Architects and DBAs
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"What's the difference between a Data Architect (DA) and a Database Administrator (DBA)?"
A Data Architect is a person who designs databases, repositories, ODSs, data warehouses and data marts. A Data Architect knows less than a DBA about a product (Oracle, DB2) but knows how to design databases in flat file, relational, hierarchical, network, inverted list, multi-dimensional and object-oriented architectures. They would be considered "logical" and are the designers (architects). By the way, architects design, they do not architect. Architect is a noun, although it is now being used in the IT industry as a verb.
The methodology used by the Data Architect for designing a relational database is the same for Oracle and SQL Server. How that design is implemented by the Oracle and SQL Server DBAs has many subtle differences. A big deal is the difference in the front-end products. Oracle and SQL Server don't look alike, at all. Yet the underlying database is extremely similar. The methodologies for designing a database in IMS (hierarchical), Red Brick (multi-dimensional) or ObjectStore (object-oriented) are different.
A Data Architect performs the tasks that would fall under the activities of Data Analysis; requirements gathering, normalization, data modeling, process analysis and database (data mart) design. A DBA uses these deliverables to build, evolve and maintain the database.
A Database Administrator (DBA) is an old IBM title for the person who maintained the IBM Information Management System 360 (IMS 360). A DBA was originally the database equivalent of a Systems Programmer, the person who maintained the operating system. In today's terms, a DBA is a product specialist who builds and maintains databases. Today, a DBA is usually associated with Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, Informix, etc., although there are many who are proficient administering more than one product. They create, change and delete regions, databases, tables, indices, constraints and do backups, recoveries and restores. They would be considered "physical" and are the builders.
Now this gets all screwed up because the companies we work for are penny-wise and pound foolish. They try to get two-for-one and have the Oracle person do the data modeling and normalization and build. Some DBAs are even pretty good at data modeling. However, Data Architects and DBAs think about different things in different ways. Generally, when a DBA performs Data Analysis you end up with a poor database design. Conversely, when a Data Architect implements an Oracle 8i DBMS, across servers in a multi-processing environment, the damn thing won't run.
Now I know I'll get mail for the previous two sentences. I know some DAs that were DBAs for 10 years and are terrific at both and I know some DBAs that are worth their weight in gold. The point is that both are vitally necessary and there should never be a commercial, industrial-strength database built without the logical view of the DA and the physical view of the DBA.
I hope this clears up the confusion. The difference is the same as a Business Systems Analyst and an Application Systems Developer.