I was pointed to this article, "Confessions of a Database Administrator", that goes through some horror stories of DBAs dealing with the challenge of managing databases in corporate America. I particularly enjoyed the one on "Colas and CoLo don’t mix" where the DBA started noticing poor performance on their hosted database and traced it back to the fact that a neighbor in their colocation facility had dumped a Big Gulp into their SAN!
While using a database as a service platform (DBaaS) won’t help you avoid that particular problem, it can help with other issues that some of these DBA’s have experienced. For example, ensuring that all your database servers of a particular flavor are consistently configured can even help you change your standard configurations if you figure out that they are not following best practices. DBaaS can also ensure that backups, security policies, and high availability practices are all being done properly.
The article hit a key point on the evolving DBA role that lines up perfectly with why we’re seeing more and more people moving to DBaaS solutions. It says, "Between exponentially growing volumes of data, increasingly complex infrastructures that rely on peak database performance, and the fact that more DBAs are being asked to manage multiple database platforms, the job definitely isn’t getting any easier." No argument there, for sure.
The article concludes with the final bit of advice to "establish a roadmap for moving to the cloud (or not) and for reducing workload costs by moving databases to lower-license-cost versions or open-source alternatives." Certainly deploying a DBaaS platform or using a database service provided by your cloud service provider is an obvious way to get the most from that transition to the cloud. Similarly, offerings like OpenStack Trove or the Tesora Database as a Service platform that supports 13 different database technologies open up a lot of options on the database front. Many of these options are open source ones, which give the DBA a simple, unified way to manage all of them.