Due to the nature of data-driven business, database administrators (DBAs), particularly MySQL database administrators are highly sought after.
What Is A DBA?
Database administrators are responsible for managing databases, ensuring they, and the data stored within them, are available when required.
This is what makes them such an important role in the data-driven era. For many organizations, downtime for critical systems such as databases can have a profound impact on operations and revenue. In some industries, such as the healthcare industry, the impacts can be more severe still.
Consider urgent patient care, for example. In some cases, not having a patient’s data readily available could mean far more than an impacted bottom line. It could mean life or death.
So in order to maintain databases, DBA’s responsibilities typically include:
- Implementing and updating databases and database servers
- Managing database requirements such as storage capacity and network requirements
- Planning for and implementing security measures to prevent unauthorized access
- Creating system backups to prevent data loss in the event of power outages or other potential data disasters
- Monitoring the database system’s performance and diagnosing and addressing issues that negatively impact it
- Managing the merging of database systems
MySQL Database Administration
Put simply, a MySQL database administrator is a DBA, specializing in MySQL database management systems. Due to MySQL’s popularity, MySQL database administration is a highly employable role.
MySQL is currently ranked second to Oracle as the most popular relational database management system (RDBMS). Its popularity stems from its open-source nature and its powerful feature set. In today’s data-driven business culture, effective database management is critically important for companies wishing to remain competitive in their market sector.
Whether you are just embarking on a career in information technology (IT) or looking to shift focus midstream, becoming a MySQL database administrator (DBA) is a sensible choice. It is a challenging position that requires a flexible and wide-ranging skillset. Businesses need individuals able to efficiently manage their enterprise data resources.
We are going to look at the steps you need to take to attain the necessary skills to fill the role of a MySQL DBA.
What to Expect as a MySQL DBA
One of the characteristics of a MySQL DBA that appeals to many people is the diversity of responsibilities and activities required to do the job well. DBAs need to be good at time management and moving between multiple tasks simultaneously. A MySQL DBA’s responsibilities are the same as the responsibilities of DBAs listed above.
So in a typical week, a MySQL DBA could be:
- Implementing database changes during an after-hours outage window;
- Refreshing development databases with masked data from production systems;
- Addressing and resolving performance problems on a business-critical database;
- Granting access and assigning permissions for new database developers or users;
- Reviewing prospective changes to ensure they meet enterprise standards.
This is just a sampling of the diverse tasks a DBA is expected to perform regularly. In addition, it’s necessary for DBAs to interact with other teams, requiring good people skills. It’s a job that demands a combination of hard technical and soft skills to be successful.
One of the big advantages of MySQL is that it is open source and can be downloaded and investigated for free. This means that individuals can set up a home MySQL test environment at little cost as a learning tool. Inexpensive cloud instances can be obtained to further a potential DBA’s education in a more realistic setting.
With a large and complex product like MySQL, it can be difficult to identify the most beneficial points to concentrate on during the learning process. Following are some of the most important MySQL administrative tasks and concepts that should be addressed early in your education:
- Learn how to install MySQL, apply service packs, set up jobs, and configure email notifications.
- Gain a full understanding of how and when to use GRANT, REVOKE, and DENY.
- Understand the various MySQL recovery models and how to change them to align with business requirements.
- Protect your databases using scheduled and ad-hoc full, differential, and log backups.
- Know how to use the created backups to restore a database including restoring to a different location and name.
- Understand how database indexes work and where they are most appropriately used.
- Write simple and complex queries to extract information from MySQL databases.
- Learn basic and advanced database security concepts to ensure you are protecting valuable enterprise data resources.
This non-exhaustive list of important skills for MySQL DBAs is a great place to start learning about the popular database platform.
Improving Your MySQL Skills
Many DBAs come from the ranks of system administrators or other positions within an IT department. As you develop the skills that will make you a successful DBA, look for opportunities within your organization to exhibit them. You may be able to land a position administering test or development systems as a bridge to a full-fledged production MySQL DBA.
Take advantage of all the free learning and mentoring that you can. One of the best ways to learn the ins and outs of MySQL database administration is by working with an experienced practitioner. If you are fortunate enough to have a mentor to help you gain experience and better cope with the intricacies of MySQL, get all the knowledge you can from them.
An IDERA whitepaper titled How to Become a MySQL DBA provides a wealth of information designed to help you gain the skills and experience you need. It points the way toward vendor training and classes that individuals can take to improve their proficiency in MySQL. The paper also discusses how to approach your first job as a MySQL DBA. It will help you organize your learning actives and land the DBA position you are after.
MySQL Monitoring Tools
MySQL DBAs need a tool that provides insight into their databases and applications so they can address performance or availability issues. SQL Diagnostic Manager for MySQL is an excellent monitoring solution that gives DBAs the information they need to optimize system performance, security, and availability.
Some of the features in this MySQL monitoring solutions include the ability to:
- Perform real-time monitoring that lets you see what your MySQL servers are doing at any time;
- Monitor disk space and locks to find which databases are using excessive resources;
- Check and alert on security vulnerabilities;
- Manage multi-user access;
- Quickly drill down to find the root cause of performance problems.
The functionality of SQL Diagnostic Manager for MySQL gives a DBA an excellent vehicle for managing and maintaining optimal performance across the environment. The tool supports physical, virtual, and cloud instances of MySQL, enabling the complete environment to be monitored from a single unified console. It’s a valuable software addition for experienced and novice MySQL DBAs.