DBA Value

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 716659

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item DBA Value

  • majorbloodnock

    SSCrazy Eights

    Points: 9267

    I think there is a hierarchy of requirements that stem from what a company sees as its fundamental needs for IT. As an example, a CEO may decide one of the company's aims is to know its customers better, and will see a CRM application as a means to get there. The IT department will see the app needs a database underneath it, and that both app and database need servers to sit on, and then that the servers will need a network OS to support them, and a network over which to communicate.

    My experience has generally been that, whilst market forces fluctuate the cost of rare skills a little, the further someone's job is away from the company's fundamental stated need, the lower the level of remuneration. OK, it's a little simplistic, but a network, no matter how well designed, can never actually add value for the business; it can merely reduce costs. However, an application/database pair does have the ability to add value, so the company's much more ready to spend on people directly related to that pair. And if someone understands two or more of the necessary areas (e.g. a DBA who is also an acceptable programmer), the company will start spouting buzzwords like "synergy" and "integration", and will value that person all the more.

    In short, how important a person is to a business doesn't determine how much they're paid so much as how well the decision makers in that business recognise why that person's job is important. Visibility, not utility.

    Semper in excretia, sumus solum profundum variat

  • Loner

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 21279

    Unfortunately most companies especially medium size companies do not think that way. They hire SQL developers and they are doing DBA duties which sometimes lead to disaster. However most companies just cannot afford to hire a full time DBA especially at this economic hard time. They want to hire someone that can do DBA work, SQL developers, .NET, C#......practically everything under the sun.:exclamation:

  • blandry

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4761

    "Visual Studio and development tools are different, and I know quite a few DBAs that are lost within those environments."

    A DBA who does not know VS? That's a DBA? I oversee staff for four companies (part of our corporate org) and I have never hired any "DBA" who simply knows SQL Server. Our companies could not run, let alone stay in business with such staff.

    To me, that is like a carpenter hiring a "hammer specialist". You build a house with a great deal more than just hammering nails - no matter how good you might be at hammer nails.

    Maybe my thinking is this way because I came up in computing from the late 70's when you had to know it "all", and I must admit I am shocked at times these days when I interview or talk to young people who "specialize" in something so narrow that I am left wondering what these people do with the rest of their employment time. I have yet to see a DBA who truly needs 40 hours a week to monitor and maintain SQL Databases and operations - but maybe I am missing something - maybe our companies just run well because I have very talented people.

    There are three DBAs that I oversee and I have incredible respect for each of them - they do a great job for us. But one of them is also one of the best VS/C#/VB.NET developers I have ever come across, and the other two are pretty good in the VS world as well.

    I think this boils down (yet again) to the great unanswered question: What is a DBA? If that's a Database Administrator, well, how can you administrate a database without knowledge of the tools used to tap-in and utilize the very database you are supposed to be administrating?

    Again, to me, that would be like hiring a general contractor to build you a house and then have the same guy pick up a hammer and ask "Hey, what is this thing?".

    There's no such thing as dumb questions, only poorly thought-out answers...
  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 716659

    Blandry, I think it depends on what you're trying to achieve. I have development experience, but I'd be a low, intermediate developer at best in terms of coding skill and speed. However I understand how to put applications together and how to get data back they can use.

    I'm also a strong administrator from the Windows side. I'm comfortable working in an AD environment and understand networking. That's incredibly valuable for troubleshooting and has saved me (and the company) a few times.

    I'm not sure I think a DBA needs to be a great programmer. Unless you're asking them to check that code or watch out for CLR assemblies coming in.

  • Joe Johnson-482549

    SSC Eights!

    Points: 865

    "I think this boils down (yet again) to the great unanswered question: What is a DBA? If that's a Database Administrator, well, how can you administrate a database without knowledge of the tools used to tap-in and utilize the very database you are supposed to be administrating?"

    I whole-heartedly agree. I have seen DBA's that cannot develop and they have no idea how to help people optimize their code to take the best advantage of the platform they administrate. I would rather have someone who is a little more well-rounded (not necessarily in their mid-section).

    Regards,

    Joe

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 716659

    Hey, I'm starting to resemble that remark. :w00t:

  • OCTom

    SSChampion

    Points: 11755

    I have never worked in an organization big enough where the DBA was only that. The DBA has had to to other things. The DBA is usually combined with the server admin. or programming roles; sometimes all three together.

    The problem with this approach is that no one can be expert in all of them so one role suffers. It's very difficult to place a monetary value on the DBA role in the small shop environment. The value comes in the performance, consistency, and quality of the database.

