DBA 3.0: Moving Your Career Forward in 2017

    By: James Czuprynski on Jan 18, 2017

    DBA 3.0: Moving Your Career Forward in 2017

    Last year about this time, I wrote about five diseases of IT organizations - Uniquitis, HypoRMANosis, Tengenertia, Toolichondria, and Idiomyopia – that every Oracle DBA is likely to encounter during her tenure, and how Oracle DBAs are uniquely positioned to diagnose and potentially apply cures for those afflictions. Since it’s a brand-new year with a Presidential election (hopefully) behind us, it’s the perfect time to look forward to what we as Oracle DBAs should concentrate on so that we can fine-tune our career aspirations in 2017.

    The Cloud Isn't Coming; It's Already Here 

    If you attended just about any Oracle-sponsored event in 2016, it was simply impossible to escape the hype and substance of Oracle Cloud offerings. But be assured: Cloud is already here, it’s not going away, and the coming battle between Oracle’s public/hybrid/private cloud offerings versus Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft Azure offers some fascinating opportunities to enhance our careers as Oracle DBAs or Oracle application developers.

    It’s important to keep one’s perspective about what’s really driving the acceptance of Cloud technology, and it’s probably simplistic to try to reduce it to one sentence, but here goes: It all comes down to CAPEX vs. OPEX. Simply put, today’s IT business models find it more advantageous to concentrate costs into the operating expense (OPEX) side of the company’s books, rather than incur capital expenditures (CAPEX). After running my own corporation as an independent consultant for the past 20 years I’ve learned that there’s often an advantage to classify an expenditure as an immediate expense rather than as an asset that’s depreciable over a longer period of time, especially from a tax perspective. In today’s world IT is an inescapable expense of doing business, so it makes sense that we view what we do through the lenses of our customers’ accountants.

    Interestingly, one Oracle User Group event in the summer of 2016 was thinly attended because over half of the DBAs that originally signed up cancelled their attendance once they found out that the focus of the event was Oracle Cloud technology because they said they felt that technology was a threat to their current job. (Personally, I’d rather do battle with the devil I know than the one I don’t. Since I’m now on my eighth career in Information Technology, I’ve found the best thing to do in the face of unrelenting change is to understand the potential threat to my livelihood rather than attempt to hide from that threat in my cubicle surrounded by my Oracle Database 8i manuals.)

    But in my opinion, a cloud-enabled world is a good thing, not a bad thing, and DBAs are in a unique position to take extreme advantage of this trend. We can finally move into the role we should be fulfilling: concentrating on improving application performance by helping developers build better systems, architecting better databases and structures, and leveraging revolutionary features – because we’ll at last be liberated from having to worry about patching, upgrades, hardware impacts, and the like.

    Database Security Is No Longer an Afterthought
    If 2016 was the proverbial Year of the Security Breach, 2017 will almost certainly be the year of the security levee. What’s interesting is that many IT organizations are beginning to accept that there are only two types of systems – those that have been hacked and already know it … and those that don’t know they’ve been hacked yet.

    But the tide seems to be turning as some IT organizations have at last decided to go on the attack in the war against hacking, deploying so-called intelligent deception methods that provide hackers with decoy websites and “honeypots” to entrap them inside a safe zone within a system’s network while feeding them false information until the seriousness, technique and vector of the security threat can be analyzed.

    One way to increase security, of course, is to limit the number of potential intrusion vectors, and that’s where I see a cloud-based solution like Oracle public/hybrid/private cloud being extremely valuable for IT organizations that need to guard against security threats. First, since Oracle Cloud technology uses SSH for all communication, it’s already considerably more secure. Second, since only the public key is retained within the Oracle Cloud, and the IT organization is responsible for holding the private key, there’s no way for the cloud provider to surrender both keys to the data. (Be sure to ask that question when considering some of the other cloud providers’ infrastructure, by the way – you may get an unexpectedly unpleasant surprise as an answer.) Thirdly, Oracle Cloud does not offer any way not to encrypt data stored within an Oracle database because it implicitly uses Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) technology against all tablespaces.

    And one of the more intriguing features of Oracle Database 12cR2 will be the ability to encrypt tablespaces either live – with the tablespace remaining online while DML continues against that tablespace – or offline while the encryption occurs in parallel. But in either case, for the first time an Oracle DBA will be able to encrypt tablespaces without having to first export and then reload the data.

    Big Data, IoT, and Analytics Take Center Stage
    Second only perhaps to the acceleration of migration to cloud environments is the need to support the enormous volume of Big Data, the free-form information radiating from the Internet of Things (IoT), and of course the analyses of all these data sources. Recent studies put the volume of Big Data at 4.4 zettabytes in 2013, growing to 44 zettabytes by 2020; likewise, the number of independent devices that make up the IoT was pegged at 25 billion in 2015 and expected to double to 50 billion devices by 2020.

    But the good news for Oracle DBAs is that Oracle Database 12c fully supports all these trends. Release already supports reading a Javascript Object Notation (JSON) document as an EXTERNAL table, storing a JSON object as a CLOB within the database, and even traversing the key value pairs within a JSON object via several functions like JSON_TABLE, while Release 12cR2 will feature support for objects stored within other file systems that are popular containers for Big Data, including HDFS and HIVE. And that means we can continue to use our most powerful tool – SQL – to access and report against these data sources.

