What Counts for a DBA: HumilityPublished 10 March 2011 8:54 pm
In football (the American sort, naturally,) there is a select group of players who really hope to never have their names called during the game. They are members of the offensive line, and their job is to protect other players so they can deliver the ball to the goal to score points. When you do hear their name called, it is usually because they made a mistake and the player that they were supposed to protect ended up flat on his back admiring the clouds in the sky instead of advancing towards the goal to scoring point. Even on the rare occasion their name is called for a good reason, it is usually because they were making up for a teammate who had made a mistake and they covered up for them.
The role of offensive lineman is a very good analogy for the role of the admin DBA. As a DBA, you are called on to be barely visible and rarely heard, protecting the company data assets tenaciously, even though the enemies to our craft surround us on all sides:.
But the DBA sucks it up and does the task at hand with a humility that makes them nearly invisible to all but the most observant person in the organization. The best DBAs I know are so proactive in their relentless pursuit of perfection that they detect many of the bugs (which they seldom caused) in the system well before they become a problem.
In the end the DBA gets noticed for one of same two reasons as the offensive lineman. You make a mistake, like dropping a critical production database that had never been backed up; or when a system crashes for any reason whatsoever and they are on the spot with troubleshooting and system restoration plans that have been well thought out, tested, and tested again. Not because there is any glory in it, but because it is what they do.
Note: The characteristics of the professions referred to in this blog are meant to be overstated stereotypes for humorous effect, and even some DBAs aren’t quite this perfect. If you are reading this far and haven’t hand written a 10 page flaming comment about how you are a _______ and you aren’t like this, that is awesome. Not every situation applies to everyone, but if you have never worked with a bad packaged app, a magazine trained manager, programmers that aren’t team players, or hardware that occasionally failed, relax and go have a unicorn sandwich before you wake up.