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SQL etc

Posted Aug 9, 2001

Beginning SQL Programming: Pt. 4 - Page 2

By DatabaseJournal.com Staff

The Human Roles in a DBMS

With the increasing size and complexity of computing tasks, IT departments frequently grow to have several specialists contributing to the database solutions of the company. If you are coming from a background in desktop databases you may not have a clear idea of the titles and roles of the players. Obviously, in a small company one person may have more than one of these roles –  as a SQL programmer you may even be expected to cover responsibilities beyond just programming.

The DataBase Administrator (DBA) specializes in installing and maintaining the DBMS, including the physical devices, backups and recoveries. Frequently the DBA is the person responsible for maintaining the security scheme as well as troubleshooting the DBMS. Note that the DBA is not usually specifically responsible for any given database. Rather, the DBA keeps the DBMS running as a service for all the users that have databases on that DBMS. Each DBMS vendor has training and certification programs for its particular systems.

The Systems Administrator (sometimes called the System Operator or "SysOp") specializes in the Operating System (OS) and connectivity of the servers, both data servers and others. "SysAdmins" perform back-ups of the OS and monitor the traffic load between servers. "SysAdmins" are likely also to be involved in the security settings of servers needed by SQL programmers.

A newer position is the Security Administrator. Valuable corporate data is now exposed through the web to a degree that would horrify the last generation of IT professionals. As hackers improve their sophistication and means of collaboration, IT shops have responded by hiring individuals with specific training in establishing hardware and software safeguards and in monitoring the servers for signs of intrusion. SQL programmers may have to work closely with a Security Administrator to develop ways of using data that minimize risk, for example, creating Views rather than permitting full table access (see Chapter 16).

A Database Designer creates the overall scheme of the datastore, generally using specialized database design tools. The designer will not only understand the principles of databases but also the client's business model. The result from the designer's desk will be a layout of tables, relationships and queries needed to satisfy the client's needs.

The Database Programmer writes code and interfaces to implement the design. The programmer may be less familiar with the business rules and more familiar with how to write SQL statements and front ends to implement the design. Whereas Database Designers are more involved at the start of a project, programmers are involved for as long as the database is in use and changes and amendments need to be performed. Many programmers joining a team will have no contact with the designer who left after the database deployment. On legacy systems it may even be difficult to find any manuals regarding how the system was designed.

Last, never forget the user who is, directly or indirectly, paying your fee.

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