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How Do You Work When You are Not at Work?

By Brad McGehee,

Most of us DBAs don’t work in a standard 40-hour a week job. We often have to work late, work weekends, and be on call just in case a problem arises. If you’ve been a DBA for a really long time, you still remember the days before the Internet, VPN connections, and cell phones. Back then, many DBAs carried a pager when on call, or took phone calls over a land line. In many cases, the only way to resolve the problem was to physically go into the office and check out the problem in person, no matter what time of the day it was.

Today, with modern conveniences such as the Internet, VPN connections, smart phones and, more recently, tablet computers, how we work when we are not at work has changed. For example, if we get an e-mail or phone call that a database or server has a problem, we can generally connect directly to the server and, in many cases, resolve the problem remotely, saving us the trouble and hassle of going into work.

So my first question to you is, when you are away from work and a database-related problem occurs, how are you generally notified? Do you still carry a pager? Do you receive an e-mail message? Does someone give you a call on your cell phone or land line?

Secondly, once you’ve been alerted, how do you generally connect to your servers to see what is going on? Do you use a smartphone, a tablet computer, a netbook/laptop/desktop computer?

And third, how often can you typically resolve the problem remotely, and how often do you still have to come into the office to fix things?

I have spoken to many DBAS and have heard many different answer these questions, but I’m always interesting in hearing more. So please, share with us how you work when you are not a work; I imagine we can all learn a lot from your experiences.

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