DevOps is Ruining the DBA?

Database Administrators, (DBAs) through their own self-promotion, will tell you they’re the smartest people in the room and being such, will avoid buzzwords that create cataclysmic shifts in technology as DevOps has.  One of our main role is to maintain consistent availability, which is always threatened by change and DevOps opposes this with a focus on methodologies like agile, continuous delivery and lean development.

Residing a step or more behind bleeding edge has never phased the DBA.  We were the cool kids by being retro, those refusing to fall for the latest trend or the coolest new feature, knowing that with bleeding edge comes risk and that a DBA that takes risks is a DBA out of work.  So we  put up the barricades and refused the radical claims and cultural shift to DevOps.

As I travel to multiple events focused on numerous platforms the database is crucial to, I’m faced with peers frustrated with DevOps and considerable conversation dedicated to how it’s the end of the database administrator.  It may be my imagination, but I’ve been hearing this same story, with the blame assigned elsewhere-  either its Agile, DevOps, the Cloud or even a latest release of the actual database platform.  The story’s the same-  the end of the Database Administrator.

The most alarming and obvious pain point of this, is that in each of these scenarios, the result was the Database Administrator a focal point in the end more so than they were when it began.  When it comes to DevOps, the specific challenges of the goal needed the DBA more so than any of these storylines.  As development hurdled top speed to deliver what the business required, the DBA and operations as a whole, delivered the security, the stability and the methodologies to build automation at the level that the other groups simply never needed previously.

Powerful DBAs with skills not just in scripting, but in efficiency and logic, were able to take complicated, multi-tier environments and break them down into strategies that could be easily adopted.  As they’d overcome the challenges of the database being central and blamed for everything in the IT environment, they were able to dissect and built out complex management and monitoring of end-to-end DevOps.  As essential as System, Network and Server Administration was to the Operations group, the Database Administrator possessed advanced skills required, a hybrid of the developer and the operations personnel that make them a natural fit for DevOps.

The truth is, the DBA is not ruined by DevOps, but the role is revolutionized.

Thanks to this awesome post from 2012 from Alex Tatiyants which resonated so well with the DBAs I speak to every day, even in 2017.

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July 3rd, 2017 by

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