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Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2008 10:17 AM


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I've worked as a people manager for more than one executive who had a severe allergy to single-purpose employees (especially DBAs and data architects). Even when I knew that I was hiring Person X to be a DBA, s/he had to be a stealth DBA and be able to demonstrate more skills (at least in conversations with executive management) beyond DBA-ness. Career karma being what it is, it may be my turn @ the next job to be the data dude with other skills....
Post #600799
Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2008 10:29 AM


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blandry (11/11/2008)

A DBA who does not know VS? That's a DBA? I oversee staff for four companies (part of our corporate org) and I have never hired any "DBA" who simply knows SQL Server. Our companies could not run, let alone stay in business with such staff.


Depends on the company and the IT setup. At the place I used to work there were 7 full time DBAs. Of them, I was the only one from a dev background and I didn't do anything other than SQL development while I was there. We admin'd 400 or so database servers, a mixture of SQL, Oracle and Sybase and there was always quite enough admin work to go around. From monitoring jobs, backups and performance (and the paperwork required for that) to upgrades, new installations, troubleshooting problems and optimising there was more work than hands to do it. The company also had a dev team of 10 or so C# and web developers.

I'm not lost in VS, but I barely use it. If I open VS once a fortnight it's a lot, and that's mostly for SSIS and reporting services. I can develop, but my skills in that area are very rusty due to lack of use.

Maybe my thinking is this way because I came up in computing from the late 70's when you had to know it "all", and I must admit I am shocked at times these days when I interview or talk to young people who "specialize" in something so narrow that I am left wondering what these people do with the rest of their employment time.


The thing is, the fields are so wide now that I doubt it's possible for someone to know everything about SQL Server (from the DB engine, through Analysis services, Integration services and reporting services) let alone everything about SQL and two or three other areas.



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Post #600812
Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2008 10:31 AM
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I think the simple answer is supply and demand. It is easy enough to get someone who can click around in the tools and get stuff done without doing too much damage. It’s not so easy to find someone who can make sure that you can depend of having your servers up, secure, optimized, backed up, and ready to recover from a disaster. Throw in the ability to work with developers to show them how to optimize queries and design a database, and you have someone with real value. In my experience, full capability database administrators are in far shorter supply than developers with some admin experience. As with anything else, short supply and high demand drive the price up.



Post #600814
Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008 9:39 AM


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Joe Johnson (11/11/2008)
" I have seen DBA's that cannot develop and they have no idea how to help people optimize their code to take the best advantage of the platform they administrate."


This is the type of DBA that the appellation 'Don't Bother Asking' applies to.


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Post #601495
Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008 10:17 AM
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GilaMonster (11/11/2008)
The thing is, the fields are so wide now that I doubt it's possible for someone to know everything about SQL Server (from the DB engine, through Analysis services, Integration services and reporting services) let alone everything about SQL and two or three other areas.


I agree. Although, I am also a developer, and understand what many are saying here, to me it only shows that not many really understand the value of a DBA or what a great DBA does.

The saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

I have literally seen businesses crippled by the very core products that DEV without DBA produced... to the tune of 100's of millions in lost revenue or market potential over a span of less than 5 years.

How much does a great DBA cost? Even at 100K+/year, the benefits of a great DBA far outweigh the cost of one. My experience is that someone who is primarily DEV and filling in a DBA is doing niether very well. For those water-wise out there, it is much akin to a "motor-sailor"... a boat that has both a significant motor and is a sail boat... it does both, yes, but it does neither very well. It will win NO contests in either category, and will take one where one wants to go only half as fast as something trained for the right purpose.

True you may have DBA's that have a little down time, but those that have a lot of down-time are not doing the job to the best of ability or lack the knowledge or skills to so do.

Do things work without a DBA? Sure... things run badly for a good long time... just like many of the vehicles I have owned. Some have cost me more than they were worth, and have saved me neither money nor time.
Post #601525
Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008 10:50 AM


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I happen to work in an environment where I am just a DBA, and for a decently sized environment. However, having the dev background, I am quite competent in C# and VB.NET and that has played heavy in my success as a DBA, as well as in consulting work since I can switch hit to solve complex problems. It has also taught me to notice when things are better done in an application versus in the database. I sit in on development meetings with our .NET developers to know what they are doing, and to also offer ideas to them. I like to stay abreast of the changing technologies, and beyond that I a really am a total geek, so there are times that I know of a newer way to solve a problem that they haven't heard of or used yet.


