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Advice about how to educate non technical bosses on new job


Advice about how to educate non technical bosses on new job

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pharmkittie
pharmkittie
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Say you're the new DBA and the non-technical management has the junior network administrator installing and configuring new database servers instead of you. How would you handle it? The junior network administrator has been there for almost a year and has an iron fist on all systems. There haven't been any databases servers before (they were using Access). She was only going to give me a shared drive to put my SQL on and thought I could run my code and administer the databases from there (unbelievable). I finally have sa access now but cannot configure SSRS without local admin access to the server.

I'm hoping for some advice on how to handle this. The bosses don't know anything about the difference between databases (Access vs. SQL Server) and are just deciding based on her seniority and dominance (she's the loudest because I don't want to scream). When she can't do something she has her husband come in and do it. He's not a DBA but he can click the "Next" button to install SQL Server and has some other general IT skills. So she and the husband are the only ones who know the domain administrator passwords. This is in a large non profit corporation.

I know I should quit but I just left a good job with a bad commute to take this job. Other than this its a good situation. Thanks for reading, I know this isn't an advice column and I may get flamed but I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas. I can get in to the o/s via powershell but I don't want to "break in" to my own DB servers.

Thanks!
dan-572483
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I undersand what you're going through. While my fellow DBA and I have admin access to all the servers we need, it is not unusual for a network engineer in our organization to install SQL Server somewhere without our knowledge and we learn about it only when there's a problem, leaving it up to us to reconfigure the instance the way it should have been initially.

Here's my non-technical explanation:

When installing SQL Server there are many options that can be selected and decisions that can be made. If one just clicks Next all the way through accepting all the defaults the applications will probably work initially, but it is likely not installed in such a way that offers the best performance, flexibity, security and reliability. Some non-optimum configuration options are difficult to correct down the road when users are depending on the databases to perform their jobs.

If you want database applications to function as quickly, reliabley and securely as possible with a miniumum amount of downtime if something does go wrong, a person with DBA knowlege and experience should perform the installation.
pharmkittie
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Thanks dan-572483, I will give your answer a try. It sounds good.
Grant Fritchey
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It's pretty standard to not have domain admin and sometimes not even machine admin. But, you have to have enough privileges to set up the things you need to set up. Best thing to do, go and talk to them. Make it clear you don't want to have full access, but show, through documentation, that you don't have adequate privs now. Also, any time you can't do something, and be sure you really can't do it, then just let your boss know, "Oops. Hit a snag. Limit on privs. I'm on to another task." They're going to wonder why you don't have necessary access.

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pharmkittie
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Thanks but I told the junior network admin (jna) that I'm not asking for domain admin, just local admin. I need to be able to set up SSRS, transactional replication, and to maintain uptime of transactional replication.

I came from a position where the network admin was very knowledgeable yet, when it came to the database boxes, he gave me local admin access and had me apply updates and be responsible for DB uptime. It was a 24/7 operation and we were audited annually for SOX and HIPAA compliance. My new place isn't 24/7, at least not yet. The jna wants to set up replication (because she heard me talk about it), despite never having done it before. She is somewhat of a megalomaniac in that she won't admit that she shouldn't do everything. The bosses are clueless about who should be doing what.

The jna says she hates to code so she wants me to do all coding yet she thinks setting up and maintaining replication wouldn't involve any code. I suppose she or her husband could set it up by using the GUI but it's silly to have her and hubbie do it when I am DBA. This place makes my head hurt. I'm also doing web development here so I've just been developing that on my own box with my own SQL Server, IIS, Apache, Tomcat, etc. so that I have enough privileges to get everything set up. That way I can avoid the restrictions until I have enough traction to get the privilege situation changed.
David Benoit
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Heh - when I read the title of this post the first time I thought it said "eradicate" not "educate". :-P

David

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Sean Lange
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I would try talking to the network admin on a one to one basis. Be understanding (remember they are a junior network admin). This is where you get to interview them. Make a list of things you want/need to have installed/configured. If she is still unwilling to turn over the reigns then what you have to go is play along. Stay very friendly at all costs. Ask for changes on an ongoing and nearly continual basis. Do everything you can to make sure the technical ability of this person will be far surpassed. Ask for things like mirroring and replication that will be WAY over their head. Find a way to make sure you can cause something to fail that she can't do without help. All kinds of things that require elevated privileges. Make sure that you email these requests and cc the boss so it is clear that you are waiting on something to be done that you could do yourself. It won't take long before she concedes and gives you the access you need to do your job.

Remember above everything else this is a junior person and therefore likely thinks she can wear every hat, even the ones she doesn't understand.

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Ok, a more serious reply than my previous one.

Honesty is critical here. You can't make it about a person or that becomes a conflict. You can make it about the position. Sit down with the boss and with the jna and see what they actually expect of you. Maybe your perception going into this job was different than what they expected. Share with them what you expect a DBA to be doing. If there isn't an agreement on what the expectations are then work through getting those clarified. If you find at the end of that conversation that this isn't the role that you thought it would be, then you have some decisions to make. If there is a willingness to adjust these responsibilities to the appropriate person, then you can start in that effort. Again, honesty and openness and it can't be a person issue.

Hope things work better for you.

David

@SQLTentmaker

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” - Jim Elliot
Mark Eckeard
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I'd have major concerns if they were the only ones that knew those passwords and why someone (her husband) outside the department/group (I'm assuming) is coming in and gaining access to the servers. Would he be liable if something went wrong while he was helping?

All of these posts should give you some ideas about the best approach. Just keep it honest and straight forward w/o coming off as power hungry and see where it goes.

Mark



Jeff Moden
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Sean Lange (12/13/2013)
I would try talking to the network admin on a one to one basis. Be understanding (remember they are a junior network admin). This is where you get to interview them. Make a list of things you want/need to have installed/configured. If she is still unwilling to turn over the reigns then what you have to go is play along. Stay very friendly at all costs. Ask for changes on an ongoing and nearly continual basis. Do everything you can to make sure the technical ability of this person will be far surpassed. Ask for things like mirroring and replication that will be WAY over their head. Find a way to make sure you can cause something to fail that she can't do without help. All kinds of things that require elevated privileges. Make sure that you email these requests and cc the boss so it is clear that you are waiting on something to be done that you could do yourself. It won't take long before she concedes and gives you the access you need to do your job.

Remember above everything else this is a junior person and therefore likely thinks she can wear every hat, even the ones she doesn't understand.


I'll also add that you need to document the hell out of everything, good and bad, and it can't be on any of the machines at work.

--Jeff Moden

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