Sunday, January 05, 2014

DBA Rules of Thumb - Part 9 (Call on Others for Help When Needed)

Use All of the Resources at Your Disposal

Remember that you do not have to do everything yourself. Use the resources at your disposal. We have talked about some of those resources, such as articles and books, Web sites and scripts, user groups and conferences. But there are others.

Do not continue to struggle with problems when you are completely stumped. Some DBAs harbor the notion that they have to resolve every issue themselves in order to be successful. Sometimes you just need to know where to go to get help to solve the problem. Use the DBMS vendor’s technical support, as well as the technical support line of your DBA tool vendors. Consult internal resources for areas where you have limited experience, such as network specialists for network and connectivity problems, system administrators for operating system and system software problems, and security administrators for authorization and protection issues.

As a DBA you are sometimes thought of as "knowing everything" (or worse a know-it-all), but it is far more important to know where to go to get help to solve problems than it is to try to know everything there is to know. Let's face it... it is just not possible to know everything about database systems and making them work with all types of applications and users these days.

When you go to user groups, build a network of DBA colleagues whom you can contact for assistance. Many times others have already encountered and solved the problem that vexes you. A network of DBAs to call on can be an invaluable resource (and no one at your company even needs to know that you called for outside help).

Finally, be sure to understand the resources available from your DBMS vendors. DBMS vendors offer their customers access to a tremendous amount of useful information. All of the DBMS vendors offer software support on their Web sites. Many of them provide a database that users can search to find answers to database problems. IBM customers can use IBMLink,[1] and both Oracle and Microsoft offer a searchable database in the support section of their Web sites. Some DBAs claim to be able to solve 95 percent or more of their problems by researching online databases. These resources can shrink the amount of time required to fix problems, especially if your DBMS vendor has a reputation of “taking forever” to respond to issues.

Of course, every DBA should also be equipped with the DBMS vendor’s technical support phone number for those tough-to-solve problems. Some support is offered on a pay-per-call basis, whereas other times there is a prepaid support contract. Be sure you know how your company pays for support before calling the DBMS vendor. Failure to know this can result in your incurring significant support charges.

[1].IBMLink is a proprietary network that IBM opens up only to its customers.

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