The Forces that Motivate DBAs{1}


In the article (2012), “Motivating the DBA,” the author discusses the database administrator’s role and motivations. Lockwood Lyon begins the article by briefly describing the workday of the following IT professionals: programmers, quality assurance analysts, systems analysts, and project managers. According to Lyon, programmers tackle problems during the application development lifecycle and include “…design, coding and testing through implementation and software upgrades (Lyon).” Quality assurance analysts in a typical workday deal with conformance processes, such as programming standards and developing and analyzing test cases. Systems analysts figure out how to have the current technology assets meet the business requirements, along with ensuring the application meets the desired performance. Project managers in the course of a workday manage the resources both technical and human. Also, project managers make sure all requirements are met at each iteration of the project and within budget and by the deadline.
The author then takes an in-depth look at the database administrator’s (DBA) workday. Lyon provides a few examples of the problems DBAs typically face. Examples of these problems include ensuring that applications are following the database standards and information requirements are met. DBA’s play a major role in the design of the database and choosing the right application to meet business requirements and needs. Managing DBMS software support, such as updating to a newer version and implementing vendor software patches, also falls under the DBA’s responsibility. Another example provided by the author in describing the DBA’s role is the 24/7 availability required of the DBA to fix system issues and failures.

The article then discusses the personality of the DBA in order for IT management to gain perspective on how to motivate the database administrator. Lyon advises that DBAs are not monetarily driven but that DBAs needs are ” more internal, intense, and visceral (Lyon),” instead their needs are satisfied by self-actualization and empowerment. In order for IT management to initiate the self-actualized DBA’s growth is to sponsor the DBA for attendance at industry conferences, support collaboration with internal departments in order for the DBA to become an expert in a specific application, publish news, standards and tips, and support further education (online). Empowerment driven DBAs should be given some autonomy and are motivated when given a more pro-active role. Lyon advises that by allowing DBAs to delegate some of their own work will defer the often reactive role they fall into when their efforts are put into urgent tasks that do not actually meet the priorities of the organization as a whole. Also, the organization and DBA can benefit from ensuring that the problem-solving methodology is congruent in order to combat complex issues and problems that are detrimental to the organization.

The article suggests self-motivating tasks for the DBA which enhances communications skills. Lyon suggests for the DBA to publish their knowledge regularly in the company’s website, newsletter, or wiki page. This not only reinforces technical knowledge but also keeps the DBA abreast in current industry technologies. Also, the DBA can develop a presentation for the organization to trigger cross-departmental conversation which may open up future collaboration for the benefit of the organization. The article concludes that since the DBA’s position can be very specific, with motivation, DBAs can evolve to a more pro-active role for the organization.

This article illuminated the DBA’s role from the IT and organizational management perspective, which provides a ‘real-world’ supplement to chapter eleven’s topic on the database administrator. I enjoyed the author’s opinion on the DBA personality. I think this can be applied to any department, as self-actualization and empowerment are motivators to nearly all that want to grow a career within their organization or industry. The section on DBA self-motivation proves that these weekly blogs are conditioning are communication skills while preparing us for the real-world IT environment.

Lyon, L. (2012, June 28). Motivating the DBA. Retrieved from http://www.databasejournal.com/sqletc/motivating-the-dba.html. Retrieved on December 2, 2012.