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Database administration is a job whose primary function is the overall support of a computer database. These support tasks are performed by a person called a database administrator, or DBA. Databases require constant management and upkeep, and a DBA is specially trained to perform all of the functions necessary to do so. A DBA is normally required to have certification or a degree in supporting a specific type of database system, such as Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server. Typically, he or she will use a database management system, or DBMS, software package containing programs designed to aid in database administration.
There are numerous responsibilities involved when doing database administration. DBAs are generally in charge of the overall design, layout, and implementation of the database itself, and need to plan for any changes or future growth needed. They monitor performance of the database and related applications, tuning and making modifications as needed to ensure everything is working optimally. They establish and document database security policies and procedures, as well as those for backup and recovery. DBAs need to have a thorough understanding of database software, features, and products, how to troubleshoot them, and how to install, configure, and upgrade them.
Using a database management system software package greatly enhances the ability of the DBA to effectively support the database. These programs allow the data in the database to be easily managed, organized, and retrieved. They can interact with different types of database models, such as network or relational models. They provide a convenient means to query the data stored there, as well as an easy method for inserting, updating, and deleting records. Database management systems also help maintain data integrity and control access.
The three main variations of the basic database administration job include systems, development, and applications. Responsibility for all of the physical aspects of database administration, such as upgrades, backups, and performance monitoring and tuning typically fall under a systems DBA. Development DBAs are usually responsible for the activities involved in designing and implementing a new database. When a company uses software from an outside vendor to interact with the database, an applications DBA is typically in charge of ensuring they work together properly. A database administrator may specialize in one of these types, or may be responsible for all of them depending on the size of the organization and its needs.