The Database Administrator in a Cloud-Computing World

April 2, 2013 No Comments

The cloud is transforming the way businesses access and store critical applications and information, and it’s also changing the roles of IT workers in general and database administrators in particular.

While change within the enterprise often brings with it a certain level of uncertainty (will my job be off-shored, will I have the chops to manage a new open-source platform, etc.), DBAs will see their responsibilities in a cloud-optimized workplace expanded—not eliminated, as some DBAs have feared.

Businesses increasingly are taking advantage of what the cloud has to offer. Many enterprises are storing large files in a cloud environment, such as Rackspace’s Cloud Files, which provides easy-to-use online storage for files and media which can be delivered globally via Akamai’s content delivery network (CDN).

And while cloud providers also are overseeing a large segment of the rudimentary tasks associated with the database, this in no way negates the position of the DBA, according to an article on ITWeb. Instead, it allows the DBA to move from a tactical position to more of a strategic role, focusing on tasks that will add value to the business rather than being exclusively assigned to the day-to-day maintenance and running of infrastructure. For many reasons, the role of the DBA will continue to be an important one in the cloud environment, but DBAs need to be prepared for a shift from a highly technical role, to one that adds greater business value down the line.

A critical role of the DBA in a cloud world is to ensure database security remains at optimal levels. Enterprise databases typically store large volumes of confidential, sensitive or private data about employees, customers and intellectual property. Keeping this information secure in the cloud is critical, and the DBA is essential in ensuring both the implementation and maintenance of database security policies and practices.

The aspect of responsibility and accountability also needs to be considered. If all databases reside within the cloud, who is responsible when these services are down? If the responsibility is shared, often the outcome is that nobody ends up taking responsibility, and a “blame game” ensues that could cause detrimental downtime. There needs to be an accountable person or persons to ensure that downtime can be kept to a minimum, particularly where mission-critical business data is concerned. The DBA is the ideal person to fulfill this role in the cloud environment.

In a cloud database environment, the DBA is essential. The DBA’s tasks within the cloud environment may change, but there remains a very prominent role for this position. The role of DBAs will move up the value chain, from tactical infrastructure-oriented tasks towards a more strategic role of adviser, analyst and support provider.

Patrick1 The Database Administrator in a Cloud Computing World

Patrick Burke is a writer and editor based in the greater New York area and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting


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