DBA Call to Action: Make an Impact

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.

James Koopmann
James Koopmann
James Koopmann has fourteen years of database design, development and performance tuning experience. In addition, he has extensive database administration experience in Oracle and other relational databases in production environments, specializing in performance tuning of database engines and SQL based applications. Koopmann is an accomplished author with several technical papers in various Oracle related publications such as Oracle Magazine, Oracle Professional and SQL>UPDATE_RMOUG. He is a featured author and database expert for DatabaseJournal, a member of the editorial review committee for Select Journal (The Magazine for the International Oracle Users Group), an Oracle Certified Professional DBA and noted speaker at local Oracle User Groups around the country.

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