3 Trends that Are Transforming the Role of the DBA

Author: Kent Graziano

Snowflake Thought Leadership

The total amount of enterprise data grows exponentially each year, and companies will continue to need database administrators (DBAs) to manage it. Thirty-nine percent of DBAs now handle 50 or more databases, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that DBA employment will grow 11% by 2026. 

But many trends are dramatically changing the role of the DBA. Now the name “database administrator” is no longer expansive enough to describe what a DBA does. DBAs must understand these trends and make sure that they are keeping their skills current and creating value for the business.

Here are three trends that are transforming the role of today’s DBA.

  1. Automation and the cloud

Software company LogicMonitor predicts that 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. The migration of data and systems to the cloud, as well as the increased role of automation in the database, is dramatically changing the field of data infrastructure. Automation and the cloud have largely freed DBAs from the details of database maintenance. But now, DBAs must learn the benefits of the cloud, which include faster provisioning, parallel processing, and nearly unlimited, elastic data storage and compute resources—all requiring no additional labor to implement. 

Businesses increasingly rely on DBAs to help them understand the pricing implications and ROI of moving to the cloud. For example, DBAs must learn to explain the cost savings that result from flexible pay-as-you-go pricing models versus the costs of maintaining on-premises data warehouses. But DBAs can provide even more value by helping organizations project future costs and determine how to get the best ROI from their data for the lowest TCO. 

  1. The proliferation of new technologies and data types   

Alternative to previous para: Forward-thinking DBAs should strive to become generalists rather than specializing in technology from a single vendor. As organizations develop hybrid technology solutions, a DBA who understands multiple technologies and can make disparate technologies work as a whole becomes increasingly valuable. 

DBAs must develop expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies. Worldwide, 30% of organizations are conducting AI pilots, and the number will increase rapidly over the next decade. DBAs who expand their skills to include AI and ML technologies will be in high demand.

Data is changing dramatically, as well. Modern data pipelines look very different from traditional ones. New data sources such as the Internet of Things, formats such as unstructured data, and platforms and languages such as Apache Kafka and Python are creating more complex pipelines. By understanding the sources, types, and flow of data, DBAs can help deliver data to key stakeholders quickly, efficiently, and accurately to enable them to make better business decisions. 

  1. Increased business interest in data

Speaking of business, never before have business decisions been so influenced by data. Forrester says companies that are driven by data and insights are growing at an average of more than 30% annually and are on track to earn $1.8 trillion by 2021. 

Traditionally, DBAs and other database experts stayed in the background to keep the data systems up and running. Now, DBAs must move to the forefront, understand data from a business perspective, and demonstrate how to harness data to drive better business decisions.  

At Snowflake, we have many more tips for DBAs looking to keep up with current trends, stay competitive in their field, and create value for the business. Find out what our tips  are by downloading our ebook Five Ways DBAs Must Change in the Next Two Years.