6 years ago

Should DBAs fear Oracle Database 18c?

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Employees standing inside a server room.

Database administrators could very well be the next ones who might be fearing for their job because of the release of Oracle Database 18c. But could this be entirely true?

In the old days, people lost their jobs to machines. Instead of humans working down the assembly line, businesses have opted to replace them with machines. These machines were faster, less prone to mistakes and accidents, and were easier to deal with. As such, there were a lot of production workers who were out of a job.

It is something that employees of the world have feared more now since it became apparent that artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robots could be used to automate things. This means that more jobs are at stake. Already, artificial intelligence is threatening call center agents around the world. Automation has paved the way for a 90% reduction in call volumes in some cases. In the Philippines, for instance, around 43,000 low-level call center agents might be losing their job through 2022.


Oracle has released Oracle Database 18c

The 18c Release Updates include the launch of Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud.

As the name implies, Oracle 18c relies less on human database administrators, which means there is less chances for human errors and less need to manage it manually. It also helps keep things simple. You do not have to worry about updates, upgrades, and patches that your database administrator failed or forgot to do. And you get all these benefits while also cutting down costs.

The 18c release updates mark Oracle’s new versioning system, as well as several new features that would make life easier for database users.

Some of the most relevant Oracle 18c release update revisions include:

  1. Self-driving. When we say “autonomous”, we are not kidding nor are we misusing the word. Oracle 18c and the Autonomous Database Cloud deliver automatic upgrades and patches without human intervention. More than that, Oracle 18c can also tune its performance and even apply security updates automatically.
  2. No downtime. The best part of these automated updates, upgrades, patches, and performance tuning – you can do it without taking the database offline. Your database will be more reliable and highly available.
  3. You have more time for more important tasks. With these tedious and time consuming tasks out of the way, you can now use that time used for performance tuning, updating, and upgrading to focus on other tasks.
  4. Keeps your database management simple. Oracle Database 18c should be very easy to manage because you have fewer tasks to attend to. Oracle 18c is self-driving, self-securing, and self-repairing. It also tunes performance by itself.
  5. Keeps your costs down. Oracle 18c eliminates costs to operate your database. Automating tasks would help you save on labor hours. You also get to avoid costly human errors.
  6. A more secure database without doing more work. Oracle Database 18c has several security technologies. With Oracle, you have access to security technologies, such as unified audit, transparent data encryption, dynamic data masking, and encryption key management, as well as a wide assortment of similarly useful technologies. Patches are also rolled out automatically, leaving no room for mistakes.
  7. Makes good use of available resources. With Oracle 18c, the database can figure out how much resources are available, and how to use that efficiently.


Will DBAs soon find themselves unemployed?

There are downsides of course. While the automated updates, patches, upgrades, and performance tuning can help free up your time to do other things, for some database administrators, they are left with literally nothing to do. There are companies that have database administrators that focus on these tasks and these tasks alone. With the advent of the new Oracle Database 18c updates, these database administrators might be out of jobs.

In fact, database administrators that perform the following tasks just might find themselves out of a job:

  • Those that are in charge of DBAs updating and patching the database.
  • Those who create backups and monitors storage.
  • Those who are responsible for performance tuning.

Nevertheless, the new Oracle Database 18c release updates will not be able to do everything that a database administrator does. For instance, a database administrator would still need to:

  • Determine what kind of services will be offered by the databases.
  • Implement the policies and rules for using autonomous databases.
  • Estimate or determine the costs of using the database services.
  • Design the IT infrastructure needed for these new database services and features.

Admittedly, these are higher-level tasks even for database administrators. This means that if you want to stay in your current job as a DBA and if you like your company, you should evolve and learn these skills.

But even if you do not evolve, there would still be a job for you at your company, provided that your Oracle 18c is deployed on premises. Why is this? This is because Oracle 18c might be powering Oracle’s Autonomous Database Cloud, but these features will have very little impact when used on site. On premises, Oracle 18c deployments will not have the services provided by Oracle Autonomous Cloud. In short, Oracle 18c is just a higher version of whatever Oracle Database you are currently using.

To make things clearer, these autonomous features and services will not be available for on premises deployments of Oracle 18c. And for that, you also need database administrators to continue doing their work.
* * *

DBAs should update their skills to survive

This does not mean that you should be complacent and do not upgrade your skills. You still should! The Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud is just one of the wide range of autonomous services offered by Oracle, and this includes bare metal and Exadata autonomous services. Keeping your skills updated and relevant will help you get access to these new sets of tools that you might need to use in the near future.

This could also be a good guide for new database administrators. If you want to know which skills you need to focus on, then it should be more on:

  • database design
  • data analytics
  • data policies
  • data security

Conversely, you could spend less time on the following skills:

  • infrastructure
  • patching, upgrades, and performance tuning
  • ensuring reliability and availability

Photo courtesy of Robert Nix (Flickr).

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