Do I really need a SQL Server DBA?

Data has become the lifeblood of almost every organisation today and timely access to this data is the key for providing insight and making business decisions. For many organisations data not only provides insights but is also the key to enabling business transformation. This transformation was recently summarised by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella when he described “data as the new electricity”. Many industry analysts describe data as one of the most important assets that an organisation has and as a result appropriate management of data is paramount.

As the data for most business systems is stored in a database there is a need for a coordinated role to manage the data, this is fulfilled by a Database Administrator (DBA). Broadly the role of a DBA includes a number of functions broken down into the broad categories of capacity planning, installation, configuration, database design, migration, performance monitoring, security, troubleshooting and data recovery. While holistically all of these are important responsibilities of a DBA, where production databases are concerned, performance and data recovery are key. These two functions alone affect overall productivity and will directly impact the businesses ability to operate.

When you first take a car out of the showroom it runs perfectly; it starts first time, there are no strange noises and none of the warning lights are on. However, over time if the car is not maintained and serviced the performance deteriorates and the reliability is significantly reduced. Similarly, without regular maintenance and ongoing tuning database systems performance will deteriorate over time. This is where an experienced DBA is key to the operation of the businesses data systems, they ensure that performance and reliability are maintained and adapt the environment to meet changing usage patterns and scalability requirements along with any other organisational requirements.

Another function of a DBA and arguably the most important is that of data recovery. All too often when organisations think about recovery they are only focused on backup strategies; however, a backup isn’t successful until you have been able to successfully restore from it, reliably and within appropriate timeframes. The DBA ensures that the businesses data recovery time and recovery point objectives are exceeded whilst optimising the total cost to the organisation to deliver the required high availability and disaster recovery solutions. In short, down time equates to lost revenue, if you need to insure your data is available in a timely manner to allow you to make informed business decisions or close transactions then you need a DBA’s expertise to design and manage your data recovery solutions

In short, if you are using any form of business system in your organisation and the data stored within that system is of value, a DBAs expertise will help you to manage the cost effectively whilst maximizing the value you can obtain from your data assets.