What kind of DBA are you?

Buck Woody likes to joke there are two types of people in the world: those who believe there are two types of people and those who don’t. Rim shot please. All joking aside there are two types of DBAs: those who are myopic and those who are leaders. This is greatly simplifying things but it’s important to know which type of DBA you are and if you’re content with that.

Myopic DBAs see the world from the point of view of their current database or databases they’re administering. When they evaluate new technology they do so against the current state of world. For example, if you’re a DBA over an ERP system whose main db is 275GB and makes use of compression, encryption, service broker etc you’re going to look at SQL Azure and say whatever, call me back when you support something more than 10GBs and the features I need. When you evaluate a new feature you’re more likely to dismiss it unless it does a, b, c, d, e, f and g. This is just the way myopic DBAs operate.

DBAs who are leaders see things in a very different light. They understand there’s more to the enterprise than the DBs they’re current administering. They fully understand the concept of v1 features and they strive to understand the features, how and where to use them (and where not to), and they provide constructive feedback on how the features should develop. They challenge the organization to take advantage of new capabilities articulating the benefits in business terms rather than for the sake of technology. For example the DBA leader looks at SQL Azure and realizes there are tens, hundreds, if not thousands of databases all over the company that could leverage SQL Azure. These are databases that aren’t currently managed (no backup, no high availability, etc) that would benefit greatly from the SQL Azure managed environment. Said another way, moving them to SQL Azure reduces or eliminates a number of risks and changes the cost model of the databases in the favor of the company or department. The DBA leader doesn’t stop there. The DBA leader lays out a template for what types of databases should be migrated to SQL Azure and clearly documents the process for migrating databases and for managing them post move. The DBA leader than shares non-proprietary information with the community to help others with similar challenges.

I’ll stop here. The beginning of a new year is a great time to pause and take inventory of what kind of DBA you are and make adjustments as necessary. Remember, it’s easy to stand on the sideline and criticize, it’s hard but more valuable to lead.

Comments (3)

  1. Adam Machanic says:

    Actually there are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don’t.

  2. the Man says:

    I’m a DBA leader who is weary of people who market SQL Azure