Recently I saw a tweet that said, “If you can’t read a query execution plan, you’re not a production DBA.”
I love execution plans, and there are really great reasons to learn to read execution plans, but I disagree completely.
Database Administration is not all about performance
Performance is only one component to database administration. Let’s take Jill as an example.
Jill is a SQL Server DBA who focuses on High Availability and Disaster Recovery for a large company. She works to keep her knowledge and skills sharp on backups and restores, Windows Failover Clustering, and High Availability Groups. She designs mission critical systems to meet high uptime requirements. She also designs and runs a lab where she proactively causes outages and troubleshoots them, corrupts databases and repairs them. She uses these experiences to build processes for front-line engineers to respond to production incidents and trains them to keep systems online as much as possible. Jill is excited about learning more about virtualization and SAN replication in the next year and has created an aggressive learning plan.
Jill’s pretty awesome, isn’t she? Is Jill magically not a Production DBA if she looks at an execution plan and doesn’t know what it means?
If you’re just getting into database administration, we don’t recommend that you start with performance as your primary focus. We recommend that you start at the base of the database Hierarchy of Needs. As you work your way up, decide where to specialize.
Don’t de-legitimize DBAs who are Different than You Are. Talk to Them!
It’s great to love what you do. Just remember that database administration is a really broad field, and the way you DBA isn’t necessarily the way everyone has to DBA. (Sure, DBAing is a verb. Why not?)
Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking “I’ve got to have this one skill so I can get into the cool club.” Instead, let’s get excited about the fact that there’s so much to learn that we all have to make tough choices. Let’s seek out the people who choose differently than us, and learn from them, too.