Database Administrators enjoy working with databases. They are challenging environments that, if supported properly, provide extreme value to the company. To be able to support many applications, different industries, and several departments within the enterprise exposes a DBA to many facets of the company. This is what gives a DBA satisfaction with their job. They understand the value they bring to many areas and are able to continue to contribute by providing a highly available and well-performing database.
USA Today’s list of the “Ten Happiest Jobs in America” from spring 2015 stated that the Oracle DBA is sixth on the list for being the most happy.
Technology jobs are in demand but the skills tend to shift. This shift or disruption that we have been talking about is cloud. Of course there are others with big data with IOT devices and security. As discussed in previous chapters, with cloud services, there is significant growth in migrations to the cloud. There is also a need to understand data problems and protect the data.
We are not just DBAs! There is an incredible amount of knowledge gathered over the years from development, and from the business and other teams that you have worked with over the years. Being able to plan different projects for upgrades, data security, and migrations – just to name a few – demonstrate part of the soft skills developed over the years as well.
DBAs are used to change and the journey to the cloud or other DBAs’ transformation should be part of the job. Not having consistent days and plenty of work to do are the challenges that are enjoyed. So why is there resistance to change how we work? We are comfortable with changes in our normal environment, but it is time to look at the journey.
Knowing that data is such a valuable part of the enterprise, being able to provide a service is the sense of job satisfaction . A successful day might be being able to answer questions, solve some troubleshooting problems, and knowing that you have been adding value to the company.
Think about what it is you enjoy about being a DBA.
No day is the same
Managing users and objects
Working with other teams
Designing the data model
Solving data questions
Implementing new features
Providing a service
I am sure you can think of plenty of other reasons or combination of reasons to find enjoyment in the job. It is important to find something that is interesting, fun, and enjoyable about the job. It might be the technology, people, or even the tasks.
Challenges are needed because it keeps us learning and growing. The experiences that we collect get us ready for the next challenge. We have already discussed the next challenges in previous chapters so now we just have to figure out where you fit in with that.
Just because things are changing is not a reason to be concerned. In the world of databases, things are always changing, and this time we have some pretty big technology disrupters that we are dealing with in the cloud, security, and what about autonomous databases.
The cloud is a satisfying place too. There are strategies for data to develop and be secure in cloud environments. These challenges and new environments should energize and excite a DBA for opportunities in a shift in job tasks.
The cloud is everywhere. There are database, software, security, OS, and so many other services in the cloud. We need to look at these services as ways to enhance the environment; or if we are doing private cloud, what other cloud services we should be providing in our private clouds.
The cloud environments tend to give us hesitation because of some unknowns. Remember back in Chapter 2 when we discussed the control factor: the DBAs need to be able to control pieces of the environment in order to make sure it is configured as needed. But the cloud has some unknowns and may not always appear to have the same support as if it was offered by you. However, the DBA can most definitely verify settings and configurations to make sure that they are meeting service-level agreements .
It is this understanding of what the environments should be provided that helps to verify and feel comfortable with the cloud system that we can work with. The databases are not changing but how we are supporting them is.
Concerns with migrating to the cloud have been covered in several of the previous chapters. According to the IOUG Database Cloud Survey, 2016, the top five concerns are the following:
Security and Privacy
Data Ownership and Retention
Software Licensing Issues
Lack of Expertise or Knowledge
These are areas for development with the DBA and as we have these topics clarified for our enterprise, they will support the changes in the environment. Data ownership seems to be issues that we even face now. This will continue to be important with data as a service and will need to be tagged for the business and application as the data owner.
As competition between the cloud providers continues, it is possible that licensing will be not be a concern. But there still needs to be expertise of the cloud environment along with questions and validations for compliance. The DBAs can address these concerns in the environment with what they know.
If you think about the hardest part of on-premise deployments, the server and storage procurement takes time and may not be as elastic. IT resources need to be available for deploying and configuring servers.
Questions that need to be asked of cloud providers to ensure proper services are the following:
What are the options and parameters that are used?
How do they store sensitive data?
Cloud types offered and how to migrate?
What are the maintenance options?
How do large data sets migrate or load into the cloud?
What are the costs? Look at transactions or load. Is there on-demand usage?
This is a quick list and not all inclusive of questions to ask.
Even if we are thinking the cloud environment is not something the industry or company you work for might be using, there are reasons to migrate. There are development environments or other applications that would benefit from the use of the cloud. It is important to understand and advise which databases will perform well in the cloud. This is also the opportunity to embrace cloud environments and help direct the migrations of what type of clouds can be used.
From database as a service to cloud, it does change how we work or where we work, but it helps to direct and recommend the best environment. To be able to be part of the solution is going to make for an easier transition. Resisting that the cloud environment is coming or something to migrate to will just make it more difficult to stay involved with the new cloud.
