What is a DBA?

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April 25, 2018 by Kenneth Fisher

If you’ve worked in the data industry for more than few minutes then you’ve probably heard the phrase The DBA is dead or some variation on it. In fact, you’ve probably heard it more than once. It’s a common topic of conversation, for obvious reasons, and has been for a long time. The hardest part of this conversation (IMHO) is what exactly is this DBA thing that’s dying.

Well, DBA stands for DataBase Administrator. So let’s start with definitions for each word. Using dictionary.com


a structured set of data held in a computer, especially one that is accessible in various ways.

So to simplify, something that stores data and helps you retrieve it.


a person who manages and supports a computer system or network, as in a business or other organization

Database Administrator

So combining the two together we get

A person who manages and supports a system that stores and helps you retrieve data.

Which, actually sounds like a pretty reasonable definition to me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really help us define what manages and supports really means. Now to me, that’s a good thing. Manages and supports changes over time. Historically that included things like designing the hardware needed for a given system. Nowadays that type of skill is less important for most DBAs. High availability, on the other hand, has become a broader and broader skill. And those are just two very simple examples.

So next time you have the discussion of is the DBA dying/dead start with

What are the current/future skills needed to manage and support a system that stores and helps retrive data?

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