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I was wondering what the difference is between database administrators and data administrators.

  • David Marco, Sid Adelman, Larissa Moss
  • October 01 1999, 1:00am EDT


I was wondering what the difference is between database administrators and data administrators.


David Marco's Answer: A database administrator (DBA) is responsible for the efficient running of the databases (relational or object) within a corporation. The DBA will install the database, make software upgrades, size the database, add indexes where necessary, create physical tables and partition the database as it as necessary. The data administrator can have varying definitions depending on the corporation. The most common definition is the person(s) responsible for data standards throughout the corporation. These standards will include data naming standards and field domain values. Often the data administrator will be the lead person in the building and maintaining of a meta data repository.

Larissa Moss's Answer: Database administrators are TECHNICIANS, while data administrators are BUSINESS ANALYSTS. Their roles and responsibilities are as follows:


  • Creates the physical data models (either two- dimensional or multi- dimensional) which process-dependent and represent the database structures that hold the data defined within the scope of the project. Works with both users and data administrators. Must have technical expertise with the DBMS optimizer and OLAP tools.
  • Provides, or captures, technical meta data from the DBMS for the central meta data repository.
  • Focuses on database activities, such as designing the databases, creating the database structures (tables, columns, indexes, etc.), monitoring the databases for performance, tuning the databases, assisting with SQL, etc.
  • Helps developers (programmers) with creating the ETL (extract-transform- load) system flow and with loading the databases. Also helps developers with tuning SQL statements for data delivery.
  • Senior DBAs perform the role of "Systems Administrator" and maintain the DBMS environments, set general parameters, set up and maintain database partitions, etc.

DATA ADMINISTRATOR (business analyst):

  • Creates the logical data model (Entity-Relationship) which is process- independent and represents the business entities, data relationships, business rules and policies for the data within the scope of the project. Works with users and must have some subject matter expertise.
  • Captures business meta data (names, definitions, domains, etc.) during the logical modeling sessions and maintains the meta data repository. May also assist in capturing the technical meta data from DBMS and tools.
  • Focuses on data management activities, such as setting data standards and incorporating them into the development methodology, managing project data models and integrating them into a conceptual enterprise view, etc.
  • Analyzes the source data to verify its compliance with business rules and policies and documents all exceptions. May also participate in writing the data transformation specs for those items chosen to be cleansed.
  • Creates the first-cut physical data model (two- dimensional relational or multi-dimensional) with assistance of database administrator. Continues to assist the database administrator during database design activities.

Sid Adelman's Answer: Database administrators do the physical work: database design, backup and recovery, performance monitoring and tuning and physical modeling. Data administrators do the logical modeling, support the meta data repository and understand the data across the enterprise.

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