This article is the final installment of a six-part series developed as a collaborative effort between the editors of IOUG SELECT and Big Data Quarterly on 'The Changing Role of the Modern DBA'.
You can recover a database - great. You can tune SQL - sweet! You even know how to write some PL/SQL when push comes to shove - watch out Developers!!! The aforementioned are great skills to have - if it was the year 2010. But the DBA's of today need to be able to assimilate to the tools and technologies of the future. In this article I will discuss (at a high-level) many items that will help you grow not only your expertise, but also support your long-term career goals.
Let's begin by looking at an interesting infographic that coalesces both hot technologies for 2018 as well as the trending technology jobs for this year.
What we can see from this picture is that the keywords utilized across the two datapoints converge. This could illustrate that the technologies you need to know may match the career positions in which you potentially should be interested. Let’s examine some of the most in-demand technology skills to support the above graphic.
Future Hot Technologies and Expertise
At a high-level the Gartner hot topics include:
• Visual and Voice Search
• Digital Giants Self-Disrupt
• Legitimized Cryptocurrencies
• Increased Fake News, i.e. possible false information about your brand
• Counterfeit Reality Overtakes Reality
• Bots Take Over
• Versatility Wins Over Specialization
• AI Creates More Jobs Than It Takes
• IoT in Everything which begets IoT Security Vulnerabilities
At a more granular level, the aforementioned translates into some specific technologies including:
• Cloud and Distributed Computing
• Statistical Analysis and Data Mining
• Middleware and Integration Software
• Web Architecture and Development Framework
• User Interface Design
• Data Presentation
• Mobile Development
• Network and Information Security
Based on the technologies above, what are some examples of the new trending roles I would possibly be attracted to you might ask? As stated above, it’s interesting (but not surprising) that the list of required expertise mirrors the hot technologies for 2018. The roles include:
• Data Scientist
• DevOps Engineer
• Business Intelligence Analyst
• Database Developer
• Network Administrator
• Data Security Administrator
• System Administrator
What's interesting about this list isn’t so much the full titles but yet the word repeated in many of them - DATA. I spoke to Rich Niemiec at NCOAUG recently, and he gave me some great information on the ever-changing role of the DBA. In a nutshell he said the Database Administrator will become a Data Administrator. A similar description was used by Penny Avril of Oracle in her article for DBTA. I believe this summation matches nicely with both the hot tech and trending jobs for the year! For additional information or if you haven’t read her article, please find the link in the references section below.
Trending Technologies for 2018
I am going to briefly touch on the “hot topics” which I feel are important based on my research of sites, technology lists, articles and presentations. These include Blockchain, AI, and Internet of Things.
Blockchain is one of the driving technologies behind Bitcoin aka cryptocurrency. A blockchain is a public (or private) distributed digital ledger of transactions. Transactions are contained in blocks which make up the blockchain. The unique thing about blockchain is that it is one long row; every block is linked to the one before it which aids in the validation and security. It is one big record of all name-value pair transactions since the first until now. Since the blockchain is public, there is no requirement for central intermediaries to validate transactions or store centralized data. In addition, copies of the blockchain exists all over the world and having many distributed copies of the blockchain helps prevent tampering with the latest blockchain, i.e. new copies of the blockchain are downloaded and uploaded as part of the validation process.
As a technologist you understand the nuts and bolts, but what would be a good use-case for blockchain? A great use for blockchain is the life-cycle of a product; let’s take an egg as an example. Hens are raised on a farm to produce eggs to either be sold for food or to increase the chicken population. One may want to know when the hen was born, how fast their eggs arrived at a distributor, or how long it took them to get to the grocery store. There could even be an outbreak of Salmonella at your local grocery store – wouldn’t it be helpful to be able to track the lineage of the hen or the egg throughout its lifespan? Without a blockchain solution, a request such as this would take weeks to find the answer assuming you even knew where to start or that the records were valid and existed for each of the vendors, providers, or farms, etc.
I use the term AI pretty generically to represent Artificial Intelligence Applications, Machine Learning, Intelligent Bots, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and Natural Language Processing (NLP). AI is present in many technologies you use today, and now is the time to get assimilated if you haven’t already. The data volumes will be (are) HUGE! Data is being (and will need to be) combined and analyzed in real-time from myriad sources including back-end ERP systems, chat, web, text, voice, other applications, and from millions of devices. As examples, AI has practical use-cases in:
• Healthcare – improving patient outcomes and reducing costs
• Business – automating highly repetitive tasks
• Education – grading automation and student assessments
• Finance – autonomous financial advice based on personal data collection
• Law – reducing human requirements related to the discovery process
For your future role, you will need to be able to administer, secure, integrate and understand the complexities related to incorporating data in any format – images, speech, digital, social interactions, and associated with both structured / unstructured data.
Coupled with the AI items, the data amounts related to IOT are staggering. To wit, there will be 50 Billion devices in use by 2018 representing 8 Zettabytes of information. In basic terms, IOT is interrelating the billions of devices, objects, and people, transmitting the information in real-time, and doing so without any human interaction. Implementations exist for agriculture, building management, healthcare, energy, and transportation to name a few, but some practical uses you may relate to include:
• The Coke machine at Qdoba can be connected to a network so that the owner knows what is selling, what needs to be refreshed, or be able to add a new flavor without any (well not very much) human interaction.
• The farmer can access real-time data about conditions of their crops, soil, air quality, or other weather related statistics like temperature or precipitation.
• The use of smart grid technology is changing the way we consume power, gas, and internet/voice. The technology is allowing (or making) providers become proactive rather than reactive to outages, technical issues, or other problems with the service they provide.
As a future Data Administrator, you will need to be able to manage the storage and processing of massive datasets. Furthermore related to security, understanding the concerns related to data privacy and data sovereignty are top of mind for the explosive data volumes. Finally, understanding the business value for the large amounts of data will be critical as well thereby allowing you to talk both technology as well as providing business perspective.
DBA of the future
As a Data Administrator of the future, you need to understand not only the technical aspects of Blockchain, AI, and Internet of Things and the other technologies discussed in this article, but you must also be able to speak to the functional data requirements necessary for all-encompassing solutions. This is characterized in a data point from Gartner: By 2021, 40% of IT staff will be “versatilists” holding multiple roles, most of which will be business rather than technology related. Finally Penny Avril’s DBTA article offers further proof and importance on the prospective roles for the DBA: “DBAs are being asked to understand what businesses do with data rather than just the mechanics of keeping the database healthy and running. This is where the opportunity lies. Their job is no longer in the background simply keeping databases alive and running. They are now responsible for data modeling, data security, and performance monitoring in a hybrid system—all elements of the job that are more visible to the business and will continue to grow in importance.”
References / Further Information:
• The Changing Role of the DBA: Q&A with Oracle's Penny Avril - http://www.dbta.com/BigDataQuarterly/Articles/The-Changing-Role-of-the-DBA-QandA-with-Oracles-Penny-Avril-120343.aspx
• The Next Big Things - Amit Zavery, Senior Vice ;President, Oracle Cloud Platform Development, Oracle OpenWorld 2017