DBA 101: Best Practices Every DBA Should Know
• With the continued popularity of SQL Server, more
and more people are becoming SQL Server DBAs,
whether they planned to or not.
• Many new DBAs come from the development side,
while others come for the IT/networking side.
• What these new DBAs have in common is a lack of a
basic knowledge of what it really means to be a DBA.
• In this session, you will learn the basics of what it
means to be a DBA, with pointers on how to make
becoming a DBA a smart career choice.
My assumptions about you
• You currently aren’t a DBA, but are interested in
• You are a part-time or accidental DBA, and you want
to find out more about the career of DBA.
• If you are a DBA, and you want to learn how to
advance in your career as a DBA.
Our approach for today
• Let’s make this session highly interactive with lots of
give and take.
– Feel free to ask questions at any time.
– Feel free to offer your opinion at any time.
– Feel free to tell us about your experiences.
– Feel free to disagree with me, but promise you will explain why you
Here is what we are going to discuss today
• Benefits of Becoming a DBA
• What Exactly is a DBA?
• What Do DBA’s Do?
• Specializing as a DBA: You Can’t Do It All
• Characteristics of the Successful DBA
• Honing Your Skill Set
• Is Professional Certification Really Necessary
• Participate in the SQL Server Community
• Manage Your Career, Don’t Let it Manage You
Benefits of becoming a DBA
• Why should anyone want to become a DBA?
– DBAs earn from US $60,521 to $102,933 per year on average
– Developers earn from US $47,911 to $74,626 per year on average
– Network administrators earn from US $45,555 to $75,032 per year
• Data from www.salary.com as of May 2008. Assumes moderately
experienced to very experienced personnel.
– DBAs tend to be the last laid off during company lay offs, and are
less likely to be outsourced.
– Experienced DBA’s opinions are often considered highly valuable
by management. They often influence major IT decisions.
– Because DBAs are usually held in high esteem at most
organizations, this often gives them a higher probability for
advancement into management.
– Being a DBA often affords you the opportunity to travel; to work for
small and big organizations, or to be a consultant
What exactly is a DBA?
• A DBA (Database Administrator) is an IT Professional
who is responsible for the ongoing operations of an
organization’s databases and the applications that
access the databases.
• The position encompasses many different job
functions and job titles, and these vary widely from
one organization to the next.
• In short, there is no "standard job description" to
which a DBA can refer. This is partly because the job
title of DBA doesn’t have a long history and partly
because the functions of the DBA are quickly
Typical DBA tasks #1
• Archiving Data
• Attending Meetings
• Application Integration
• Backup and Recovery
• Business Intelligence/Data Warehousing
• Capacity Planning
• Database Application Development
• Database Modeling and Database Design
• Developing and Maintaining Best Practices
Typical DBA tasks #2
• High Availability
• Installing, Configuring, and Upgrading SQL Server
• Installing and Configuring Hardware and OS
• Load Balancing
• Maintaining Documentation
• Managing People
• Managing SQL Server-based Applications
• Managing Test Environments
Typical DBA tasks #3
• Needs/Requirements Analysis
• Performance Tuning
• Project Management
• Protector of the Data
• Report Writing
• Running (and Creating) Jobs
Typical DBA tasks #4
• Training Users
• Troubleshooting (fighting fires)
• Working with Teammates
Specializing as a DBA: you can’t do it all
• Choose one of the following specialty areas:
– DBA Administrator
– DBA High Availability Specialist
– DBA Database Designer/Architect
– DBA Developer
– DBA Business Intelligence Specialist
– DBA SSIS Specialist
– DBA Reporting Specialist
– Among others
– Many of the above overlap
Characteristics of successful DBAs #1
• Enjoys Technology
• Enjoys Challenges
• Enjoys Problem Solving
• Good with Details
• Embraces Change
• Enjoys Learning
• Accepts Responsibility
• Maintains Professionalism
Honing your skill set
• Formal education
• Gaining technical skills
• Getting experience
• Mastering DBA soft skills
Becoming a successful DBA includes a blend of skill sets
that can be gained in many different ways
• Very few educational institutions offers degrees in
• In most cases, the best formal foundation to become
a DBA is a degree in IT Management, Computer
Science, or Application Development.
