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Thoughts on Being a DBA


September 28, 2009 by Mike Hillwig

I’ve been working as a DBA for about five years now, and here are a few observations I’ve made. These are pretty random.

  • Most performance tuning issues are caused by bad design
  • Vendors should have a DBA on staff to work with their developers
  • I spend more time fighting with vendor database issues than things developed in-house
  • Arguing with developers keeps your skills sharp
  • Triggers are not my friend
  • Implementing new systems is much more fun than babysitting existing systems
  • I spend more time babysiting existing systems
  • It helps to understand the application before diving into the data
  • If you don’t understand the business, the data is meaningless
  • Having a friend who is a business analyst can be helpful. They can explain what the application is trying to do.
  • Vendors rarely comment their stored procedure and trigger code
  • It helps to have a plan for when things go bump in the night.
  • Things eventually DO go bump in the night
  • Developers always want to use the latest and greatest technology. There is something to be said for that.
  • There is also something to be said for using proven, stable technologies.


  1. Tim Mitchell says:

    Mike, good list, and I concur. I’d put “If you don’t understand the business, the data is meaningless” at the top of the list.

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