(Edit…dear Senior DBAs…please comment with items you think should be on this list….thanks!)
Congratulations on getting your first SQL Server DBA job!
Presumably you have a tech background or education, and have been through some basic training in SQL Server administration. I also assume you intended to be a DBA and want to be really good at it so you can advance your career and get mad raises/bonuses.
With any luck at all, you are in an environment where there is at least one other DBA there that knows more than you do. Ideally a Senior that is really into mentoring that can guide your path.
If not, here are some of the basic things that you may already know how to do in SQL Server Management Studio, but don’t really know the inner workings or the T-SQL to make them happen.
Also, almost everything you can do in current SSMS versions can be scripted. Look for the script button and click it after you make all of your selections so you can start learning the code behind the GUI. In time you’ll prefer going straight to the Query Window for some functions of your job.
The list I want my juniors to get intimately familiar with:
- Backup and Restore…beyond the Maintenance Plans
- Creating/Deleting databases
- Creating Logins and Users (and knowing the difference)
- Creating and maintaining indexes
- Other database maintenance items
- Basics of whatever HA/DR may be in place (Clustering, Log Shipping, Availability Groups)
- Basic performance monitoring via SQL Trace or Extended Events in modern SQL versions
All of these can be setup/monitored in the GUI…so make sure you know all of the options there, and then start working on knowing them deeper. Start with Books Online/MSDN and go from there.
More on each list item:
Backup and Restore – I want you to be able to regurgitate exactly what the difference is between Full, Differential and Transaction Log backups. I want you to know when you would use each. You need to know how to restore to a point in time, to another server or as a new database name. Backwards and forwards…this is DBA 101 and the first question I ask if I interview you. You need to be able to throw down the basic Backup Database syntax on the fly. Also, recovery models…memorize and understand them (including Bulk-Logged)
Creating/Deleting databases – There are many ways to create a database…SSMS, T-SQL, Restore from a backup, deploy from a .dacpac/.bacpac, etc. Know how to do each, when you would use each, what options are available and how they affect behavior. Know about filegroups and best practices for laying out your .mdf, .ldf and .ndf files…for your environment. Know what to do before you delete a database. Does the requester mean Delete, Detach or just take offline? What’s the difference? Know your RPO and RTO by heart.
You can make a long career out of just database administration. But don’t deprive yourself of opportunities to learn about storage, virtualization, cloud computing, development, business intelligence, etc. The more you know, the more successful you can be. One of these days, you will be the mentor, not the mentee. Be kind to the new guy 😉