What are the top 10 things a Sr DBA should know?

  • Hawkeye_DBA

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4365

    Hi all,

    I haven't posted in here in a millennia … or so it seems! I took a 2 year hiatus from DBA'ing and now am interviewing for a Sr. DBA role at a local firm. I have over 20 years of SQL experience and 10+ years of DBA experience. I need to brush up on a few things though and am looking for ideas from the peanut gallery 😉

    The obvious:

    Backup/Restore

    Security

    Profiling

    Tuning

    I appreciate any and all feedback!

  • Phil Parkin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 244733

    DevOps would be another area I'd suggest.

    If the answer to your question can be found with a brief Google search, please perform the search yourself, rather than expecting one of the SSC members to do it for you.
    See https://www.sqlservercentral.com/articles/forum-etiquette-how-to-post-datacode-on-a-forum-to-get-the-best-help/ for details of how to post T-SQL code-related questions.

  • Hawkeye_DBA

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4365

    While I appreciate your sentiment, and I of course already did that, I thought I'd approach our community to see what others felt was important, not just some regurgitated blog post.

    Thanks

     

  • Phil Parkin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 244733

    Hawkeye_DBA wrote:

    While I appreciate your sentiment, and I of course already did that, I thought I'd approach our community to see what others felt was important, not just some regurgitated blog post.

    Thanks

    I assume that was directed at me. I also assume that you were referring to my signature, which, of course, is not directed at any one person in particular, and not to the actual content of my message.

    If the answer to your question can be found with a brief Google search, please perform the search yourself, rather than expecting one of the SSC members to do it for you.
    See https://www.sqlservercentral.com/articles/forum-etiquette-how-to-post-datacode-on-a-forum-to-get-the-best-help/ for details of how to post T-SQL code-related questions.

  • Mr. Brian Gale

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 23165

    Unfortunately, the only reply I see is Phil's latest one.  The one before that was flagged as SPAM.

    But Phil is well known on this forum, so I doubt his reply was actually SPAM.

    But to me, the things you listed are the skills a DBA should have, not specifically a senior DBA.  Even a junior DBA should be able to handle backup and restore and I know database developers that know how to profile (extended events and profiler).

    My opinion, a Sr. DBA should have years of experience under his or her belt and should be able to do all of the basics as well as mentor the Jr's to get to a higher level.  On top of that, you should be able to handle disaster situations and be available on-call.  You should be able to defend your RTO and RPO to the upper management. You are likely going to be the first one called in the event of a disaster and going to be accountable in the event the RTO and RPO cannot be met.  Plus all the other fun things that come with DR.  You should be able to recommend new tools, products, and services to help improve their databases, their  monitoring, their development, etc.  You should be aware of the features in the newer versions of the databases and know how to implement them, or at the very least, know where to reliably research it to determine if it is a good fit for that company.

    On top of the above, it depends on which company you go with.  It MIGHT be that the company you are applying to expects you to be a BI expert and a database developer and know how to write C# all on top of the DBA work.  Or they may want you to ONLY be a DBA and not touch any development work.  You may be the OS admin as well as the SQL Server admin in which case you should know a bit about networking, firewalls, windows updates, etc.

    I really wish I could see Phil's response so I'd know if I am just repeating what he said or if I was actually adding new content :/.

  • Phil Parkin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 244733

    Brian, thanks for the vote of confidence.

    Despite obviously having the desire to suggest that the OP consider purchasing from Nike's latest product line, instead I suggested that adding 'DevOps' to their list would be a worthwhile idea.

    And that is about all my message contained. Your post is much more expansive and well thought-out.

    If the answer to your question can be found with a brief Google search, please perform the search yourself, rather than expecting one of the SSC members to do it for you.
    See https://www.sqlservercentral.com/articles/forum-etiquette-how-to-post-datacode-on-a-forum-to-get-the-best-help/ for details of how to post T-SQL code-related questions.

  • Hawkeye_DBA

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4365

    Thank you both for your responses. I did not mean to mark your reply as spam, there was something odd posted under it, I thought that was what I flagged.

