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Role of system administrator versus database administrator

We are trying to determine who does what in our organization. We have a Unix system administrator and an Oracle DBA. They are actually two separate bodies. In the real world, who is usually responsible for the following areas:

  1. Oracle installation, patches and upgrade
  2. Set up standby database and role switching procedure and strategy?

Any information you can provide is appreciated.


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In most of the organizations I work with (I'm a consultant, so I see quite a few of these), both of the tasks you list (installation activities and standby management) are DBA functions. Most of the time, the system administrator role is responsible for:

  • proper OS patches and monitoring
  • proper shared memory, semaphore, and networking settings (kernel parameters)
  • storage configuration, mirroring, monitoring for health
  • OS-level monitoring on availability of services, overall system performance, et cetera.
  • OS backups (usually excludes the oradata directories)
  • creation of the oracle user, dba and oinstall groups, OS password policies
  • ensuring that the DBA-provided scripts for starting and stopping Oracle processes are set up to do so at appropriate times
  • monitoring appropriate OS vendor resources for security alerts and addressing vulnerabilities in the OS

The DBA role is usually responsible for things in these general categories:

  • installation, patching, and upgrade of databases
  • all configuration of files in the ORACLE_HOME (i.e. network configuration, init.ora files, et cetera)
  • database creation, tuning, physical design
  • maintenance of scripts to do startup/shutdown for all Oracle processes on the host (give them to the system administrator for execution at proper times)
  • monitoring Oracle security alerts for new vulnerabilities and addressing them
  • anything else that they have privilege to do under the oracle user account

This was first published in October 2004

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