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DBA on the Cloud – Is this the Present and the Future!

Today’s Business Computing world stands to gain a lot from the Cloud – a new age digital networking phenomenon that is behind the notion of the Global enterprise – aptly integrating to the existing networking infrastructure after an optimal evaluation of the costs to arrive at effective business solutions.

The Cloud typically represents an unknown network – like the Internet and can be someone else’s network, far away from our known. It’s not a defined or controlled network and doesn’t provide clarity and or supervision (often without any details on how it is set up or works).

Thus today’s DBAs are compelled to rise above their role that was quantitative in nature to a more qualitative outlook – graduating to the status of Data Professionals that protect the purview of the company’s most valuable asset – its data – finding themselves more as a business data champion than being confined to a technical position.

However, DBAs still work with the software and hardware developed and/or purchased at the company – i.e., besides supporting developers, they provide advice to the management on what Hardware configuration, would ideally work with a purchased software and or what is the best Network security software, that is needed to safely administer the network.

Therefore, with these variables, a DBA stands qualified to doing a dedicated job, even in the Cloud environment – with some modifications to his usual job/role.

These are some of the critical Roles & responsibilities of the DBA in a typical IT company?

Data Protection is the main task of the Database Administrator, given below are the others.

  • Common Tasks –Installation, determining the Hardware prerequisites, Configuring the Database, Upgrades, Server Backups, Assisting developers, Trouble shooting, Backup & Recovery.
  • Specialist Tasks Migration, During Failure, Cost Analysis, Database Security, Storage and Capacity Planning, Performance Monitoring and Tuning, Database tuning, keeping an eye on growth trends, Following Best Practices.

The Cloud relevance depends on the Database Platform Architecture

It should be borne in mind that Cloud Computing is a complete over-haul of the business computing infrastructure on to an unknown computing network and the provisioning can be done for all the activities ranging from managing data in remote networks to balancing on-premise database load.

Each of these activities can get your data compromised by the flick of a finger and you are no t guaranteed of one hundred percent security, yet there are innumerable people that are working quite successfully, on the cloud – What are they doing? What is their success mantra and what rules are mandatory? Before we begin answering these questions, lets address all security issues that make this a dangerous bargain.

For a start, DBAs should consider Cloud Computing only after a right assessment of the architectural needs of the System – it’s not an “all or nothing” paradigm, where you either run something on premises or in the cloud – it’s often a matter of selecting the right components to solve a problem.

In all probability, Cloud computing may be a cheaper or easier option, but the thing that is more important to us is that there should not exist any lack of clarity, due to any lack of familiarity or expertise during the time of adoption of Cloud Computing, i.e., during the time of the deal.

The corresponding need for the formulation of idea and concept of the emergent network configuration that we deal with as a result of the pact with our Cloud partner/vender is expected to meet our larger purposes of innovation and quality, culminates in the total business realization to our clients.

It is however, required to determine the elements of the Cloud deal on a Project by Project basis – this makes it extremely important for all stake holders, to know about the System and make a detailed assessment of the pros and cons of shifting the transactions to the Cloud and to actually start moving large amounts of data from the on-premises system to the cloud and back, every second. Studies have shown that this system miserably failed in practice.

Again, it won’t help us to take our database workload and place it in a cloud provider’s database if the database systems are all located at one place – with us and we the owners of these servers and the other networked application servers administer them without causing any glitches to their performance standards.

However – if the users are in multiple locations or distributed globally, or we have a mix of company and external customer users, it might make sense to evaluate a shared data location. But, still the configuration can’t escape the security implications that need to be evaluated on individual elements that are present on a point-to-point connection for our current solution.

Thus, the Cloud is a option that we need to weigh carefully as it calls for a reasonable amount of metric and involvement of other security considerations to interact with the provisioning vendors – during the deal and requires, intelligent decision making by all stake holders and the management; here one should try and focus hard to understand what is his/her responsibility, is to ensure jobs for our DBAs in this new age, Cloud Computing era.

The DBA job/career – in the Cloud era

Over the next decade, there would be a fundamental shift for DBAs and there would be two camps: one that manages multi-terabyte databases and another that manages hundreds of smaller databases across the company very efficiently, since many companies have also seen a huge explosion of smaller databases as more of their world becomes electronic.

During the recession, business intelligence projects spurred the growth of multi-terabyte databases and cubes. Having such sized databases triggered a new style of database administrator. For example, backing up a database that’s 10TB, can’t be done the traditional way.

Again, when it comes to the smaller databases, they are from 3rd party applications that have been installed or are from small internal databases. While this load may make sense for the cloud, the ROI will not be there when a company has hundreds of databases that could be consolidated onto just one or two servers.

However, as the experts say, if you’re a DBA – here is the crux of it, you have nothing to fear but you should start making tweaks to your resume. If you’re a production-only DBA for example, you must become a specialist on VLDB (very large databases) or on how to manage many databases more effectively.

So, the DBA job will change over the next decade but it will still remain strong.

Here are a few lines on the changing role of the database administrator in the “Cloud Era.” Cloud providers take away pain. It’s reasonable to wonder if similar benefits arise from moving databases to the cloud. In particular, do you still need a database administrator when your database is in the cloud? The short answer is yes. A slightly longer answer is yes but your DBA’s responsibilities will likely change, here are some of them.

  • Server provisioning is done with a few clicks in a management portal.
  • Failed disk drives are someone else’s problem.
  • When you use virtualized servers in the cloud your IT staff spends less time running down hardware problems than they once did.
  • Cloud computing has compelled DBAs to change from a tactical disposition / role to a more strategic one
  • DBAs on the cloud, now need to ensure that you are thinking about larger subjects, such as data archival, access, retention strategies, business continuity and more.
  • Storage tuning is less of an issue in the cloud as well.
  • You do not have to optimize placement of tablespace files to optimize read and write operations at the physical device level.
  • It is possible for you to instead allocate storage from a cloud provider’s storage service.

Again, in some companies the DBAs design databases from software requirements and in others the developers do that – or perhaps it’s done as a joint effort. The same holds true for database code – sometimes the DBA does it, other times the developer, and still others it’s a shared task.

Thus, in the final analysis, the role of DBAs will shift up the value chain from infrastructure oriented tasks to application analysis and support tasks.

References: http://www.tomsitpro.com/articles/dba-database_administrator-hadoop-PaaS-cloud_computing,2-300.html

http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/original-thinking/why-is-it-called-quotcloud-computingquot-30713

http://www.bidn.com/blogs/BrianKnight/ssis/1945/does-the-cloud-mark-the-end-of-the-production-dba

http://www.bidn.com/blogs/BrianKnight/ssis/1945/does-the-cloud-mark-the-end-of-the-production-dba