Database Management

Formal Definition[]

A database administrator (DBA) directs or performs all activities related to maintaining a successful database environment. Responsibilities include designing, implementing, and maintaining the database system; establishing policies and procedures pertaining to the management, security, maintenance, and use of the database management system; and training employees in database management and use. A DBA is expected to stay abreast of emerging technologies and new design approaches. Typically, a DBA has either a degree in Computer Science and some on-the-job training with a particular database product or more extensive experience with a range of database products. A DBA is usually expected to have experience with one or more of the major database management products, such as Structured Query Language, SAP, and Oracle-based database management software.


The prupose of a DBA is to ensure data stored and being processed is relevant, accurate, and factual or true. They are hired to manage the databases and crucial information a firm has, and/or is trying to collect.

Types of DBAs[]

There are DBAs who focus on logical design and DBAs who focus on physical design; DBAs who specialize in building systems and DBAs who specialize in maintaining and tuning systems; specialty DBAs and general-purpose DBAs. Truly, the job of DBA encompasses many roles. Some organizations choose to split DBA responsibilities into separate jobs. Of course, this occurs most frequently in larger organizations, because smaller organizations often cannot afford the luxury of having multiple, specialty DBAs. Still other companies simply hire DBAs to perform all of the tasks required to design, create, document, tune, and maintain the organization’s data, databases, and database management systems. Let’s look at some of the more common types of DBA.

A Day in the Life of a DBA[]

A day in the life of a DBA is usually quite hectic. The DBA maintains production and test environments, monitors active application development projects, attends strategy and design meetings, selects and evaluates new products, and connects legacy systems to the Web. And, of course: Joe in Accounting, he just resubmitted that query from hell that’s bringing the system to a halt. Can you do something about that? All of this can occur within a single workday.

To add to the chaos, DBAs are expected to know everything about everything. From technical and business jargon to the latest management and technology fads, the DBA is expected to be “in the know.” And do not expect any private time: A DBA must be prepared for interruptions at any time to answer any type of question—and not just about databases, either.

When application problems occur, the database environment is frequently the first thing blamed. The database is “guilty until proven innocent.” A DBA is rarely approached with a question like “I’ve got some really bad SQL here. Can you help me fix it?” Instead, the DBA is forced to investigate problems where the underlying assumption is that the DBMS or perhaps the DBA is at fault, when the most common cause of relational performance problems is inefficiently coded applications.

Oftentimes the DBA is forced to prove that the database is not the source of the problem. The DBA must know enough about all aspects of IT to track down errors and exonerate the DBMS and database structures he has designed. So he must be an expert in database technology, but also have semiexpert knowledge of the IT components with which the DBMS interacts: application programming languages, operating systems, network protocols and products,transaction processors, every type of computer hardware imaginable, and more. The need to understand such diverse elements makes the DBA a very valuable resource. It also makes the job interesting and challenging. If database administration still sounds intriguing to you, read on. Actually, the job isn’t as bad as it sounds. The work is interesting, there is always something new to learn, and, as previously mentioned, the pay can be good. The only question is: Can anyone do this type of job for twenty or more years without needing a rest? And, oh, by the way, I think I hear your pager going off, so you might want to pause here to see what is wrong.[1]

Professional Certification[]

Many companies either look for or require a professional certification for database administration. Currently, there is a plethora of different database certifications that one can obtain, including certification in Oracle, SQL, and Sybase. One of the most notable certification programs is the Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA). Like most certification programs, the MCDBA consists of a paid test that assesses the applicants’ database knowledge and construction skills. The completion of at least one of these programs is an excellent way to get an upper-hand in the IT field as it provides distinct recognition and exhibits a thorough understanding of the field.


[IEEE 90] Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. IEEE Standard Computer Dictionary: A Compilation of IEEE Standard Computer Glossaries. New York, NY: 1990.

From Craig Mullins' Database Administration: The Complete Guide to Practices and Procedures, Addison Wesley Professional; ISBN: 0201741296; 1st edition (June 14, 2002).

Jack Belzer, Albert G Holzman, Allen Kent. Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology, Marcel Dekker April 1, 1980 ISBN: 0824722140