Learn to Speak DBA Slang


Ever wonder what those big-company DBAs are saying when they start busting out the cryptic terms?  Learn the slang of database administrators with this handy reference guide.

Wizard of Oz – admin who makes everyone think things are automated, but he’s really just duct taping things together. “The executives think we’ve got a reporting dashboard, but the Wizard of Oz over there is just copy/pasting data into Excel and hitting Insert Chart before he prints it out.”

Food court – consolidated server with a bunch of unrelated databases. Typically not known for high quality. “The marketing team wants to install a social media program that needs a database, but they don’t have any budget. Put them in the food court.”

The last guy – the speaker in a previous time frame, like yesterday. Used for blaming someone else when it’s the speaker’s own fault.

How RAID 0 looks in the ads.
Photo by Soapbeard

Ride the unicycle – use RAID 0. “The food court was begging for faster performance, so the last guy decided to ride the unicycle.”

Suicide – killing your own query.

Genocide – killing all queries from a certain application

Two Men and a Truck – generic name for ETL programs like SQL Server Integration Services, Informatica, and DataStage. “We need a nightly job to get data from the sales system to the reporting server. Call Two Men and a Truck.”

Play Tetris – shrinking databases on a server with limited space. “We ran out of space on the L drive again. Run interference while I play Tetris.”

Tinted windows – encryption. “Tell the developers to put tinted windows on the web site database before somebody puts our password list on WikiLeaks.”

Van down by the river – server running ancient, unsupported software. Named because it’s the last thing a database ever sees before it shuffles off this mortal coil.

Blimp – monitoring software. “Jobs are failing all over the place. How’s it look from the blimp?”

100% delicious.
Photo by elizaIO

The Bakery – the department that produces pie charts. Sometimes referred to as Bakery Incorporated.

Escalate it to the documentation team – search Google.

Open a global support ticket – create a StackOverflow question.

56K modem – PCI Express solid state drive like FusionIO or OCZ Z-Drive. Named for their physical resemblance.

Keyser Soze – DBA or developer who looks ordinary but has insanely good skills, hardly anybody knows about it. Taken from the movie The Usual Suspects where the mythical main villain, Keyser Soze, is right in the middle of the group the whole time.

Smoking filtered cigarettes – doing something that appears safe but is really still dangerous.

Groundhog Day – ETL job that reloads all data from scratch every day rather than efficiently processing just the changed data. “The Wizard of Oz populates the database alright – it’s Groundhog Day at midnight.”

Saving Private Ryan – trying to do a row-level restore. Management usually calls for this task without understanding the complexity.

Fireworks store – dangerous server that crashes all the time. “Ever since the Wizard of Oz started writing his own backup software, the food court is turning into a fireworks store.”

Health Insurance – a current backup. “Make sure he has health insurance before you put a 56k modem in him.”

Read the paper – scan the event log looking for problems. “The job failed again last night. I’m going to read the paper.”

Group of blade servers in the wild.
Photo by Kismihok

Trailer park – blade server chassis. “The manufacturing team is bringing in a few new apps next quarter. Is there space in the trailer park?”

Blue jeans – full backups nightly.

Business casual – full backups nightly, log shipping every few minutes. “Does the new project server need blue jeans or business casual?”

Three piece suit – intricate high availability and disaster recovery strategy including clustering, mirroring, and log shipping.

Take a picture, it’ll last longer – advises the listener to perform a snapshot backup to make rollbacks easier. “You’ve been staring at that deployment script for an hour now. Take a picture, it’ll last longer.”

Value meal – Standard Edition server with the database engine, SSIS, SSAS, and SSRS all installed. “They needed SharePoint in a hurry so I gave ’em a value meal.”

Updating the last step in the Disaster Recovery Plan – working on your résumé.

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