  • Chris Campbell-415954

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2248

    Years (and jobs) ago, an interoffice joke circulated that was a list of IT Terminology. The only one I remember from it was the definition of "DBA":

    "No one knows exactly what the DBA does but every company has to have one because they can't afford two."

    Nuff said?

  • Ian Massi

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5931

    I think a good part of the premium that is applied to a DBA's salary versus a developer is that the DBA is also an insurance policy againt data loss. If a disaster strikes, you may call in some developers to help bring things online but the DBA is going to have to ensure all the data is in place.

  • David Reed-223505

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2456

    I've worked as a people manager for more than one executive who had a severe allergy to single-purpose employees (especially DBAs and data architects). Even when I knew that I was hiring Person X to be a DBA, s/he had to be a stealth DBA and be able to demonstrate more skills (at least in conversations with executive management) beyond DBA-ness. Career karma being what it is, it may be my turn @ the next job to be the data dude with other skills....

  • Gail Shaw

    SSC Guru

    Points: 1004446

    blandry (11/11/2008)


    A DBA who does not know VS? That's a DBA? I oversee staff for four companies (part of our corporate org) and I have never hired any "DBA" who simply knows SQL Server. Our companies could not run, let alone stay in business with such staff.

    Depends on the company and the IT setup. At the place I used to work there were 7 full time DBAs. Of them, I was the only one from a dev background and I didn't do anything other than SQL development while I was there. We admin'd 400 or so database servers, a mixture of SQL, Oracle and Sybase and there was always quite enough admin work to go around. From monitoring jobs, backups and performance (and the paperwork required for that) to upgrades, new installations, troubleshooting problems and optimising there was more work than hands to do it. The company also had a dev team of 10 or so C# and web developers.

    I'm not lost in VS, but I barely use it. If I open VS once a fortnight it's a lot, and that's mostly for SSIS and reporting services. I can develop, but my skills in that area are very rusty due to lack of use.

    Maybe my thinking is this way because I came up in computing from the late 70's when you had to know it "all", and I must admit I am shocked at times these days when I interview or talk to young people who "specialize" in something so narrow that I am left wondering what these people do with the rest of their employment time.

    The thing is, the fields are so wide now that I doubt it's possible for someone to know everything about SQL Server (from the DB engine, through Analysis services, Integration services and reporting services) let alone everything about SQL and two or three other areas.

    Gail Shaw
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
    SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

    We walk in the dark places no others will enter
    We stand on the bridge and no one may pass
  • Michael Valentine Jones

    SSC Guru

    Points: 64818

    I think the simple answer is supply and demand. It is easy enough to get someone who can click around in the tools and get stuff done without doing too much damage. It’s not so easy to find someone who can make sure that you can depend of having your servers up, secure, optimized, backed up, and ready to recover from a disaster. Throw in the ability to work with developers to show them how to optimize queries and design a database, and you have someone with real value. In my experience, full capability database administrators are in far shorter supply than developers with some admin experience. As with anything else, short supply and high demand drive the price up.

  • katedgrt

    Ten Centuries

    Points: 1197

    Joe Johnson (11/11/2008)


    " I have seen DBA's that cannot develop and they have no idea how to help people optimize their code to take the best advantage of the platform they administrate."

    This is the type of DBA that the appellation 'Don't Bother Asking' applies to.

    😎 Kate The Great :w00t:
    If you don't have time to do it right the first time, where will you find time to do it again?

  • DPhillips-731960

    Hall of Fame

    Points: 3904

    GilaMonster (11/11/2008)

    The thing is, the fields are so wide now that I doubt it's possible for someone to know everything about SQL Server (from the DB engine, through Analysis services, Integration services and reporting services) let alone everything about SQL and two or three other areas.

    I agree. Although, I am also a developer, and understand what many are saying here, to me it only shows that not many really understand the value of a DBA or what a great DBA does.

    The saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

    I have literally seen businesses crippled by the very core products that DEV without DBA produced... to the tune of 100's of millions in lost revenue or market potential over a span of less than 5 years.

    How much does a great DBA cost? Even at 100K+/year, the benefits of a great DBA far outweigh the cost of one. My experience is that someone who is primarily DEV and filling in a DBA is doing niether very well. For those water-wise out there, it is much akin to a "motor-sailor"... a boat that has both a significant motor and is a sail boat... it does both, yes, but it does neither very well. It will win NO contests in either category, and will take one where one wants to go only half as fast as something trained for the right purpose.

    True you may have DBA's that have a little down time, but those that have a lot of down-time are not doing the job to the best of ability or lack the knowledge or skills to so do.

    Do things work without a DBA? Sure... things run badly for a good long time... just like many of the vehicles I have owned. Some have cost me more than they were worth, and have saved me neither money nor time.

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