Billy Bosworth (Blog (not updated recently)), the head honcho of the database business unit at Quest Software, has been posing an interesting question lately: “Are DBAs losing their power?”
We used to be all-powerful. When we walked into a development team meeting, we could pound our fist on the table, demand a primary key on every table, and get our wish granted. We held the power to stop a bogus application from going into production if we thought it wouldn’t scale. We pointed at security risks where someone might steal our customer data, and developers jumped to fix it. These things appear to be happening less and less.
So who’s usurping the power of the DBA?
Project managers buy systems without talking to a DBA or an architect first. When the check is written before the requirements are, inevitably the solution doesn’t meet all of the requirements. The systems violate security standards, run as SA, don’t work with current versions of SQL Server, and worse. For examples, check out the comments on Tim Ford’s contest about vendor problems.
Virtualization admins tell company executives, “We need to save money by using virtualization to reduce power, cooling, and licensing expenses. Everybody else is getting great results. The DBAs are being problem children.” The executives agree, and everybody throws the DBA under the bus. Next thing you know, the SQL Servers are getting virtualized.
Compliance auditors have crippled DBAs by demanding more and more busywork to produce complex audit logs. We’re not allowed to upgrade our servers to auditor-friendly SQL Server 2008, so we’re forced to reinvent the wheel to get even the most basic compliance information out of SQL Server 2000 and 2005.
SAN admins tell the DBAs not to worry – everything on the SAN is just fine. The DBAs ask for proof and ask to see performance & configuration reports for the SAN, but their requests fall on deaf ears.
Cloud vendors are touting internet-based databases that don’t require any DBA time. Developers get excited about this because they never really liked DBAs to begin with, and they’re looking for something that scales like crazy. Cloud vendors say they have the solution, so developers go that route.
Excel users are seeing the promises of BI-for-everyone in the coming version of SQL Server 2008 R2. They’re getting excited at the thought of slicing and dicing million-row spreadsheets without a pesky DBA telling them they have to procure resources ahead of time and plan schemas.
Are problems like this having an impact on you and how much power you wield?