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The Role of DBAs in the Age of Oracle Autonomous Database


Nancy Swanson, Senior Director of Product Marketing for the Oracle Database Appliance portfolio, covered the role of DBAs in the age of Oracle Autonomous Database.

When Oracle announced the release of its Autonomous Database in 2018, database administrators (DBAs) had to wonder how it would change their jobs. Oracle Autonomous Database leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to handle patching, upgrades, and tuning, manage its own security needs, and perform repairs on itself. The question got asked – What’s left for a DBA to do?

The Changing Role of DBAs

Focusing on the Data, Not the Database

As automation absorbs mundane tasks like tuning, backups, optimization, configuration, and provisioning, DBAs get to spend more time on the fun stuff. They will spend less time maintaining the physical database and more time extracting value from the data itself. Specifically, the role will expand into data architecture and modeling even as it becomes more strategic and collaborative with other areas of the business.

As companies collect increasing volumes of data and their business models become more data-driven, DBAs must leverage their human expertise to provide true value. The DBAs evolving role will now include helping developers and business users get the most out of the information that they manage. With their knowledge of data structure and organization, DBAs can devise more agile development techniques to help developers build better applications or provide insight into how the system will perform under various conditions. At the same time, DBAs should expand their understanding of areas like business intelligence (BI), cloud computing, and data security in order to meet the requirements of their new role.

Aligning with the Business

As the data experts in their organizations, DBAs can create value by making more data available to more people. They should seize this opportunity to become more involved in helping the business extract value from its data capital. It will be critical for DBAs to take a more proactive role in problem-solving, which means understanding the importance of specific types of data to key business stakeholders.

DBAs should also stretch their networking and collaborative muscles by reaching out to multiple business functions with offers of help. They should also learn how to communicate the value that they can contribute effectively, but even more importantly, listen with an open mind to better understand the needs of users. Then, DBAs can make themselves invaluable by coming to them with new ideas about what insights they can draw from their data. Be on the lookout for solutions, and be willing to investigate and innovate to bring those ideas to fruition.

Playing a Bigger Role in Application Development and Data Science

Data scientists and business analysts need access to clean, real-time data in order to do their work, which makes a DBA’s knowledge of data sources and format especially valuable. DBAs can help data scientists and business analysts find ways to discern trends and patterns, bring in external data, or connect to outside analytics tools to augment their analyses.

In-house developers also need access to data and the database services that DBAs can offer. DBAs should engage developers and help them understand what the database is capable of so they can expand the functionality of their applications.

Skills for DBAs to Develop

Some of the specific skills that DBAs should develop include:

  • Analytics: Now is the time to explore the analytical capabilities built into Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse. These capabilities include an extensive library of machine learning (ML) algorithms that can help predict customer behavior, identify cross-selling opportunities, and detect anomalies.
  • Data modeling: While database maintenance can be automated, the valuable work of data modeling requires people. A well-thought-out data model can help an application work more smoothly and help end-users get the answers that they really need.
  • Development: Since DBAs will be interacting more and more with the in-house development team, they should get up to speed using developer tools.


The role of DBAs isn’t going away. It’s simply evolving to become more valuable than ever. The age of the autonomous database will open greater opportunities to take a seat at the strategy table. However, it won’t happen if DBAs don’t take the initiative. By forging broader partnerships across the organization, being in tune with the business, and making themselves invaluable to the data science, BI, and analytics teams, they can take on a greater and more rewarding role than ever before.

To learn more about the changing role of DBAs, check out the additional resources attached below.

Additional Resources

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The Role of DBAs in the Age of Oracle Autonomous Database