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Remote DBAs

By Steve Jones,

This editorial was originally run on Sep 19, 2007. It is being re-run as Steve Jones is out on the SQL in the City US 2012 tour.

There's still hope for all you DBAs out there looking for a telecommuting job that allows you to work in your pajamas. Someone sent me this case study about remote DBAs and I decided to pass it along. It's a one page PDF, and it's a fluff piece to some extent for Bluewolf, a company that has outsourced IT staffing, but has a section on remote DBA work as well.

I've wanted a remote DBA company for a long time. It's something I thought was easy to do, most all DBA work is remote to the server anyway, and we tend to work alone. It's a specialized skill and for the most part, a production DBA is an insurance cost.

Face it, as a production DBA, I've typically had periods of time where we work really hard on upgrades, stabilizing systems, responding to issues, etc. Then we have some fairly quiet periods where we work on tuning things that don't work well. There are definitely exceptions for environments that are understaffed and have perpetual problems, but a lot of the time we are insurance for the bad times.

Which makes for a pretty good job.

I've usually enjoyed my jobs; they haven't had too much stress on a daily basis, and I could handle the tedious nature of production systems. If I had 4 or 5 of these jobs I did from home, that would be amazing. I've just struggled finding managers that were comfortable with a DBA working from home 3 or 4 days a week. For some reason they just want to see you there every day.

There are definitely jobs and companies out there making this work. A few friends of mine from Colorado Springs even have a company that does this: SQL On Call. They can help in many areas, but they're happy to fill in for a DBA on vacation. If you're a one-DBA shop, give them a call. I know, it's a plug, but I have no affiliation. They're friends of mine and good DBAs.

If you want to telecommute, especially on a part-time basis, be sure you save the case study link along with any others you come across. A lot of preparation and good evidence that it works will go a long way to convincing your boss to let you try it.

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