Change by leading is what is going to allow for greater involvement in the future direction. It will embrace the differences in how work is accomplished or where it is performed. The enterprise is working to be more efficient and saving operational costs as these changes are put into place. Again we have options to embrace change or stay the same.
Change is not easy. We do get comfortable in our positions and tasks, and knowing what is expected. Even learning new features and making changes to new versions of the database is not as much of a change but is easier than how we have to work or changing what we do. This is also something that we enjoy about the job in the first place: that things change in the environment. Of course it does not always change our perspective or how we have to work, which is different now with this migration to the cloud. The different types of DBAs can examine their favorite pieces of the job and look to invest in additional learning to make that change and continue to add value to the company.
Leading Change, a book by John P. Kotter (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), discusses the process of making these major changes.
Changing a career or leading change in your company can follow these steps to be successful in dealing with the change and helping others, such as your team members, to make the change with you.
Establishing a sense of urgency, and with the statistics about the movement to the cloud and technology direction, the time is now.
Creating a group to work together with enough influence to lead the change.
A vision and strategy needs to be developed so that the goal is recognized and understood.
Part of understanding is communicating the change vision, including modeling the behavior that is needed to embrace this change.
Empowering broad-based action, and getting rid of the obstacles.
Generate short-term wins, and this will make the change visible quicker than the long-term projects.
Consolidate gains that produce more change. Effect changes increases the credibility to change all systems, structures, and policies.
Anchor new approaches in the culture, which provides the connection to the new behaviors and successful changes.
The vision and strategy will have everyone on the same page and a common goal. It takes more than one DBA to move to the cloud and perform migrations. There should also be discussions around what each of the team members can do that will empower them and provide a sense of responsibility with a new environment and possibly a new role.
Change is needed to keep the company competitive. Change is needed as we look to keep current in our skills and be involved in technology. Embrace the disruption and enjoy the change and opportunities it brings. Encourage team members and look for those quick acceptance changes that will keep everything moving forward.
Working as a technologist has definitely provided ways to work from anywhere and also have flexible hours. Because of all of the individual tasks that have to be completed and lack of automation, there have been many days and nights that the DBA has spent on the phone and working with support issues. This is something that most of the DBAs should be celebrating as we look to migrate to service-oriented architecture and cloud. With changes in how to support the data and automation, there is a possibility for more time to enjoy life outside of the office instead of on support calls. The time and availability might even allow you to think about sharing your migration experiences with user communities and volunteer for a group like Independent Oracle User Group (IOUG).
Along with time to volunteer, the regular workday leaves us with time to work on the projects and research the areas we have for our environments. The automation of processes gives us the chance to do this and focus on business needs and not just individual task execution.
Of course work–life balance means different things to different people, but we still all need opportunities to recharge. It is easy to get exhausted if we are dealing with the same issues and need a change. This might be a good opportunity to look into ways to unplug, recharge, and enjoy reading your favorite technology book.
We tend to be passionate about what we do, and our jobs become our hobby. It does not help when we are looking at work–life balance. However, we do need to prioritize the work that we do and make sure that we have other opportunities to develop skills and continue to learn.
Recognizing that change and the cloud environment are going to be the current future direction, along with planning migrations, includes skill development. It probably is something already in the works. Understanding these new environments and what skills are of interest to you can be developed as part of the migration plan.
Skill development comes from doing and through training. On of the best parts about the cloud environment is that it is available for testing and learning. Oracle Cloud even provides discounts to get into the environment, test, and start to verify configurations. The cloud is a perfect training ground as it is easy to set up and get running.
The cloud can be a test environment for looking at migrations or upgrades. These are the systems to build up skills and look at ways to help any projects move forward with testing. The operational expenses are reduced along with the cost of additional hardware when we are able to utilize the cloud.
Applications can also test upgrades and it can be a sandbox for new releases. How many times are new test environments requested and needing to be maintained? This can be one of the automated processes even for a development on-demand database. Oracle can even clone pluggable databases from on-premise databases.
Many frameworks are available in the cloud, so they can all be part of the testing to simulate workloads and test new features. These types of automated, on-demand test environments support the Agile development processes and provide environments for DBAs to test features that normally are difficult to test in other databases.
Wanting to develop new skills and being in the database, it is almost a given that you are a lifetime learner. This keeps skills up to date. The skills we learn are for the new technologies encountered as we see opportunities to enhance our environments.
To be a life learner, it requires self-motivation, excitement, and passion about the technologies and areas of focus. However, sometimes we have to learn about areas maybe like cloud or a server service that might not be as interesting as our ultimate goals. As you are doing this, without learning about areas that you are not sure about, you end up learning even more and verify that your passion is in the right place.
The cloud and change require DBAs to consider the concerns and opportunities of these environments. It definitely is not an easy task to lead change and move from our comfort zone to new roles and tasks. Reviewing tasks that are enjoyed help to know what needs to be learned and provide us comfort that not everything is changing.