Monday, August 12, 2013

A Changing Era for Oracle DBAs

Throughout my career in IT I've always tried to stay on the leading edge of technology.  During my journeys I have seen three evolutions of Oracle DBAs and I now see we are about to enter a fourth era for Oracle DBAs.   The eras up to this point have been:
  1. In The Land of The Blind, The One Eyed Man is King - This was during the early releases of Oracle from Version 4 through Version 6.  Relational databases and Oracle were relatively new to the industry so if you had any common sense about IT,  Oracle technology or relational database concepts you were worth your weight in silver because Oracle was a growing technology and market.
  2. The Speeds and Feeds DBA - This was the time between Oracle 7 and Oracle 10g.  Very technical DBAs that understood the internals of Oracle, infrastructure, tuning, backup and recovery, RAC, Streams, Data Guard were not only hard to find but were worth their weight in gold.  This in-depth level of knowledge came from reading the source code and/or working endlessly to learn the internals of how to maximize Oracle in the infrastructure.  These very technical DBAs made great careers out of their knowledge.  I think of this as the golden age of DBAs.  
  3. The G DBAs - This is the time of the Google and GUI DBAs.  These DBAs are a product of the new evolving Oracle environment and successes of the Oracle product.  Oracle software can now identify problems, fix those problems and perform very detailed operations at the click of a button.  There are also tremendous amounts of books, whitepapers, blog posts, tutorials that can teach someone a tremendous amount about Oracle in a short time that used to take years of experience and effort to acquire.  So now you have a large percentage of these GUI and Google DBAs that can perform work that previously required highly skilled experts with years of experience.  One thing about the GUI and Google DBAs is they can be much easier to replaced and outsourced.  Don't get me wrong, the Speeds and Feeds DBAs are still needed but not as much and there are less of them around every year.
  4. The Platform DBA -  If the Speeds and Feeds era was the golden age, then this is the platinum age.  The top DBAs in the world today are not only Oracle experts but also infrastructure experts.   They are also recognized experts in areas such as architecture, design, storage, networking, applications and business.  When you look at the top Oracle RAC, Exadata, ASM, GoldenGate, MAA  DBAs they are not only experts in a specific Oracle domain but also in the environment surrounding Oracle.  So who are the Oracle DBAs that are going to dominate the market place and be worth their weight in platinum in the next few years?  It's going to be the platform DBAs.  The Platform DBAs are Oracle experts who also understand areas such as the Cloud, Enterprise Virtualization Platforms, Big Data, Enterprise Data Management and the business.
In every company I meet with I see that structured data is going to significantly be the smallest percentage of data that companies need to manage.   Unstructured and semi-structured data is going to dwarf structured data (traditional databases and warehouses).  This is a consistent industry perspective and is reiterated by industry analysts.   DBAs need to be data experts not just Oracle experts.   In the next few years, we will see:
  • Oracle as a service will increase and we will see more movement into the cloud.
  • Oracle environments will be interacting more with Big Data environments.
  • Oracle tier one environments will increasingly be virtualized.
  • Oracle business applications still continue to dominate the market and application DBAs who understand the business applications are continuing to increase in demand.
Every new era in Oracle and the IT industry creates tremendous opportunity for those with the drive,  energy and who see those opportunities.  I look forward to interacting and sharing knowledge, experiences and wisdom as we move into this new era.

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