A Good DBA Doesn’t Exist

That line is all about context.  Am I saying there is no such thing as a good DBA?  I hope not.  I’m referring to the fact that a successful DBA is invisible to those users that unknowingly rely on him or her daily – as mythical as the Chupacabra, free love, and universal phone charger formats.

I had the privilege of speaking to the PASS Performance Virtual Chapter on December 6, 2011.  Though I was speaking on the subject of Dynamic Management Objects the comment I made that seemed to resonate the strongest with attendees and on Twitter regarded my assertion that the most important aspect of being a good DBA is being invisible to the end users while protecting their data, improving and maintaining performance, and enhancing access.  This is nothing new.  I’ve stated before that this is one of the core technical requirements of being a good Database Administrator and I still stand by my words on the matter.

I was mulling this over later in the evening as I was (trying) to enjoy a fantastic solo concert by Chris Cornell, lead singer from Soundgarden and Audioslave.  The venue was great, the talent displayed on stage fantastic and tuned to precision standards while not looking over-rehearsed to the point of losing passion.  The impediment between my thorough loss in the moment lay between me and the stage:  three what is the polite term for douchebag – asshats that apparently were so high they thought they were in their living room sitting in front of the television watching Chris Cornell.  Talking at full volume – never shutting up except to take another toke off the one-hitter or shove some popcorn down their maw – they proceeded to ruin the experience for everyone around them for the first hour until security finally evicted them for filming the concert on their phones.  Point is that they stood between me (the user) and the talent (the data) and I, as well as everyone within earshot knew it.  We database administrators stand between our users and their data 24 hours a day.  Most of that time we’re not high.  100% of that time we’re responsible for making sure everything is running properly and the users should never know who we are or that we’re even there.

The best DBA is the one that has the image of doing nothing and being silent; of looking like a lazy DBA while juggling flaming axes while standing on a a ball constantly being beaten by baseball bats.  We are the river that runs fierce at great depths but only shows calm on the surface and we need to make it look effortless.

Effortless like a musician on stage playing to a mass disparate raging souls.