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The multi-platform database administrator’s language knack

It’s not for every DBA, I’ll say that right off the bat. It has to suit you. But if you have a database language bug, I do recommend it. Because the broadening of my knowledge alone enables me to advise companies even better. If you’ve been with multiple parties, then you can also advise on how things are done with other customers and what the advantages and disadvantages of that are.

Originally, I am a real Oracle DBA and I used to wear blinders. I would often say ‘Oracle is the best’ and all the others are – let me put it this way – ‘slightly less’. But I have also come to realize that this is not true at all.

Better advice thanks to broader knowledge

As a database administrator at Tennet, one moment I’m working on an Oracle database, the next moment you get a question about a Microsoft SQL Server and the next moment an incident comes in that relates to MySQL. And just like on vacation when you’re talking to people in different languages, you have to pay close attention and keep focus to avoid mixing up languages.

Still, for me as a multi-platform administrator, it’s just fine, and the mental switch, meanwhile, is converted in a split second.

There is no one perfect database. But there is THE perfect database for the application you want to run.

People often ask me what I think is the best database, which database I prefer. And to that I have a simple but effective answer: there is no one perfect database. But there is THE perfect database for the application you want to run. And in this day and age, you see more and more applications using a database other than the “big two,” Oracle and SQL Server.

Free does not exist

There are several considerations in choosing a platform. One of the biggest drivers is obviously the cost of the platform, as generally Oracle and Microsoft are considered expensive. But even open-source databases are ultimately not free. You can run them for free, but you will still have to pay for support.

Either with us or with a commercial vendor. For example, Oracle bought MySQL and for support Oracle you will still have to pay something for that. With MongoDB, you can also buy support. You can do it without support, but you may run into something that requires very specialized knowledge and that is usually not available in-house at companies.

Different functionalities

The different flavors of databases also have different functionalities. Just compare the features of a relational database with the capabilities of NoSQL databases. Relational databases store tables, establish relationships between tables and thus ensure that data remains consistent. But if you look at the noSQL databases that store documents, for example, the relationships are much less important.

And what matters most is how fast the documents can be requested and how scalable your environment is. So, in short, there is not really one database that is perfect for everything.

The different platforms also use many features from each other. Not only do Oracle and Microsoft borrow from each other, you certainly see it in the open source world as well. And you see similar features coming back at MySQL and PostgreSQL. For the simple reason that people simply need those features.

Specific purpose

In the past decade, there have been a lot of databases created for a specific purpose. That has everything to do with the rise of social media platforms and other online platforms. Think LinkedIn, Facebook, but also streaming platform Netflix. At some point, they ran into limitations of the then-standard databases. And they finally just decided to develop their own platform.

In the course of time, other parties started using those databases as well, but ran into the limitations of what it was once created for. That is why more and more features are added, so that even those open-source platforms end up being suitable for all kinds of different applications. Thus, it is being used more and more often and for more products and services.

Ever easier

Originally, as mentioned, I am an Oracle DBA. At some point I came into contact with Microsoft SQL Server and got to know that platform as well. And when I joined OptimaData, it turned out that I had secretly already gained so much experience on the platform that I knew a lot more than I thought I did. Your first database is quite a steep learning curve initially. But the moment you start working with more platforms, you will see that there are many similarities.

The technology is slightly different, but the principles behind it are all the same. And the more platforms you get to know, the easier it is to recognize the principles behind a platform. So you pick up a platform much easier. So the first platform you will have a steep learning curve, but by your second, third or fourth platform you will see that it gets easier and easier!


Many companies currently have only Oracle knowledge in-house. But what if a product suddenly comes along that runs only on MySQL or on MongoDB? Do you then choose not to use the product? Or do you make sure the database administrators can take a course or training to level up their knowledge for those platforms as well?

Another option is to bring in someone who can support multiple platforms, such as a multi-platform DBA from OptimaData. This has the advantage of allowing existing administrators to see the added value of having knowledge of multiple platforms. In fact, we can also provide a piece of internal training. And so you kill two birds with one stone.