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Database Administration

Database Administration

Database administration refers to the whole set of activities performed by a database administrator to ensure that a database is always available as needed. Other closely related tasks and roles are database security, database monitoring and troubleshooting, and planning for future growth.

Database administration is an important function in any organization that is dependent on one or more databases.

The database administrator (DBA) is usually a dedicated role in the IT department for large organizations. However, many smaller companies that cannot afford a full-time DBA usually outsource or contract the role to a specialized vendor, or merge the role with another in the ICT department so that both are performed by one person.

The primary role of database administration is to ensure maximum up time for the database so that it is always available when needed. This will typically involve proactive periodic monitoring and troubleshooting. This in turn entails some technical skills on the part of the DBA. In addition to in-depth knowledge of the database in question, the DBA will also need knowledge and perhaps training in the platform (database engine and operating system) on which the database runs.

A DBA is typically also responsible for other secondary, but still critically important, tasks and roles. Some of these include:

  • Database Security: Ensuring that only authorized users have access to the database and fortifying it against any external, unauthorized access.
  • Database Tuning: Tweaking any of several parameters to optimize performance, such as server memory allocation, file fragmentation and disk usage.
  • Backup and Recovery: It is a DBA's role to ensure that the database has adequate backup and recovery procedures in place to recover from any accidental or deliberate loss of data.
  • Producing Reports from Queries: DBAs are frequently called upon to generate reports by writing queries, which are then run against the database.

It is clear from all the above that the database administration function requires technical training and years of experience. Some companies that offer commercial database products, such as Oracle DB and Microsoft's SQL Server, also offer certifications for their specific products. These industry certifications, such as Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) and Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA), go a long way toward assuring organizations that a DBA is indeed thoroughly trained on the product in question. Because most relational database products today use the SQL language, knowledge of SQL commands and syntax is also a valuable asset for today's DBAs.

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F.A.Q. about Database Administration

Data Resource Management

According to the Data Management Association (DAMA), data resource management is "the development and execution of architectures, policies, practices and procedures that properly manage the full data lifecycle needs of an enterprise". Data Resource management may be thought of as a managerial activity that applies information system and other data management tools to the task of managing an organization’s data resource to meet a company’s business needs, and the information they provide to their shareholders. From the perspective of database design, it refers to the development and maintenance of data models to facilitate data sharing between different systems, particularly in a corporate context. Data Resource Management is also concerned with both data quality and compatibility between data models.

Since the beginning of the information age, businesses need all types of data on their business activity. With each data created, when a business transaction is made, need data is created. With these data, new direction is needed that focuses on managing data as a critical resource of the organization to directly support its business activities. The data resource must be managed with the same intensity and formality that other critical resources are managed. Organizations must emphasize the information aspect of information technology, determine the data needed to support the business, and then use appropriate technology to build and maintain a high-quality data resource that provides that support.

Data resource quality is a measure of how well the organization's data resource supports the current and the future business information demand of the organization. The data resource cannot support just the current business information demand while sacrificing the future business information demand. It must support both the current and the future business information demand. The ultimate data resource quality is stability across changing business needs and changing technology.

A corporate data resource must be developed within single, organization-wide common data architecture. A data architecture is the science and method of designing and constructing a data resource that is business driven, based on real-world objects and events as perceived by the organization, and implemented into appropriate operating environments. It is the overall structure of a data resource that provides a consistent foundation across organizational boundaries to provide easily identifiable, readily available, high-quality data to support the business information demand.

The common data architecture is a formal, comprehensive data architecture that provides a common context within which all data at an organization's disposal are understood and integrated. It is subject oriented, meaning that it is built from data subjects that represent business objects and business events in the real world that are of interest to the organization and about which data are captured and maintained.