An Origin Story for a DBA Anti-Hero

If you’re old enough, you may well remember the burst of sheer joy at ripping the wrapping paper from a Christmas gift to reveal a ‘Lone Ranger’ costume. “Who was that masked man?” we imagined our friends gasping, in envy and surprise, as we swaggered out of the room, sporting cowboy hat, silver gun and waistcoat, Deputy Badge and mask!

It was with such happy memories that we introduced Joe Celko as one of the stars of our DBA Team series of articles, on the Redgate website, along with Paul Randal, Robyn Page, Phil Factor, Jonathan Kehayias, Sander Stad, Steve Jones and Grant Fritchey. The DBA Team series takes an affectionate look at American Television, in its unlikely portrayal of DBAs as action heroes, writing database wrongs, and dealing with villainy, whilst being pursued relentlessly by the fictional ‘Federal RPA’ (Relational Protection Agency), headed by Celko and eager to arrest our heroes on charges of crimes against relational theory.

Our brief from Red Gate’s marketing team, at the start of 2014, was to base the series on the of the old ’80’s TV series, the A-Team. We were sceptical. Surely, the A-Team was just a stereotypical, testosterone-fuelled slice of dreadful 80’s bombast, where every plotline was essentially the same? How could we possibly string that out over an entire year!?

Six months later, we’d struggled determinedly through three episodes but were in danger of running out of steam. We needed some new ideas, some extra creative spark. In short, we needed new heroes: A Lone Ranger, a Tonto, masked and pistols blazing, with whom the audience could identify. Or, perhaps a classic comic book anti-hero? The Hulk, or Judge Dredd. These were outsiders with extreme but solid belief systems, whose hearts were in the right place and yet who were conflicted characters, capable of extreme violence against those who disagreed with, or failed to understand, their code of ethics.

Celko of the Federal RPA fit the ‘anti-hero’ bill perfectly. He is a man in black, remorseless in pursuit of SQL orthodoxy. He has an ID, a badge and a citation book! He was a man on a mission.

In honor of the series, and as a Christmas gift, Simple Talk has produced a self-assembly ‘Celko of the RPA’ kit, complete with RPA badge and ID, and a set of citations for crimes against relational databases. It comes as a PDF, but after a little handiwork with scissors, and after donning the obligatory black suit, dark shades and hat, you too can become Celko-of-the-RPA, fighting the good fight for relational correctness, issuing citations and generally causing havoc amongst developers. What better way to celebrate the New Year?

This was a series about the heroic antics of a team of DBAs as they battled various crimes databases. If there were an equivalent series for developers, who would play your heroes and anti-heroes? Leave a comment and be in with the chance of winning a $100 Amazon voucher. Last week’s winner was sdmcnitt.

To all who’ve contributed in some way to Simple-talk in 2014 – thank you! Happy Christmas and very best wishes for 2015.