Four Things I Wish I Knew Sooner as a SQL Server DBA

Lori Edwards

Published On: September 2, 2014

Categories: SQLFamily, Career 0

A few days ago, Tim Costello (B/T) tagged me as part of the "4 things I wish I knew sooner as..." blog series. I was going to start my list with not making friends who will tag you to write posts, but I thought that maybe I'd take it seriously. I know that there have been a few other people who have written these, but I haven't read them yet, so as not to bias this list.

1. Ask for help

Ask my hubby, I'm horrible at asking for help. I don't know whether I see it as a sign of weakness or the terrible admission that there is something I can't do. The longer that I've worked as a SQL Server DBA, though, the more that I understand that it's impossible to know everything there is to know about SQL Server. It's far better to ask for help than to extend an unexpected downtime. Plus, believe it or not, there are people out there that like helping out.

2. Keep an eye on your work/life balance

DBAs tend to be driven people. It's very easy to add 'just one more thing' to your tasks for the day. I wrote a blog post a few years ago about this topic, but it all boils down to this: The people that you work for are waiting for you at home.

3. Set up alerts, test them and then trust them

This kind of ties to #2. For probably the first six years of being a DBA, I would obsessively check my phone every night and all weekend for emails. Even though I had alerts that would send high priority issues to our network operation center and they would call me if there was an issue, I worried that I would miss something. Hence, I spent most of my 'free time' checking email. It took a while to trust that I'd be contacted if anything caught fire. Once that happened, though, my free time felt far more free.

4. Be kind

For those of you giggling at this point, yes, I can be kind. :) I used to think that I needed to prove myself (or some other nonsense) and to do that I had to be tough. Running out of SAN storage? I need it NOW!! Getting an 825 error? Go check those disk arrays!! It took a while to learn that I was really just being a bully. Everyone I worked with had similar stresses and I wasn't helping at all. Taking a breath and being reasonable not only achieved the same result, but it kept my stress level down and changed the way my co-workers interacted with me.

Hopefully a few of you out there can learn from my mistakes.

Lori (@loriedwards) has been with SentryOne since 2013, and has recently transitioned from her role as Senior Solutions Engineer to Training Manager. She is responsible for all learning strategy and architecture, including building, executing, measuring, and evaluating training for SentryOne. Lori is also currently serving as a Director at Large for PASS. Lori shares tips and tidbits for DBAs picked up over years of working as a DBA, as well as stories about her job here. Whether you are a new DBA who wants to learn or someone interested in learning about what it is like to work for SentryOne, be sure to check out Lori’s blog.