Monday, May 30, 2005

"What is a DBA?"

It has been a while since I last posted a blog. Lethargy is mostly the reason behind it; but lack of what to say has been the only one whenever I sat down to inscribe. Watching others post similar ideas is definitely an encouragement and right now the collective thrust of that encouragement is propelling me and here I go ....

This is a question my father asked me twelve years ago when I got my first production support DBA job in Oracle. "An administrator?", he sighed away, completely disapprovingly. He probably expected his only some to be something of value, not exactly a non-descript acronym which included the term "administrator", which is a glorified term for a clerk. My mother was more hopeful, which appeased me a bit; but it quickly evaporated when I learned she would have accepted me in any profession! Several years later I met the woman who would later be my wife, and the same question also puzzled her. Over the period of year several people - my family, friends, business acquaintances, colleagues, even some of my own bosses have fielded the question; and I don't think anyone has been satisfied with a complete comprehensible answer.

Do I develop program? No, not really! Oh, I do architectural stuff, no? Kinda; but not the entire system. So, where does that leave me? Taking care of database somewhat defines it; but for most people database is a black box; taking are of it as as clear as making sense of world hunger. Even for people who do understand what a database is, "taking care" is not something they fathom, or even want to. So time and gain, I have been confronted with the question of my usability and what I actually contribute. I don't produce nice webpages, nothing that even remotely resemble an "application" that people seem to accept; in fact, I don't produce anything. The database hums along just great; so, what exactly do I do every day?!!!

This is not a musing or even anecdotal comments; it has been asked to me and my superiors in a rather unflattering manner.

Over the years, the definition has changed a lot; my role has not necessarily remained the same. So, a rather simplistic definition of database-care is not going to cut it; I needed a more clear and universally acceptable explanation of what I do and what role I play in the business solution delivery process.

I understand that I'm not alone; there are a lot more like me who are asked this question, perhaps at this very moment. Even if they are not overtly expressed in so many words, the questions seems to pop up rather covertly during meetings, happy hours, company parties and sometimes during performance appraisals! No, this is not a rambling! I want to start a discussion on how we DBAs face this question from people all around us - people who matter in our lives and our careers. I will take the first stab in the next post. Please post your thoughts on this topic as you see fit.

Regards,

Arup
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