1) What is a typical day at your job?
I start my day checking any system alerts such as database performance problems, backup failures etc. We are using Oracle's Enterprise Manager which is a web-based software that sends email alerts to us automatically whenever it detects a problem based on certain criteria. I spend most of the day working on current projects such as database upgrades, migrations, new installations etc. I also help application developers and end-users whenever they have a database related question or problem.
2) What does it take to be a successful Oracle DBA?
Most of today's E-Business and IT applications are entirely web-based and hence the underlying databases have to be highly available 24*7. Responsibility, proactive attitude and emergency preparedness are some of the key characteristics that can make a successful Oracle DBA. IT application developers and the end-user communities rely heavily on the database administrator for their day-to-day database issues, questions and projects. An Oracle DBA should be polite and must treat every one in the organization with courtesy and respect.
3) Has your job description evolved over time?
Yes indeed ! The definition of an Oracle DBA has a much broader scope today. I started with just "database work" in my first job. Today my responsibilities include Oracle systems design and architecture, including Oracle E-Business Suite administration, Oracle Application Server setup and administration, setting up of Continuity of Business systems (Disaster Recovery preparedness), setup and administration of Oracle Fusion Middleware components such as Oracle Portal Server, Identity Management etc. I am also expected to work on hardware specifications and requirements for upgrading existing Oracle installations or setting new ones. Whereas the traditional "Oracle DBA" designation has remained the same, it has a much wider scope and responsibility today.
4) How do you keep up with new features and changes & advancements in database technology?
Every major Oracle database release comes with a lot of exciting new features which can be leveraged for simplicity, automation or better database management.
a)I am an avid reader of the bi-monthly Oracle Magazine. The subscription is free and it is available online as well. The magazine covers the latest in Oracle, contains a lot of expert articles with a practical outlook to tackle business problems.
b)I have also subscribed to rss feeds in http://otn.oracle.com/ so that i get updated whenever there is a new knowledge based article. This a popular site for the Oracle community and most of the technology articles are posted by Oracle ACEs and Oracle ACE Directors who are proven and recognized individuals by Oracle Corporation.
c)I also recommend aspiring DBAs to register in the Official Oracle Forum , thanks to the many experts who generously contribute to this discussion board, virtually any of your database related questions can get answered here.
5.What is the best feature you like about oracle DB, what needs improvement compared to other databases in the market?
My favorite Oracle database feature is Real Application Clusters (RAC). Using RAC technology, Oracle databases can be setup for high availability and virtually unlimited scalability. I did not get a chance to fully evaluate other databases in the market vis-a-vis the Oracle database. Oracle is the recognized Industry leader as per various results published by market research companies such as IDC and Gartner.
6.Has any of the following major macro trends affected you personally, whats your opinion?
a.Outsourcing & Offshoring
No. Oracle DBA is one of the few jobs that had a lesser impact by Outsourcing. A DBA is critical to the success of an IT department requiring a lot of technical understanding, emotional maturity, ability to handle pressure and crisis and one that comes with a lot of responsibility. Infact, all the Dice Reports this year show Oracle database as one of the top technology skills in the market in the USA.
Remote Service and Tele-commuting are only for low profile work such as after-hours support etc. Most of the managers prefer Oracle DBAs to work onsite and with direct supervision.
c.Moving from client-server to web-based
The Oracle DBA is usually less impacted by Client-server to Web-based migrations. Oracle databases can work with both client-server systems and web-based systems.
7.Your advice to people who are evaluating Oracle DB administration as a career.
The IT industry is facing a shortage of quality Oracle DBAs. Oracle database administration is a good career option with long-term benefits. I have been working as an Oracle database administrator since more than 6 years and the experience is very rewarding. It has also given me the confidence to architect and build large scale IT systems. I was able to positively impact the experience of the end-user community and positively contribute to various IT departments.
I recommend all aspiring Oracle DBAs to get trained in a class atmosphere. Oracle University offers a lot of online and classroom courses in many countries across the world.