I want pursue my career as a DBA. Basically what are their resposibilities? Which database is supposed to be the best, and where can I learn about the same? I still am not clear about the resposibilities of any DBA. What do they do? How do they make themselves busy? They seem to have less work compared to anyone else. Is it true always? Sorry for asking too many questions. I appreciate your help and support. Thanks, Kavitha

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The responsibilities of a DBA depend a lot on the organization, but certain items are consistent.

The DBA is first and foremost responsible for the integrity of the data in the database. The database schema has to be designed so that the data is kept as free as possible of any errors. This means that you have to spend a lot of time figuring out what data needs to be stored, how that data needs to be organized, what referential integrity needs to be declared, and what other constraints need to be declared. You will be involved in most projects from "cradle to grave"... You'll start before the first programmer can write a line of code, and you'll work with the operations staff until the application is decommissioned.

A DBA also has to be involved in many of the decisions about hardware and its configuration. You'll get involved in server specifications, router/network/protocol planning and implementation. You will probably sit in more committee meetings than you ever imagined were possible!

The DBA gets involved in many issues of application performance. When a user calls the help desk to grumble that "our XYZ application is running slow", the DBA usually has to show that the database isn't the culprit before the developer even looks at the application.

The best database is whichever one you like best! While there are special features that make one database a clear winner over the others for very specialized tasks, they all do a fine job for 95% of the tasks that a database might be asked to do. For the most part, any given application can probably be implemented using any given database.

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This was first published in May 2001

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