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What Does a Data Administrator Do?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2016
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A data administrator is an information technology professional who may design and maintain computerized databases. The duties of a data administrator primarily involve managing software, including access authorization. Database software often needs to be examined and tweaked in order to store information according to an organization's needs. Monitoring and ensuring the functionality of the software is a crucial part of a data administrator's job.

Generally, data administrators determine how a database program should be setup and organized. They are often in charge of selecting server and storage applications that will display information in a specific manner. For example, the information regarding the different schools in a district may be searchable by name and address. The administrator determines what information is stored in the program and how it is categorized.

Besides applying their knowledge to configure and customize various database software programs, administrators must also be aware of how that software interacts with computer hardware. A good number of database programs provide users access to information through a local area network (LAN) or the Internet. One of the common duties of a data administrator is to make sure that database programs are accessible over a company's network. An administrator may work with a network engineer to increase and decrease network capacity as necessary.

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At times, databases and software experience functionality errors. It is up to a data administrator to troubleshoot the system and discover the root cause of the error. Besides reactively fixing software programming errors, data administrators also routinely update and maintain the systems. This may involve temporarily disabling the functionality of the program in order to apply upgrades and transfer the stored data securely.

A major concern of any administrator is the security of the information contained in the database. Data administrators also partner with network system engineers to protect against possible intrusions. They may actively investigate and recommend potential firewall and intrusion detection software, in addition to encryption technology. Administrators are in charge of granting access to the database by creating user names, passwords and permissions.

When a data administrator sets up a user name, he will typically grant certain permission levels. Depending upon the user's job function or status, he may be able to modify programs on certain computers within an organization. Permission levels can also be used to restrict certain users from being able to access information or software components. For example, in an educational setting, student users may be restricted from changing any of the software on a computer.

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nony
Post 3

@hamje32 - I have a lot of respect for the work that our database administrator does. At least where I work, it’s not an 8 to 5 job. He often has to do stuff on weekends too.

That’s because that’s when he chooses to do the upgrades on the database software. He doesn’t have to do it then, but he chooses to do so in order not to disrupt our work.

Of course if there is an emergency – the network is down or something like that – he has to come in as well, regardless of the hour. That’s something to consider if you plan to go into this line of work.

hamje32
Post 2

@everetra - We run reports against a database in our company, and I have to admit it can be somewhat of a hassle to get access to the data.

What the administrator does is that he limits certain kinds of permissions, like the ability to create tables and stuff like that. If we need tables built he does that.

Also, he limits the amount of data loaded into the server. Supposedly this is to make reporting easier. I guess I understand the security constraints but it would be nice if we had access to all the data at once.

everetra
Post 1

The database administrator at our workplace is responsible for setting up our Oracle server on our network. We actually have a dedicated server that hosts the Oracle database. He sets us up with permissions and stuff.

The biggest problem that we run into is space requirements. As developers we often have the need to build larger databases. Our software is meant to be scalable.

Building larger databases means that we wind up eating up the hard drive space that is on the server. So we get emails from the database administrator asking us if we need all the databases that are on the server, or if there are some that we can take down.

I think eventually we’re going to need a terabyte or even a multiple terabyte drive for that server, to accommodate all of our projects.

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