Sunday, January 12, 2014

DBA Rules of Thumb - Part 10 (Keep Up-to-Date)

If you wish to be a successful DBA for a long period of time, you will have to keep up-to-date on all kinds of technology — both database-related and other.

Of course, as a DBA, your first course of action should be to be aware of all of the features and functions available in the DBMSs in use at your site — at least at a high level, but preferably in depth. Read the vendor literature on future releases as it becomes available to prepare for new functionality before you install and migrate to new DBMS releases. The sooner you know about new bells and whistles, the better equipped you will be to prepare new procedures and adopt new policies to support the new features.

Keep up-to-date on technology in general, too. For example, DBAs should understand new data-related technologies such as NoSQL, Hadoop, and predictive analytics, but also other newer technologies that interact with database systems. Don’t ignore industry and technology trends simply because you cannot immediately think of a database-related impact. Many non-database-related “things” (for example, XML) eventually find their way into DBMS software and database applications.

Keep up-to-date on industry standards — particularly those that impact database technology such as the SQL standard. Understanding these standards before the new features they engender have been incorporated into your DBMS will give you an edge in their management. DBMS vendors try to support industry standards, and many features find their way into the DBMS because of their adoption of an industry standard.

As we've already discussed in this series, one way of keeping up-to-date is by attending local and national user groups. The presentations delivered at these forums provide useful education. Even more important, though, is the chance to network with other DBAs to share experiences and learn from each other’s projects.

Through judicious use of the Internet and the Web, it is easier than ever before for DBAs to keep up-to-date. Dozens of useful and informative Web sites provide discussion forums, script libraries, articles, manuals, and how-to documents. Consult my web site at for a regularly-updated  list of DBMS, data, and database-related Web resources.

Remember, though, this is just a starting point. There are countless ways that you can keep-up-to-date on technology. Use every avenue at your disposal to do so, or risk becoming obsolete.

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