A DBA is a Data Professional

By Grant Fritchey

A DBA (Database Administrator) is a Data Professional tasked with managing an organization’s data using some sort of database software, such as Microsoft SQL Server. They are concerned with gathering, storing and presenting data to data consumers, which includes virtually anyone in the modern world. For example, managers use data to plan for the future, employees use data to make daily decisions, and Internet users (virtually anyone who uses a computer or smartphone) use data they find to comparison shop, learn new skills, listen to music, and keep up with the news. No matter where you look, virtually all the data that exists anywhere is managed by Data Professionals.

Here’s a quick break down of the various jobs that fall under the umbrella of Data Professional. While exact job titles will vary from organization to organization, most Data Professionals fall into one of the following disciplines.

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The Layman's View of the DBA

By Steve Jones

A DBA (Database Administrator) is someone who takes care of your data. When you place an order on Amazon.com, it’s the DBA who ensures the order is permanently recorded in the database. If one of the computers at Amazon fails, and they regularly do, the DBA can recover the data. The DBA should be the person that prevents part of your order from getting lost because it’s incorrectly recorded, and it’s the person that makes sure that if you update your address, the change is recorded so your purchases reach the right destination.

A DBA makes sure that the transfers between your bank account and other accounts are completed in full, without allowing the deduction from your account to occur without the credit arriving in the destination account. DBAs try to ensure the data that appears on your bill is correct, and that if you change the name on your account, the change is reflected in your statement.

DBAs are like the local librarians, keeping track of all the various words and numbers in their library and knowing where everything is. They are the custodians of information in databases, trying to keep it all organized, intact, and available for access. DBAs are not perfect and they can make mistakes which result in the mistakes we occasionally find on bills or statements.

However, DBAs don’t act alone, and in many cases their job is directly affected by other people. The websites you use, or the applications on your computer or mobile phone, are written by developers that decide how you enter or read the information, and how the data moves into or out of the database. These developers sometimes do not have the proper training on how to store data to prevent mistakes, or how to clean data to fix incorrect entries, resulting in bad data outside of the control of the DBA.

In addition, the connections to databases are often managed by system administrators or network professionals who also deal with failures. When you cannot access your account on a website, it’s entirely possible the database is running and working fine; the problem is in the connection between the website computer and the database computer.

The DBA’s role is often taken for granted. If everything works as expected, it appears the DBA is not doing any work, or adding any value to their company. This may be why so many companies forgo hiring a DBA and expect their developers and system administrators to manage the databases. That’s not usually the case as the work a DBA does is designed to prevent problems, and be available to fix the inevitable issues that will arise.

The DBA is a preventative mechanic, working on your car every day and night when you aren’t using it, ensuring that it is working when you do need it. They’re the behind the scenes staffers that coordinate and organize the concert or play you enjoy, unaware of just how much work goes into providing you with an enjoyable experience. The DBA is the glue that binds so much of our technological world together, helping to ensure that all parts of the system know what should be built, sent to who, and when it should arrive.

Find out how DBA Grant Fritchey describes what a DBA is and does.

Interview with BI Expert Tim Mitchell

Tim Mitchell will be speaking at the SQLServerCentral.com track at SQL Server Connections, October 31-November 3, 2011, in Las Vegas, NV.


tim mitchellTell us about yourself.

I’m a practitioner of business intelligence, primarily focusing on SQL Server. I’ve been in the IT field for over a decade, and have worked with SQL Server in various capacities for about 8 years. By day, I work as a BI consultant. I’m proud to be a part of Artis Consulting in Dallas, where I help deliver BI solutions across the entire SQL Server stack. During my spare time, I serve on the board of directors for the North Texas SQL Server User Group in Dallas (Irving), and I blog and speak at community events as much as I am able.

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Interview with SQL Server MVP Grant Fritchey

Grant Fritchey will be speaking at the SQLServerCentral.com track at SQL Server Connections, October 31-November 3, 2011, in Las Vegas, NV.


Grant Fritchey

Tell us about yourself.

I have twenty plus years’ experience in IT, in the areas of technical support, development, and database administration. Currently, I work for Red Gate Software as a Product Evangelist, where I spend a lot of time speaking, and writing articles for SQLServerCentral.com and Simple-Talk.com. I’m one of the founding officers of the Southern New England SQL Server Users Group and I am its current president. I’ve been involved with the SQL Server community since the 2005 PASS Summit when I saw people having a good time while they were learning. I’ve also been a Microsoft SQL Server MVP since 2009.

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Interview with SQLServerCentral.com Editor Steve Jones

Steve Jones will be speaking at the SQLServerCentral.com track at SQL Server Connections, October 31-November 3, 2011, in Las Vegas, NV.


Steve Jones

Tell us about yourself.

I’m the editor of SQLServerCentral.com, which is a position I’ve held for over 8 years. I started writing articles as a DBA to help other people and to share the knowledge I’d been given by so many other great authors over the years, and it has turned into an amazing job. Prior to that, I was a DBA for almost a decade, working with SQL Server v4.2, 6.5, 7.0, and 2000. I am a Microsoft MVP and enjoy working with data, mostly from the administration and management side of the DBA job.

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Vote for the 2011 Exceptional DBA of the Year Award


It’s been my experience that most DBA’s aren’t properly recognized for their contributions to their organizations. As the “protectors of the organization’s data,” DBAs are one of the most important people in any organization. To help recognize the contributions of DBAs, the Exceptional DBA of the Year Awards was developed by Red Gate Software and SQLServerCentral.com to help bring about more awareness of what DBAs do and how important they are.

The 2011 nominees have been selected by the judges and they are:

  • Tom Hill
  • Jeff Moden
  • Colin Stasiuk
  • Scott Shaw
  • Chris Taylor

If you would like to help build awareness of the importance of DBAs to organizations, be sure to vote for your choice by visiting www.exceptionaldba.com. Selecting the winner will be tough, as all of the nominees are exceptional DBAs in their own right.