Fresh out of college, I have seen candidates appear in interviews for a DBA profile, with a question mark on their faces as to what a DBA is.

What they do and how intensive is their work. Most of them are either clueless about what we do or merge some other profile with DBA’s profile.

Just like other jobs, defining exactly what DBAs do is difficult because each company may use them in different ways, so we have listed some of the more common tasks that a DBA performs. I will be covering the most common tasks so that it can help understand the profile better.

Installing and Configuring Hardware

In organizations, experienced hardware experts manage underlying hardware. DBA is responsible for creating the blueprint and recommendation based on the analysed workload patterns. Also Installing and configuring the server sometimes.
Once the experts allocate the hardware, a DBA run and performs tests to identify the power of the box and if that meets the requirement to match and carry the workload. Though it’s limited DBAs, we sometime run check on hardware troubleshooting and maintenance.

Installing, Configuring, Patching and Upgrading SQL Server

SQL Server setup fills the multiple requirements whether it is upgrading, repairing, or uninstalling. Installing, configuring, patching, and upgrading SQL Server instances is not as simple as it seems. A wrong click on setup sometimes can make you undo all the changes and reinstall it again.
It is a whole complicated process, and some things are also needed during scheduled downtime. From choosing SQL server version to an edition which meets the client’s requirement a DBA has to look for all possibilities and when its Production changes must go through proper phases following protocol and guidelines.

Capacity Planning

Over the past few years, data has increased rapidly in size which means growth in database size. Here a DBA must keep a close watch and plan in advance how best to avoid space-based challenges. As data increases, the SQL server will be loaded which may lead to performance issues. DBAs are responsible for monitoring workloads and figuring out how to maximize hardware resources to get the best SQL Server performance.

Backup & Recovery

One of the most common things or say bread & butter for DBA's is to ensure data is getting backed up frequently and have a proper backup strategy in place. Having a database backup in place can avoid the chances of loss of data. In addition, a well-developed recovery plan needs to be implemented and verified so that when problems arise, backups can be used without any challenges. A DBA must ensure the backup he has is valid, having backup does not guarantee that it can be restored. A proper strategy should be in place to avoid any such circumstances.

SQL Server Monitoring

Monitoring the SQL server is a DBA’s most common task. It includes ensuring SQL job success, performance monitoring, keeping eye on server disk space, scanning logs, and whatnot. In some organizations, DBAs use third-party tools or T-SQL scripts to ensure a smooth functioning SQL server. As the range is too wide, some DBA automates their task using third-party tools, maintenance plans, PowerShell, etc.

High Availability

Disasters can happen at any time. In the case of a natural disaster or human interference or hardware failure, things can be damaging and can impact the SLA along with hitting the end-users and client with a greater loss.

To minimize the downtime, it is a DBA's responsibility to design the whole structure in such way that in case of any issue, we can bring data online while meeting the SLA and fulfil the requirement. A DBA needs to ensure that databases are up and running all the time except for planned downtime. SQL Server offers multiple ways to ensure high availability of data depending on version and edition, including log shipping, database mirroring, and the Replication, FCI, always-on, etc.

Performance Tuning

Another task that comes under DBA’s hat is to monitor performance, determine ways to optimize database performance, fine-tune queries, etc.
A DBA needs to analyse collected data and suggest improvements that can help users to reduce the time taken by queries. Sometimes it can be an issue with code in which fine-tuning is required, sometimes it can be SQL server or DB configuration which needs to be changed for better performance.


Managing a secure SQL environment is an important task and sensitive area for a DBA. If data gets compromised, it could affect user as we all have heard stories of hackers obtaining the credit card information of thousands of users every year, thus impacting companies’ reputation.
Such cases can be prevented with proper security checks and measures been in place. SQL Server offers multiple ways to secure the data either it is on database level or application level. Some of the offerings are Transparent data encryption, backup encryption, Column level encryption, Always encrypted etc.

I hope this will provide the new joiners a better understanding of what does a DBA stands for.