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May 14, 2013

Are DBAs Still Needed?

Since IBM unveiled its big data strategy, there's been an interesting response. Some have focused on the role of the DBA, wondering if advancements like IBM Data Analytics Accelerator for z/OS (IDAA) and Netezza, which are designed to eliminate concerns over index design when storing data, make DBAs obsolete.

IBM's Susan Visser went so far as to organize a "tweetchat" on this topic: "Is the role of the DBA dead?"

As Susan notes, the debate was informative, but ultimately, it wasn't much of a debate. That's because everyone agreed that DBAs are still absolutely needed. While I wasn't able to participate in the Twitter debate myself, here's my take: We still need DBAs to understand the target system and the best physical design for the given system. Sure, since Netezza doesn't use indexes, you don’t need to worry about what index to create on the table. However, you still need to understand the physical design techniques for the Netezza system.

For more on the enduring importance of DBAs, see this post by Bjarne Nelson.

Have you tackled a performance problem on the Netezza system? If you're a DBA with experience on Netezza, I'd like to hear from you in comments.