At Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent 2017, I attended a session (Running Oracle Databases on Amazon RDS) that really stuck with me because of its references to the job of the Database Administrator (DBA). Michael Barras, Sr. Database Engineer at Amazon highlighted how the DBA’s role differs in an On-Premise vs. an EC2 vs. an RDS environment. Essentially, the DBA is responsible for everything On-prem, whereas a highly automated RDS service handles many of the routine chores of DBAs. These automated services enable DBAs to focus on the high-impact and specialized work they are really trained to do. The chart below highlights this concept.
Barras used terms that Amazon has popularized, “undifferentiated heavy lifting” or “muck” to describe these routine and often mundane tasks that a DBA must perform in a traditional environment. However, the concept of removing the “muck” from a DBAs typical responsibilities is not a new concept. In 2006, the year Amazon launched AWS, Jeff Bezos proposed that businesses spend 70% of their time, energy, and dollars on undifferentiated heavy lifting (muck) and only 30% on true differentiated value creation.
In recent years, organizations have taken advantage of cloud services like EC2 to reduce the amount of “muck” their IT staff typically deals with. And, increasingly, DBAs are benefiting from cloud Database-as-a-Service offerings like RDS or Azure SQL because they allow DBAs to focus on database architecture, capacity planning and performance tuning instead of routine chores like backups and patching. For DBAs, the cloud provides a way to get out of the muck and back to true differentiated value creation!