Database administrators (DBAs) have been the gatekeepers to a business\u2019s most valuable asset: its data. They design, implement, and maintain the business\u2019s database systems; establish policies and procedures for managing, securing, and maintaining them; and train employees in their management and use.\nBut as more businesses move from traditional software to cloud solutions\u2014and as more software vendors automate monitoring, testing, patching, and tuning\u2014the DBA\u2019s fate seems sealed.\nAsk Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, who in May announced a new cloud-based autonomous database. \u201cThere are hundreds of thousands of DBAs managing Oracle databases,\u201d he said at a recent Oracle media event. \u201cIf all of that moved to the autonomous database, that number would change to zero.\u201d\nBut is it true? Others see a time of opportunity for DBAs.\n\u201cDatabase administrators are always in demand, especially as the amount of data that businesses collect is increasing,\u201d says Blake Angove, director of technology services at LaSalle Networks. \u201cAs more businesses are moving to the cloud, it\u2019s changing what their roles and tasks look like. Automation is probably making them a little nervous, but the DBA role isn\u2019t going away\u2014it\u2019s evolving.\u201d\nWhat do database administrators need to do to stay relevant and thrive in the cloud economy? Experts say it\u2019s a matter of forging new partnerships, creating new value, and broadening skill sets.\n\n Partner with the business\n\n\u00a0Traditional database administrators may be comfortable within their role\u2019s traditional boundaries, but today\u2019s DBAs need to forge broader partnerships, says Jim Johnson, senior VP at Robert Half Technology.\n\u201cThe reality is now that the business understands the value of data, the DBA needs to be able to move at cloud speed,\u201d he says. \u201cThey\u2019re having to be more in tune with the business and act as more than just the database administrator\u2014they need to be the data experts.\u201d\nSome organizations are encouraging this partnership by integrating DBAs with the data science team, says Lane Greever, senior vice president at Modis.\n\u201cEspecially in larger organizations, the DBA is a very tenured role. With that comes domain and industry knowledge,\u201d he says. \u201cOne of the intrinsic benefits of embedding these folks within BI and analytics teams is the ability to leverage both the DBA\u2019s domain knowledge and their mastery of data movement within a company\u2019s environment to put the proper context around a data scientist\u2019s analysis of both structured and unstructured data.\u201d\n\n Create new value\n\n\u00a0Years ago when companies like Oracle automated other aspects of their technologies, database administrators were wondering what they\u2019re wondering today, Johnson says: What\u2019s next? \u201cThey evolved then, and they\u2019ll evolve now,\u201d he says.\nAs DBAs see some of their traditional tasks moving elsewhere once again, they need to take a page from their own playbook and use this as an opportunity to showcase their skills in new ways.\n\u201cCloud is taking them away from some of the things they\u2019re used to doing, whether it\u2019s being on-call 24\/7 or managing backups,\u201d Johnson says. \u201cThis shift in responsibilities gives DBAs the opportunity to be more involved in helping the business leverage the data they have. DBAs need to focus on enabling the business and coming to them with ideas.\u201d\nThis might mean taking a more proactive role in problem solving, Angove says. If a developer has a problem with a slow database, the DBA needs to dive into the problem to get it running faster. Or if a CIO approaches a DBA with questions about meeting their SLAs or issues about security, demonstrating their expertise and taking on these tasks are ways to ensure job security, he says.\n\u201cThe DBA has an advantage because they understand the amount of data in an organization and how the data is coming in and out,\u201d Angove says. \u201cThey play an important role, but it\u2019s about proactively showing the value they can provide to the company.\u201d\n\n Learn more about everything\n\n\u00a0Because the database administrator\u2019s role is evolving beyond its traditional responsibilities and confines, DBAs need to take a more holistic view of their skillset, Johnson says.\n\u201cDBAs need to look at the broader picture and understand that they\u2019re looking at solutions rather than just databases,\u201d he says. \u201cThey need to take off the blinders and look at the whole impact that these old databases have on the business and think about how they can help their company better use that data.\u201d\nFor DBAs whose organizations have adopted or are adopting cloud technologies, this means understanding the tactical side of the migration, such as VPN access, which applications need to be migrated, and how doing so will affect applications, Johnson says. Fortifying your background in database security is equally important, he adds.\nStaying current also means pursuing relevant certifications, Angove says. DBAs should ensure their traditional database certifications are up to date, and they should strongly consider relevant cloud certifications, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure.\n\u201cDon\u2019t remain siloed in the traditional database administrator role. Gain an understanding of BI, cloud, and security\u2014everything that touches the database,\u201d Angove says. \u201cThe more you can interact with those pieces, the better off you\u2019ll be.\u201d\n\n Don\u2019t lock yourself into a title\n\n\u00a0While the word \u201ccloud\u201d might worry database administrators, look at it as a positive, Greever says.\n\u201cCloud is forcing DBAs to move to other parts of the business, align with the business side of the house, and it\u2019s forcing them to get outside of their comfort zone,\u201d he says.\nBecause DBAs are getting this new experience and learning new skills, when it is time to move onward or upward, don\u2019t limit yourself to another database administrator job.\n\u201cIf you\u2019ve been a DBA for the last 10, 15, or 20 years, you don\u2019t need to go searching for another DBA role,\u201d he says. \u201cConsider looking more broadly, for a data engineer or cloud engineer role, for example. Their skills translate very nicely into those.\u201d\nPuzzling over what the cloud means for your organization and how to get there? Learn how Rimini Street can help you free up budget and resources to allow you to focus on your innovation goals.