If you look at a day in the life of a DBA, a DBA’s work is never done.
As soon as one installation is complete or one problem is under control, the next one pops up. Sometimes it seems like a never ending challenge.
Yet top performing DBAs avoid getting stuck in this cycle by acquiring a disciplined approach to the task. According to Clare F. Price of CFP MediaGroup, there are a number of behaviors that help DBAs perform their functions better than others:
1. Standardize System Configurations
It’s no secret that the number of databases and SQL instances is constantly expanding. That means an ever-growing list of database configurations to remember.
Expert DBAs keep track of different instances by standardizing configuration items wherever possible: drive letters, server configuration options, database settings, database maintenance, security settings and more.
The result: optimized performance and a reduced error rate.
2. Know the Database Landscape
Database sprawl is on the rise, especially since departments such as marketing and sales bring in their own software, resulting in databases that are not maintained, backed up and may not be secure.
To avoid the performance problems this may create, seasoned DBAs keep an up-to-date inventory of the existing instances and databases in their company.
Ideally, inventory collection should be handled by an automated process that feeds a centralized database repository, but that does not eliminate the need for manual spot checks to validate the accuracy of the automatic data collection.
Within the database itself, the expert DBA keeps a record of the:
It is also important to know the drive, purpose and space availability, server version and edition and server configuration settings.
3. Go Beyond Troubleshooting
Because performance issues can take as much as 60% of the typical DBA’s time, it is vital to truly optimize each database and instance.
Oracle’s Automatic Workload Repository (AWR) is the ideal gathering and reporting tool for identifying performance changes, running diagnostics, and for frequently comparing database performance over time.
4. Contingency Planning
You can’t just install a database and walk away. It has to be continuously tuned and monitored. What separates top performing DBAs from the pack is how proactive they are in anticipating problems and how prepared they are to deal with power outages, earthquakes, floods, fires and theft.
Contingency planning involves developing a comprehensive maintenance plan for all database instances and always being prepared for the worst. By proactively monitoring on regularly scheduled intervals, DBAs can identify whether system behavior and resource usage has changed.
Disaster recovery planning is facilitated by defining down-time and data-loss license agreements for all databases and all SQL instances and instituting data loss recovery processes.
5. Make Friends with Developers
Rather than considering developers as a “necessary evil,” top performing DBAs see developers as part of a win-win team. Once DBAs and developers understand each other’s goals, priorities and concerns, tension disappears. Whether through mentorship or involvement in joint project teams, mutual understanding is key.
6. Understand the Business
A DBA does not work in isolation. Understanding the organization you work for – its market, products, and customers – has direct payoff. Top of the game DBAs who know the business become even more efficient once they understand “the why” behind different database requests and requirements.
7. Never Stop Learning
In concluding her tips, Clare F. Price reminds us that the only constant is change. That’s true in the world of the DBA, too: new database, new routines, more company demands, and more users; the list is endless.
The expert DBA never stops learning.
She or he avoids stagnation and routine by looking for and practicing new, unfamiliar activities. When equipped with a thirst for knowledge, experience and ever-growing skill sets, the top performing DBAs approach their work not as a routine job but into an exciting adventure.