Automation for DBAs

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When I began my journey as a DBA, all tasks were manual. It didn’t take long for me to realize that repeating these tasks manually on a daily basis was an incredible time-waster. I looked for tasks that could be … Continue reading

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New Years Resolutions

Happy New Year 2014!

The beginning of the new year brings with it the inevitable list of New Years resolutions. Now we all know that it is easy to make the resolutions……it is much harder to keep them ( just look at the crowds at the gym in January…and how many are around after Valentine’s Day). I will leave the resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, and exercise more, etc. for others to talk about, I will focus on professional resolutions.

My New Years resolutions  (not in any particular order):

1. I will update my database documentation and keep it up-to-date.  I use Microsoft Visio to document the interfaces and how the data flows between the databases. I use Microsoft Excel to create an inventory of the databases and server configuration information. Additionally, all database changes with the date, time and who performed the change are also contained here. What do you use to document your databases?

2. I will read at least one SQL Server blog  every week to keep my knowledge current.  I follow several SQL Server blogs (see the list under blogroll), a PowerShell scripting blog and a rather eclectic list of technology sites. In lieu of reading a blog, watching webinars will satisfy my goal as well.  I am a fan of the content on Brent Ozar’s site, SQL Server Central and There are many more great resources on the web. What sites do you visit regularly? Who are your favorite bloggers?

3. I will write and write and write! This is to keep the momentum going.

What are your New Years resolutions?   Leave me a note and let me know. Happy New Year to all! Make it a great 2014!

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So what is a Prescient DBA?

Welcome to my first blog post. The first of what I hope will be many posts about databases, technology and random thoughts on the use of data in our modern world.

Let’s begin with what is a prescient DBA? The Merriam Webster dictionary defines prescient as
“the ability to know what will or might happen in the future”.

This is definitely a handy special power to have if you are DBA. It is fortunate that you don’t have to be a mythical figure (an oracle – not the Larry Ellison kind!) or depend on magic to become prescient – at least in a technical sense. It requires work to acquire this power of prescience.

So, you ask, how does a DBA show prescience? Well, as a truly “prescient DBA”, you would know:

1. If I try to restore one of my backups, I know it will definitely restore completely and cleanly within the time required.
2. The new stored procedure code I wrote, I know will work fine in production.
3. All parts of the software upgrade I know will work on Monday morning when everyone comes into the office.
4. Users ask for a new report…..which you “knew” they would need, so you starting working on it already.

Let’s look at this short list then.  I know my backups will restore (which by the way, is the reason for doing backups) because I have put processes in place to prevent corrupted backup files and I have tested restoring those backup files before I really need them. So when the worst thing happens, I know my restores will work just fine!

I know the new stored procedure I wrote will work fine in production because I thoroughly tested the stored procedure in the dev environment before it ever saw the light of day in production.

Similarly, I know the new software upgrade we did over the weekend will work for everyone on Monday morning when they arrive in the office because it was first deployed into an isolated test environment. Then each change made by the upgrade, was completely tested before it could be promoted into the production application.

As a prescient DBA, you stay in close contact with your business users – you do don’t you? Because of this you know what their reporting needs are and what the next report they will most likely ask for.

Sorry to say, it does take work now , to become “prescient” later. As I said , no magic involved but it will seem like magic later!

I say, we should all aspire to become a  “prescient DBA” !

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New blog under construction

Please be patient! This is day one of a new blog adventure. New content coming soon.

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