Home > Articles > Data

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

The Management Discipline of Database Administration

Database administration is rarely approached as a management discipline. The term discipline implies a plan, and implementation according to that plan. When database administration is treated as a management discipline, the treatment of data within your organization will improve. It is the difference between being reactive and proactive.

All too frequently, the DBA group is overwhelmed by requests and problems. This ensues for many reasons, such as understaffing, overcommitment to supporting new (and even legacy) application development projects, lack of repeatable processes, or lack of budget. The reactive DBA functions more like a firefighter than an administrator; he attempts to resolve problems only after problems occur. The reactive DBA is focused on resolving the biggest problem confronting him.

In contrast, the proactive DBA implements practices and procedures to avoid problems before they occur. A proactive database administrator develops and implements a strategic blueprint for deploying databases within the organization. This plan should address all phases of the application development life cycle. A data specialist, usually the DBA, should be involved during each phase of the cycle, as shown in Figure 1-3. During the initiation and requirements gathering phase, the DBA must be available to identify the data components of the project. He can help to determine if the required data already exists elsewhere in the organization or if the data is brand new. During the analysis and design phases, the rudimentary data requirements must be transformed into a conceptual and logical data model.

Figure 1-3Figure 1-3 The application development life cycle

Before development can begin, the logical data model must be translated to a physical database design that can be implemented using a DBMS such as Oracle or DB2. Sample data must be populated into the physical database to allow application testing. Furthermore, the DBA must develop and implement a process to refresh test data to enable repeatable test runs.

When the application moves from development to operational status, the DBA ensures that the DBMS is prepared for the new workload. This preparation includes implementing appropriate security measures, measuring and modifying the storage and memory requirements for the new application, and anticipating the impact of the new workload on existing databases and applications. The DBA is also responsible for migrating the new database from the test environment to the production environment.

While the application is operational, the DBA performs a host of duties including assuring availability, performance monitoring, tuning, backup and recovery, and authorization management. However, no application or database remains static for long. Because business needs change over time, the IT systems that support the business will also change. When maintenance is requested, the DBA becomes engaged in the entire process once again, from requirements gathering to implementation.

Finally, when the application reaches the end of its useful life, the DBA must help to determine the final status of the data used by the application. Is the data no longer required, or do other applications and processes use the data, too? Are there regulations that require the data to be stored longer than the life of the application? Does the business have any privacy policies that impose special rules for handling the data? See the sidebar "Privacy Policies and Data" for further information.

Privacy Policies and Data

The recent bankruptcy of e-business toy seller Toysmart.com provides a good lesson in the impact of privacy policies on corporate data. In May 2000, Toysmart filed for bankruptcy and announced its intention to sell its database of customer information. Toysmart's customer list was estimated to contain information on 250,000 former customers, including their names, phone numbers, street and e-mail addresses, and product preferences. However, Toysmart's own privacy policy, previously posted on its Web site, promised that it would not disclose the personal information of its customers to third parties.

The FTC and a group of state attorneys general blocked the sale on the grounds that the sale would violate Toysmart's privacy policy. They argued that Toysmart's customers conducted business with Toysmart.com under the conditions of the privacy policy. The court ruling further stipulated that the company had to provide an affidavit describing how the list was destroyed.

This is just one example of how privacy policies can impact database administrators and corporate data experts. Of course, you may never work for a company that goes bankrupt, but your company may decide to retire applications and data due to legal regulations, business conditions, or mergers.

The DBA is responsible for managing the overall database environment. Often this includes installing the DBMS and setting up the IT infrastructure to allow applications to access databases. These tasks need to be completed before any application programs can be implemented. Furthermore, ad hoc database access is a requirement for many organizations.

Additionally, the DBA is in charge of setting up an ad hoc query environment that includes evaluating and implementing query and reporting tools, establishing policies and procedures to ensure efficient ad hoc queries, and monitoring and tuning ad hoc SQL.

As you can see, a good DBA is integral to the entire application development life cycle. The DBA is "in demand" for his knowledge of data and the way in which data is managed by modern applications.

A Day in the Life of a DBA

A day in the life of a DBA is usually quite hectic. The DBA maintains production and test environments, monitors active application development projects, attends strategy and design meetings, selects and evaluates new products, and connects legacy systems to the Web. And, of course: Joe in Accounting, he just resubmitted that query from hell that's bringing the system to a halt. Can you do something about that? All of this can occur within a single workday.

To add to the chaos, DBAs are expected to know everything about everything. From technical and business jargon to the latest management and technology fads, the DBA is expected to be "in the know." And do not expect any private time: A DBA must be prepared for interruptions at any time to answer any type of question—and not just about databases, either.

When application problems occur, the database environment is frequently the first thing blamed. The database is "guilty until proven innocent." A DBA is rarely approached with a question like "I've got some really bad SQL here. Can you help me fix it?" Instead, the DBA is forced to investigate problems where the underlying assumption is that the DBMS or perhaps the DBA is at fault, when the most common cause of relational performance problems is inefficiently coded applications.

Oftentimes the DBA is forced to prove that the database is not the source of the problem. The DBA must know enough about all aspects of IT to track down errors and exonerate the DBMS and database structures he has designed. So he must be an expert in database technology, but also have semi-expert knowledge of the IT components with which the DBMS interacts: application programming languages, operating systems, network protocols and products, transaction processors, every type of computer hardware imaginable, and more. The need to understand such diverse elements makes the DBA a very valuable resource. It also makes the job interesting and challenging. If database administration still sounds intriguing to you, read on. Actually, the job isn't as bad as it sounds. The work is interesting, there is always something new to learn, and, as previously mentioned, the pay can be good. The only question is: Can anyone do this type of job for twenty or more years without needing a rest? And, oh, by the way, I think I hear your pager going off, so you might want to pause here to see what is wrong.

Evaluating a DBA Job Offer

As a DBA, it is almost inevitable that you will change jobs several times during your career. When making a job change, you will obviously consider requirements such as salary, bonus, benefits, frequency of reviews, and amount of vacation time. However, you also should consider how the company treats their DBAs. Different organizations place different value on the DBA job. It is imperative to your career development that you scout for progressive organizations that understand the complexity and ongoing learning requirements for the position. Here are some useful questions to ask:

  • Does the company offer regular training for its DBAs to learn new DBMS features and functionality? What about training for related technologies such as programming, networking, e-business, transaction management, message queueing, and the like?

  • Does the company allow DBAs to regularly attend local user groups? What about annual user groups at remote locations?

  • Are there backup DBAs, or will you be the only one on call 24/7?

  • Are there data administration and system administration organizations, or are the DBAs expected to perform all of these duties, too?

  • Does the DBA group view its relationship with application development groups as a partnership? Or is the relationship more antagonistic?

  • Are DBAs included in design reviews, budgeting discussions, and other high-level IT committees and functions?

The more "yes" answers you get to these questions, the more progressive the DBA environment is.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020