I have worked with Oracle databases for around 25 years now and during that time I have been very fortunate in that there has always been work for DBAs and it has been one of the higher paying disciplines within IT.
I am not prophesying the end of the Oracle database engine but I do see the writing on the wall for some of the large corporate solutions sitting on physical equipment in a datacentre. I also have to criticise Oracle for their business practises which I know are seeing customers move away to other solutions.
Without any doubt there is pressure on those who wish to perform a purely Oracle DBA role. The growing use of Cloud does reduce the opportunities and whilst databases always need to be built the techniques used in the Cloud undoubtedly speed up that process and effectively de-skill it. The rise of SAAS style applications where the on-site DBA no longer performs upgrades, patching and similar work also reduces the requirement.
In conjunction with that there is a threat from the more established players in the market. I manage database teams that support a variety of databases and a few years ago I undoubtedly had the view that Oracle was good for large databases (I might have considered 1Tb to be the dividing line between large and medium) and SQL Server was suitable for smaller ones. I am aware that is a very basic dividing line and does not take into account functionality and advanced database requirements. I do not have that view in the slightest now and consider that Oracle is too expensive and does not offer value for money. SQL Server is much higher in my focus and we now include MySQL (which I know is owned by Oracle) and also PostGres and DynamoDB.
I referred to business practises as being a reason not to use Oracle. I am specifically referring to the change in licensing for databases in the Cloud but not in the Oracle Cloud. See this article by Tim Hall for more detail. The comments also support the theme of this blog – that there are many more alternatives to Oracle these days.
If I was starting out now I think I would be trying to go down the Data Architect road and also grabbing myself a good overview of the benefits and risks of the various types of database solutions that are now available. That skill set would also assist in becoming an infrastructure architect.
Saying all of the above – in my view there is nothing more satisfying than taking a query and improving its performance, no matter what the underlying database technology is.