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Database Administrators

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INTRODUCTION

Few companies today are able to exist without an information technology department. Whether a large multinational conglomerate or a small retail establishment, nearly all companies rely on computers to some degree. Some companies are highly dependent on computer systems, while others use them only for accounting and related tasks. Every organization, even the smallest company, has at least one person whose job entails making sure that the computer system is up and running, or at least knowing who to call when the computer system goes down. At larger organizations, the information technology groupвЂ"or management information system department, or data processing groupвЂ"is responsible not only for ensuring that the computer is available, but also that the data on the computer is reliable and what the company needs in order to meet its obligations. The information technology group can therefore be quite large in complex organizations where distributed processing is found, and may only be one or two people in smaller companies with fewer computers. This research considers the role of the database administrator in organizations, and compares the functions of the database administrator with that of the knowledge manager.

DATABASE JOBS IN ORGANIZATIONS

There are several different jobs associated with managing databases within an organization. Database designers might be employed by the company itself, or they might be employed by third parties and responsible for developing databases for many types of organizations. The database designer typically has an engineering or computer science background, and works with information supplied by knowledge managers and the end users in order to develop databases that meet specific needs. The database designer may not understand the end use of the dataвЂ"for example, a designer of a financial database may not be able to understand an annual report, but can fashion a database to supply the necessary information to compile that report. Database designers determine which are the best types of databases to solve particular problems, and work with database tools in order to develop those databases (Vitiello 73).

Knowledge managers take a much higher level approach to business problems than database designers. Knowledge managers may focus on a specific area, such as accounting, and work with database designers to develop databases that meet the needs of the end users. Unlike database designers, knowledge managers understand how the data will be used by end users, and may well have extensive knowledge about the areas in which they specialize. Knowledge managers interface with end users and database designers in order to ensure that the databases meet the needs of the end users (Bird 31).

Database administrators serve as the liaison between the database designers, knowledge managers and end users. Often, the database designers are brought into complete specific projects and then they move onto other projects at other organizations, or within different departments at a single organization. Their job ends when the database is complete, and while they may be used in the future to perform some modifications to the database, they rarely interact with the database on a day-to-day basis in most organizations. That responsibility is the role of the database administrator (Bird 31).

The database administrator is responsible for overseeing the performance of the database: ensuring data integrity, working with the security system, adding new users, deleting obsolete users, making sure that the database is operating efficiently, and generally performing tasks related to these areas (Vitiello 73). Database administrators may not have the extensive business knowledge of knowledge managers, but they must be able to interact with end users in order to ensure that the database continues to meet the needs of those users. At the same time, the database administrator must be technical enough to be able to make modifications to the database within the parameters established by the database designer. Database administrators also keep current with trends in database design and are often the first to suggest when new technologies appear that can benefit the organization through improved efficiency and performance (Krol 33).

WHY COMPANIES NEED DATABASE ADMINISTRATORS

Companies need database administrators because the needs of database users are constantly changing, as is the technology to meet those needs. Database designers can come into an organization, design a database suitable to that organization at that time, and then move on. They are not required for day-to-day operations, and indeed, many databases are available off-the-shelf for use in smaller organizations.

Database administrators are responsible for ensuring that the database continues to function efficiently and effectively, and, as such, provide the day-to-day maintenance that is critical to successful processing. As information has become more complex, the functions of databases have become more complex, as well. Information in databases was once limited to text

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