Sunday, May 11, 2008

DBA Knowledge

Work on the next generation of MySQL Database Administrator Exams has started and it raises the question of 'What does a DBA actually do?

The vivacious Sheeri Kritzer Cabral had a list of Best Practices for Database Administrators that is a good starting point. A lot of the items she lists are hard to quantify, especially for someone who has to write performance reviews and make salary increase recommendations.

I used to work for a program manager who was very good at managing developers by the numbers of lines of code generated, bugs fixed, and number of hours spent in the little gray cubicles. DBA work is not as easy to quantify. It was frustrating for both of us as there was no discrete output to log, report and graph. And how can examining buffer cache hits rates be valued by an employer in comparison to someone putting new options on a web page.

There is not a little pile of widgets at the end of the day to count and then divide by the numbers of hours worked to prove productivity. So, let us look at the quality of the work instead of a quantity.

What should a very good DBA fresh off the street be able to do the first day of a new job? Or what are the things you should check on a new job.

  • Check to make sure the root account has a password? Do all the accounts have passwords? Do the hosts exclusion or inclusion fit the current network?
  • Are backups being made? Are they any good? IS everything being backed up?
  • Is replication running?
  • Is the server optimized?
  • What versions of software are in use? How old is that?

So the next generation of exams are going to be less based on knowledge of syntax, options or keywords and more on actual job performance. New advances in testing technology will allow us to quantify skills with a MySQL database and add much more value to the MySQL Database Administrator Certification.

More on the new exams will be posted here when the news is available.

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