18 Jun 2009 The Silent DBA
Today I saw a great post by master blogger Buck Woody that talks about putting DBA’s into two categories: those you see and those you don’t. I have often subscribed to the theory that the best DBA’s are the ones you never see. The idea is that if you do need to see them, then chances are something has gone wrong. However, different shops use DBA’s to fill different role, so that theory does not necessarily apply for everyone.
But the idea is sound, and it extends beyond just DBA’s. In fact I would hasten to guess that most people in IT are working best if they are never seen except for being called to an occasional project meeting. I mean, when was the last time you emailed or called your Exchange admin to tell them how happy you are that Outlook was running so well? Or how about poking your head around the corner and thank the network guys for keeping the pipe open long (and wide) enough for you to pump your ETL process?
Yeah. Exactly. Same for DBA’s. Our phone never rings with someone saying “Hey, my query came back with the expected results, on time and under budget.” We never see emails that say “…thanks for keeping that server up all day today while we worked on our project.” It just does not happen that way and we all know it. You have a better chance of getting hitching a ride to a lumberjack competition than getting that message any time soon.
Now Buck was also talking about how some people, and not necessarily limiting my view to just DBA’s, but some people go out of their way to make things more complex than necessary. Possibly it is done in an effort to show others just how important they are. But it i also possible that all they are doing is showing just how incompetent they are. I have also seen the case where people simply have control over a set of systems that are running fine and if someone suggests a change in the way things are done they get upset because their world is changing. It is as if they will have less value should they lose one of their systems.
Quite honestly I find that idea very foreign. I would much rather build an environment that needs little to no extra hand holding on my part. That way I can focus on participating in other things that can help drive my company forward. For example, immersing myself in the BI stack, or participating in Six Sigma training, or just being able to keep up to date on the latest advances in SQL Server.
I like finding ways to keep things as simple as possible. The unfortunate part of that is all too often people judge you by tangible results. So it can be easy to get caught up in the idea that you need to make your presence known. But I would rather spend time finding ways to keep my footprint unseen, because that is when I know that I am doing my job well, when everything is running and no one notices the “how” or the “why”.