even organizations already putting it into practice. This is because the platform is ‘fully managed’ by the cloud provider.

The data engineer can independently deploy cloud databases, set up data pipelines and unlock data. No-worries about the database. Yet we also see the other side of the coin: increasing Cloud costs due to scaling resources, disjointed infrastructure and disappointing performance. As a result, the data platform does not meet the growing business need to perform advanced data analytics. So what brings the database expert to the table in these types of situations anyway?

Edco Wallet

Co-Founder & eigenaar
Edco Wallet - Co-Founder & eigenaar

Difference in focus and expertise

A database expert and a data engineer have a different focus. This may explain why organizations that rely purely on a data engineer do not get far enough in data platform projects. Here are some reasons that may explain this difference.

Specialization in databases and systems

  • Database experts have deep specialization in database management systems, data integrity and database performance optimization. They understand complex databasestructures, indexing, query optimization, and have expertise in identifying and resolving database technical backlogs.
  • Data engineers deal with data collection, cleansing and transformation, with less focus on deep optimization and configuration of the underlying database systems.

Configuration and technology upgrades

  • Database experts have a keen eye for configuration optimization and understand the nuances of technology upgrades. They know how to modernize an aging database. infrastructure and what steps are required for a smooth migration to new technologies.
  • Data engineers are skilled at designing and implementing data transformations, but may be less adept at addressing in-depth database configuration and upgrade issues.

Capacity planning and scalability.

  • Database experts are well equipped to evaluate an organization’s capacity needs and suggest the best-fit scalability solutions. They understand the complexity of managing large data sets and know what tools and services are needed for effective expansion, at the lowest possible cloud cost.
  • Data engineers tend to focus more on data transformations and flows and may have less experience dealing with the broader context of capacity planning at the infrastructure level.

Managing technology complexity.

  • Database experts: Managing database technology complexity requires in-depth knowledge of various technologies and systems. Database experts are experienced in handling complex configurations, implementing security measures and optimizing overall performance.
  • Data engineers are often more focused on developing data transformations and pipelines, and may be less familiar with the deep technical finer points of database management.

Collaboration for synergy

While data engineers are essential for building and maintaining data flows and transformations, the lack of specific expertise in deep database configurations and optimization can prevent organizations from reaping the full benefits of an advanced and efficient data platform. A collaboration between data engineers and database experts can provide a synergistic approach and ensure comprehensive data platform optimization.


Setting up and implementing a data platform is a complex undertaking that requires technical expertise in addition to a holistic approach to data management. With an experienced database expert at the helm, an organization can not only overcome the technical challenges, but also build a foundation for future growth and innovation in data analytics. Transformation goes beyond technology. It is a journey toward unlocking the full potential of data and creating value for the organization as a whole.

Want to know more?

Have you implemented or are planning to implement a data platform? Are you not (yet) satisfied with the performance, capabilities or worried about your Cloud costs? Please feel free to contact us, we are happy to look with you and can help you towards a stable, scalable and efficient data platform.