One of the possible career paths in the IT industry is to become a database administrator (DBA). This job needs a lot of technical expertise and a fresher will need to work his way to develop the skills required for a DBA.
The main responsibilities of a DBA are installing and maintaining the database and applying required patches, upgrading to newer versions and ensuring security of the database.
A database is a storehouse for information, this information is stored so as to facilitate quick and efficient storage, access and update. Different vendors such as Microsoft, Oracle and IBM compete in the marketplace with their databases. The DBA is the point of contact for all issues related to database products. Starting with selecting the hardware for the database server, installing the database on the server, to monitoring the load, taking periodic backups and maintaining the database will be his responsibility.
Since the database is a very critical component for the software to run, the DBA has to guarantee its availability to users at all times. He will need to be conversant with different operating systems such as Windows and different flavours of Unix. He has to manage access control and permissions of the users. Data has to be replicated at fixed intervals to ensure business continuity in the event of any failure.
With increasing volumes of data performance can often become a bottleneck, tuning database performance is also a task which the DBA has to attend to. The last decade saw the emergence of cutting edge technology with faster servers and optimized database application, now we are seeing the consolidation stage where companies are trying to move distributed tasks to a single server for ease of management. This will be a challenging task for DBAs to tackle.
The DBA’s profile is different from a software programmer, he need not be well versed with different programming languages. He will have to learn scripting languages which are commonly used to automate routine tasks such as taking backup, deleting older log files which need to be scheduled at fixed frequency.
A graduate or a diploma holder can take up relevant courses to become familiar with the technical skills. Starting as a database programmer working on PL/SQL, you need to work your way up as a database designer and finally senior database administrator. Certifications are also offered by various vendors to test DBA skills which can add value to your profile.
The DBA is hired in all companies which use software applications, so the scope is not restricted to only IT companies. Banks, financial institutions, manufacturing sector companies, educational institutes and practically any organization which uses databases in its production systems will require the expertise of a DBA.
As the database is the backbone of any software application, the DBA may have to be on call at all hours to support any urgent issues. In larger setups, he will also have to work with remote teams based at different locations and time zones for faster responses to issues. As technology keeps evolving constantly, a DBA needs to keep himself updated with new tools and techniques.