This month’s T-SQL Tuesday topic asks why you need DBA skills.
I say you probably don’t.
Every now and then, you just need someone else to have good DBA skills.
Most of my clients don’t have full time database administrators. For example, last week I helped a small software company troubleshoot database problems at a couple of their customers’ sites. These customers had mission-critical applications they’d bought from this software company, and the data was stored in SQL Server. If the server went down, their business would stop.
And no, the customers didn’t have full time DBAs either.
I parachuted in, took remote control of their SQL Server, spent a few hours doing a basic investigation, and gave them a list of things they should consider doing to improve performance and reliability. We discussed how to implement those changes, and they took away a list of to-dos. Done.
There’s a huge, gaping chasm between people who know enough to be dangerous with SQL Server versus those who can fix the junior guy’s “fixes.” It takes a lot of experience to do things the right way the first time, and I’ll be the first to tell you that for the first 5-6 years of my career, I made more wrong moves than right moves. I’m finally at the point where I can sit down at a complete stranger’s SQL Server, know I’m not going to put the data in danger, and know that I’m going to make improvements. If you hear me say, “Whoops, damn,” it’s probably because I didn’t remember syntax correctly, not that a database just went offline.
You may not need DBA skills, but you need someone skilled backing you up when it counts. You can pay people like me to help, or you can get help for free using Michael Swart’s 3 problem solving resources every DBA should know – Google, #SQLHelp, and StackOverflow. Either way, the key is to know when you’re in over your head, and ask for that help before your data disappears.
The trouble, though, is that if you don’t have any DBA skills, and you trust the advice of strangers & software, you can make your server worse – not better.