DBA Call to Action: Make an Impact
May 15, 2003
Let's face it, database administration does not come with a cut and dry job description. It is often up to the DBA to determine what will and will not make an impact on the companies for which they work. The true value DBAs can give is not only to maintain database order but also to provide technical advantages to the company. Come along with me and let's see if we can break out of our cubical shell and provide some added benefit.
Yea, Yea, Yea, We've Heard It Before
Database systems are large, complex and above all are mission critical. Wow, what a mouthful! If this is truly the case, as I believe it is, then why does management not put the time and effort into understanding the vast industry insight that makes up the skill set of every DBA? If they think for one moment, that maintaining order in the ever-increasing sea of data is not conducive to any other insights in this highly technical age of data storage, retrieval, and manipulation then we are all in for a big surprise. While these statements are very harsh on management it is should pose itself as a wake up call to the technical staff that continually has a harder time bridging the gap and conveying the knowledge they so desperately wish to have understood.
Performance, Performance, Performance
I know many DBAs who's only concern is performance. They spend so much time, and take such pride in the fact that they can save five seconds of a nightly batch job that they lose sight of other areas in the company that need their immediate assistance. The saving of five seconds off a nightly batch job cannot be compared to a handful of developers that are struggling with their ability to answer simple SQL questions or one person's question on the relationship between two tables in a database.
Time to Solve a Problem
A major pet peeve of mine is when DBAs continually try to find problems where none exist. Please, if there is not a problem do not waste your time trying to solve one. Yes, I know that there are investigative things that you as a DBA are bound by law to perform but realistically it is time you get on with your life and script something. You should automate the tasks that find problems at very high levels and then, and only then, should you start the deep dive that will get you lost for days into the abyss of pleasure. Your automated scans should be high level monitoring of major areas such as storage, CPU, memory, workload fluctuations and response times. My personal favorite area to monitor is individual personal complaint. If I do not get any complaints, I do not have any problems and therefore nothing needs to be solved as far as database performance and usage go. Seems simple, it is.
You Are the Support Line
Take a moment and think about how long you just sit in a corner of your cubical and play database monitoring and tuning expert. A DBA must get out in the field and provide solutions to a variety of needs. There is a vast smorgasbord of designers, developers, users, management, and the dogs next door that need our help with everything from analysis to zesty SQL that performs under every condition. Do not leave your user, which is everyone, out to dry. Trust me when I say this, even if your database is performing at peak performance levels, there is someone somewhere that is having problems. More than likely, they are just too upset or shy to come visit you. It is your purpose in life to search out these individuals and provide solutions that offer timely benefits. Period.