ThatJeffSmith

Are you a real DBA?

I’m sorry, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a ‘fake’ DBA Jeff!

Ok, so labeling someone as a ‘real’ DBA is a bit insulting to DBAs everywhere. If you have children, that makes you a parent. If you are responsible for a database, then you are a DBA.

So what exactly am I getting at?

What do you most fear, and have you ever faced that fear? If you are sitting there hoping something bad doesn’t happen, then you are going to be in trouble when it does.

“The way I see it (production) DBAs are hired for 2 reasons: security/disaster. Anything else is just icing on the cake.” – via @AngryPets (Twitter) AKA Michael Campbell.

Twitter, where blogs are written.

For a DBA, that fear is probably around availability of the database. The database has crashed. Can you get it back up and running with little or no data loss?

Fear of the unknown is often much worse than the actual dreaded event you are about to experience.

So, if you are not sure how you would respond to such a situation, then I think you should put yourself in that situation, under your own control, before you find yourself there involunatarily.

Yes, you should crash your own database.
Pull a disk, corrupt a block, delete a file. Can you recover?

Not in production, that would be too much fun. This is what you build your test environment for. And for bonus points, try to recover without an internet connection. No Googling. I know, not fair. But, in the worst case scenario, you might be facing that.

Do you have a recovery plan?
No? Don’t you think now is a good time to write one? How awesome would it be to pull out the binder with instructions on how to rescue yourself when the ‘very worst’ happens?

A DBA’s DBA.
To be considered the best of the best, to be given a shot at managing a production database, I would posit that a candidate you had lived through these scenarios and survived would be given a much higher rating than someone who had only read about it in books.

Of course you are a ‘real DBA.’ But are you a battle-tested DBA?

Perhaps I’m allowing my ego to get in the way of my judgement. Just because I recovered a few databases 10 years ago doesn’t mean I’m a ‘real DBA’, by any means. And if you have been managing a production system for 2 years, and have never had a crash – then you should be commended, not chided.

I love playing Devil’s Advocate, and I had the tables turned on me yesterday – and to great effect. Thanks Leighton, for keeping me honest!