“There is always next year”

In DBA on December 27, 2011 at 16:40

Database administration has been heavily influenced by 2 main trends during the last years:

1. Enterprise Manager Grid/Cloud Control
2. The automation features introduced with Oracle 10g and especially with Oracle 11g

The job of the modern DBA is now more like the job of an analytical manager than of a database operator. Several companies hire now DBAs who are not just technicians but data and database professionals with high sense for analytical thinking and logical intuition.

Chris Foot wrote last year an excellent article on The Future of Database Tuning and Database Administration. As Chris says, “The new breed of top tuners will be the administrators who focus on how to use the toolsets and interpret their output.” The times of drilling down into X$ tables and V_$ views are over. DBAs who use most efficiently Grid Control/Cloud Control and turn on properly most (if not all) automated database features are the ones achieving best results in the field.

Let me quote Chris again: “.. reading SQL traces and statistics dumps will be a thing of the past.” The Advisors, the AWR and the ADDM reports reveal much more at a glance than we ever were able to comprehend after reading outputs from complex dictionary queries, statspack or trace files.

I am not underestimating the skills and knowledge of understanding mutexes, private redo strands and Bloom filters but with such a vast product like the Oracle database one should very carefully decide how and on what to concentrate his skills and time.

The DBA profession has several subfields and different trends prevail from time to time but one is the skill that is most wanted and badly needed: performance tuning. It is the most difficult one to learn and master.

Wonder why Grid Control and database automation are changing the DBA profession?

– using Grid/Cloud Control, the packs it comes with, and all the integrated advisors and recommendation reports can reduce the time drastically. Understand it in a way that the time a DBA can spend on an issue might vary from minutes to hours (if not days) depending on if Grid Control is used or not. I think EM is still an underestimated tool mostly because of the fact that companies cannot make/decide on the proper investments. Most managers cannot get the fact that those Grid Control packs can produce significant ROI in their database department. Often, they just can’t get it. Even if you give it to them in a box names “It”.

– automation within the database is where Oracle is going to. Best results with databases can be achieved by benefiting from all automated features offered by Oracle. Automating the Oracle Database is something overlooked and underestimated. Mostly by the old generation of DBAs who are often suspicious about everything. Let me quote Shunryu Suzuki/Steve Jobs: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

However, with all those new features, there comes a flock of bugs and looks like their fixes cannot catch up with the new versions and patches. Keeping all these new features in sync with the database kernel is not at all so easy. As Chris says, “our role will be how to utilize the ever-increasing number of features provided by the database to solve business problems” and I would add how to solve the business problems caused by the bugs these new features introduce. Catch 22, right?

According to Oracle 2020: A Glimpse Into the Future of Database Management, during this year 2011, “Oracle’s Larry Elision finances the Worldwide Internet Identification Database, requiring non-anonymous access and reducing cybercrime. Ellison receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts.” I am almost certain that no one takes the stuff written there seriously but there is always next year 🙂

  1. “no one takes the stuff written there seriously but there is always next year”

    Oh yeah! And I fully expect Stonebraker to come out yet again with one of his “it’s now time to re-think all RDBMS” idiotic tirades.
    Oh hang on: he just did! Can almost set the clock! 🙂

  2. Almost forgot:
    “Most managers cannot get the fact that those Grid Control packs can produce significant ROI in their database department. Often, they just can’t get it”
    Then maybe, just maybe, mind you, the problem might be the managers instead of the “evil” DBAs? Food for thought?

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