The Best Way to Reduce Your DBAs’ Learning Curve

When an individual chooses a career as a database administrator they are committing themselves to a lifetime of learning. Keeping abreast of new technologies, trends, and support techniques needs to be understood as an integral component of the job. If you’re looking for the kind of job where you can continually polish one specific skill you should be looking in a different direction. Unlike great chefs, DBAs will not be able to get by with one spectacular dish that they can continually spruce up with new side dishes.

Areas of Database Administration Requiring Continued Education

Staying relevant in the multi-platform database environments that are common in today’s business world requires the willingness to acquire new skills and experience in various technical areas. Standing still is not an option in most organizations. A refusal to become conversant with new solutions will either result in a stalled career path or a weekend spent polishing a resume and searching for a new job. Here are some of the specific aspects that require continued educational refreshment.

  • Database platforms - Sometimes it seems as if new database solutions are released every week. While in the deep, dark past a DBA could focus on learning a small set of databases, that has long since ceased to be an option. A modern computing environment will likely contain a mixture of different relational and NoSQL database platforms that have been chosen for their facility to address certain business needs or support specific applications.

  • Computing environments - The role of all support teams, including DBAs, has been complicated by the introduction of cloud computing. Complex hybrid cloud and on-premises environments demand additional skills to navigate successfully. While the general duties of a DBA will remain fairly constant, the access methods and idiosyncrasies of using the cloud may require a change in how daily tasks are handled.

  • Support tools and applications - Each database platform or cloud provider has tools available to support their offerings. Unfortunately, learning the specifics of multiple interfaces can be mentally taxing and result in diminished team productivity. Attempting to master multiple tools can also lead to more errors when moving between platforms.

Helping Overburdened DBAs Cope with Educational Requirements

Too great of an emphasis on education and learning new skills can impede the ability to meeting the support responsibilities that are a big part of a DBAs job. There are several strategies that an organization can use to address the stress to remain current that is imposed on database administrators. Choosing the one that aligns with business requirements can be challenging for the enterprise’s management team. Among their choices are:

Maintaining a static database environment - One way to make it unnecessary for the database team to learn new skills is to refrain from making changes in the organization’s computing landscape. Adopting this strategy will allow the DBAs to develop a high degree of expertise in the platforms and systems that are place. This can result in efficiently performing databases and reduce the incidence of errors.

There is an obvious downside to this approach. It eliminates the possibility of a company taking advantage of new developments that can further its business goals. As technology evolves and data resources increase in the speed and volume at which they are created, previously cutting-edge solutions can quickly become obsolete. Their continued use can put the enterprise at a competitive disadvantage.

Creating support silos - In multi-platform or rapidly changing environments, restricting the database platforms and tools for which a DBA is responsible will decrease the demand for education. Allowing individuals to concentrate exclusively on specific platforms enables them to accrue expertise at the expense of team flexibility.

One of the drawbacks of this strategy is that talented employees may not have a chance to use their skills in a way that provides the maximum benefits to the organization. That DBA who can extract incredible levels of performance from their SQL Servers cannot bring the same level of technical wizardry to the rest of the environment if they are restricted to supporting a single platform.

Employing standardized support tools - Database support requires dedicated tools to manage and administer systems. When only a single database platform is in scope for an organization or a DBA, this does not pose a problem. Trying to keep up with the demands of a dynamic, multi-platform environment is another matter. Do you really want your DBAs using six different toolsets to administer six database platforms?

IDERA’s DBArtisan can directly increase the productivity of your database team by minimizing the learning curve associated with using multiple applications when providing support. The tool enables your DBAs to manage and tune the performance of many of the most popular database solutions from a single, unified interface.

DBArtisan supports SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, Sybase, DB2, PostgreSQL, and Azure cloud databases. The tool contains powerful features that enable your team to automate repetitive tasks across the platforms they support. Monitoring processes, performing space and capacity planning, and obtaining proactive diagnostics can all be achieved from the tool’s UI. Performance issues can be identified and resolved while database security is maintained with access and permission management.

Selecting DBArtisan as your database support tool is the best way to minimize the educational demands on database administrators. Get your team up to speed rapidly on this flexible application and let them spend their time on more fruitful endeavors than learning multiple support tools.

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