A database administrator (DBA) is responsible for the performance, integrity and security of a database. Additional role requirements are likely to include planning, development and troubleshooting.
The database approach incorporates the following principles:
- data remains consistent across the database;
- data is clearly defined;
- users access data concurrently, in a form that suits their needs;
- there is provision for data security and recovery control (all data is retrievable in an emergency).
DBA roles are increasingly identified by the databases, the processes they administer and the capabilities of the database management system (DBMS) in use.
Typical work activities
The work of a DBA varies according to the nature of the employing organisation and the level of responsibility associated with the post. The work may be pure maintenance or it may also involve specialising in database development.
Typical responsibilities include some or all of the following:
- establishing the needs of users and monitoring user access and security;
- monitoring performance and managing parameters to provide fast query responses to front-end users;
- mapping out the conceptual design for a planned database in outline;
- considering both back-end organisation of data and front-end accessibility for end-users;
- refining the logical design so that it can be translated into a specific data model;
- further refining the physical design to meet system storage requirements;
- installing and testing new versions of the DBMS;
- maintaining data standards, including adherence to the Data Protection Act;
- writing database documentation, including data standards, procedures and definitions for the data dictionary (metadata);
- controlling access permissions and privileges;
- developing, managing and testing back-up and recovery plans;
- ensuring that storage, archiving, back-up and recovery procedures are functioning correctly;
- capacity planning;
- working closely with IT project managers, database programmers and multimedia programmers;
- communicating regularly with technical, applications and operational staff to ensure database integrity and security;
- commissioning and installing new applications and customising existing applications in order to make them fit for purpose.
Because of the increasing levels of hacking and the sensitive nature of data stored, security and disaster recovery have become increasingly important aspects of the work.