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Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008 11:06 AM
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katedgrt (11/12/2008)
Joe Johnson (11/11/2008)
" I have seen DBA's that cannot develop and they have no idea how to help people optimize their code to take the best advantage of the platform they administrate."


This is the type of DBA that the appellation 'Don't Bother Asking' applies to.


can't you see the irony in this? You are having a pop at DBA's who cannot do YOUR job better than YOU can. You have a basic misunderstanding of the DBA role in many shops, If you want someone to help with your coding call them a senior developer or a development DBA, which is not the same thing as a production DBA. Remember the A stands for Administration.

I can code to suit my requirements, I understand logical and physical design. I understand indexing strategies, I know good and bad practice, but I don't develop applications so I don't spend much time in VS and would expect developers to be better at coding than I am.

I could go on about all the Admin things that keep me busy but lifes too short and it does not matter anyway because everyone has their own view on what a DBA should be and do.


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Post #601559
Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008 11:14 AM
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Jonathan Kehayias (11/12/2008)
I happen to work in an environment where I am just a DBA, and for a decently sized environment. However, having the dev background, I am quite competent in C# and VB.NET and that has played heavy in my success as a DBA, as well as in consulting work since I can switch hit to solve complex problems. It has also taught me to notice when things are better done in an application versus in the database. I sit in on development meetings with our .NET developers to know what they are doing, and to also offer ideas to them. I like to stay abreast of the changing technologies, and beyond that I a really am a total geek, so there are times that I know of a newer way to solve a problem that they haven't heard of or used yet.


I agree totally. Having a DEV who is primarily a DEV but act as DBA is where I have seen problems. I have yet to see a DBA who aids in DEV (and in fact often does some DEV whether by SPs, SSIS, or data access code) to be a problem anywhere, unless it becomes so much so that they do more DEV than DBA.

A DBA who does not get familiar with how the data both is and needs to be used, and assist to those ends, is not a great DBA.
Post #601571
Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008 11:27 AM


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george sibbald (11/12/2008)
katedgrt (11/12/2008)
Joe Johnson (11/11/2008)
" I have seen DBA's that cannot develop and they have no idea how to help people optimize their code to take the best advantage of the platform they administrate."


This is the type of DBA that the appellation 'Don't Bother Asking' applies to.


can't you see the irony in this? You are having a pop at DBA's who cannot do YOUR job better than YOU can. You have a basic misunderstanding of the DBA role in many shops, If you want someone to help with your coding call them a senior developer or a development DBA, which is not the same thing as a production DBA. Remember the A stands for Administration.

I can code to suit my requirements, I understand logical and physical design. I understand indexing strategies, I know good and bad practice, but I don't develop applications so I don't spend much time in VS and would expect developers to be better at coding than I am.

I could go on about all the Admin things that keep me busy but lifes too short and it does not matter anyway because everyone has their own view on what a DBA should be and do.


I think that you took the comment being made out of context. I think that every DBA, including production ones, should be able to explain, and offer better methods of writing TSQL code to developers. Leave Visual Studio completely out of the picture here. The simple fact is that there are more "DBA's" that don't know the first thing about TSQL beyond the minimum amount they had to figure out to do certain tasks, than there are that do. This doesn't make them a good DBA in my opinion as they have no real understanding of performance tuning since adding indexes will only get you so far, and then you have to change up how you are doing things. The DBA should be able to offer suggestions for how to make things work better.


Jonathan Kehayias | Principal Consultant | MCM: SQL Server 2008
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Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008 11:36 AM


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dphillips (11/12/2008)

I agree totally. Having a DEV who is primarily a DEV but act as DBA is where I have seen problems. I have yet to see a DBA who aids in DEV (and in fact often does some DEV whether by SPs, SSIS, or data access code) to be a problem anywhere, unless it becomes so much so that they do more DEV than DBA.

A DBA who does not get familiar with how the data both is and needs to be used, and assist to those ends, is not a great DBA.


From time to time, I pickup a light project that is on the Dev teams back burner, and has not real deadline, and code it. I try to work with one of the Developers though so that in the event of a problem with my code in production, there is another avenue of support, and I provide copious comments in my C# code in summary blocks that makes it self documenting in XML form, so they should be able to follow it anyway. Personally I like to sling code. I enjoy seeing the fruits of my labors take form as I work.



Jonathan Kehayias | Principal Consultant | MCM: SQL Server 2008
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Training | Consulting | Become a SQLskills Insider
Troubleshooting SQL Server: A Guide for Accidental DBAs
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