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How relevant is the DBA in cloudland?

Recently, the question increasingly arises whether a Database Administrator (DBA) is still relevant when using a Database-as-a-Service (PaaS and DBaaS)? In the case of an Azure SQL Database, Microsoft’s DBaaS solution in the Azure cloud, there are some specific aspects where a Database Administrator (DBA) definitely plays a relevant role. In this blog, we explain why even when using Microsoft Azure SQL (basically the online version of SQL Server), there is an important role for the DBA.

Edco Wallet

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

Performance Optimization

Sure, Azure SQL Database offers certain automatic optimizations (create and drop index, force last good plan), there may still be specific configuration and query tuning tasks needed to achieve the best performance for your specific application (e.g., long running queries, parallelism issues, etc.). A DBA can help identify and address performance issues.

Security and compliance

Although Azure SQL Database offers built-in security features such as advanced security and Azure Active Directory integration, it is still important to ensure access management, audit logs and compliance with industry-related regulations. Applying the least privilege principle in your database remains a painstaking task. DBA can manage these aspects for you.

Data migration

If you are migrating data to Azure SQL Database, a DBA can help plan and execute the migration. In this way, he or she ensures that data integrity is maintained. There are many ways of migrating data: bcp, SSIS, DMA, SSMA, Azure DMS, SQL Data Sync and BACPAC. And even then, the list is not complete. And each of the ways has its pros and cons in terms of downtime, simplicity and cost.

Continuity and recovery.

DBAs can develop and maintain backup and recovery strategies to ensure that your data is protected and that you can recover quickly in case of failures. Taking into account the desired recovery time objective and recovery point objective.

Automation and scalability.

A DBA can create automation scripts to simplify tasks. Consider scaling the database based on workload or implementing new features.

Monitoring and troubleshooting

Monitoring performance and troubleshooting remains a task for a DBA, even in a DBaaS environment. A DBA can use tools to monitor the health of the database and troubleshoot problems as needed.

Inventory keeping

It is advisable to also keep an inventory or CMDB of the databases. If you don’t know what databases there are how can you manage them? Maybe not important for the companies with only a few servers, but when there are more, you can easily forget about a SQL Server or cloud database.

In on-premises this is often already a forgotten task, but in the cloud it becomes even more difficult, given how easy it is to add a database. So actually, you should make sure the inventory is updated already in the Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) pipeline.

Cost Management

DBAs can help manage Azure SQL Database costs, for example, by ensuring that you are using the right service and scaling levels and identifying and eliminating unused resources.

Conclusion: From DBA to DeDBAas, a DBA’s expertise remains crucial, even in cloud management

Although Azure SQL Database automates many tasks and facilitates management, the expertise of a DBA remains valuable in ensuring that the database performs optimally, is secure and meets the unique needs of your organization. The specific duties of a DBA in an Azure SQL Database environment can vary depending on the complexity of the implementation and the requirements of the organization.

For your consideration: employ DBA full-time or hire part-time?

What may be a legitimate consideration is wondering whether you still want to employ or keep your own full-time DBA. Because many regular (read old-fashioned) management tasks are dropped because the “as-a-Service” automates them, this DBA may spend less time doing the work he or she used to do.

In some organizations, this DBA shifts in part more toward Datasteward or Data-Engineer. In the long run, there could be a risk that you no longer have direct and substantive database expertise in-house. In other cases, the role of the DBA shifts toward DevOps, acting more like a Database Reliability Engineer.

Comprehensive DBA team with strong content database expertise

OptimaData has a sizeable team of experienced and “multi-platform” Database Reliability Engineers. Just as you bill the cloud database on an hourly basis, OptimaData’s expertise can also be deployed on demand. The big advantage of this is the assurance of strong content expertise at your fingertips at only a fraction of the original management costs. And intervention when needed, in the middle of the night if necessary.

Migration advice from a Database expert

Before you get to that point, there is still the question of which Azure SQL option you are going to use (SQL Server on Azure VMs, Azure SQL Managed Instance or Azure SQL Database) or even a mix of them. And if you go for Azure SQL database which purchasing model do you choose DTU or vCore (and within that provisioned or serverless). How do you integrate the available tooling into Azure and how will you design the migration? The choice is vast and input from an independent database expert makes all the difference.

Want to know more?

Are you considering migrating to the cloud or toying with the idea of reorganizing your management team? OptimaData can provide support in making the right choices, going through a migration readiness program or mapping cloud and management costs through a benchmark. Instantly having a Trusted Advisor behind you for “suppose it’s necessary” and “who do you gonna call”? Feel free to contact us.