The purpose of IT is the capture, storage, and retrieval of business information to further the organization’s core business objectives. In today’s environment all the information that used to be captured on paper records is now captured in electronic records that must be stored for retrieval in an electronic repository. This requires the use of relational databases for all but the smallest, simplest applications and the use of relational databases requires the skills of a database administrator and/or data architect.

Differences between Data Architect and Database Administrator

There is little difference between the skill sets possessed by data architects and those possessed by database administrators. The difference tends to be in the focus of the two roles. Database administrators are responsible for the health of the database and the data it manages. This responsibility will include the architecture of new data and database dictionary as the business grows and changes. Database changes may occur as a result of a project which delivers new functionality, or in response to changes in the existing data. The focus of the database administrator is overall health of the database and the data it contains, including database availability, performance, and access. The data architect is a role that tends to come with the implementation of the initial database instance and large expansion projects. It is the database architects job to ensure that the database design and data dictionary are optimized to support the data storage retrieval and performance goals of the project.

The key difference between the skill sets of data architects and database administrators is the emphasis on operational activities and the health of the database on the one hand and the emphasis on the performance of the database on the other. The database administrator will inherit the work of the data architect if one is employed to design a database, or a database extension, as part of a project. They will be responsible for support of the database they designed if one is not. Other than this difference the skill sets are very similar, indeed most database courses make no distinction between the two roles. This article will treat the two roles interchangeably; the best practices described here are applicable to both roles. The only time a different approach is required is when you have both roles on the project in which case you will be required to distinguish between the two roles and assign each role the work they are best suited for.