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When I get stumped I ….

I work with a reasonably large team of DBAs.  There are 9 of us and we support not only 70+ SQL Server instances but DB2, IMS and Sybase.  We have SMEs for each DBMS and we cross train as much as possible, but even so there are some large gaps.  As it happens I’m one of the SMEs for SQL Server but I’m a novice at DB2, and I can barely spell IMS and Sybase.  So what happens when we have a problem and one of the SMEs isn’t available? 

One of my co-workers and I were discussing this yesterday and came up with the idea of creating a document called “When I get stumped I ….”.  In this document each of us will put the general process they use when they get stumped.  In the case of junior DBAs (for whichever DBMS) this tends to be “Call the SME”, but for the SMEs for the DBMS that doesn’t usually work.  Here is an example of what I might put for SQL Server:

  1. Always check help first.  I keep a help file for each version of SQL Server that we maintain.
  2. Google search (I prefer Google to Bing, Yahoo or Ask for technical searches but that’s mostly just a personal preference.)  I’ve found I get the best results with the following search format: “SQL Server SSIS, SSRS, performance, waits, DMVs, etc>
  3. Internal Resources: Names of people who are experts at various parts of SQL Server.  May not be DBAs.  They could be developers,  managers or someone else.
  4. Forums I like:  www.SQLServerCentral.com/Forums for example.

It’s too soon to tell but I have high hopes that this document will be very useful over the long haul.  Certainly next time I have a DB2 or *shudder* an IMS problem I’m going to give it a shot.


My name is Kenneth Fisher and I am Senior DBA for a large (multi-national) insurance company. I have been working with databases for over 20 years starting with Clarion and Foxpro. I’ve been working with SQL Server for 12 years but have only really started “studying” the subject for the last 3. I don’t have any real "specialities" but I enjoy trouble shooting and teaching. Thus far I’ve earned by MCITP Database Administrator 2008, MCTS Database Administrator 2005, and MCTS Database Developer 2008. I’m currently studying for my MCITP Database Developer 2008 and should start in on the 2012 exams next year. My blog is at www.sqlstudies.com.


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