What Counts for a DBA: Preparation

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While preparing for this career as an editor, my mind went to the joys of sitting at a computer editing documents. I expected this to include checking articles for technical accuracy, and proper English, formatting documents to meet the website standard, and posting the documents. I just knew that many of the firefighting skills I needed when doing administration and deployment duties would be gone. 

However, there is still an ever-present need to be prepared when things go awry (like when a one-week vacation turns into much longer due to the germs that roam this earth looking for a short-term residence. One of the most significant differences between my prep now and then is just how important it is. 

You probably don’t realize just how important you are as a DBA. The data you manage is the lifeblood of one or more business processes. If that data disappears completely, some parts of your employer’s procedures would need to be completely rebooted. For example, say all the data in your product sales database was deleted. Some sales would be lost, and the history of the sales that had been made would be lost. Which is a bit more critical than if a post goes missing for a day or two from the website. (Unless you were the author who expected the post to happen!) 

Your importance is primarily tied to how prepared you are for the fires that may or may not ever occur. Whether by luck or providence, some organizations never have a significant failure of a system. But if you ask their DBA (and system administrators), most of those organizations would tell you that they never had a failure because as they prepared for a future catastrophic event, their systems became more and more safe for the everyday things that typically happen. (And thankfully, their, or their cloud host’s, data centers had never been destroyed by the hurricane that they practiced for year after year.) 

All of this pertains to you whether, as Monica Rathbun used to speak about a lot (and wrote about here on Simple-Talk in 2018), you are the sole DBA for an organization or part of a team. As part of a team, you may have a lot of support in place, but in larger groups, the dynamics of being prepared differ (especially in that sometimes one person thinks the other is handling something but is not. 

Either way, as a DBA, being prepared is more than taking backups and making sure they restore. It is about being ready for anything and everything. Really, it is your entire job, other than all the other tasks you have to do.