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An Ode to the DBA

Edward Harrison

quill and ink - Clark Young

It has been now quite a few years since I was sitting in school, being pleasantly bored by the works and sonnets of Shakespeare, and failing to grasp the meanings and intricate language he used. Now in hindsight, I realise that I just never understood (or tried to understand) some of the meanings and subtleties in his work. If I had just spent a bit more time trying to grasp it, I would have appreciated and enjoyed Shakespeare far more.

When I first started work as SQL Server DBA, I also had very little understanding of how it all worked. I hadn’t come from an IT background, I had no idea how different high availability set ups worked, how backups were taken, how you would troubleshoot job failures or even going about resolving performance issues. One of the main early lessons I remember was one on how indexes worked and how the right index on a table could make all the difference to the performance of a query.

It took time; lots of researching and a lot of testing. But over time, learning about all these separate aspects of SQL Server, understanding it and how they all fit and interact has made working with it much, much more enjoyable.

There is still plenty more to learn and something tells me there will always be something new. So for those newer DBAs, or to those who are considering following the DBA route who may feel daunted by a technology that they may not have ever touched before, do not let inexperience, lack of knowledge or not the right degree or background put you off. Like many things, it's all about your ability and desire to learn something.

So for all of you newbies (and those who remember it) below is my own version of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 (Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day) in ode to one of the first lessons I learnt, when and why heap tables should raise warning flags for the DBA.


Shall I compare thee to a heap table?
For it's less shrewd and far less delicate;
With data mass and no index to speak
Performance wanders like an Autumn Sun;
Sometime too slow thy precious query trots,
Hindered often by scans and rows galore,
And its sedate pace fires the users vex;
But by the admins smarts and tuning skills,
The Winter of this hurt will cease to be;
For as the Index planted deep in time,
Will Spring new shoots and sprout fresh leaves of gold,
That scan of heaps buds into index seeks;
Ensure it is maintained and stats refreshed,
And thy now present Summer shall not fade;

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