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Proposal.doc

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  • 1. Survival for Database Professionals: A Closer Look Soami Dey Nov 25, 2007
  • 2. Executive Summary This document proposes and outlines plans for an introduction to database administration career. Database administration is a highly valued skill and many computer science students are eager to become future DBAs. There are many different types of database management systems available. However, some are more popular than the others. But most importantly the trends of popularity for databases change over time. The goal of this primer is to identify the core standards, patterns and conventions which are becoming increasingly important instead of specific DBMS software. The primer will help readers identify the right databases skill to sharpen on such that they do not feel trapped mid-carrier with a single database software vendor. 2
  • 3. 3
  • 4. Table of Contents Table of Contents.......................................................................................................................4 Introduction................................................................................................................................5 Statement of Problem.................................................................................................................5 Definition of Terms....................................................................................................................6 Plan of Action............................................................................................................................7 Scope of the document...............................................................................................................7 Target Audience.........................................................................................................................8 Time line....................................................................................................................................8 Milestones..............................................................................................................................8 Deliverables...........................................................................................................................8 Budget....................................................................................................................................8 Qualifications.............................................................................................................................9 Conclusion.................................................................................................................................9 References................................................................................................................................10 4
  • 5. Introduction A computer database is a repository of structured data or information and a database management system is a collection of programs that allows storage and retrieval of this data efficiently. Database management systems have changed significantly over the last 30 years. Starting with IBM’s IMS, a hierarchical database management system, in the early 1970s to the recent grid computing relational database management system - Oracle, the database technology has undergone a massive technological change. During the last decade relational management system or a derivative of it has become a de facto standard of the industry. ANSI SQL has become the standard query language to interact with any DBMS, though each vendor has its own extension to the standard SQL. Today Microsoft’s SQL Server, Oracle, Informix, DB2, Sybase, Postgress and MySql are some widely used DBMS software. Although all of the above are database software, yet each differs from one another especially in setup, performance tuning and troubleshooting. Performance of database is highly dependent on its initial configuration and setup. Setups and configurations are typically done by DBAs and DBAs need to understand the internal architecture of vendor specific databases in order to setup optimally. Moreover database often needs to be tuned and often certain maintenance tasks needs to be performed at regular intervals in order for the query response time to be minimal. In the world of internet the response time has become a very critical factor. Most applications retrieve data from a backend database depending upon user selected criteria. If performance is not optimum the display back to users will be delayed and users may abandon requests and visit a competitor’s site. Thus companies are highly dependent on their database and are always keen to make sure their databases function optimally. And because of this DBA skills are highly valuable and often years of experience can only make a seasoned DBA. Statement of Problem As discussed earlier, DBA skills are often build over a period of time and often it take years to mature. Even then such DBA skills are specific to a single DBMS from a specific vendor. Thus after years of working DBAs become skilled at a single database platform. This is good for the company and even for the DBA but only so long the specific database skills are still marketable outside the current workplace of the DBA. If the market has changed and it does not value those specific database skills any more, the seasoned DBA will suddenly be jobless or else loose his or her seniority of experience and end up working with a job which pays much less when compared with his or her last assignment. Thus the careers of a database professional are tightly coupled with the future of the database vendor, until and unless the database professional has taken measures early in life to prevent 5