• There are many successful DBAs who don’t have a
degree in the above, but who have other four-year
• Most employers will substitute a four-year degree in
computers for related job experience.
Gaining technical skills
• Most DBAs are self taught, and have little or no
formal training in database administration. Options
– Formal classroom training (college credit or non-credit)
– Seminars and workshops (1-5 day events)
– SQL Server/Code Camps
– Online training
– Attending user groups
– Self-study by reading books and practicing on your own
– Magazines and other publications
– Websites, blogs, forums, RSS feeds
– Learning on demand (looking up what you need to know in BOL or
the Internet as the need arises
• Practical experience as a DBA is the key to not only becoming a
successful DBA, but also to finding DBA jobs.
• As with most careers, gaining experience is the hardest obstacle
people must overcome.
• Some options include:
– Find an entry-level DBA job that doesn’t require experience.
– Volunteer for DBA-related work at your current job, gaining it as you can.
– Try to transfer to a DBA-related job when available. Hopefully previous
experience with your company will demonstrate your ability to take on such
a new job.
– Accidently falling into a DBA position. This happens more often than you
think, especially when SQL Servers are installed in your company and there
is no part-time or full-time DBA to manage the SQL Servers.
Mastering DBA soft skills
• Mastering soft skills is just as important as learning
SQL Server technical skills. Key skills include:
– People skills
– Teamwork skills
– Leadership skills
– Project management
– Time management
– Writing skills
– Speaking skills
– Knowledge of legal responsibilities
Is professional certification really necessary?
• According to Microsoft, as of early 2008:
– 149,590 people have received the SQL Server 2000 MCDBA
certification (to be phased out in early 2009)
– 24,939 people have received the MCTS: SQL Server 2005
certification (one test required)
– 801 people have received the MCTS: Business Intelligence
certification (one test required)
– 4,006 people have received the MCITP: Database
Administrator certification (three tests required)
– 1,596 people have received the MCITP: Database
Developer certification (three tests required)
When SQL Server 2008 is released, the certification options will change somewhat
Is professional certification really necessary?
• While you don’t have to have professional
certification to be a successful DBA, it does provide
– Helps to focus your training efforts
– Broadens your knowledge
– Distinguishes you from other DBAs
– Some organizations require DBAs to be certified
– Helps when you lack practical experience
– Company recognition and rewards
– Peer recognition
– Needed to become a Microsoft Certified Trainer
– Microsoft gives you some benefits (You become an MCP)
Participate in the SQL Server community
• There are many benefits to participating and
contributing to the SQL Server community. They
– Increase your depth of knowledge
– Make new contacts
– It’s fun to help others
– Help’s build your resume of professional experience
– Critical, if you ever want to be considered as a Microsoft MVP
How to participate in the SQL Server community
• Participate in forums and news groups
• Write and share scripts
• Join and participate in a local and national user’s
• Speak at SQL Server events, both local and national
• Write articles or books
• Write a blog
• Create a SQL Server-related website
Manage your career, don’t let it manage you
• If you find that you enjoy DBA work and want to make
it your career, consider the following:
– Take control of your career, don’t let it just happen to you.
– Decide what you want from your career, and take actions to make it
– Set realistic, short-term goals in order to reach major milestones in
your career plan.
– If you don't follow through with your goals, then nobody else will do
it for them. You need to be self-motivated and ready to take action.
– Realize that career plans and goals can change, and regularly
reevaluate and revise your career path.
• Making a career as a DBA can be a very rewarding
decision for many people.
• My recommendation:
– If becoming a DBA meets your career goals, work hard to become
the best DBA you can become.
– If you are a DBA by accident, and it doesn’t really meet your career
goals, change your job as soon as you can.
– Life is too short to be doing something you don’t enjoy!
Find out more
• Check these out:
– How to Become an Exceptional DBA (free e-book)
• Send questions to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Send broader technical questions to: email@example.com
• For sales questions, go to: www.quest.com
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