Category: Career

Life as a DevOps DBA

A few weeks ago Grant Fritchey (b|t) posted about DevOps, the DBA , and the word “No”. Go ahead and read it, I’ll wait right here.

Welcome back. As you’ve just read, Grant ranted a little on the concept that the DBA does nothing but say no to requests, and that people still live the belief that it’s their default response to anything.

The whole concept of the DBA saying no really comes about because the people that are responsible for getting up in the middle of the night, because somebody did something crazy that broke the site, are not fans of a lack of sleep. Hey, if you knew that there was a not-null probability of losing an evening, or a weekend, wouldn’t you be hesitant to allow¬†changes as well.

I spent many years as that gatekeeper. The one that didn’t want to lose that time. I didn’t want to spend my time saying no, but I knew for darn sure that I wanted to understand what was going in and what the potential impact was going to be. After all, I’d rather spend my time figuring out how to simplify managing my enterprise than trying to figure out what was broken with the latest release.

Continue reading “Life as a DevOps DBA”

The Loneliness of the On Call DBA

There are lots of great things about being a SQL Server DBA. You get to play with lots of cool software; get the chance to spend someone else’s money on hardware; constantly be in a position to learn new things; and be a member of an awesome community.

With the good always has to come a little bit of bad. I’ve been a production DBA for over 10 years now. That means for over 10 years I’ve been on call at various times. Way back when it used to be a case of carrying a pager everywhere and that pager get swapped between team members. Now the NOC has my cell number and I can be called at any point. I also get emails on my phone day and night. Work loves it when you’re in constant contact (no really, they do).

The toughest thing about being a DBA has to be those long late nights when you are dealing with a production issue. The feeling of loneliness is pretty intense when the house is quiet and you are sitting in front of a monitor, it’s bright light burning into your tired bleary eyes and making them burn. The only noises are the faint sounds of sleeping from another part of the house, the clicking of your keyboard as you type in the database restore commands and the low humming from the refrigerator.

This weekend I had to deal with a long brutal outage. I ended up working through the night and most of the next day. It is what I get paid for however; so while I didn’t exactly have a smile on my face I did walk away at the end with the satisfaction of knowing that I had done a good job. I was able to get everything back online as it should be and that the business functioning at 100% again.

When I first started working with SQL Server as a DBA I thought it was just a job, I didn’t know it would be a way of life. Truly, being a DBA is a job that you live. If you’re a DBA, live it well my friends.