July 29, 2010

Introduction to Net Database Administrators


Hostway Team

By Gail Seymour

Most people's interactions with a database will be limited to inputting or viewing the data contained in it. A database administrator (DBA) is the person responsible for setting up and maintaining the database.

In small organizations, the DBA may double up as the website designer and developer. In a larger organization, maintaining the database may be a full time job for one or even a team of staff.

Database Administration Qualifications

Qualifications for a .NET DBA might be a Microsoft Certification Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) or Database Administration Degrees either aimed at a specific proprietary database management system (DBMS) or covering database management in general. Or an aspiring database administrator might take a more generic IT degree with an emphasis on database management.

Since the DBA is responsible for the security, integrity and accessibility of one of a company’s most valuable assets -- its data -- most recruiters will look for experience as well as qualifications. In larger organizations, staff are more likely to start out as database developers and move up to the position of DBA after some years’ experience.

What Does the Database Administrator Do?

The duties of a DBA might include, but not be limited to:

  • Selection of a DBMS suitable for the company’s requirements and acquisition of licenses to run the software. For an administrator joining an existing team this selection may already have been made or the company may be running existing legacy software and need the administrator to source and select software to either integrate with this, or to migrate to.

  • Where the company is building a custom database from scratch, or heavily modifying a commercially available one, the database administrator may be responsible for the project management of the development database. In larger organizations, database developers will be responsible for bringing it up to production standards.

  • Installation, testing and roll out of the database to production servers. For this, the DBA will need a solid working knowledge of the operating systems deployed on both the server and connecting clients, as he may also be responsible for staff training and technical support for database users.

  • Monitoring the production server and maintaining it will make up the bulk of the database administrators’ workload. It is his responsibility to:

    • be aware of, test and apply updates and security patches,

    • ensure the database is backed up, test the data integrity of the backup and ensure a seamless fail-over to the backup database should the primary server become compromised,

    • ensure in the event of a fail-over, the primary server is repaired, data integrity tested, and the server brought back on line in the shortest time frame possible,

    • monitor interaction with the database and optimize settings for peak performance.

Although database administrators are not computer programmers, they will need to have an extensive knowledge of Structured Query Language (SQL) in the "flavor" appropriate to the DBMS they are operating. For a .NET database administrator, this would be Microsoft SQL. They also need to be familiar with the programming languages used by Web applications to interact with the database, and with programming software.

For example, a .NET DBA may need a sound basic awareness of VBScript and C#, plus be comfortable using Visual Studio .NET or an alternative Graphic User Interface (GUI) for creating SQL scripts that interact with the database.

The DBA may also be responsible for data mining and analysis, which means running the data through predetermined algorithms to identify trends which may help the business improve its products, customer service or marketing activities. For this, a good database administrator will also need a grasp of statistics.

Read the full series:

Part 1: Introduction to Database Management Systems
Part 2: Relational Database Management Systems
Part 3: Introduction to Net Database Administrators

About the Author:

Gail Seymour has been a website designer for more than 10 years. During that time, she has won three design awards and has provided the content and copy for dozens of websites and more than 50,000 Web pages.

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