    Oracle 12cR2 also offers an intriguing new set of Analytics features – the ability to create entirely new objects called Analytic Views – that intrinsically support creation of complex analytic models and queries with just a few simple commands. Since I’m on the 12cR2 beta testing team, I’m actively researching this new Analytics feature set and plan to present on it in excruciating detail at COLLABORATE17 this coming April.

    Offshoring as We've Known It is Dying 
    It may seem hard to believe, but there is evidence that offshoring of IT as we’ve known it for the past 15 years is beginning to slacken significantly and may be coming to a halt altogether in the coming years. First, wages for IT resources outside of the Americas and Europe have risen significantly in the past few years and are beginning to equalize. Several large IT companies have been “reshoring” their software development efforts stateside, usually near college towns like Des Moines, IA and near cities like Nashville, TN with vibrant nightlife and significantly lower living costs to attract US-educated workers fresh out of college.

    And resistance has been building lately against replacement of American workers with lower-skilled offshore H-1B resources. (For a deeper look behind that growing resistance, take a look at the excellent recent series by New York Times reporter Julia Preston, especially at Disney  in 2015 and Abbott Laboratories in 2016.) IT organizations have finally begun to realize that the relative lack of IT skills among offshored resources is quantifiable: AspiringMinds recently published its 2016 National Employability Report which states that of the recent Indian graduates who took its employability certification tests, less than 4% were employable as IT Product Software Engineers – the people who’d be actually writing code, debugging programs, and translating business requirements into usable software.

    Interestingly, IT organizations in the Americas and Western Europe have been actively outsourcing professional work to Eastern European countries in recent years. In October 2016 I travelled to Warsaw, Poland to speak at the 2016 POUG user conference and was pleasantly surprised to meet over 100 extremely sharp Oracle DBAs and application developers. What amazed me was their intrinsic understanding of modern international business practices. Every single POUG attendee I met communicated in perfect business English as well as at least one other language – Russian, Spanish, German, or Italian – valuable for doing business in Europe and the Americas.

    "That's Just Common Sense" Will be Trumped by "Show Me Your Data"
    I’m not sure I can provide adequate evidence of this trend, but I’ve observed anecdotally over the past several years that as truly massive datasets have finally arrived and better predictive models in science, politics, and economics have at last taken hold, we are collectively entering what futurist Jeremy Rifkin calls the Emphatic Civilization. We’re starting to see the impact of analyzing Big Data upon many of the ideas that humans have held as what everyone knows is just plain common sense … isn’t.

    One of the most obvious turning points in the impact of Big Data on society happened late in the evening of November 8, 2012 - Election Night 2012 - when, in full view of millions of people watching on Fox News, political strategist Karl Rove ranted for several minutes about how US presidential candidate Mitt Romney was absolutely going to win the state of Ohio. Rove essentially said he just knew in his political gut that there were more Republican votes in collar counties of Cleveland that hadn’t been counted. To her credit, former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly promptly marched into the Fox News Decision Desk filled with analysts who were looking closely at the stream of electoral Big Data flowing in and asked them for their prediction. The two analysts unequivocally said that no, Rove was sorely mistaken - their data models showed exactly the opposite to be true, and that they were 99.95% certain they were correct. (And they were – Barack Obama went on to win Ohio and his second term as US President.)

    As we move deeper into brave new territory, we should expect even more so-called “common-sense” knowledge on just about everything – from why we really spend money to buy things on sale to why we tend to double down on beliefs when challenged with solid evidence that contradicts those beliefs  – will be disrupted and tossed upon the ash-heap of history. This will be frightening for many people, but I find it exhilarating that IT is in a position to help collect and analyze the data that will cause that disruption, hopefully for the better of humanity.

    DBA 3.0: We're Either Part of the Future, or Part of the Past
    So to summarize what I see as the major trends for 2017:

    • Cloud isn’t coming, it’s already here … so either be there, or be square.
    • Proactive action to prevent security breaches will be at the forefront of everything we do in the coming year.
    • Big Data and IoT will provide grist for the mill of analytics, and thanks to Oracle 12cR2, Oracle DBAs are uniquely positioned to assist in building the millstones needed to grind that grain.
    • The first wave of offshoring as we once knew it is coming to an end, and that means greater opportunity for those of us here in the Americas and Europe, either as valuable subject matter experts, mentors, or even new entrants into the IT field.
    • Finally, as humanity enters what I’m hoping will be a new Golden Age driven by carefully collected, strenuously-analyzed facts instead of superstition and wishful thinking, I believe we technologists have a duty to facilitate that bright future: We need to insure both the data and the tools to analyze it are readily available for the brilliant young minds aching to make this planet the paradise it’s truly meant to be.
    Released: January 18, 2017, 7:08 am | Updated: June 2, 2017, 9:19 am
    Keywords: Department | #BigData | #BusinessIntelligence | #Cloud | #DataWarehouse | #InternetofThings | #security

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