In an article published in Database Trends and Applications, Gerardo Dada breaks down the 3 main challenges facing the DBA today and how the role will evolve in the future.

Dada, Vice President of Product Marketing and Strategy for SolarWinds’ database and applications business around the world, pointed out the challenges the DBA faces when choosing the right database development tools, technologies, skills and solutions needed to stay relevant.

Challenge #1 – IT is Shifting to an Application-Centric Approach

A recent survey by Gleanster found that 88% of IT professionals pointed to the database as “the most common challenge or issue with application performance.” While databases aren’t going anywhere, and DBA job security is rock-solid, as both play a central role within the application, problems could arise because IT departments are so application focused. This places an enormous amount of pressure and large workload on both the database and the DBA.


Challenge #2 The Need to Support Multiple Database Platforms

DBA’s have a lot on their plate. Most of them are responsible for handling database technologies from multiple vendors such as Oracle, SQL Server, and My SQL. According to this report more than 25% of DBA’s surveyed “manage up to 100 databases at any given time!” This makes the DBA’s role much more complicated, as jumping between multiple platforms has become common practice

Challenge #3 The Cloud

Adding to the DBA’s workload, new challenges have arisen as organizations are adopting a hybrid IT strategy, as the cloud has become a viable alternative for deploying applications. More than ever before, the DBA is not only responsible for data performance on multiple platforms on premises, but also on the cloud, which is imperative to the organization’s long term success.


1.  Have the Right Mindset

Developing an application-centric mindset is key. The business side of the corporation cares about efficiency and high performance, and most components of the business are dependent on applications. That is a lot of pressure on the DBA. According to Dada, “the modern DBA needs to think about application uptime and performance first and foremost.”

2.  Monitor, Monitor, Monitor

For the reasons covered above, database monitoring is extremely important for the DBA. Specifically, wait-time analysis, which “gives DBAs a view into what end users are waiting for and what the database is waiting for, providing clearer visibility into bottlenecks.” In addition, the DBA needs to work with other members of the IT department to monitor application’s infrastructure, virtualization layers, database servers, hosts, storage systems, networks, and more.

3.  Don’t Be Afraid to Offer Suggestions to the CIO

As the importance of the DBA’s role in the company increasing, it only makes sense that the input from the DBA regarding very important decisions of which set of database management systems and development solutions to use.

An open line of communication between the CIO and the DBA is crucial for the success of the company. There are so many things to consider when selecting the right tools to use, it only makes sense for the person using them to have an input on their selection. This means the DBA also might need to educate other members of the organization, including superiors, which could turn into a clash of egos.


Again, the DBA will be around for a while. If anything, the role of the DBA is evolving quicker than ever before. In order to stay relevant, it is important for DBA’s to understand the new challenges they face and how to tackle them head on.