What have been your greatest challenges as a DBA? What are the daily challenges faced by a DBA?

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One of the greatest challenges as a DBA is dealing with the volume of information you need to absorb and understand to be able to be an effective DBA. And just when you think that you are getting to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, Oracle releases a new version full of exciting new features to learn. And around the same time, paradigms in the IT industry shift, exposing you to a new set of challenges to learn and master. It is my opinion that the DBA has to learn more than most IT professionals. The database sits between the operating system and the application. As such, the DBA needs to be well versed in the OS and in application development in addition to everything else involving the database.

Day to day, I think the DBA's biggest challenge is juggling all of the tasks the DBA is required to perform. I typically have two or three long running processes going (Oracle exports/imports, table reorgs, index rebuilds and so on) at the same time I'm putting out a couple of fires, answering people's questions and adding in a couple of other DBA tasks like reading logs. The DBA needs to master the skill of multi-tasking. The DBA needs to be able to quickly prioritize those tasks that need to be done immediately (like fixing a downed production database) and those that can take a while, but need to be started soon to meet deadlines.

This was first published in May 2005

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