A good mentor and the ability to learn from mistakes is all anyone needs to become the top DBA in the country, according to Norwalk, Conn.-based DBA Arup Nanda.
Nanda, 32, who serves as director of the Connecticut Oracle Users Group and as an editor of Select Journal, the magazine of the International Oracle Users Group, was recently named Oracle Magazine's DBA of the Year.
Nanda credits his mentor at his first DBA job, in Bombay, India, with helping him learn the basics. Through trial and error, Nanda quickly learned how to correct performance problems and carry out backup and recovery processes.
"It was very challenging," he said. "There were a lot of late nights."
More than 10 years later, Nanda's love for databases has grown into his own consultancy. Today a database security expert, Nanda no longer has to put in the 80- to 90-hour workweeks that he did at the outset of his career.
Nanda is the co-author of a book called Oracle Privacy and Security Auditing, which will be released to the public this week. The book focuses on security and auditing regulations for the health care industry; these rules are part of HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). He also has been busy over the past two years helping two insurance companies meet the HIPAA requirements.
Nanda's most important advice to DBAs, who are competing in an increasingly depressing job climate, is to learn all you can about your database and have a good mentor who will guide you through the process.
Aside from understanding technology, DBAs need a clear understanding of the business needs of the company, he said. Many DBAs tend to get wrapped up in the technology and fail to communicate to the end users and the managers.
"A true DBA not only takes care of databases, but understands the problems and quickly finds a solution," he said. "You have to listen, know what the person wants, what the problem is and how much money is available to solve the problem and come up with a solution."
Nanda still has memories of the many challenges that befuddled him while serving with a senior DBA in India. There, his mentor set up a separate database where Nanda was expected to learn how to detect and repair problems quickly.
"It was like learning to swim. I started treading water," he said. "We were able to crash it and try to recover it and, in the process, what I learned from that kind of stuck for the rest of my career."
Nanda, who holds a bachelor's degree in engineering from India's Sambalpur University, also obtained a master of business administration degree from Xavier Institute of Management, also in India.
He has held a variety of DBA jobs in the United States, including a stint at Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent Technologies Inc., where he was responsible for the design and development of a database that linked to four different databases. A complex and timely assignment -- because it involved linking Oracle databases with Microsoft SQL servers -- the project resulted in a collection of data that helped salespeople better understand their customers.
Nanda also served in the financial products division of Stamford, Conn.-based Priceline.com Inc. Nanda worked to link Priceline's search features with Charlotte, N.C.-based LendingTree Inc.'s databases to offer a combined online mortgage service to Priceline customers.
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