DBA Training Plan 14: POP QUIZ!

AH-HA! You didn’t know there would be one of these, did you, hotshot? You’ve been reading along in the series, just smiling and nodding, pretending you’re keeping up, but not really doing the homework. BUSTED! Put your books away and get your pencils out.

Backup & Recovery Questions:

  1. How many production SQL Servers do you have?
  2. What’s the RPO and RTO of your most important production server?
  3. Did your backups take the normal amount of time last night?
  4. When was the last time DBCC CHECKDB successfully finished in production?

Security Questions:

  1. How many different people are sysadmins in production?
  2. Do they each know that they’re sysadmins, and take care to avoid accidents?
  3. How many of your databases hold personally identifiable data like credit card numbers, social security numbers, and passwords?
  4. If someone gets hold of one of those database backups, can your company’s data go public?
  5. Have you informed your managers of that risk, or will they blame you?

Monitoring Questions:

  1. When a database server runs out of drive space, who gets emailed?
  2. Do at least two different people get the email in case one is on vacation or unavailable?
  3. What actions will you take to fix the situation?
  4. Are those actions documented so that everyone who gets the email can take action quickly?

Index Questions:

  1. Does every table in production have a clustered index?
  2. For any exceptions (heaps), do you have a plan to fix them?
  3. Which table in production has the most indexes, and why?
  4. Which frequently queried tables in production have the least indexes, and why?
  5. How are you managing index fragmentation?

The Right Answers

There’s no one right answer for any of these questions, but some answers are more wrong than others. Database administration is a journey, and not everyone in the company is going to appreciate the work you’re putting in. You can spend weeks or months trying to improve your answers on these. No matter how big your company is and how many database administrators you have, you’re probably never going to be truly happy with your answers here.

It's a trick question.

Final question: which one of these is Blanc de Blanc?

You’re not aiming for perfect.

You’re aiming for good enough that your managers accept the base of your Database Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, and that you feel confident in tackling the higher levels like performance and future-proofing.

Next week’s email is going to start digging into performance, and we’re going to ignore the lower levels of the pyramid – but that doesn’t mean that part of your journey is over. Print out this email, cut out the question list, and scribble in a few thoughts. Pin it up on your wall, and a few months from now, when you’re feeling overconfident that your environment is awesome, check that list again. Refresh your memory with the links on the right side of this email.

When an outsider comes in, like a support engineer or a consultant, they’re going to start at the base of your pyramid first. Before they start to help, they have to make sure your data is backed up and checked for corruption. They can’t go making changes without having a safety net.

And you shouldn’t either.

Now might be a good time revisit some of the posts in the DBA Training Plan series.

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Updated First Responder Kit and Consultant Toolkit for August 2019
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DBA Training Plan 15: What’s Your SQL Server Waiting On?

10 Comments. Leave new

  • For the question:
    “Final question: which one of these is Blanc de Blanc?”
    The answer is: the cup nearest the star on you shirt
    That was easy 🙂

    Reply
  • Since I see your elbows on the table I can easily spot the “Trash De Blanc”. JK! I love you man!

    Reply
  • In the first section, question 4 should say “DBCC Checkdb” right?

    Reply
  • My guess on the blanc de blancs would be the one from your left. Blanc de blancs means all white grapes. The second one from your right definitely has black grapes in it and may even be a blanc de noirs. The one all the way on your right could be blanc de blancs or not hard to tell from the fog on the glass, but the way flights get poured, you would usually have a bigger wine at the end and blanc de blancs tend to not be that big, but very firm with excellent acid. They can be big wines though. Blanc de blancs and de noirs are usually higher end wines and typically have much more gas in them and much smaller bubbles. The second to the left seems the most vigorous of the four, but the one all the way to your left has the finest size bubbles, which requires more effort to achieve than more gas in the bottle does.

    Reply
    • It does seem odd to start a flight with a blanc de blancs however in a flight like that – its probably the one second to your left, the one all the way to your left is a cuvee level bottle

      Reply

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