Working in IT doesn’t have any guarantees except one, that things will change. Change is driven by the business, where they have to continue to innovate or die. In part, change in IT is also driven by better technology because who still wants to be using Windows 98 Second Edition with a SQL 7.0 on NT 4.0? Oh, and floppies because they were so awesome. As technology changes, so will the service offerings.
Does anyone remember ASPs (Application Service Providers)? For those who don’t, think “The Cloud”: the beta version, circa the early 2000s. After the fear and expense of the Y2K bug (I can’t believe I need to link this), ASPs showed up promising the businesses protection from crazy bugs like Y2K by hosting their apps. Great idea, except back then, bandwidth wasn’t as cheap, and the hosting platforming was nowhere near cheap enough for most businesses to use. Well, both problems have been resolved thanks to cheap bandwidth and virtual servers, making “The Cloud” possible.
Are DBAs endangered?
Yes and no. If, as a DBA, you sit idly by and do nothing to adapt to the changes in the industry, then yes, you would be endangered. On the other hand, if you are continually working on expanding your knowledge, forging new skills, and trying new things, then no, you will not be endangered. Oh sure critics, business types, and others who aren’t fond of IT are continually going to say stuff like “The Cloud,” automation, robots, AI (artificial intelligence, not a guy named AL), is going to replace IT. That is until the replacement for IT breaks, and someone needs to fix it. Even Skynet will need to be maintained. Of course, I guess by that time robots will be sentient but I digress.
Sure, a person could dogmatically hold on to the old role of database administration where you run backups, set permissions, etc. but, why would you want to? How many times can you get excited about installing SQL? These types of duties are the necessary parts of our job. The fun stuff is getting to troubleshoot new issues, tweak queries, or learn more about SQL in general. A significant portion of the job is applying that new knowledge to make everyday work life a little easier.
My point here is this: If you have been in IT for any length of time, then you have changed. You have evolved. Take charge of your evolution, focus on new areas you know little about, chase a certification, do something that makes you uncomfortable. It doesn’t just have to be about SQL, either. Take the time to learn the business you support so you can figure out how to better support/serve that business. It’s so much easier to solve problems when you understand why.
Kendra said it best at the end of her podcast.
“You get one life. You may as well get to solve problems
that you enjoy while you work.” – Kendra Little