I was listening to a podcast the other day, and it got me thinking. What is it that makes an exceptional DBA?
In no particular order, some of the things that I think make an exceptional DBA are
We all know that IT is a fast changing industry. There’s no doubt that one has to keep learning just to keep up. An exceptional DBA should be constantly learning, always looking for new challenges, new and better ways of doing things. They should also seek to broaden their knowledge. Specialisation is great, but having at least a basic understanding of development practices, architectural principles or system administration can be extremely useful.
Database administration’s a demanding job. Long hours. Odd hours. Unexpected crises (aside – can you have an expected crisis?). Arrogant developers. Pushy project managers. So on and so on.
Some people take the DBA role because they were forced into it. Some take it because it pays well (in some countries, anyway). Some take it because they love it.
The best DBAs are, perhaps counter-intuitively, the ones that have the least to do. They fix problems before they become noticeable. They have monitoring routines in place that pick up potential issues before they become crises. It a disaster does strike, they can resolve things quickly, because they know what they are doing. Possibly they’ve practised disaster-recovery scenarios before the disaster hits.
Attention to detail
When working on data that could be worth millions of Rands, it doesn’t pay to be careless. Double-checking of work, careful testing, use of checklists.
From offering training and assistance to developers to attending early project meetings, the best DBAs don’t just concern themselves with the systems that they are responsible for, but they get involved. This may also be involvement in the wider community, from forums to user groups.
Those are just a few of my thoughts. I’m interested in seeing if anyone disagrees, or thinks that I’ve missed something (or missed the point entirely)