Primary DBA Responsibilities

Published Mar 23 2019 11:35 AM 518 Views
First published on TECHNET on Oct 01, 2010

SQL Server is so well-behaved it's often installed by 3rd party applications in an organization or department without a professional Database administrator (DBA). When such implementations need attention (e.g. backups), system administrators often get involved as acting-DBAs, and some of them discover they enjoy it and start spending more and more time with SQL Server. Or someone starts moving from a coding job to a junior DBA position. These are a couple of examples of how people can become DBA's without formal training, and some of these folks occasionally start to wonder, "What are the main priorities I should pay attention to as a DBA?" Even when these guys and gals get training, it may not point out exactly what a DBA's primary duties should be, so here's a list I've compiled over the years as the top areas (categories) of DBA responsibilities, followed by a breakdown of some of the major tasks in each area. Obviously, DBA tasks will vary from day-to-day and from organization-to-organization, depending on how large the databases are, how many users they have, how many other people are involved in the organization's data management, and what their skills are, but all of the tasks listed below should be covered by someone. I'll also mention that this arrangement of categories and tasks has some matrix characteristics, for example, documentation is a task in multiple areas, but it's also a major category because there are documentation requirements that are outside of the other categories. If you think of something I've left out, please let me know.

The Primary Areas of Responsibility (AOR) of Database Administrators

  1. Configuration

  2. Data Management

  3. Documentation

  4. Education

  5. Maintenance

  6. Performance

  7. Planning

  8. Reporting

  9. Security

The Primary DBA Tasks by Area of Responsibility


  • Adding features

  • Installation

  • Patching

  • Upgrading

  • Reconfigurations

Data Management

  • Data extractions, transformations, and loading (ETL)


  • Centralized storage of Data Element Dictionaries (DED) and Data Models

  • Configuration changes

  • Current configurations

  • DBA activities

  • Future plans

  • Server activities

  • Standards

    • Server configurations

    • Maintenance

    • Security

    • Operations


  • Assisting and teaching

    • Data analysts

    • Coders/Programmers (including pre-production code reviews)

    • Data modelers

    • Managers

    • Others

  • Increasing your own knowledge


  • Alerts (e.g., job failures, capacity shortages, etc.)

  • Backups (this is the single most important DBA task)

  • Clean up of out-of-date files and records

  • Database integrity checks

  • Index defragmentation

  • Reviewing error logs

  • Sizing files

  • Trial recoveries of backups (the 2nd most important DBA task)

  • Updating stats


  • Auditing

  • Baselining

  • Enhancing / Optimizing / Tuning (especially index tuning and custom statistics)

  • Monitoring

  • Troubleshooting


  • Configuration changes

  • Future workloads

  • Future system resources


  • Informing I.T. management of system conditions and future needs


  • Auditing

  • Configuring

  • Documenting

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‎Mar 23 2019 11:35 AM
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