    Anyway, yes, DevOps is a good idea, and Brian, your list is very helpful for me getting my head around what to present at an interview.

    With so many years of experience it is tough to determine what the 'best' things are to put forward. Since I've been away from it for almost 2 years in a developer role I just wanted to refresh my old memory and concentrate on things that seem the most relevant right now. I know Azure and AWS is huge, unfortunately I have very little experience in that arena.

    I really like the viewpoint that the Sr DBA is a mentor, planner, and all around leader for database initiatives. Every place is a bit different, you're both spot on. I never had a singular role, so DBA for me meant literally, everything.

    Thanks again, sorry for my accidental marking!

    Cheers

     

  • Lynn Pettis

    SSC Guru

    Points: 442359

    Mr. Brian Gale wrote:

    Unfortunately, the only reply I see is Phil's latest one.  The one before that was flagged as SPAM.

    But Phil is well known on this forum, so I doubt his reply was actually SPAM.

    But to me, the things you listed are the skills a DBA should have, not specifically a senior DBA.  Even a junior DBA should be able to handle backup and restore and I know database developers that know how to profile (extended events and profiler).

    My opinion, a Sr. DBA should have years of experience under his or her belt and should be able to do all of the basics as well as mentor the Jr's to get to a higher level.  On top of that, you should be able to handle disaster situations and be available on-call.  You should be able to defend your RTO and RPO to the upper management. You are likely going to be the first one called in the event of a disaster and going to be accountable in the event the RTO and RPO cannot be met.  Plus all the other fun things that come with DR.  You should be able to recommend new tools, products, and services to help improve their databases, their  monitoring, their development, etc.  You should be aware of the features in the newer versions of the databases and know how to implement them, or at the very least, know where to reliably research it to determine if it is a good fit for that company.

    On top of the above, it depends on which company you go with.  It MIGHT be that the company you are applying to expects you to be a BI expert and a database developer and know how to write C# all on top of the DBA work.  Or they may want you to ONLY be a DBA and not touch any development work.  You may be the OS admin as well as the SQL Server admin in which case you should know a bit about networking, firewalls, windows updates, etc.

    I really wish I could see Phil's response so I'd know if I am just repeating what he said or if I was actually adding new content :/.

    I would disagree with one thing: You should be able to defend your RTO and RPO to the upper management. DBAs should not be dictating the RTO/RPO.  That should be a business decision where the DBA should be consulted and their opinion solicited and considered.

    I had a heated discussion with network services at a previous employer when they moved to a new tape library system and they were going from changing tapes daily to weekly.  With that change I was pushing hard to get at least one file server off-site where I could write copies of backup files should a disaster strike in the server room and destroy the tape library system.

    I got my off-site file server.

    I basically told them that I was not going to explain to the CFO we lost a weeks worth of data because of a decision made by Network Services because of an upgrade in hardware. RTO/RPO are not just a part of a simple DR strategy but also a Business Continuity strategy.

  • BrainDonor

    SSCoach

    Points: 19234

    Lynn's post leads on to another aspect of Senior DBA - dealing with people.

    The higher you climb up the food-chain, the more your people skills become important. You have to deal with a variety of 'grades' of people as a Senior DBA, be able to communicate at an appropriate level and deal with the difficult discussions that can result.

    It's an unfortunate truth that the better you get at a skill, the more removed from it you can become. Just knowing the technical aspects isn't necessarily enough.

    Steve Hall
    Linkedin
    Blog Site

  • Grant Fritchey

    SSC Guru

    Points: 396692

    Phil suggested DevOps, which I heartily, vociferously, and vigorously agree with.

    For some reason it was marked as Spam. I unmarked it.

    I'll add PowerShell. Automate all the things.

    Also, you said tuning, which is fine, but, I'd argue, as strongly as for DevOps, that a modern, senior level, DBA-type, should be using Extended Events. So learn that too. You need it for all new functionality any way.

    ----------------------------------------------------
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...
    Theodore Roosevelt

    The Scary DBA
    Author of: SQL Server 2017 Query Performance Tuning, 5th Edition and SQL Server Execution Plans, 3rd Edition
    Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software

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