Recently Red Gate Software announced their Exceptional DBA awards for 2008 and it’s something I’m a part of, as a judge and an employee of Red Gate. If you want to enter, or think you know someone that you think has done exceptional work, check out the website and nominate a DBA for their efforts.
Database Administration is a tough job, it’s difficult to explain to others, not well understood by many employers, and very under appreciated. These awards are our chance to recognize DBAs as well give them a little limelight and reward, and showcase their efforts for the community. This will hopefully be an annual event and give some recognition to those in the profession for the work they do.
The core of being a DBA is to ensure that a company’s most valuable asset, its data, is secure, protected, and always available. Every DBA needs the skills necessary to keep a production system running without a hitch, and most work hard to not only acquire, but continually improve their abilities to work with SQL Server. DBAs often find themselves “in the void between IT infrastructure and SQL developers”, needing intimate knowledge of SQL Server as well as a firm grasp of networking and development practices. A good DBA has as much knowledge of Windows and servers as he or she does on clustered indexes and query optimization. Those excellent SQL skills need to sit comfortably alongside a sound knowledge of the OS and hardware.
These skills mark out the competent, well-rounded DBA, but what determines an Exceptional DBA? In addition to ensuring the health of a complex set of servers, the exceptional DBA has excellent people skills, equally at home articulating complex technical details to developers and explaining the reasons for disaster recovery to business people in clear, concise language appropriate to either group. He or she has excellent business analysis skills, understanding not only the how and what of some issue, but also the why. As Jeff Moden puts it:
"Truly exceptional DBAs are always looking for better ways to do things, especially with the CFO and CTO, and are constantly anticipating the Reporting and BI needs/requirements of the company … they're actively involved with the multiple heartbeats of whatever company they serve."
An exceptional DBA must also be willing to teach others, whether through mentoring junior DBAs or developers, answering questions in forums such as SQLServerCentral.com, speaking at user groups or conferences, or something else. An exceptional DBA seeks to better the community in some way.
It seems that when a DBA does all of the above, succeeding at their career, their job, and in the community, they’re often not that well known. They don’t “bask in the limelight” as a result of their efforts. Often they toil in the background, keeping servers running, supporting others, and ensuring that data is always available.
The Exceptional DBA awards are a chance to give some real world DBAS, people out there that read this editorial every day as they get ready to start their day of real work, some reward and recognition. If you think that there’s someone you know that’s exceptional, yourself included, nominate them. You have the chance to explain what they’ve done and why they’re worthy of recognition. I, along with 3 other judges, will come up with 5 finalists and the community will get to vote in late August for the winner.
We’ll recognize the winner that the PASS conference in Seattle this November and I know I’m excited to see what some of you have accomplished.
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