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7 habits of highly effective DBAs

12 March,2011 by Tom Collins

In the spirit of lists that seek to define habits practised by effective individual – I decided to list a generalised list for DBAs.

These are based on obseravations of excellent DBAs I’ve met over the years. The intention is to abstract some patterns – to encompass the constantly changing database management environment.

1)Write down everything  - Every solution you work on , document how you solved the problem and the lesson learnt. If it’s a repeatable task – delegate it or outsource

2)Read all the product documentation – again and again. Every version that comes out has a set of documentation. There are a phenomenal amount of problems in forums that could quickly be solved by  reading the product documentation

3)Systems SLAs- define clearly the expectations of every aspect of the database server you are managing. For example, a failed SQL Server agent job that collects performance snapshot is not as a high priority as an unplanned database downtime

4)Capacity planning expert  - Strive to understand future requirements and build in to the database management process

5)Performance Tuning – Take the time to develop a systems based approach to performance tuning. Master the application stack – for example , SAN > Network > OS > SQL Server > Application. It is not enough  just to know about SQL Server

6)Communication  - Verbal and written skills must be excellent. As the DBA you are often communicating with technical staff and management. Guide to Plain English

7)Task orientation – Reuse of components can create a standardised platform. For example, in  implementing Database Mail – you do not need to be an expert on SMTP , or have to develop a custom module

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Author: Tom Collins (


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