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DevOps, the cloud, and new database technologies mean our jobs as database administrators (DBAs) are changing at an ever-faster pace. If you’re fascinated by data and all the things you can do with it, it’s a thrilling time to be in the business. Here are five of the skills we see as essential parts of the modern DBA’s toolkit.

  1. Expertise with multiple technologies: The one-size-fits-all approach to databases is fading. Just as application developers are moving toward a microservices model that focuses on the right tool for the job, organizations are choosing databases according to specific workload needs. The more you know about Hadoop, NoSQL, graph, and other technologies, the better-positioned you will be to make a positive contribution to the conversation.
  2. Collaboration: Speaking of conversations, DBAs will increasingly need to become contributing members of application teams rather than siloed specialists off in their own corners. DevOps tend to break down the barriers between IT functions. Understanding how applications work, and, even better, how they deliver business value, puts you in a position to be a creative problem solver and all-around data expert.
  3. Data science skills: Machine learning and AI are some of the fastest growing uses of data in the enterprise today. Making these technologies work efficiently and getting superior results depends on good data, which depends on you and your specialized skills.
  4. Cost optimization: In an on-premises world, most DBAs aren’t deeply involved in cost conversations unless there’s a big IT capital investment taking place. In the cloud, database configuration has a direct impact on the bottom line. Understanding how to manage the technology in cost-optimized ways can help your organization do more with its IT budget.
  5. Cloud (and edge) everything: There will be on-premises databases around for a long time, but the cloud is going to continue growing in importance. The good news is that it can help automate a lot of the infrastructure-related drudgery that characterizes classic DBA jobs. The even better news is that it frees you to do more creative things. In many industries such as retail, manufacturing, and aerospace, edge computing is becoming even more interesting than cloud and requires further evolution of database approaches. If you’re an expert here, you can write your own ticket for several years to come.

IT has always been a fast-evolving field and it’s only going to accelerate for DBAs. Now’s the time to skill up and take the lead. To learn more about what you can do with Microsoft SQL Server 2019, check out the free Packt guide, Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2019. If you’re ready to jump to a fully managed cloud solution, check out the Essential Guide to Data in the Cloud.