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DBA vs. Data Architect

DBA vs. Data Architect

dba2The amount of data that is being collected, managed and analyzed has exploded. Eric Schmidt of Google famously stated in 2010, “There were 5 Exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every 2 days.” His statement caught plenty of attention. People were amazed at the amount of data we generated that seemed beyond imagination. It turned out Eric Schmidt actually under-estimated.

Since 2010, the amount of data and the rate of data collection have only grown even more. Big data is on everyone’s mind and getting hotter each day. Following the frantic pace of collecting and keeping data is the needs for talent to manage them.

There are two common job titles relating to data management – DBA (Database Administrator) and Data Architect. We talked to Dharshan Rangegowda, founder of ScaleGrid (a B2B startup focuses on managing NoSQL databases in the cloud), to get an overview of these two roles – what they are, what they have in common and how they are different.

Q. What does a Data Architect do?

It varies from company to company. Generally speak, Data Architect is a high level role. They first understand the data-related requirements for the software system they’re building. These requirements could be what data is being collected, how data flows through the system, and how data is used and analyzed. Knowing these, the data architect will then make decisions about the technologies and the architecture that would meet the requirements.

Q. What does a DBA do?

Comparing to Data Architect, DBA is more hands-on. After the Data Architect made a decision about what technologies to use and how to use them, the DBA is the person who would execute that plan. DBAs would set up databases and different environments, make sure things run smoothly, monitor databases’ performance, troubleshoot, do data backup, etc.

A DBA is a technical resource who helps the Data Architect carrying out their high level plan and design. DBAs are responsible for the day-to-day operations of database management and its necessary infrastructure.

Q. What are some responsibilities that DBA and Data Architect would both have in?

There is definitely some overlap between the work of DBAs and Data Architects. At many organizations, these two roles are actually played by the same person. At bigger organizations, you would see them separated.

At many smaller organizations, the boundary is fuzzy and work is usually done by one person. There, you would see one guy doing both the architecture design and the hands-on database management.

Q. What’s the future for these two roles?

We’re seeing less of the DBA roles due to the growing usage of outsourced, managed database solutions. Another reason for this trend is that DevOps is taking on many tasks that used to be done by DBAs, especially at small- and mid-sized organizations.

As more data centric companies sprouting up, we should see the corresponding growing need for Data Architects because of the significant importance of data at these companies.

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