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Without a database no Jaap van Dissel or Elon Musk

What has always surprised Gerard Zuidweg, Managing Partner at OptimaData, is that the profession of database administrator is often somewhat undervalued. And that while a well-organized database is crucial to any IT solution. It may not be the sexiest profession in the world, but it is one that should be cherished. In this blog, Gerard explains why.

Gerard Zuidweg

Managing Partner
Gerard Zuidweg - Managing Partner

Greatest of all

Over five years ago, as a former banker, I made the switch to the world of database management. What struck me immediately was how undervalued the profession is. And that while many of the world’s giants would be nowhere without a well-organized digital filing cabinet. Take Elon Musk. Without a tightly organised database, his space plans would go up in smoke, he could just about close down Tesla and PayPal’s 403 million active accounts would be gone in no time.

Someone like Jaap van Dissel, who has to guide us through the pandemic, is also dependent on a well-organized database. And a platform like can only be active worldwide thanks to… you guessed it: a huge database.

Everything comes to a standstill

If a database goes down – due to a cyber attack or other serious malfunction – everything comes to a halt. Sales stop, innovations slow down, entire companies come to a standstill when the database becomes inaccessible. Maintaining such an environment requires a great deal of knowledge and expertise, and I think that should be said out loud. A database may seem like nothing more than a digital filing cabinet and that’s how it started, as a way to easily store and manage data.

In the meantime, it is much more than that. The speed at which you search for an airline ticket is largely determined by the way the database is set up and performs. A kitchen supplier who carries ten brands can only run an efficient business if the database is in order.

In the spotlight

In short, I think that database administrators should be put in the spotlight for a change. It may not be the sexiest profession in the world, but it requires in-depth knowledge of the entire IT stack on the one hand and a focus to oversee all the small details within a database environment and be able to analyze complex queries, for example.

That’s a skill that you have to nurture. And we are far from there yet, when it comes to database challenges. The volume of databases continues to grow solidly, as do security requirements. The management and maintenance of infrastructures is becoming increasingly complex, especially in combination with different cloud technologies and revenue models of cloud providers. Not to mention the scalability, the communication within the databases and the distances that have to be bridged between different data center locations for globally operating companies.

Future-proof setup

The questions posed by Elon Musk require extremely extensive queries; Van Dissel of the RIVM must have the most up-to-date figures available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You sometimes hear that people expect more and more automatic database environments to emerge, but I personally find that hard to believe.

Yes, I believe that you can automate about sixty percent of database work, but there will always be a need for knowledge and expertise to set up a database as efficiently, scalably and future-proof as possible.

Different perspective

Look at your database administrator or rather database expert from a different perspective, take good care of your data and your database environment, make use of the modern developments that are available, but also make sure that you have and keep the expertise and knowledge to meet the challenges of the future.


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