Stop Saying “It Depends”


Dear fellow DBAs…something popped into my head the other day and its been brewing ever since.

We joke about saying “It Depends” all the time, when people ask us for something:

  • How long will that restore take?
  • Why is the database slow?
  • Do we need more RAM?

All of these are legitimate questions, and NONE of them have enough info. So, we typically reply with “It Depends.”  Now, you probably do the right thing and ask the appropriate questions to move the conversation along to where it needs to be.

But some other DBAs stop right there with a smirk and a smug satisfaction level that comes from blocking someone from the other team.

Don’t be THAT DBA

After all, don’t people do the same to you?:

  • How much to fix my car? (It Depends on what the diagnostics say)
  • How long until the doctor sees me? (It depends on what’s going on with the previous patient)
  • How much to paint my house? (It Depends on how many rooms, paint type and inside or outside)

Instead, I am challenging every DBA to skip right on past the It Depends and move to the probing questions:

  • How big is the database you want restored?
  • Can I reproduce the slow query?
  • Have we done a health check/index analysis on our current memory?

When your first response to a question from a non-DBA is “It Depends”, its a blocker for them and sets up a possible confrontation.

When you ask them a question (which you were going to ask anyway), you come across as interested in helping them achieve their goal.

They very often don’t know what they don’t know…so help them.  If its a recurring request like restores, or installs…give them a checklist/build sheet so they can fill in the blanks.

Everyone will be happier and the DBA team will look fantastic!

Thanks for reading!


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