Care and Feeding of your DBA

The care and feeding of a DBA

Everyone in your organization is important, of course. You should take good care of your humans, because…they are humans. Not desks, not grunt labor, not assets, not even resources. Gold and Oil are resources. Your team is made up of real life people.

In your IT shop, you have a variety of types of people. Developers that write the products you sell, or the customer facing website. Project Managers that herd all the cats to get things done, etc.

An often overlooked group is the administration team. “Administrator” is not as cool of a title as say, “CIO”, or “Scrum Master” and quite often, many of the folks outside of the IT team have no idea what an admin does. Exchange admin, Systems admin, Database admin.

ADMINISTRATION – noun – the process or activity of running a business, organization.
“the day-to-day administration of the company”

Exciting! Yes?

Your IT admins are the ones keeping everything moving. If you get a “yes” email from a sales prospect, thank your mail admin. If you can log on to your machine each day, from Starbucks and IM with teammates around the world, thank your Systems Admins. If the data that runs the entire company is still there today just like it was yesterday, thank your Database Admins!

Admins keep the company alive and functioning properly.

A few tips on how to keep the database admins happy and eager to be a part of the team:

    • Every time something goes wrong, please quit yelling at the DBAs to fix it. That’s like getting mad at the car engine for a flat tire without investigating why the car slowed down.
    • DBAs are human. They appreciate being appreciated. Not just at the annual review.
    • Allow your DBAs to continuously improve their skill set so they can continuously improve your systems. Conferences, paid online training, etc.
    • Allow your DBAs to actually go to lunch on a lunch hour without calling them for non-emergencies
    • When a DBA makes a recommendation, trust, test and implement. When you hire a consultant to come tell you the same thing, its insulting.
    • Please stop offering to pay Junior level wages to a person with 20 years of experience. We know the market rates, just like you do. Be reasonable.
    • Allow them to set up a test environment so they don’t have to test in Production when things go bad. Cloud VMs are super cheap to spin up for a day, test something and deallocate.
    • No DBA wants to work on old, out-of-support versions of Oracle, SQL Server etc. We hear this from recruiters and already know what the day-to-day is going to be like. (Hint – its going to suck if you are still on SQL 2005)
    • You have given them SysAdmin rights to all of your company’s data. Trust them to use that access wisely. Let them do what they need to do to help you, without burying them under arbitrary InfoSec rules. If your DBA can be trusted to see everything in the HR database, surely she can be trusted to install appropriate things on her laptop, yes?
    • A well rested, happy DBA is going to work their tail off for you. Demanding 60 hour weeks and 24x7x365 on call is going to burn them out. Some DBAs even have families they love and want to see. Limit the off-hours calls and texts to actual emergencies

Most of these are common sense (or should be) and apply very well to any number of positions in your organization. Many admins simply want to do their job and chill out in the background while being a part of the overall success of the firm.

Comments welcomed.

Thanks for reading!


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