  • 6. such mishaps. The purpose of this primer is to make new aspiring DBAs aware of the problem and formulate a strategy for them to follow in order to overcome future career issues. While strategies may need to be modified from time to time in order for them to be effective, the goal of this introduction is to well acquaint the DBA about the issue. Once aware people will formulate their own individual strategy customized to their own career aspirations and circumstances. Moreover today databases are packaged as part of application software which are maintained and configured automatically by the application. More and more tools are being developed and commercially available that helps make database administration tasks easier for less skilled people. Thus the future needs of experienced DBAs may not be as valuable as it seems today. This gives rise to a new set of career issues for future DBAs which they need to be aware of. Definition of Terms DBMS Database Management System, a collection of software programs which help store and retrieve structured data efficiently. Database A collection of information or related data organized meaningfully. Back-end In Client-Server technology a back-end server usually contains the database and front-end computers or clients communicate with the back-end to retrieve the required information. DBA Database Administrator – People who setup, configure, maintain and trouble databases. SQL Structured Query Language – A computer language to interact with databases. ANSI American National Standard Institute – Creates Industry standards. ANSI SQL SQL standards as created by ANSI for all database vendors to follow. Individual database vendors support ANSI SQL standards but also provide extension of SQL language which works specifically with the vendor’s own database. 6
  • 7. IMS Information Management System – an earlier hierarchical database management system which was developed by IBM. Plan of Action The proposal calls for a technical document aimed at new and inexperienced database administrators. The purpose of the document is to detail the core database technologies that are familiar today. The document will address key differences between the technologies and also analyze future trends. The document will try to compare currently available DBMS and their underlying implementation technology. The document will try to identify core differences and similarities between different database software. While Computer Science graduates will have knowledge of database and SQLs, they still lack real life experiences. The document will try to portray key advantages and drawbacks of working with one database software over another. The document will also try to identify the different nomenclatures used by different database vendors to identify similar concepts. Following are some of the key database software that will be evaluated:  Oracle  Sybase  Microsoft SQL Server  DB2  Informix  MySql Scope of the document The document is aimed to provide a basic comparison of the above database software in terms of feature and specifications and an analysis of database market trends. While the document will be elaborate enough for readers to note the key elements of different database, it is in not elaborate enough to cover each database specific topic in detail. The document is not meant to be used as a guide to learn any vendor specific database technologies. 7
  • 8. Target Audience We expect the audience group to be familiar with at least one database technology. Ideal audiences will be senior standing computer science undergraduate students or any computer science graduate students. Time line Milestones 1. Milestone 1 – Initial draft, approximately four weeks writing time. 2. Milestone 2 – Final draft, approximately two weeks time. 3. Milestone 3 – User testing and revisions approximately four weeks time. Deliverables We will deliver initial drafts of the technical document which can be evaluated by a group of experienced professionals and faculties. Any corrections and suggestions recommended will be implemented in the final version of the document. The document will also need to be updated as new technologies evolve. Thereafter in the third phase user testing and reviewing will be performed and any changes will be updated in the final version. Budget Most of the information needed for the document is available free of charge from database vendor websites and from research papers available at the NJIT Library. The estimated budgetary needs for this project will be as follows: Initial Printing Charges (Draft) - 10 copies - $ 50.00 Final Printing Charges - 50 copies - $250.00 8
  • 9. The printing costs will vary according to the number of print copies required. The document can also be distributed electronically which will reduce the budgetary needs significantly. Also, assumed here the draft will be reviewed by NJIT faculty and graduate student with database administration background, thereby eliminating any review costs. Qualifications The author has been working with database technologies for the past 10 years. Though most of his experience is in the relational world but he has access to individuals who has spent 30 plus years in the industry and has experienced technology change. Together with the inputs from qualified professionals and the authors own experience will provide significant resources for the completion of the document. In the past 10 years the author has worked extensively with Oracle, Informix and Microsoft SQL Server. The author had worked as developer the initial few years and then transitioned into a database administrator. The author has also worked in fortune 500 companies like AT&T. The author is currently working for Dow Jones. He had access to a wide variety of hardware platform and had undergone many vendor specific training programs. Conclusion Database Administration is a challenging job. Most DBAs are on-call 24 by 7. And every day is a new challenge to solve. While educational institutions can provide the basic skills but it cannot provide a ready made solution to every issue that a student may face in his or her future role. And that is why experience is so important. The skills to solve problem cannot be taught but learnt over time observing peers and through self-learning processes. The proposed document will try to bring forward some of the existing issues in the career path of a database professional and suggest methods to minimize the risks. However the reader needs to customize his or her own solution to the problem depending on circumstances. 9
  • 10. References Beadle, Terry. “Managing Cross-Platform Environments: Interfacing with or migrating from other database management systems including Oracle.” Nov 20, 2007. < http://research.ittoolbox.com/white-papers/datamgt/db/managing-crossplatform- environments-interfacing-with-or-migrating-from-other-database-management- systems-including-oracle-4465>. Feuerlicht, George. “Recent Trend in Database Technology”. Nov 25, 2007. <http://www-staff.it.uts.edu.au/~chin/dbms/dbtech.htm >. Microsoft. “SQL Server Cross Platform DBA Portal”. Nov 6, 2007. < http://www.microsoft.com/sql/prodinfo/compare/oracle/oracledba/certification.mspx>. Mullins, Craig S. “DBAs Need Different Skills in Development and Production”. Nov 25, 2007. http://www.craigmullins.com/dbta_023.html 10

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