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Interview

Driver’s Education for the Self-Driving Database

With Oracle Autonomous Database, DBAs can avoid the mundane, embrace strategy, and schedule those meetings.

By Tom Haunert

February 12, 2018

If DBAs are the drivers of databases, what happens to DBA responsibilities on a self-driving database?

Oracle Magazine sat down with Maria Colgan, master product manager for Oracle Database, to talk about how Oracle Autonomous Database will change the role of the DBA and how the DBA will in turn improve business processes and application development.

Oracle Magazine: At the highest level, what is Oracle Autonomous Database?

Colgan: Oracle Autonomous Database combines the flexibility of the cloud with the power of machine learning to deliver data management as a service.

It will allow businesses to safely run their mission-critical database workloads on the most secure, most available, and most performant platform—Oracle Database 18c on Oracle Exadata.

Beyond Oracle Database 18c and Oracle Exadata, Oracle Autonomous Database includes machine learning and other features (or “secret sauce,” if you will) to deliver this high level of service. Oracle Autonomous Database customers will simply define the service level they need and Oracle Autonomous Database will make it happen.

Oracle Magazine: How does Oracle Autonomous Database affect the role of the DBA?

Colgan: If you look at what a DBA does today, you can probably divide the tasks into two buckets: generic database and infrastructure tasks would be in one bucket and the other bucket would be more application-focused or business-focused tasks.

With the transition to Oracle Autonomous Database, the generic database and infrastructure tasks go away, because the cloud provider—Oracle—is going to take care of them. These tasks include provisioning new database systems, upgrading or patching existing databases, and making backups.

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With Oracle Autonomous Database, application- and business-focused DBA activities do not go away, says Maria Colgan, master product manager for Oracle Database.

Those tasks are going to go away because DBAs are simply going to select the service levels they want, and Oracle Autonomous Database will take care of it for them. But that doesn’t mean the other DBA activities—the application- and business-focused activities in that second bucket—go away.

Anything that’s business-driven or application-focused is still in the hands of the DBA. These areas tend to be the ones that fall off the DBA’s plate right now when DBAs focus on those more generic database and infrastructure tasks. Removing those tasks allows the rest of the DBA’s world to expand.

Oracle Magazine: What kind of new or different opportunities does the self-driving database offer to DBAs?

Colgan: Oracle Autonomous Database gives DBAs an opportunity to really spread their wings and learn some new skills.

For example, we believe that DBAs working with Oracle Autonomous Database are going to become more involved with their development teams and work hand in hand with them, as well as with the business, to execute more projects, reduce backlogs, and get more value from their company’s data. The DBA role will transform to include defining things such as the data model, optimizing data access, and improving end user experience. DBAs can help developers use the features that are included with Oracle Autonomous Database so that the developers can make the best use of the database technology and get their projects up and running much faster.

DBAs who are not currently experts in data modeling, security, data lifecycle management, or application tuning will have an opportunity to move into those areas.

Oracle Magazine: What can DBAs who want to plan for what’s next in the autonomous database world do now?

Colgan: One of the things I’m always telling DBAs is that you need to get familiar with the features and functionality in the latest versions of Oracle Database and how to use them, and that’s still the case with Oracle Autonomous Database.

DBAs need to start educating themselves on the areas I mentioned, including security, performance tuning, data modeling, and architecting a full solution with a development team. These are areas they may not currently operate in, but they’re going to have to grow into them.

And when it comes to which database service a company needs, the business and the developers are going to look to the DBA to know that. Do you really need Oracle Autonomous Database based on your latest requirements? Sometimes the answer may actually be no, and a service such as Oracle Exadata Express Cloud Service might be sufficient.

As far as working with developers, DBAs should get ready to be the advocates for the features, functionality, and technology that are in the database that can improve the agility of development teams so that developers are not spending months and years reinventing the wheel in their application code.

Next Steps

LEARN more about Oracle Autonomous Database.

WATCH Oracle Autonomous Database: The Role of the DBA.

TRY Oracle Database Cloud services.

Photography by Bob Adler/The Verbatim Agency