27 April 2012

IT Admin for Thrill Seekers

A developer suggested to me recently that the life of the DBA was, surely, a dull one. My first reaction was indignation, but quickly followed by the thought that for many people excitement isn’t necessarily the most desirable aspect of their job.

It’s true that some aspects of the DBA role seem guaranteed to quieten the pulse; in the days of tape backups, time must have slowed to eternity for the person whose job it was to oversee this process, placing tapes into secure containers, ensuring correct labeling, and.sorry, I drifted off there for a second. On the other hand, if you follow the adventures of the likes of Brent Ozar or Tom LaRock, you’d be forgiven for thinking that much of a database guy’s time is spent, metaphorically, diving through plate glass windows in tight fitting underwear in order to extract grateful occupants from burning database applications.

Alas it isn’t true of the majority, but it isn’t as dull as some people imagine, and is a helter-skelter ride compared with some other IT roles. Every IT department has people who toil away in shadowy corners doing quiet but mysterious tasks. When you ask them to explain what they do, you almost immediately want them to stop, but you hear enough to appreciate that these tasks are often absolutely vital to the smooth functioning of an IT organization. Compared with them, the DBAs are prima donnas.

Here are a few nominations:

  • Installation engineer – install all of the company’s laptops and workstations, and software, deal with licensing, shipping and data entry.many organizations, especially those subject to tight regulation, would simply grind to a halt without their efforts.
  • Localization engineer – Not quite software engineering, not quite translation, the job is to rebuild a product in a different language and make sure everything still works.
  • QA Tester – firstly, I should say that the testers at Red Gate seem to me some of the most-fulfilled in the company. I refer here to the QA Tester whose job is more-or-less entirely to read a script, click some buttons and make sure the actual and expected values match.
  • Configuration manager – for example, someone whose main job is to configure build environments so that devs can access their source code; assuredly necessary for the smooth functioning and productivity of the team, and hopefully well-paid.

So what other sort of job in IT should one choose if the work of a DBA proves to be too exciting? Or are these roles secretly more exciting than many imagine? I invite you all to put forward your own suggestions.

Cheers,
Tony.

Keep up to date with Simple-Talk

For more articles like this delivered fortnightly, sign up to the Simple-Talk newsletter

This post has been viewed 1778 times – thanks for reading.

  • Rate
    [Total: 0    Average: 0/5]
  • Share

Tony Davis

Tony Davis is an Editor with Red Gate Software, based in Cambridge (UK), specializing in databases, and especially SQL Server. He edits articles and writes editorials for both the Simple-talk.com and SQLServerCentral.com websites and newsletters, with a combined audience of over 1.5 million subscribers. You can sample his short-form writing at either his Simple-Talk.com blog or his SQLServerCentral.com author page.

As the editor behind most of the SQL Server books published by Red Gate, he spends much of his time helping others express what they know about SQL Server. He is also the lead author of the book, SQL Server Transaction Log Management.

In his spare time, he enjoys running, football, contemporary fiction and real ale.

View all articles by Tony Davis