Oracle Scratchpad

December 4, 2008

DBA 2.0

Filed under: Infrastructure — Jonathan Lewis @ 9:11 pm BST Dec 4,2008

From time to time, people on the Oracle forum, or newsgroup ask the question: “What do you have to do to be a good DBA ?”

Joel Goodman and Harald van Breederode – a pair of highly skilled and very experienced instructors at Oracle University – recently asked themselves a slightly different question: “How do you have to change to stay a good DBA in the modern environment ?”

Their answer is in a little booklet (10 pages, 1.15MB pdf file) with the title “Performing an Oracle DBA 1.0 to DBA 2.0 Upgrade.” It’s worth reading.


  1. Count me in the dba 3.0 camp, quite frankly…


    The problem with all these re-definitions of the dba job is they completely overlook the core concern.

    Which is the one of DATA MANAGEMENT.

    Being a dba 1.0 – or 2 or 3, is a very, very small portion of this much larger field. And tending to get smaller.

    Unfortunately, everyone is approaching this much larger problem from the perspective of the traditional dba skills.


    The much wider field of data management requires a correspondingly wider skill set which needs adequate specific training.

    Until someone realizes that the discipline of data management is not new and adequate training and solutions for it have existed for decades, we’ll forever have this “dba nn.nn” versioning that serves no purpose whatsoever.

    Ah well: someone has gotta find a way to sell more software…

    Comment by Noons — December 5, 2008 @ 1:10 am BST Dec 5,2008 | Reply

  2. Is a backup necessary before the upgrade?
    Lol! ^_^

    Comment by lascoltodelvenerdi — December 5, 2008 @ 9:16 am BST Dec 5,2008 | Reply

  3. This expansion of the multi-skilled roles, DBA or otherwise, is countered by the ever-increasing strict partitioning of job roles and access restrictions in financial environments. It’s been two years since I was at a client or on a job where I had actually had any access to the OS for example or had any dba level access to the database (in theory at least).

    Comment by dombrooks — December 5, 2008 @ 9:39 am BST Dec 5,2008 | Reply

  4. lascoltodelvenerdi,

    Backup not needed – but there are some DBAs out there who could do with a good archive and purge ;)

    Comment by Jonathan Lewis — December 5, 2008 @ 9:41 am BST Dec 5,2008 | Reply

  5. You mean to tell me it’s not about buffer cache hit ratio anymore? ;)

    Comment by Jeff Hunter — December 5, 2008 @ 2:27 pm BST Dec 5,2008 | Reply

  6. Jonathan,

    Thank you posting this reference to the DBA 2.0 concerning skills for good DBAs. I began my career as a UNIX administrator so I was fortunate to learn how to manage servers, networks and storage before working as a DBA. One thing lacking in many DBAs today is the ability to think in the macro level (big picture) and how to map it down to the micro level. This leads to a lot of tunnel vision and causes many problems in large complex Oracle environments. It provides opportunities for experienced Oracle consultants like myself. Nowadays a great DBA needs to know about everything and how to work with all the moving pieces.


    Comment by Ben Prusinski — December 6, 2008 @ 4:47 pm BST Dec 6,2008 | Reply

  7. Ben,

    Good observation – and one of the sad things is that quite a lot of sites seem to enforce the separation between developers, dbas and system admins, which means that even when people really want to expand their horizons there are barriers in their way.

    Comment by Jonathan Lewis — December 6, 2008 @ 8:32 pm BST Dec 6,2008 | Reply

  8. I think that compartmentalization of tasks by means of rigid job descriptions is essential for any mid-range business. Else, responsibilities blur, tasks are inappropriately assigned, and then the Blame Game is dusted down and the dice of misfortune for some poor soul are cast.

    If a Linux Admin. wants to break into Oracle, or vice versa, then do what thousands of others have done: buy a few books, log-on to some good sites and get learnin’!

    Comment by Richard — December 8, 2008 @ 3:53 pm BST Dec 8,2008 | Reply

  9. I found the paper by Joel and Harald failed to take into account that what they define as DBA 2.0 already exists and in great number. I am an experienced system and network administrator and although I have never held the title of DBA I have always had to manage and administer Oracle and other databases – and I work in a mid range company. Many of us learned the DBA skillset because we had to. I am sure many system administrators can say the same.

