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Monday, December 4, 2000

Managing database meticulously
by Sumesh Raizada

TODAY, as the information is generated and transferred at a fast pace from one corner to another of the globe, it has become essential for an individual to properly arrange and store this information in a pre-designed fashion so that whenever required, the same can be retrieved from the stored file or a cabinet or a record.

The task of a librarian, with thousands of books and journals scattered around, is tedious as he has to arrange the books in any particular manner — alphabetically, titlewise, author’s namewise, or subjectwise. The books are then indexed in the bin cards, and whenever a person wants to search a particular book or a journal, he can simply open the bin and look for the corresponding index card. As a result, a number of readers benefit by his meticulous work.

This stored information in a pre-designated fashion is called database. In other words, it is an organised collection of information or data, in which information is stored in records and fields of information. The art of creating and maintaining this database is called database administration.


In recent times due to advancement in the IT and with the accessibility of the Internet, amount of information available to a user has increased several folds. The analysis and storage of data is extremely important, as critical decisions are made its basis, quite often

The database administration is therefore critical in today’s information technology environment, and professionals who are performing this useful task are called database administrator (DBA). They use database management systems for the task, which are mainly tools for managing information stored on the computer. The job of a database administrator primarily involves the structuring of a database in a particular fashion and subsequently managing it by adding, sorting, printing, editing or deleting the information.

As the computer professionals around the world use different operating systems, there are corresponding numbers of tools available to a DBA for accomplishing the task. Therefore, depending upon the applications, requirements and utilities of the organisation, specialised DBAs are employed. However in majority of applications, Microsoft or Oracle-certified DBAs are employed

In insurance companies database administrator are required to maintain database of all types of claims that are settled. They ensure that record of their Claims section and those of the underwriter match with each other. These professionals are usually graduates with Oracle or Microsoft or IBM-certified courses. In telecom, companies providing telephone services, DBA are responsible for daily maintenance and support of database system, say Oracle or Solaris. They are also required to plan and implement the disaster recovery procedures, create and implement security model for the users and facilitate daily backup of data. In MIS department of manufacturing companies, DBAs are responsible for capacity planning, disaster recovery and performance improvement. They also ensure continuity of data and develop strategies for future projects. For the job a person needs to have proficiency in computer programming and system analysis. He should be aware of latest trend in the IT industry so as to utilise the knowledge to maximum possible extent. Preferably, the DBA should be engineering graduate in computers or MCA.

In biomedical research, DBA are employed to work for implementation, validation and design and support of clinical database. They are usually computer engineers with exposure to clinical programming, pharmaceutical industry and related medical terminology. In e-commerce companies, database administrators are responsible for analysing, documenting and managing all aspects of data modelling with respect to business. They interact with the Web designers and system analyst for processing the data. These professionals must be MCA or computer engineers with strong analytical and communication skills. They should be able to work in a team and creative environment.

In software companies, individuals with expertise in database system as well as programming are hired to work as DBA in association with system analyst and other application team members. They find out solutions and specifications for business requirement of the product, participate in design reviews and incorporate feedback from the users in the program. They participate in the design and testing of application to support the business requirements, identify and recommend solutions for performance improvement in an efficient way, prioritise user requests and assigned programming projects. The DBA for the job should be MCA, MBA or engineering graduate with certification in Oracle and programming languages.

Besides, DBAs are required in several other important applications, but maybe with different job designations. However the job profile remains the same. In universities or colleges, they maintain database related to students and examinations results. In the police department or other investigating agency, they help in creating and maintaining database of criminals and crime conducted in the area, in market research companies they are involved in generating database of customer profile, like demographic, buying behaviour, in electricity or utility department, their service are required for maintaining and updating consumers profile. Hence, DBAs have virtually established their utility in almost every sphere of life where computers are in application.

The salaries earned by the DBAs are enormous. They earn anywhere starting from Rs. 2 lakh and above per annum. However, the salaries earned by these professionals in the USA and Western countries are proportionately higher, possibly due to shortage in trained and qualified IT professionals in those countries. The job is usually horizontal in nature and there is not much hierarchy for them to rise to the top, unless they change the job profile.

There are several certification courses available to the prospective DBAs. IBM conducts certification for DB2 universal database administration, Oracle provides certified course in understanding of Oracle 7 Server and Oracle database administration. Microsoft also provides certification on SQL server. Centura and Sybase also conduct certification courses on database administration based on knowledge of server technology and database design. Most of the computer institutes are providing the Microsoft or Oracle certified courses on database administration. The MCDBA or Microsoft-certified database administrator program is the foremost qualification for professionals who work on SQL server database. Here students are required to create, manage and maintain databases, and install SQL server. The MCDBA certification consists of four exams. Upon completion, the students are required to appear in the official Microsoft examinations and after successful completion of all course work, students will be awarded a college certificate for this program.

Oracle, which is among the top software companies in the world and its certified DBAs are among the highest paid professionals in the IT industry. In Oracle-certified course students are required to create and manage database systems using Oracle software. Upon completion of this course, students will have an introductory knowledge of how to develop and administer an Oracle database. After completion of the courses in database administration, students are prepared to take the Oracle Certification examination. Oracle DBAs are employed to ensure that an employer’s Oracle database system operates efficiently and that the database remains secure. The DBA would also be in charge of allowing various users, access to the database and ensures that users would be correctly connected to the database.

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