The Evolving Role of DBAs in the Cloud

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Database administrators (DBAs) have traditionally been the core part of IT team of a company that works as a front-line support to manage database activities. Their core services include run, operate, and maintain database workloads, monitoring the health of the database, capacity planning, performance monitoring, configuration, installation as well as implementing security and data recovery of a database management system (DBMS).

DBA’s are facing two main challenges

  • Autonomous, self-tuning and self-healing databases is a major trend that will no longer require DBAs to provide basic DBA tasks
  • Cloud offerings include pre-build database services such as Relational Data Services (RDS) from Amazon Web Services (AWS) do many of the tasks that DBAs used to provide

The changing landscape of database management system has changed the role of DBAs from being just a support source of a database management system to becoming a strategic partner of a company who works with developers to provide tactical support to a company’s database management system. DBAs must enhance their role. Instead of becoming a single Database expert , they must learn to manage multiple databases.

In today’s cloud-driven business environment, DBAs find themselves at the helm of businesses where they can offer more to database management systems activities than ever. This paradigm shift in DBA’s role has made them even more important for smooth functioning of a company’s database management system.

Let’s explore how the role of DBAs has evolved in today’s cloud-based business environment:

Capacity Planning

Capacity Planning has been central to job of DBAs. Traditionally, a DBA would optimize hardware and software capacity according to capacity demand of a business. But that was a costly way to meet the operational demands of DBMS of a business since the utilization is significantly lower for majority of the time.

A cloud environment offers more flexibility and scalability when it comes to capacity planning. This means that a business can optimize server capacity according to capacity demand and can scale up or scale down its resources to fulfill the requirements.

Unlike on-premise datacenter, this is a more cost-efficient way for businesses to meet the peak load since they will pay only for the utilized resources and not for the idle servers.

When it comes to capacity planning in a cloud environment, a DBA needs to optimize server utilization in a cost-effective manner. He is required to provision cloud resources according to current capacity demand of a business unlike the traditional on-premise environment that costs a business even for idle resources.

In addition, a DBA needs to keep tabs on the fluctuating capacity demand in a cloud environment and optimize the resources accordingly to control costs. In a nutshell, a DBA needs to be vigilant about the changing capacity demands of a business and perform capacity planning that can save costs of a business.

Performance Tuning and Configuration

Performance tuning in cloud environment is different from on-premise server environment. In on-premise environment, a DBA can optimize the hardware configuration according to workloads. Since there are not too many options in an on-premise environment, the DBA doesn’t have too much of work to perform.

On the other hand, a cloud platform offers various instances that a DBA needs to analyze and optimize in order to improve performance of workloads. In addition, he needs to configure distributed data pipelines to allow the data users to continue getting access to usable data. He should make sure that the data is constantly supplied to every stakeholder in a timely manner.

Automated Monitoring

Monitoring is another integral part of a DBA’s day-to-day tasks. The good thing about cloud platform is that it offers built-in monitoring service which significantly reduces the tasks of a DBA. Cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud offer built-in monitoring controls that a DBA can use to set different threshold levels and set monitoring alerts.

In addition, a DBA needs to understand the functioning of different monitoring tools provided by cloud services and apply them in combination with third-party applications to give a real-time performance analysis of the database applications.

All these monitoring tasks require hands-on knowledge and skills regarding the monitoring configuration as well as the tools offered by the cloud service providers.


Storage is the other thing that should be factored in performance optimization. All the three major cloud service providers - Amazon, Google and Microsoft - offer various storage options to meet capacity requirements of a business.

A DBA must have insights into the instances and storage offerings of the cloud vendors so that he can configure those resources according to operational demands of a business. At the same time, he should be able to optimize the hardware resources in a way that incur minimum costs to the business.

Database Backup and Recovery

Unlike on-premise datacenter, a cloud platform automatically performs data backups in various physical locations. The different cloud vendors offer different availability zones to for mission-critical database applications. If one zone fails due to a major fault, it switches on the other availability zone which means that the mission-critical database applications continue to operate even when a fault happens.

These database backup and recovery features of cloud reduces much of the grunt work that DBAs have to perform in traditional on-premise datacenter where they have to create backups on tapes or remediate faults in case of failure of a mission-critical application.

Changing Roles Means Changing Skills

These are exciting times for DBAs. The cloud platform has changed the DBA’s role from merely the database support source to strategic partner of a business who not only streamlines their database management tasks but also optimizes their computing resources to cut costs making their role more significant for a business than ever. DBA will have more time to manage more strategic business issues. As in the adage “Data is the new Oil”, as the value of the business data increased, so has the value of a good Cloud DBA. DBAs need to continually improve their skills in order to focus on new solutions and innovations to increase the productivity of their users, as they consume more and more business data.

mLogica can help

mLogica provides managed services, expert services and training to many of our clients to assist their DBA team to enhance their role within the organization.

  • A major bank of Canada utilizes mLogica for L3 support to manage Service Requests (SRs) and interaction with their Vendors for run, operate and maintain of their database servers. Read our case study here
  • A major manufacturing company is USA relies on mLogica to manage their entire cloud infrastructure, databases and application environment.
  • Multiple major Technology vendors and Financial Services institutions have retain mLogica to provide expert services and specialized training to their staff.

Support from mLogica frees up our customers to focus on strategic initiatives that help grow their businesses.

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