    Comment by David Montgomery — December 9, 2008 @ 3:48 pm BST Dec 9,2008 | Reply

  10. Log Buffer #127: a Carnival of the Vanities for DBAs…

    Well, it’s been a long time (100 editions in fact!) since I have hosted a log buffer, but I thought what better way to break-in the new blog than by hosting the 127th edition of Log Buffer. Let’s get started!

    The big story in MySQL this week was t…

    Trackback by zillablog — December 12, 2008 @ 4:49 pm BST Dec 12,2008 | Reply

  11. Ben,

    you said “One thing lacking in many DBAs today is the ability to think in the macro level (big picture) and how to map it down to the micro level”. I’d say this is not only true for DBA’s but also for people in all sorts of other roles (developer, system admin, network admin, storage admin…).

    The lengthy list also indicates the reason for this: a system today is significantly more complex than a few years before. Now we not only have disks or network mounted disks but we have SAN and a complete storage infrastructure, which is also closely related to network management. We have clusters for failover and performance where there once was just a single machine (plus a backup system maybe). In short, it becomes more and more difficult to only keep up to date with even the general concepts of the other domains.

    Because of this, it’s so important that people work together. There are many hurdles that need to be taken but often it starts with nobody noticing that a change in place A affects places C and D as well and people from over there should be involved.



    Comment by Robert Klemme — December 17, 2008 @ 3:34 pm BST Dec 17,2008 | Reply

  12. […] Was gehört heute zu einem guten (Oracle) DBA? […]

    Pingback by DBA 2.0 auf maol Jeopardy! — December 18, 2008 @ 6:20 am BST Dec 18,2008 | Reply

  13. I couldn’t agree more. The best DBAs I know have very strong systems backgrounds. Guys that started as Sysadmins and transitioned to DBAs. These guys have a huge advantage in my opinion. Guys that started as programmers, network admins, or storage guys also generally have a better perspective on things than one trick ponies. Jonathan, I totally agree with your comment on the separation of church and state that we see so often in large shops. I think I can count on one hand the number of shops I’ve worked with where the developers and the DBA worked well together. A lot of times it seems like you have to play marriage counselor just to get them to talk to each other. Like “the DBAs are not trying to make the database run badly so your code won’t work” and conversely ” the developers are not trying to write flakey code just so you will get woken up in the middle of the night”. I think organizationally it works a lot better to have them working in the same group under the same manager. But I digress. Thanks for posting the link. It’s good to know that I am not alone in my opinion that DBAs needs a good working knowledge of o/s, storage, and network to be an effect problem solver.


    Comment by Kerry Osborne — December 18, 2008 @ 10:38 pm BST Dec 18,2008 | Reply

  14. @jonathan,

    Thanks. I agree- many barriers often exist between DBAs, developers, management and system/network engineers. Diplomacy and building relationships is all that more important to be successful. Its funny because more is about this in consulting than the pure technical problem solving aspects. Perception is often reality to many clients. Hence the existence of many feuds online between Oracle experts and real life. Me- I try to play well with folks unless they do something really evil to me :-)


    I could not agree more. One has to be tactful and play well with others. I am thankful that I have a solid knowledge of UNIX and WINDOWS systems from the system and network level especially since I work a lot these days with installing, testing, and troubleshooting complex multiple node Oracle RAC clusters. For example, I have to ask the Unix admin to work with me during Clusterware installs because the and other scripts must be executed as root during installation and patching operations. Its fun and I love to teach others about Oracle. I had one client thrilled that I walked her through RAC internals one evening when she was helping me run some scripts as root to finish a RAC upgrade.

    Agreed- the nice things is that as an Oracle consultant well versed in not only databases but systems and networks, I can bridge the gap between all parties and add value to client needs. Plus its fun to work with all these areas. To become an Oracle RAC expert, you have to know a lot about many disciplines!


    Comment by Ben Prusinski — February 12, 2009 @ 6:30 am BST Feb 12,2009 | Reply

  15. Harald, the link to the DBA 2.0 article is dead. Is there a new one?

    Comment by Frits Hoogland — May 25, 2011 @ 8:05 pm BST May 25,2011 | Reply

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