“A good DBA may relax and put his legs on the table”. These words a senior (in age as well as in experience) DBA used to say while he was trying to teach me the basics of administrating databases. He was trying to say that organizing your work and preparing yourself for future catastrophes is the most important part of the job. Only then you are confident to face the surprises Oracle software and the organisation where you work for comes up with.
But as time passes by I disagree with this attitude. In my opinion a good DBA has always work to do. But it’s not always easy to convince your manager you are busy as hell. What ARE you doing all day long, or moreover, what meaningful pro-active contributions you possibly can do for your company to keep the business online? And how can you make it visible to your manager. I´m convinced that in most organisations the attitude towards DBA´s is quite respectfull, but that was and is not always the case and this writing is for those who continuously struggle with the aspects a DBA is doing or is supposed to do.
In this post I’ll try to summarize the deliverables for a DBA as a kind of checklist. Thought about it what base to choose for this kind of list. Had the choice for methods as ITIL, ASL (Application Services Library) ISM (Integrated Service Management), COBIT ( Control Objectives for Information and related Technology) and more. Decided to keep it simple, using a lot of ITIL (v2, cause I’m lost with v3):
- Incident Management
- Configuration Management
- Problem Management
- Change Management
- Release Management
- Continuity Management
- Availability Management
- Service Level Management
- Capacity Management
- Financial Management
Goal: “Restore normal service operation as quickly as possible and minimize the adverse impact on business operations, thus ensuring that the best possible levels of service quality and availability are maintained”
What kind of stuff a DBA can and must do at first sight? Most of it is quite reactive, the goal is obvious: fix-it. Due to things like Database down, database slow, job failures, authorisation failures, storage and so on. And this kind of stuff isn’t just production. However this production could be 24/7 and an incident has always priority 1 and escalating. The other environments has other need for attention: all kind of developers and testers are most of the time quite creative in messing things up.
Goal: “Provide accurate information on configurations and their documentation to support all the other Service Management processes”
Goal: “Minimize the adverse impact of Incidents and Problems on the business that are caused by errors within the IT infrastructure, and to prevent recurrence of Incidents related to these errors“
Change mgmt/ Project mgmt:
Goal: “Ensure that standardized methods and procedures are used for efficient and prompt handling of all Changes, in order to minimize the impact of Change related incidents upon service quality, and consequently to improve the day-to-day operations of the organization“
Goal: “Design and implement efficient procedures for the distribution and installation of Changes to I.T. Systems“
Goal Support the overall Business Continuity Management process by ensuring that the required I.T. technical and service facilities (including computer systems, networks, applications, technical support and Service Desk) can be recovered within required, and agreed, business timescales
Goal Understand the Availability requirements of the business and plan, measure, monitor and continuously improve the Availability of the I.T. Infrastructure, services and supporting organization to ensure that these requirements are met consistently
Service Level Management:
Goal: “Maintain and improve I.T. Service quality, through a constant cycle of agreeing, monitoring and reporting upon I.T. Service achievements and instigation of actions to eradicate poor service – in line with business or cost justification‘
Goal: “Ensure that cost-justifiable I.T. capacity always exists and that it is matched to the current and future needs of the business”
By the way: a substantial amount of capacity is used by backups and the way they are configured. Every day a full backup, compressed, uncompressed ? Think about it in relation to your capacity management.
The same is for logging- and auditing- files. Cleaning scripts, is there a reguirement or legal issue to save them for years?
Goal Provide cost-effective stewardship of the I.T. assets and resources used in providing I.T. Services
- Server consoliditation
- Use of Oracle Standard Edition (One), or even XE. E.g. in the development environment.
- Colocation of your servers
- Database- Software- Infrastructure ‘As A Service’ in the cloud
- Use of OracleVM instead of VMware
- (Oracle)Linux instead of Windows
- Open Source software
Customer Relationship mgmt:
Know who your customers are. Be visible to them if possible through visiting them, or contact them regurarly through mail or reports. Perhaps organising a yearly DBA-day with a look into the future, or publish DBA-newsflashes. It’s the first win of gain understanding of customers when something is going wrong in the future!
Publish / organise a so called ‘engagement model’ with Oracle of who is talking to who on operational, strategic and management level. Let them visit you once in a while to discuss incidents, problems and what the role of the supplier can be in this kind of business.
Visit workshops of the suppliers, for technical reasons, but also for your network.
Get the most out of your support contract, Oracle (support) can be of more use than you think at no costs at all!
- A stable, secure and resilient infrastructure
- A log or database of all operational events, alerts and alarms
- A set of operational scripts
- A resilience and fail-over testing schedule
- A set of operational work schedules
- A set of operational management tools
- Management reports and information
- Exception reviews and reports
- Review and audit reports
- A secure Operational Document Library
But that’s a lot of work for a guy/girl!
And there is where the manager, priorities and time management may kick in.
This may help to priorities the things to be done:
Quadrant I – Activities that are Important and Urgent e.g. Incident Management
Quadrant II – Activities that are Important but not Urgent e.g. Configuration Management
Quadrant III – Activities that are not Important but Urgent
Quadrant IV – Activities that are not Important and not urgent
The task of the manager
1.Rate each focus area
2.Rate the quality of each deliverable
3.Decide what level you want to reach
4.Determine how much work is involved
5.Determine how many DBAs you need
And if you managed to read as this far, you are truly interested or truly desperate. Hope it’s usefull for someone..