Way back in the early 1990s when I was working as a DBA I had a button pinned up in my cubicle that read in large letters “DON’T PANIC!” If I recall correctly, I got it for free inside a game from back in those days based on “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” When I left my job as a DBA to go to work for a software company I bequeathed that button to a friend of mine (Hello, Chris!) who was taking over my duties… for all I know, he still has that button pinned up in his office.
But the ability to forgo panicking is a very important quality in a DBA.
A calm disposition and the ability to remain cool under strenuous conditions are essential to the makeup of a good DBA. Problems will occur—nothing you can do can eliminate every possible problem or error. Part of your job as a DBA is to be able to react to problems with a calm demeanor and analytical disposition.
When a database is down and applications are unavailable, your environment will become hectic and frazzled. The best things you can do when problems occur are to remain calm and draw on your extensive knowledge and training. As the DBA, you will be the focus of the company (or at least the business units affected) until the database and applications are brought back online. It can be a harrowing experience to recover a database with your boss and your users hovering behind your computer terminal and looking over your shoulder. Be prepared for such events, because eventually they will happen. Panic can cause manual errors—the last thing you want to happen when you are trying to recover from an error.
The more comprehensive your planning and the better your procedures, the faster you will be able to resolve problems. Furthermore, if you are sure of your procedures, you will remain much calmer.
So Don’t Panic!