The Changing Role of the DBA in a Data Protection-first World.

Author:Hilbert, Matt

The role of the database administrator (DBA) has changed markedly over the past few years. While they have always been central to how organisations manage, store and use data, their importance has increased along with the growth, complexity and value of data to modern business.

At first they were gatekeepers, focused on ensuring the stability and security of mission-critical data and information. Their default position was to protect the data, rather than share it widely outside production environments in case problems ensued.

This all changed with the spread of DevOps, which moves software development from infrequent, big bang releases to a constant stream of small releases. This affects the database too because changes to front-end applications often require the database at the back end to be updated as well. If the database is excluded from DevOps, it hinders the faster pace of development that can otherwise be achieved.

As a result, many application developers are also now responsible for developing the database, and often use a copy of it to test their proposed changes against. Indeed, Redgate's 2019 State of Database DevOps Survey revealed that 65% of organisations use a copy of the production database in development and testing. So rather than being gatekeepers, DBAs have had to become enablers, provisioning those copies on request.

The rise of regulation

Alongside the rise in DevOps, there has been a growing focus on data security and privacy with the introduction of regulations like the GDPR as well as increasing consumer expectations that their personal information will be kept safe and used responsibly.

This changing data privacy landscape has made many businesses realise that data has moved from a business asset to a business risk. Rather than no data privacy legislation, or weak legislation, legislation is now being proposed and strengthened across the globe. In fact, Redgate analysis has found that over 62% of the world's population will be protected by tougher data privacy laws moving forward.

All of this means that DBAs need to embrace a new role as guardians, protecting the personal data in production databases, yet still ensuring it's available in secure, anonymous ways to enable faster development without the risk of breaches.

Ensuring this involves taking ten steps, broken down into four areas:

  1. Understand your data

    * Identify where your data is

    * Identify what your data is

    * Identify where the risk lies

    Data within...

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